Peanut Caramel Slices

I am sure that other people have very busy weekend schedules but alas, I find myself at a loose end. And so, because when faced with nothing to do I tend to panic, I decided to occupy my time making these peanut caramel slices. At dinner on Friday we started to talk about the fabulousness of peanut butter and how it goes with (almost) everything and I guess I’ve been thinking about peanuts all weekend as a result.

The inspiration for these comes from Green and Blacks Organic Ultimate Chocolate Recipes, The New Collection in which there is a recipe for Not Millionaire’s Shortbread. There are many different contributors to the book, the Not Millionaire’s Shortbread is Allegra McEvedy. The recipe there uses peanuts like ground almonds and makes a flour-less base on which to put the caramel and chocolate. I’ve used a shortbread recipe and changed the flour content so that the peanuts make up some of the flour weight. I’ve also roughly chopped more peanuts to put between the base and the caramel. The princess, who is the world’s most critical critic, approves and has been stealing small pieces from the edges.

Peanut Caramel Slices

250g soft, unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
splash of vanilla
70g cornflour
250g roasted, salted peanuts
180g cake flour

1 tin condensed milk (385g)
50g golden syrup
50g light brown sugar
50g butter

200g good quality dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 20cm square tin with parchment/baking paper.
Firstly, cream the butter and sugar until white. Add in the splash of vanilla and mix to incorporate. In a food processor, blitz 125g of the peanuts until fine (like ground almonds). Place the peanuts and flours into the mixer and mix just until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough into the lined tin. Using another sheet of baking paper, press the dough into the tin so that it reaches all the corners and is evenly distributed. Allow to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Whilst the dough is resting, start the caramel. Place all the ingredients in a pan and over a medium heat stir until the sugar dissolves and the caramel reaches a light golden colour. You need to stir all the tin as it will start to turn very golden at the bottom. Once you’ve achieved the right colour pour the caramel into a bowl so that you stop the cooking process taking place in the bottom of the pan.
Place the tin with the dough in the oven and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until it is a lovely golden brown all over and cooked through. (The base is fairly thick so may need more time, depending on your oven, to cook all the way through.)

Roughly chop the other 125g of peanuts and spread these over the cooked dough. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. You will be able to smell the peanuts when you remove them from the oven. Pour the caramel over the mixture, making sure you reach the corners. Place in the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes until a deep golden caramel. (It will bubble away happily until you remove it from the oven.)

Now comes the hard bit. You need to wait until the caramel has cooled completely before continuing.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second batches until smooth and spreadable. Pour over the set caramel and using a palette knife, spread evenly. Allow to set (speed up the process by refrigerating for a while) before slicing and eating in large quantities. Keep in an airtight container for 4 days.

Note: This makes a rather thick base (which I like) so either cut the squares quite small (because it can be a tad overwhelming in sweetness) or make half the base quantity. Also, if you refrigerate the squares to set the chocolate, the chocolate will crack when you slice it up. Allow to come back to room temperature before slicing.