'Tis the season to be jolly. I guess.
I want to be upfront about this. If you love the kind of house where every surface is be-spangled with tinsel or hung with decorations, where the halls are really decked with holly, where there are cinnamon candles and spiced room sprays for those wonderful Christmassy smells, where the front of the house has enough fairy-lights to power a small European country and the kitchen is stocked with baked goodies for rosy-cheeked visitors and carolling urchins to feast on...don't come to my house.
My favourite Tudor rose tree decoration
While I think that cinnamon candles and spiced room spray would be great fun (because by spraying one across the other, you could make a huge Christmas flare - WHOOMPH! and everything smells of roast cinnamon AND singed hair!), my Xmas prep mostly consists up getting our modest tree out of the shed, shaking off the redbacks and throwing on a few baubles.
Even in the kitchen, where I feel huge Suzy Homemaker pressure, the lack of air-conditioning and the summer heat conspire to keep me out unless I really have to be in there. Still, Christmas baked goodies are nice and, because I want the kids to look back one day and have fond memories of their mother - every now and then I try to extend myself to a few treats.
So here is a super-quick recipe for you to use or, if you want to be really jolly, you can make with the kids - maple caramel slice.
You will need:
250 grams of plain biscuits (I used Arnotts Scotch Fingers)
250 grams butter
a 400g tin of sweetned condensed milk
3/4 cup of maple syrup (the real stuff, because it's Christmas. If you buy 'maple-flavoured syrup' then you're just a big ol' Scrooge, you will deserve the resulting nastiness you get and and bah, humbug to you too.)
2 blocks Lindt 70% chocolate (you can use cheaper chocolate if you like, but the 70% makes such a nice bitter contrast to the sweet caramel)
First up, crush the biscuits - in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or in a food processor, it's up to you.
Melt 125g of the butter and combine with the crushed biscuits.
Line a 28cm baking pan with baking paper (you must do this or you will never get the slice out of the tin at the end) and use a spatula to press the biscuit mixture evenly into the bottom of the tin.
Put the tin in the fridge to cool.
Combine the condensed milk, maple syup and 100g of butter in a sauce-pan over a medium heat. When it simmers, stir continuously until the mixture thickens and it golden - about 10 minutes should do it.
Pour the maple-caramel mixture over the chilled biscuit base and return to the fridge.
Break up the two blocks of chocolate. Place in a microwave-proof dish with the remaining 25g of butter and melt in the microwave for 1 minute on high. Remove from microwave, stir until all chocolate is dissolved and the mixture is glossy.
Pour over caramel mixture and return to the fridge until set.
Cut into small pieces with a sharp knife...
...and and serve to rosy-cheeked visitors or carolling urchins.