I honestly thought ‘Tan Slice’ was right up there in the list of Kiwi baking classics alongside the likes of Anzac biscuits, lolly cake, Louise slice and ginger crunch. Turns out, I may have elaborated its classic-tier-status in my own head because a quick poll amongst my New Zealand friends revealed a mixed bags of results – from those with vague memory of it at best, to the worst case scenario of no recollection at all. I think the true way of solving this will be to see whether it features in the Edmond’s Cookery Book because that really is the authority on all things Kiwi baking. Friends who have a copy handy – do you mind checking for me?
In the meantime, I am undeterred and will continue to proclaim the Tan Slice as a classic… because either way, this is too delicious not to share. Yes, the name is terrible and doesn’t exactly make your mouth-water… but sometimes beige food is best! Once you get past that, you’ll soon realise that the humble Tan Slice actually has a lot going for it. A gooey caramel sandwiched between a buttery base and topping, with a hint of bitter dark chocolate – basically all butter and sugar – what’s not to love? It’s also ridiculous easy to make and keeps very well in the fridge for those much needed mid-afternoon pick-me-ups!
Makes 36 slices, variation on Chelsea Sugar recipe
For the Base and Topping
- 180g butter, softened at room temperature
- 90g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 300g flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 50g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
For the Caramel Filling
- 397-400g sweetened condensed milk (one tin)
- 100g butter
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup
Prepare the base and topping:
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. If you have a stand mixer or hand beater, use it… otherwise be prepared to work those arm muscles. Getting the mix light and fluffy will give you a really buttery short base.
- Add vanilla and mix well.
- Add the flour and baking powder, and mix well until it comes together into a soft dough.
- Line a 23cm x 23cm baking tray with baking paper. Place roughly 3/4 of the base mixture into the tray and press down to evenly cover the base of the tray.
- Add the chopped chocolate pieces to the remaining 1/4 of the base mixture – this will be the topping.
- Place both the base and topping into the fridge to chill while you prepare the caramel.
- Preheat the oven to 180c bake/ 160c fan bake.
Prepare the caramel filling:
- Place the sweetened condensed milk, butter and golden syrup into a saucepan.
- Heat over a medium heat (constantly stirring to avoid it catching and burning on the bottom) until it becomes thick and slightly darker. Getting the consistency right is the only slightly tricky part of this recipe… aim for something like a thick custard which holds when scooped up but is still pourable.
Assemble your slice:
- Remove the base and topping from the fridge.
- Pour the caramel over the base mixture, spreading it out so the base is evenly covered.
- Sprinkle the topping over the caramel.
- Bake for 20min; or until the caramel and topping are both a golden brown.
- Remove from the oven to cool and then transfer the whole tray to the fridge to chill for at least an hour, but longer is fine. You will be tempted to cut straight into it but trust me when I tell you it will be worth the wait… the base is very short so chilling it gives that and the caramel time to firm up. This will prevent you from being left with a crumbly, gooey mess when cutting it up.
- Once sufficiently chilled, remove from the tray and slice in pieces. I tend to err on the side of caution and divide it into 36 pieces – they may look on the small side but this is a rather rich slice and too much can be sickly. Besides, you can always go back for a second piece if the first didn’t give you enough of a sugar hit!
- Best kept in a container, chilled in the fridge!