I’ve been thinking about food waste lately. My previous solution to reducing food waste wasn’t exactly that clever. Sick of throwing out forgotten, freezer-burnt chicken breasts I simply stopped buying them. It was the same with the unopened packets of green beans that I’d find languishing, wilted, at the back of the fridge. It would have been easier just to throw the money straight into the bin. I like money too much to do that though. Green beans, not so much!
My more recent efforts have been slightly better. These days I try to use everything I buy. If I buy a ring of chorizo for one meal you can guarantee that I’ll be eating it in every other meal until it’s gone. And I actually use the freezer in the way it is supposed to be used. Food goes in; food comes out; food is eaten. It’s a revelation!
The reason I’ve been thinking about food waste more often lately though, is that it’s a big part of my new job. I’ve been learning about food waste and about how important it is to reduce it and dispose of it properly. My efforts to control what I throw out have tripled. I’ve started smugly scraping my food waste into an Obeo box, ready for the brown bin, and feeling like I’m saving the world one chicken carcass at a time. I’m not, of course, but it’s a start.
What, you ask, does any of this have to do with peanuts? I love peanuts. I could crush them and sprinkle them on anything. I don’t though. I’m lazy. I buy a bag of unsalted peanuts with the intention of roasting them and adding them to my food, but I only ever manage to do this once before the laziness takes over. That’s why I’ve had an almost full bag of them in the cupboard for months, waiting for the day they take a trip to the bin when I clear out the old, unused food.
Which brings me (finally, I hear you say!) to this recipe. Peanut and Salted Caramel Squares. They’re a better version of a Snickers, really, because they have a buttery biscuit base and they’re topped with a delicious layer of dark chocolate. So, let’s do this!
For the base:
50g caster sugar
100g butter, softened
130g plain flour
For the caramel:
55g soft brown sugar
200g condensed milk
1tbsp golden syrup
70g roasted unsalted peanuts, plus a few extra to decorate
Salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180°c
Beat the caster sugar and the butter together until it’s soft and fluffy. Mix in the flour until it starts to come together as a dough.
Pour the doughy rubble into a lined square 8 inch tin and press down well until the base is covered. Bake for 20 minutes until it’s golden brown. If your peanuts are not already roasted, stick them in the oven at the same time, but keep an eye on them. You don’t want burnt nuts!
Melt the butter for the caramel in a pot. Add the condensed milk, brown sugar and golden syrup. Bring it to the boil for about 5 minutes, stirring all the time. You want a soft but sturdy caramel, similar to the texture of the caramel in the a Snickers! Put a tiny bit on a plate and let it cool for a minute or so before testing the texture with your finger. Add salt until you have a salted caramel you’re happy about. Less is more! You can always put more in if you think you need it.
Stir in the peanuts. I like to bash them first so that some of them break up a bit. Spread the nutty caramel over the base and leave it to set and cool.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Spread it all over the caramel, top with some crushed peanuts and leave to set completely.
Cut into 16 squares.
So there you go. Peanut and Salted Caramel Squares, inspired by my new job and my old peanuts! In the interest of not wasting food, you can double the caramel recipe if you have a 397g tin of condensed milk. Condensed milk also freezes well. Put it in tightly closed container and keep it there for up to 3 months. Or just eat it with a spoon. I believe some people like it like that!