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!
When I first published this cookie recipe, we were packing up our life in Wellington and getting ready to go on our first adventure – a couple of months travelling through parts of Canada, America, Cuba and Mexico, before landing in London. That was about 6.5 years ago. Wow. So much has happened since then… we settled into London life, we took a break and went off travelling again, and now we’re back in the big smoke, albeit under very different circumstances.
Lots of things might have changed over the past few years, but my sweet tooth has remained constant. As does my love for this cookie recipe. It’s dead easy and still delicious so I thought it was about time I gave this post a spruce up and introduced people to it again… after all, most of us are still staying home and baking more than ever before!
Does anyone else have kitchen cupboards that are too high for them to see into or too deep for them to reach? Surely, it is not just me. Even when I’m precariously tip-toeing on a chair, I struggle to see what’s made its way to the back of that top shelf… and as I discovered recently, there is a lot back there. I am completely to blame; I am a compulsive hoarder of pantry staples and I have the joy of acquiring a fascinating range of foodstuffs through this blog. The adventurous cook in me gets a jolt of excitement every time I pull something new and obscure out of a goody bag but then the practical cook in me stores that for another day as I get on with cooking something else… and so my shelves become a jumbled mess and a certain someone continuously teases me about how we could open our own corner store.
I’d like to tell you that I have turned over a new leaf but the truth is, my pantry will always be full and full of random things. What has forced my hand now is our big move, and so the great clear out has begun. In amongst the jumble, I came across an unopened packet of desiccated coconut; I have no idea why I bought it but after being inspired by a snap on Instagram stories, I decided I would make a cake. If you’ve been following a certain someone cooks, you would have noticed that he has taken up the position as our resident baker… so as my baking skills are a bit rusty, I wanted something nice and easy and this coconut and lime loaf cake fit the bill completely. It also conjured up all sorts of tropical vibes which I thought was exactly what we needed to inject some sunshine into the current cold winter days!
I am the proud owner of a very, very well stocked freezer. That’s probably not the coolest (pun totally intended to add to said coolness) or most glamorous thing to admit but such is real life. And in my life, a well stocked freezer is one key to eternal home happiness. Ridicule me all you like but you know who will be having the last laugh? Me, with my belly-warming bowl of homemade dumplings and broth, ready in just ten minutes. Me, diving into my oxtail stash for a Sunday stew, saving myself the trolley battles in the Sunday supermarket swarms. Or me, wading through my ice cream options for dessert just because I can.
Every freezer should have at least one type of ice cream, but in a well stocked freezer like mine, one is never enough. Oh no, that would be a disgrace! Our current situation involves two staples – a tub of top notch vanilla (because it goes with everything, duh) and a selection of mini Magnums (because I can be sensible in my indulgence), and a new entry… a delectable array of ice creams and sorbets from Simply Ice Cream! When I say there’s something sweet for everyone in that bottom freezer drawer, I really mean it.
Deciding what to make for an office shared lunch can be quite a challenge. You certainly don’t want your colleagues to think you are incompetent in the kitchen (even if you are, some things should be kept out of the office) but you also don’t want to get too complex. No one likes a show off, or to be accused of trying to pass off a shop-bought item as one of their own. Then there’s the added issue of actually getting the food to the office – there’s no way I’m carting anything bigger than a standard sized tupperware box across London on three tube changes and a bus ride. Yeah, my commute is worse than yours; I know.
Given the list of dietary requirements, general likes and dislikes, and the scrutiny of some discerning diners in your midst, I would recommend you do what I do and play it safe. Chocolate brownies are the answer; a guaranteed crowdpleaser. If by chance there is someone in your team who doesn’t like chocolate brownies, someone else will no doubt be rubbing their hands together with delight because that means there’s another one going spare…
We like to pretend we’re tea connoisseurs with our hodge-podge selection of black tea, white tea, green tea, fruit teas and the like, all in a mix of loose leaf and bags of all shapes and sizes, but really, we’re just tea addicts. We barely go a couple of hours without a cuppa; part habit, part dependency (for one of us anyway) but always for the pure enjoyment of drinking it! My point is, we drink a lot of tea so it was a pleasant surprise to come across something we’d never tried before.
Of course matcha tea isn’t exactly a new thing, I’m sure the Chinese and Japanese have been drinking it for centuries, and more recently its popularity has exploded. I have seen tea enthusiasts and health nuts alike sharing photos of pretty ceramic bowls filled with bright green tea, lightly frothed to perfection with a strange whisk-type utensil, but admittedly I’ve been too comfortable with my builder’s brew or refreshing jasmine to get involved in such shenanigans.
Since I’ve moved to London, my list of ‘things to get round to’ keeps growing longer and longer. Along with the things to do, places to see, food to eat, I’m embarrassed to confess that laundry is frequently on the list… But thank goodness for my little shopping addiction and well stocked wardrobe eh? This hyperactive city coupled with my short attention span means that while I intend on doing one thing, I often end up doing another.
Just when I think I’m finally getting round to trying out that steamed bun place with the horrendous queues, I end up taking us to this other place that’s been making me salivate at the sight of my Instagram feed all week. There are the friends from uni I’ve been meaning to catch up with since they or I moved here, and now I’m getting an invite to their leaving party. Even then, I can’t go. I’ve got those books stockpiled on my kindle, those pop-ups I bookmark in every week’s Time Out, and all that theatre I keep reminding myself to get tickets for.