This caramel slice is a classic Australian dessert! It features a winning combination of a simple shortbread crust, gooey caramel filling, and a delicate milk chocolate topping.
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What is a caramel slice?
A caramel slice is a dessert popularly sold in Australian bakeries. It is a three-layer dessert that features a shortbread base, a soft caramel filling, and a chocolate topping.
Why this caramel slice recipe will be a dessert staple-
- Simple ingredients. No hard-to-find candy, flour, or chocolate.
- No baking is required. Besides the shortbread base, there is no need to bake anything.
- Easy to customize. Change up the flour, use different chocolate, or cut the dairy.
What we love about these caramel bars is just how incredible the texture is. A buttery shortbread base, a gooey caramel, and a chopping topping that melts in your mouth? I’m already salivating!
This recipe calls for pantry staple ingredients that you probably already have on hand! Here is what you’ll need:
For the shortbread base:
- Butter. Unsalted and softened.
- Sugar. White or brown granulated sugar.
- Flour. All-purpose flour, sifted.
- Salt. To balance out the sweetness of the dough.
For the caramel filling:
- Condensed milk. To provide a thick base for the filling.
- Butter. To provide a rich texture and flavor.
- Sugar. White or brown granulated sugar.
- Light corn syrup OR golden syrup. Adds sweetness and also prevents the caramel from burning.
- Vanilla extract. To enhance all flavors.
- Milk chocolate. Use good quality chocolate for melting. Chop the chocolate into small pieces for easy and even melting.
- Coconut oil. A small amount of coconut oil added to melting chocolate gives it a glossy finish. It also helps prevent the chocolate from cracking once it’s set.
How to make a caramel slice
While a classic caramel slice contains three layers, making it doesn’t take a lot of time. In fact, the hard part is waiting for it to firm up!
Step 1 – Bake the shortbread crust
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. While the oven heats beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Sift in the flour, add salt, and mix until thoroughly combined. Transfer the dough to a pre-greased square pan. Press evenly until smooth. Prick with a fork to prevent the crust from puffing up.
Step 2- Make the caramel filling
Add the condensed milk, butter, sugar, corn syrup or golden syrup, and vanilla extract to a saucepan and place it over low heat. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Once boiling, stir more vigorously to prevent the caramel from burning.
Remove the caramel from heat when it reaches 225F on a candy thermometer. Continue to store for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the caramel over the shortbread base, spread it evenly, and let it cool.
Step 3- Melt the chocolate
Add chopped milk chocolate and coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 20-second intervals and mix until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth.
Pour the chocolate over the cooled caramel topping. Spread evenly and allow it to set at room temperature.
Step 4- slice and serve
Once cool, slice into even pieces and serve.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Don’t skip the corn syrup. Corn syrup and/or golden syrup prevents the sugar from crystallizing which in turn, yields an incredibly smooth and gooey caramel.
- Use full-fat condensed milk. Using light or fat-free condensed milk causes the caramel filling not to set properly.
- Cook the caramel on low heat and keep stirring. These two things will ensure that you don’t burn the caramel.
- Chill the dough. Chilling the shortbread dough for 15 to 60 minutes will help you roll it out easily.
The beauty of this dessert is that you can do a few tweaks to it and still achieve the most perfect slice. Here is what we’ve tested:
- Add some salt. For a salted caramel slice, sprinkle some coarse sea salt on top.
- Use white or dark chocolate. For a sweeter or richer note, switch up the chocolate used on top.
- Cut the dairy. Use coconut condensed milk, dairy-free butter, and vegan chocolate chips for the topping.
- Make it gluten-free. Use gluten-free flour for the shortbread crust and this dessert is suitable for celiacs.
To store: Place caramel slices in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can leave the slices at room temperature. But if it is too hot where you live, refrigerate them to prevent the chocolate topping from melting.
To freeze: Caramel slices are the perfect treat to freeze. Freeze it in individual servings wrapped in food wrap. Then place the slices in an airtight bag or container and enjoy within 3 months.
More Australian desserts to try
Frequently asked questions
Caramel slice, also known as caramel shortbread, has a Scottish origin and dates back to the 12th century.
As the modern recipe of caramel slice first appeared in an Australian magazine and became very popular, caramel slice is associated not only with Scottish but also Australian cuisine.
If the caramel filling doesn’t set, you most likely haven’t cooked it long enough. The caramel should be pourable but thick when you remove it from the heat. It takes around 10 minutes for the caramel to set.
There are a few tips you can use to get perfectly neat caramel slices. First off, if you have the caramel slice in the fridge, let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before cutting it.
Run the knife under warm water. Dry the knife and cut while the knife is still warm. Clean the knife after each slice to get super neat pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease an 8 x 8-inch square pan with oil and set aside.
- Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Sift in the flour and salt and mix until combined.
- Transfer the mixture to the lined pan and press down until smooth. Prink with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes, or until just golden. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely.
- Place all the caramel ingredients into a small saucepan and place it over low heat. Stir very well until it begins to boil. Once boiling, continue to stir vigorously, ensuring the caramel doesn’t scorch. Once it reaches 225F on a candy thermometer, remove it from the heat while continuing to stir for another 2-3 minutes.
- Pour over the shortbread base and allow it cool completely.
- Once the caramel has cooled, add the chopped chocolate and coconut oil into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 20-second spurts until melted.
- Pour over the top and spread evenly. Let it cool to room temperature. Once cool, slice and serve.
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