Last Sunday, with plenty of time on my hands, I decided to make this slice as I had almonds, almond meal and plenty of butter at hand. This slice is a richly layered shortbread-esque slice covered in a golden caramel topping of almonds and honey. It is time-consuming but not difficult and a decedant treat to have on hand should anyone drop by. Be warned it will create lots of dishes, but someone can usually be convinced to help out here, with the promise of leftover caramel topping…
- 1 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 125g butter, chilled, cubed
- 1 egg
- 185g butter, softened
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup plain flour, sifted
- 100g (1 cup) ground almonds
Honey almond topping
- 90g butter, chopped
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 125g flaked almonds
Firstly preheat the oven to 180°, then begin by combining the icing sugar, flour and butter for the base in a bowl and rub together until it is a breadcrumb-like texture. You can also use a fork or a pastry cutter (my latest gadget!) instead of your hands if you wish.
When you have reached the correct consistency, add the egg and mix together with you hands to create the dough. A wooden spoon can be used, but is less effective. I found that my dough was not coming together so I added about 3 tablespoons of milk, one at a time, until it formed a ball.
Next, spread the base onto the lined pan (33 x 23 x 3cm) with a spoon, glass, hands, however you can. It can be tricky to spread the doughover the base but only a thin layer is desired here and there will be enough dough if it is thin enough.
At this point, I prefer to bake the base for about 10 to 15 minutes, so ensure it is cooked in the final slice without burning the topping.
However, the original recipe (http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/13246/toscanner+slice) does not include this step, so you may omit it as you wish. As you can see below, the base is barely coloured after ten minutes, but it is firm and dry to the touch so this is enough, for now.
Put it aside and allow to cool, while you make the almond filling.
Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs, beat well to combine. Finally fold in the almond meal and plainflour with a large metal spoon, taking care not to deflate the mixture or beat it overly. Spread this fluffy, nutty mixture on the base and return to the oven for 30 minutes, or until golden and firm to the touch. If your oven cooks unevenly, be sure to turn the pan or switch shelves to prevent over-browning. As you can see below, the almond filling began to melt when spread over the still-warm base, but it did not affect the finished product.
While the second layer bakes, put the honey, butter and sugar in a pan over a medium heat, melt to blend and then bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
Lower to a simmer for a further two minutes and you have created the caramel topping.
The mixture will bubble up dramatically once it comes to the boil, and while simmering. It will return to normal when taken off the heat.
Set this caramel aside and restrain yourself from tasting it, despite how tempting it smells. You will burn you tongue and/or finger, I can guarantee it!
When it has cooled considerably, add the flaked almonds and gently stir through, taking care not to crush them.
Finally, when the almond filling is cooked, remove the pan from the oven and spread the honey caramel over the top for the last layer.
This layer needs to be baked for about 10 minutes, until the alomnds turn golden brown. Watch it closely during this session; one extra minute can turn it from golden to black.
Allow it to cool completely in the pan and then remove the whole slice, which will be stiff and board-like due to the caramel, with the overhanging baking paper. Slice into squares and serve with a hot drink or store for 2-3 days in an airtight container. This is best eaten the day after it is made; the flavours seems to meld together more completely. This is well worth the effort it entails, I recommend trying it next time you are in a baking mood.
Finally, please find listed below the ingredients, shopping-list style. While seperating the ingredients into sections is useful for outlining the method, I find it frustrating when trying to check what I have on hand and what I need to buy! Hopefully this will help you out too;
- 400g butter
- 3 eggs
- 2 & 1/4 cups plain flour
- 1 & 1/4 cups caster sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 cup almond meal (100g)
- 1 cup flaked almonds (125g)
- 1/2 cup icing sugar