Blogging by Mail 2 – A baking fest! Tan Slice

Spicy Chocolate Biscotti Although I was a late entrant to Samantha’s Blog by Mail 2, she very kindly let me get involved and I sent off my package to Deborah in the USA on Wednesday. Figuring out what to put in it was a lot of fun and I eventually settled on a mixture of homemade goodies and local foodstuffs. I just hope that the postal service doesn’t let me down and that it gets to Deborah before anything starts growing mould.

As Deborah is originally from New Zealand I thought that she might appreciate a taste of home. Every Kiwi bakery and café seems to have rows of delicious homemade sweet slices or tray bakes – Caramel Shortbread, Fudge Squares, Ginger Crunch, Citrus Slice, Chocolate Brownies – but my current favourite is Tan Slice. It is basically Caramel Shortbread (aka Millionaire or Wellington Square) but with extra shortbread on top, instead of chocolate, and is not at all difficult to make. It was incredibly more-ish – I even caught the Boyfriend having a pre-breakfast piece – and, judging by the speed at which this disappeared from the pantry, the Housemates also enjoyed it. In fact, there wasn’t even anything left when I went to take a photo of it!

A handful of Spicy Chocolate Biscotti was one of the other treats that I put into Deborah’s package. Ever since having Chocolate and Chilli Biscotti at Underground I’ve been wanting to try making these and, biscotti weighing hardly anything in terms of postage, this was the ideal opportunity. I used my trusty Aji chilli powder and ground cinnamon and, as I like something to contrast with the hard texture of the biscotti, I also added some Bournville Chocolate Balls that I had lying around but you could use any chopped up dark chocolate. These chocolate bites keep well in an airtight container, the spiciness improving with age, and I love them in the afternoon with a cup of strong coffee. They’re also a good, rather more sophisticated, alternative to the soft, rich, intensely buttery Tan Slice.

Tan Slice
For the filling
Butter – 225g
Caster sugar – 225g
Golden syrup – 5 tablespoons
Condensed milk – 395g or 1 tin

For the shortbread
Plain flour – 350g
Butter – 225g
Caster sugar – 110g

Preheat the oven to 180°C. While it is heating, make the caramel filling. Over a low heat, melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan. Add the sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk and cook, stirring frequently for 30 minutes until it turns a golden brown colour.

Meanwhile, make the shortbread. Using your fingers, rub the flour, butter and caster sugar together until it resembles breadcrumbs. Reserving 200g of the mixture, press into a 25cm x 38cm x 4cm Swiss roll tin. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and pour over the caramel. Sprinkle with the reserved shortbread and put back into the oven for 7 minutes. The caramel may bubble over the sides of the Swiss roll tin so, to save you having to clean your oven, place a baking sheet underneath to catch any drips.

Allow to cool on a wire rack, cutting into squares when cold.

Makes about 24 small pieces



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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4 Responses

  1. Nic says:

    What great treats to send out. And how thoughtful to conjur up a “taste of home”!

  2. Caroline says:

    Being so far from my family and friends this year, I love sending (and receiving!) packages anyway. It was so much fun putting a foodie one together.

    Just browsing around on your blog, Nic, and you have some truly mouthwatering recipes. It sounds like you enjoyed your Blogging by Mail parcel too!

  3. Deborah says:

    I am Deborah – the recipient herself of the most fabulous package of goodies from the Bibliocook! I can attest to the more-ishness of the tan slice having eaten 4 pieces immediately upon opening! Other nostalgic treats included sherbet dabs (5c mixtures anyone?) and wild Canterbury walnuts which made it through the US Ag and Fish just fine thank you! Homemade Spicy Chocolate Biscotti has also gone down deliciously today and I love the spicy kick! (I was in Napa this past weekend and we had a “fire” chocolate with chillis in it made by Vosges – the biscotti reminded me of that – also of Nigellas red chilli syrup that she says to pour over chocolate ice cream – yum. what a great combo). Rounding out the package werre some chewy and delicious mini Cookie Time cookies with choc chipsand a gourmet dill and wild onion dip. So many lovely treats for the Kiwi in the US! Thanks so much!!!! I recommend blogging by mail wholeheartedly!

  4. Caroline says:

    I’m only sorry now that I didn’t put some more of that Tan Slice into the package now, Deborah, although it wasn’t an easy task to keep back the pieces that I sent you. Tan Slice is very popular in my household!

    Blogging by Mail is great – I had so much fun thinking about what to put in your package, wandering around the foodie shops, and then putting the whole thing together. Getting yours in return was just like the icing on the cake…are you going to sign up for the next round?

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