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Caramel Nougat Slice

I am currently obsessively reading/studying the Green & Blacks  chocolate cookbook that I bought many years ago when I was living in Cornwall, UK working as an assistant pastry chef at the Watergate Bay hotel near Newquay (top UK surf spot!).

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Usually, when I work on a classic dessert recipe I like to study the “original” first, mostly french techniques & ingredients ->butter, sugar, cream and white flour
I’ll make it a few times and swap one or two ingredients at a time with an alternative component to see how it turns out and keep repeating and adjusting until I am satisfied.
I am glad I was able to study and practise the classic techniques hands-on so I understand the chemical formulas and importance of certain ingredients and their effects on a recipe.
Obviously it doesn’t always turn out exactly as I wanted or expected but thats how you learn and thats why I am glad to call this my job :-)
I made a few versions of this recipe already and the original Millionaire’s shortbread was definitely one of my favourite British sweets back then.
This year I ate a few adapted Caramel Slize versions in Bali and Australia and I think with this version I really made one of my favourite flavour combinations but without butter, cream, white sugar or flour (you can substitute the eggs in the recipe, too).

gluten-free caramel slide from Kùe in Ubud, Bali

gluten-free caramel slice from Kùe in Ubud, Bali

I called this recipe “nougat” slice cause I used roasted hazelnuts for the crust and a dark praline chocolate bar.
If you can’t find that kind of chocolate or you just want to use a “plain” one feel free to try some varieties but I personally would stick to a darker one (70 – 85%) cause the caramel is pretty sweet already and its a good contrast.
The chocolate book recommends the Green & Blacks Maya Gold with 55%.

caramel slice in Fremantle, Australia

Di Bella Coffee in Fremantle, Australia

The base is usually made of butter cookies and you can for sure use your favourite vegan, gluten-free or regular plain cookies if you want.
I tried it with a peanut – shortcut pastry before and really liked that buttery-nutty flavour but this time I wanted to make it completely grain-free.
I had some dried nut milk pulp left over so I used that instead of flour but if you don’t make your own nut milk (this would be a perfect reason to start doing it-> MakeMilk) you can substitute for any other nut or grain flour of your choice (buckwheat, spelt, brown rice, chia flour…)
I used eggs as a binder but you can leave them out as well to make it vegan (see recipe).

Okay, enough talk…lets start!

caramel slize_1

For the base

100 g hazelnuts
50 g dried nutmilk pulp or flour of your choice
50 g raw cacao nibs
60 g coconut sugar
2 eggs (omit and mix enough melted coconut oil to the dry mix so it sticks together, approx. 1/4 cup)
pinch of salt

hazelnut.scale

roasted and peeled hazelnuts

Caramel

150 g light coconut sugar (or raw cane sugar)
50 g dark coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
130 ml full fat (!) coconut milk
or thick almond cream (blend 1 part soaked almonds with 2 parts water, strain through a nut milk bag and measure out 130 ml)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp good quality salt

caramel_1

coconut caramel

Chocolate

200 g dark chocolate (I used 100g dark nougat/praline and 100g plain dark (85%) chocolate

chocolate tempering

melting the chocolate

Instructions: (makes about 12 big slices)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and line a small baking tin (20 x 20 cm) with parchment paper.

Roast the hazelnuts in a hot pan until they start smelling fragrently and transfer them on a towel to rub off as much skin as possible.
If you are using coconut oil instead of the eggs, start melting it in the same pan you roasted the nuts.

Blitz the hazelnuts with the cacao nibs to a fine ground texture and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
Press evenly into the tray and bake for about 20 min.

Have your sugar and cream weight out ready.
Put a pan on medium heat and leave it to get hot.
Slowly pour the sugar into the centre of the pan so that it forms a mound in the middle.
The edges will start to liquify and caramelise.
Gently jiggle the pan so that the liquid edges start to melt into the rest of the sugar.
Stir slowly, take your time and never leave it alone.
You will know its ready when all the sugar is dissolved and it turns into a reddish brown colour.
Add the coconut milk and stir like mad for a minute.
When the caramel has stopped bubbling, cook for another 3-5 minutes, then remove from the heat
Add the salt and coconut oil, give it another stir and pour over the base.
Either chill in the fridge or at room temperature until set (when it has to be really fast you can also freeze it).

Once the caramel is solid, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water, stirring from time to time until fully melted.
Pour over the caramel and let it set at room temperature.
Lift the whole thing out and transfer on a cutting board without the paper and cut into squares using a hot, sharp knife.

Store them in the fridge in an air-tight container and make sure you share them with your loved ones 😉

caramel slice_2