Caramel Slices (or, Diabetes in a Mouthful)

One of my favourite things to have with a cup of coffee is a humble caramel slice. They also make excellent treats to bring in to work (if you try to eat the whole tray at home on your own, I am not responsible for hospital bills). So, when I finished my second PhD rotation, I brought in caramel slices, to make doubly certain everyone would miss me….

Lunchboxes of Doom (and caramel slices)

That's a lot of caramelly goodness

Beware that the caramel is a) pretty intimidating to calorie counters, and b) somewhat tedious to make, but it totally pays off.

First you make the base. This base is nice and crumbly, but you can do a different type of biscuit if you prefer. I’ve been using this base since I first got the recipe for the slices more than fifteen years ago from my neighbour (hi stella! thanks!).

Biscuity base

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 4oz butter
  • 2oz caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Prepare a baking sheet by putting some greaseproof paper on top. Rub the flour and butter together until it has the appearance of breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Tip the crumbs onto the papered tray, and push around a bit until it’s level, but dont press it hard. Bake until golden around the edges (takes about 20 minutes). Leave aside to await its caramelly topping.

Biscuity base

Biscuity base (this also doubles up as a crumble topping, just bake on top of fruit instead of on a tray).

The good stuff (caramel)

  • Can of Evaporated milk (400g I think, also note EVAPORATED, not the other sort)
  • 8oz of butter
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
  • Vanilla essence

For the caramel, combine all ingredients apart from the vanilla in a pot. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. When everything has melted together, bring the caramel to a simmer, and stir constantly, for about forty to fifty minutes, until the caramel coats the back of a spoon. You’ll see it start to thicken and look more like caramel. Also, I’m serious about the stirring, CONSTANT STIRRING. Either farm off some of the stirring time to a younger sibling, or bring a book to hold in your other hand…

Caramel on the back of a spoon

The caramel should coat the spoon nice and thickly when you dip it in the pot.

Pour the thick caramel on to the base and let to cool. Get a big glass of milk to drink while you scrape out whatever is left stuck to the pot (sometimes I leave a bit in the pot instead of pouring it all out, and make myself sick trying to eat ALL THE CARAMELS). When the caramel is cool, you can pour melted chocolate on top. I’m going to assume (never assume etc…) that you can melt chocolate, if not ask someone (me or another adult).

Once the chocolate is set, you can cut it into slices, pop it in a lunchbox, and make yourself a workplace hero!

Kettle corn

The end of a bowl of kettle corn

What remained of the bowl of kettle corn when I remembered to photo it.

With the sorrowful arrival of the kettle corn recipe, comes the shopping for clothes two sizes bigger. The stuff is unnessecarily tasty, and as I discovered this evening, terribly easy to make. So far it doesn’t seem to have ruined the pot either (my other excuse for not making it till now), though I will keep you posted if I find out otherwise tomorrow.

Super thanks go to Becky for the recipe!

  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/6 cup light brown muscavado (Becky suggested caster sugar, but I’m all out)
  • Oil for the pan
  • Salt

You can already see how terrifyingly simple the recipe is.

Get your popcorn serving bowl ready first, and fish out your biggest saucepan with matching lid.

Pour in oil to put a thin layer on the bottom of your pot and throw in three “Sacrificial Grains”. Put your pot on a fairly high heat (on an electric that goes to 6, i’d go with five or six. Sadly I still havent sussed out the gas hob fully, so if the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot, beyond that, it’s a bit of a matter of experience). Mix the sugar and corn in their cup.

When the Sacrificial Grains have popped, then dump in your sugar/corn mix. Shake the pot regularly to let everything heat evenly, and enjoy the popping! If you don’t have very big pots, you’ll have to learn the skill of dumping out half the popcorn and returning the rest to the heat (without messing the kitchen, that’s the skill part). If you do have a very big pot, when the popping slows, dump the contents into the serving bowl (see why I said to have it ready). I put water into my pot before eating (as did Becky, and I am informed her kitchen elf cleaned the pot wonderfully and with little hassle).

Sprinkle liberally with salt (as much salt as if it wasn’t sugar popcorn, honestly, this stuff is best sweet and salty) and try not to eat it all at once….

(And yes, that’s On Food and Cooking in the background of the photo, honestly it’s just coincidence that it was behind the bowl, it’s been on my coffee table for weeks while dip in and out of it (did I mention that I love this book?))

Lemon curd buns

Inspired by a very tasty lemon curd muffin I got in the Kinsealy garden centre last week, I decided to make lemon buns and curd to go on top of them.

For the buns I used the recipe for lemon drizzle cake and spooned it into 15 bun cases and baked for about 20 minutes until set.

Happilly my net of lemons contained three, so after adding one the cake mix, I had two to make the curd. I had never made curd before, so I ended up scaling down Nigel Slater’s recipe and reducing the sugar for extra wince-inducing tang.

  • Juice and zest of two lemons
  • 90g sugar (even with 100g it will still be tangy)
  • 50g butter
  • One egg and one egg yolk

Set up a pot of simmering water with a bowl set over it so the bottom doesnt touch the liquid. (Lacking a proper sized bowl, I drop a tall cookie cutter into my smallest pot and balance my pyrex jug on top). Put the juice, zest, sugar and butter in to melt while you separate and beat the eggs. When the butter is fully melted, add the eggs, and stir with a whisk.
Stir regularly and cook the mix for about ten mins (according to Nigel, I ended up going closer to fifteen) until the mixture starts to thicken (like custard) and “coats the back of a spoon”. Then pour into a jar and leave to set, stirring occasionally.

Sadly mine was a little runnier than I’d have liked, but hopefully with enough time in the fridge, that won’t matter too much. The plan is then to smush it on to the buns and delight my lab colleagues tomorrow.

A glass ramekin of lemon curd

Deliciously face-scrunching lemon curd