April 6, 2010

Caramel Pecan Slice

Restaurant: Vanitas (Queensland)

Recipe from book "Vanitas Gourmet Collection, The culinary stylings and splendour of an inspirational hotel" - Chef Steve Szabo

2010 Rating: Number 81, 1 Star

Last year in March Daz and I went to Queensland for a holiday involving copious amounts of eating and theme parking! Both activities were extremely enjoyable, and to be honest, its difficult for me to rate one above the other. One of our more notable experience was dinner in the luxurious hotel Versace at Vanitas. It was notable for a couple of reasons, both good and bad - to this day that scallop and rock melon soup sticks in my mind!

vanitas cookbook

I'm sucker for restaurant cook books, so I jumped at the chance to purchase their publication. Yes, it was VERY expensive, I probably could have had another nice dinner somewhere else for the price of the book, but then I wouldn't have the book. We trekked back to Vanitas on the following day of our dinner so I could get Steve Szabo to sign it. I never actually got to meet Steve, and to tell you the truth the whole signing ordeal was a bit strange - but thats another story.

signed vanita book

For twelve months this book has been staring at me. There are some very interesting recipes in there, some difficult, some extremely difficult. I thought I would start with probably the easiest one in there, a complete no brainer - the Caramel Pecan Slice. Heres the recipe, so stay tuned for the glorious results!!

book image
Apparently this is what the caramel slice is "supposed" to look like...pretty huh??

Caramel Pecan Slice
Serves 4


1 fig, quartered
4 fresh mint tips

Sweet Pastry
75g butter, softened
30g caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup plain flour

Caramel topping
1/4 cup golden syrup
75g unsalted butter
395g tin condensed milk
50g pecans, lightly toasted and roughly chopped

Pecan praline
100g sugar
1/2 tsp water
30g pecans, lightly toasted

Vanilla syrup
100g sugar
1 1/2 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp honey
1 vanilla bean, split length ways, seed removed and cut in half to make 4 batons
1/4 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 160C


Lightly grease and line a 2- x 30cm baking tin with baking paper

To make sweet pastry, cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl. Slowly add egg and flour and bring together, being careful not to overwork dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. When chilled, on a lightly floured work surface, work dough gently with your hands for 1-2 minutes or until soft enough to roll. Roll out to a thickness of 5mm and place in prepared baking tin, making sure that dough is pushed well into corners and comes about 1cm up sides of tin - this is to allow for shrinkage. The aim is to have a flat pastry base that covers the base of the baking tin only. chill for another 20 minutes then transfer to oven for 10 minutes or until pastry is firm but not coloured.

Increase oven temperature to 170C

To make caramel topping, combine golden syrup and butter in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, add condensed milk and pecans and mix well. Pour caramel over pastry base and place in the oven for 10 minutes or until set firm. Return to refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours add slice into 8cm squares using a knife dipped in hot water. Line baking tray with baking paper.

To make pecan praline, melt sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan over low heat for 10-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat, add pecans, coat well with caramel and pour on to prepared baking tray. Allow to set at room temperature. Once cold, chop into small pieces or place in food processor and blitz until fine. Be careful not to over process as praline will heat up and stick together. Praline can be kept in an airtight container for 1 month in pantry.

To make vanilla syrup, bring sugar and water to the boil, add honey and cook for 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from heat and carefully dip vanilla bean lengths in syrup for about 20 seconds. Remove and roll in caster sugar. To finish syrup, add seeds scraped from vanilla bean and allow to cool.

To serve, sprinkle crushed pecan praline on top of 4 portions of caramel slice. Place each slice on a serving plate. Stand a fig quarter beside caramel slice and decorate with crystallized vanilla bean baton, mint and vanilla syrup.


Julia @Mélanger said...

Wow, this is one caramel slice. All the best ingredients going into that sugary goodness!

Chanel11 said...

I lovedd Vanitas so can't wait to see the results!

Anh said...

What an amazing recipe! I cannot wait to try it out!

Agnes said...

Theme parking? Is that when you park in a special car park? Hehee. ;) I'll go read the rest of your post now!

Agnes said...

Okay! Now I've read the post! Tell us about the cookbook signing story. :) Can't wait to see the results of the caramel slice.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef said...

Ack, double tease! Promise of a weird signing story, and then use of inverted commas with how the slice is "supposed" to look. I'm waiting, I'm waiting!

penny aka jeroxie said...

We are just round the corner... I can come over and pick up a slice or two :P

penny aka jeroxie said...

We are just round the corner... I can come over and pick up a slice or two :P

Anonymous said...

Oh, talk about taking the traditional and giving it a twist! I love the look of this version, especially with the addition of nuts. Definitely makes it even better. :)

I love recipe books with pictures you just know you wanna bite into.

Ali-K said...

Oh I remember your versace post. Your photos are looking more and more spectacular every time I visit your blog.

And I'm dying to hear the signing story too.

Vee - A Melbourne Munchkin. said...

Result picture please! I have to say that when I buy cookbooks I always flip through to see how difficult they are - with such limited technical skills, it's always a bit sad to have a book I can only look at and never cook from!

Adrian @ Food Rehab said...

ummm...when you get to making this piece of heaven, please holla! And perhaps, send some over :P


Gastronomy Gal said...

I am a sucker for cook books too! The Vanitas cook book does look amazing.