A New Home and Raw Caramel Slice

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I was already in Sydney before the packing began, the smell of freshly cut grass on a hot summer day, the sweetness of ripe mangos and peaches, the many meals at Iku or hours of conversation with family and old friends. We arrived at the tail-end of December, summertime, to our new life in suburban Sydney. My few months hiatus from this space was spent setting up house and acquainting the kids to the wonderment of wildlife in our backyard. The neighbourhood kookaburras enjoyed superstar status with lesser praise divided amongst the cockatoos, lizards, spiders (the less dangerous sort) and all types of creepy crawlers. Now weeks later the shrieks at any unidentified insect have been replaced with the social attentions of school life. After 8 years of privileged living in the United Arab Emirates it's great to be back home for a more permanent existence.

We are incredibly lucky as the school community and neighbours are so welcoming and friendly. All the fruits in the below photos we received from neighbours across the road, these are growing in their backyard. Have you ever tried persimmons? A first for me and it won't be the last time if I can get my hands on more as sadly the season is over. I've since seen a few other homegrown gardens in the area, we only have parsley out the back, enough for a bowl of tabbouli I think. Our generous Gardeners have showered us with figs and huge bunches of basil from their home. The school has an impressive vertical herb and vegetable garden, it's a wonderful way to educate the kids and to encourage healthy diets.

My family and friends are reaping the produce from their respective gardens. My friend Gabriella brings me rocket almost every time we meet. And my cousin Natalie flourishes me with lettuce, herbs, tomatoes and beans. Just the other day my aunt brought over a bag of large firm eggplants from her veggie patch which I'm going to turn into moutabbel. I love receiving homegrown organics, it's encouraged me to extend beyond the humble parsley.

I'm delighted to see how the food environment has changed in Sydney with a greater emphasis on healthier choices, more vegetarian and the raw food trend is clearly making inroads on the food scene. The local markets are a joy to meander, it's great to be supporting local growers and suppliers. My local supermarket, which btw I am turning cartwheels over, is super cool and stocks my pantry essentials, organics and prepared food a la Wholefoods in the USA. They do a raw caramel slice that will make you do a song and dance about, it's a bestseller. Inspired I was encouraged to come up with a similar recipe. I don't recall being a fan of caramel slice in my younger years. This version has converted me, in fact the entire family is partial to the slice. Whoever came up with the idea of using tahini to make caramel is a genius.

Raw Caramel Slice
Feel free to use whatever nuts you have on hand for the base. I have scaled back the sweetness so add a little more maple syrup according to taste. Since this is a raw caramel slice it's best kept in the fridge as the caramel becomes runny if it's left out for an extended period.

1 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup brazil nuts
1 tsp maca powder (optional)
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tbsp cacao butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Line a brownie tin with baking paper. Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until the nuts are coarsely ground (I like a bit of texture as opposed to the meal versions) and the mixture starts to stick together. Transfer to the brownie tin and using the back of a spoon press the nuts into an even, snug layer. Place in the freezer to set for approximately 20 minutes.

Caramel layer:
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients thoroughly and pour over the set base. Return the base to the freezer for another 20 minutes to set the caramel.

Chocolate layer:
75g cacao butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cacao powder
1 tsp carob powder (optional)
pinch of salt

Place cacao butter in a bowl, in a larger dish filled with hot water. The butter melts faster if it's broken into small pieces. Once melted whisk in the coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Then sift the cacao powder, carob powder and salt into the bowl. Whisk until you get a lovely velvety chocolate liquid. Remove the set caramel from the freezer and pour the chocolate onto the caramel, you will need to work fast for a smooth layer as the chocolate will set quickly. Best to score the chocolate at this point, as it sets, it's not easy to get clean looking slices once firm.


April 14, 2015

I finally got around to making this fantastic recipe today.

Such a great alternative to the usual unhealthy and very sweet slice you would normal buy.

It was well worth the effort, everyone who taste tested my first batch loved it!

Ill have to make another one tomorrow :)

Thanks for sharing Dawn.