Friday, February 18, 2011

Slicegate – The Caramel Slice Showdown

I love caramel slice. Especially the caramel bit. I make it the way I like it, but I started wondering how this would stack up against the commercially available stuff. And there are some brilliant caramel slices out there. Unfortunately there are also some really, really awful ones.

So I made a slab of slice, then went out and bought specimens from three different places to pit against my creation. Nine willing taste testers were easily found within the office, and it was on.

I went to great lengths to try and make sure the test was completely blind. I brought the slices into the office in a plain plastic slice container so no-one could know which was which. I presented the samples one at a time. I was hoping to get people’s honest opinions. I think I achieved that. Or at least I hope I did.

I gave each person a scoresheet where they would rate each slice on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the worse and 5 the best, against 5 criteria: base, caramel, chocolate, visual appeal, and overall enjoyment.

Final scores were out of 225 for each slice: a score of out 5 for each criteria from 9 people

Here are the results.

4th place:

Slice B
Base: 21/45
Caramel: 20/45
Chocolate: 24/45
Visual Appeal: 30/45
Overall Enjoyment: 23/45For a total 118/225

3rd place:

Slice A
Base: 23/45
Caramel: 24/45
Chocolate: 26/45
Visual Appeal: 24/45
Overall Enjoyment: 23.5/45
For a total 120.5/225

2nd place:

Slice D
Base: 23/45
Caramel: 31/45
Chocolate: 25/45
Visual Appeal: 27/45
Overall Enjoyment: 26/45
For a total 132/225

And 1st place:
Slice C
Base: 33/45
Caramel: 33/45
Chocolate: 31/45
Visual Appeal: 38/45
Overall Enjoyment: 35.5/45
For a total 170.5/225

I will now reveal the origins of each slice.

Slice B came from Coles. At $4.49 for a pack of 6 slim fingers it was the second cheapest option. As you can see, though, it didn’t rank highly at all with the test group which, I think, means any saving in $$ isn’t worth it in the flavour stakes. Personally I found this slice to be quite plastic with a flavour that I didn’t like at all. In fact, I took one bite then turfed the rest of my piece into the bin.

Slice A came from Michel’s Patisserie. At $3.95 per piece (and they weren’t the biggest pieces: Slice D comes in slightly larger portions) it was the most expensive of those sampled. Comments from the testers include base is “too crumbly” and “a bit dry”, and the caramel “is more fudgy” and “a bit grainy”.

Slice D came from Brumby’s bakery. At $3.20 per piece it rated in the middle of the expense scale. One tester considered this “the best” caramel (and I have to admit, I love their caramel too). They also suggested more base and less caramel. As you can see, the ration of caramel to other layers is... well, the picture speaks for itself. Another tester suggested there was not enough chocolate. For me, if I’m buying caramel slice instead of making it, this is the one I choose and it’s mainly because of the quality of the caramel.

Slice C was the one I made. I can’t work out the cost-per-piece, but it comes down to not-bloody-much. The payoff is, though, the time spent preparing, baking, cooling, cooking, baking, cooling, melting, and cooling. I’m so very proud that my humble little offering ranked so highly. You can find the recipe for it here.

Finally, once the testing was over, I brought all slices back out for the rest of the office to enjoy morning tea. I’m happy to report that C was finished first. A narrowly beat D to be finished next, and I ended up throwing the last of B out.

I really enjoyed this, and I hope my testers did too. I’m already trying to think of ideas to do a similar thing in a month or so with something else I like to bake. Ideas? Suggestions? Taste-testing volunteers?


Annette said...

Congratulations on a stunning result!

Looking at the photos, perhaps next time you do this, you could post pictures of each sample on the blog for people to vote on too? A lot can be gained from looking at the pictures, and my thoughts on the look of each sample seem to correspond with those of your testers!

Suggestions from your archives: Mum's choccie slice, banana cake, choc chip biccies


donny doolittle said...

Wow, you have a lot of time on your hands.

Anna said...

Hi Annette. Thanks for those suggestions! I'm also considering scones, but I need to get mine to a consistent quality before I start on that. Hehe, I'll be sure to bring you some samples next time I'm in Tassy :)

Donny - not really, no. This post was a long time in the making. It's amazing what you can do in 5-minute blocks.

Duncan | syrupandtang said...

Fantastic! I looked at the pics before reading about their origins and thought the winner looked the best... it reminded me of my Nanna's caramel slice, with the right balance of chocolate, base and caramel. Glad it was your homemade one. Yum. Too many (all?) commercial versions are sooooo full of caramel nowadays that it's a bit like sucking on a can of condensed milk.

thanh7580 said...

Great work Anna. It's good to see that the home made stuff really does taste the best.

Juz said...

OMG! I want that, and I want it now!