This a very special 2-part post, simply because the kind owner of the Whalley Group, a gallery, cafe and framing service in Holywood, Northern Ireland, just outside of Belfast, offered to send me some of his homemade caramel slices. (Check out his post on the About page of this site.)
Stephen Whalley told me he has entered his slice into the Great Taste Awards, so there must be something great about this slice. The Great Taste Award is a big thing in the food industry and has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world. “It is organised by the Guild of Fine Food and is the acknowledged benchmark for speciality food and drink” (taken from their website).
Stephen tells me: “My grandmother is a baker and taught me how to bake when I was a boy and recently I’ve started making all the produce in a cafe when opened 3 years ago now in our Art Gallery in Holywood, County Down. I started making Caramel Squares about a year ago and I now have a big following for them in the local area and even have customers travelling for over 50 miles to get them!”
Customers travelling 50 miles! That’s something, and I truly hoped they were as good as he made them out to be. He also tells me that they are the most popular food item in the cafe. Man, that’s good right?
So lets begin.
Stephen sent me a small box containing a large slab of a slice: 12cm x 7cm x 2.5cm thick. The slice was a rare phenomenon to see the caramel layer thicker than the base. First appearances then, made me worry, usually that’s a bad sign and the biscuit can’t hold itself together. This was no exception, however the stickiness of the caramel did a superb job of gripping to the base.
The top had score marks on them, suggesting that a slice sold at the cafe would be 7cm x 4cm, that’s a bit thin and I don’t know the price as of yet, but for a homemade style slice, it’s a size big enough to care about.
Overall then, it looks great, the delivery: encased in a cardboard box and wrapped in baking paper, delivered in a Jiffy bag, kept the slice in almost superb condition. There was a scuff mark here and there and a collapsed corner. But this does not detract from the taste, remember that.
It smells light, not overpowering and great, it smells of caramel, just what you need!
One major thing to point out is how much my mouth watered, before, during and even after I had eaten the cake. Something about it made me want more. That has the confidence to be a powerful slice.
To be continued in Part 2, read it here now.