Travel from Melbourne to Cairns and you’ll struggle to find a town that doesn’t have a classic, Aussie bakery. The type of place where you can get a pie, an Oak milk and something sweet. But, woe, the perennial decision as you gaze into the cabinet: Caramel Slice or Vanilla Slice?
Slice lovers, at ease. You’ve been relieved of your post. The decision has been taken out of your hands.
One night, after everyone had cleared out for the day and the baby pink meringues had been tucked into their patty cases, Caramel and Vanilla got a bit… cozy. *cue Barry White* Shortly after, the Caramel Vanilla Slice was born…
OK, dessert fairy tales aside, I was pretty chuffed with myself when I came up with this one.
On our recent trip to New Zealand we visited the town of Hamilton. A lush, green little place which I immediately fell in love with, not least because of its burgeoning food scene.
One of our brunch destinations, Scotts Epicurean, was serving up Caramel Coconut Slice. Similar to our Aussie version except instead of being topped with the usual milk chocolate, there instead sat a crisp layer of shredded coconut. GENIUS!
I was forever changed. Some doors once opened, can never be closed again.
Driving back to Auckland later in the trip, I kept thinking about that slice. What else could you do with a caramel slice? There was some seriously hard pondering on my part. It was the baking equivalent of scrawling equations and numbers on a chalkboard. Then it hit me: custard.
(Not literally, while delicious that would be an unsightly mess to clean off the rental car!)
A layer of custard! So simple, how weren’t people doing this already? Caramel Slice on the bottom, Vanilla Slice in the middle and then the hybrid toasted coconut on top.
Your next morning tea called, and it wants THIS!
Check out my recipe below, I think you’ll find it relatively simple. Especially as I replace the usual caramel process with a tin of Top’n’Fill. (No shame, it’s just condensed milk that’s been cooked for a long time!)
If you’ve never made a creme patissiere or custard before, take it slow and don’t let yourself get distracted. Just. Keep. Stirring. I can never bring myself to use custard powder because I think it’s easier and better from scratch. But if you must…
Oh and when you do get around to making this recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Caramel Vanilla Slice
- 1 cup of plain flour
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of dessicated coconut
- 1/4 cup of almond meal
- 1 teaspoon golden syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 150 g butter, melted
- 1 can ‘Top’n’Fill’ caramel
- Pinch of sea salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups pouring cream
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1/2 cup cornflour
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100 g butter, chopped
- 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
- Preheat your oven to 160 degrees. Line a 20cm x 20cm square, deep baking tin.
- Combine all of the base ingredients and press into the prepared tin, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 20 mins or until golden.
- Open the can of Top’n’Fill and place in a saucepan on low heat, stirring until smooth.
- Pour over the baked, slightly cooled base and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in the fridge until custard is ready.
- To make the custard place milk, cream, vanilla, sugar and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a scald then remove from the heat.
- In another bowl, whisk the cold water and cornflour then add to the beaten egg yolks.
- Keep whisking the egg mixture while adding a slow and steady stream of the warm milk mixture. Do this until about one quarter has been added, then – for acrobatic flourish – tip the whole egg mixture back into the remaining milk mixture and return to the stove on medium.
- Whisk continuously until thick. It should take a couple of minutes.
- Pour over the base and place aside to cool.
- In a dry frying pan, toast some coconut flakes until lightly golden – keep an eye on them as they burn quickly! Sprinkle liberally over the the custard layer.
- Cover with foil and refrigerate.
Slice your… er… slice with a hot, dry knife to ensure it holds its shape. Best served straight out of the fridge, on a plate with a dainty fork as the custard can become unsophisticated as it warms and a serviette will quickly become inadequate. Though I guess it depends on the company you keep, some people may like that.
This slice is an amalgamation of recipes that I love which I have tweaked to work well together. The custard is based on a recipe by the amazing, Donna Hay, but I have made it thicker.