When I think of vanilla slice, I think of the massive pieces of slice, oozing with vanilla, that are freshly made at this amazing bakery in Main Beach at the Gold Coast for as long as I can recall. From the time that I was little, I can remember her getting a fresh loaf of tiger bread to go with prawns and avocado, and a sneaky piece of vanilla slice to share for dessert. To be honest, though, it usually didn’t make it to after lunch.
Whilst this is a long way from that, it still reminds me of those indulgent treats. For anyone who loves vanilla slice, but does not love what it does to your waistline (especially because moderation and vanilla slice do not go hand in hand), this is definitely the recipe for you. Yes, it may not have the same crumbly pastry, but I’m sure it will be forgiven when you realise this little treat is much better for you than the alternative, but still satisfies that sweet tooth. Originally a French dessert called “Poudine mais”, this was very popular in the 60s, and personally, I think it’s ready for a comeback.
I tend to avoid making polenta because I have no self-control around it. I love it. It’s comforting versatile, and actually good for you – containing zeaxanthin (an antioxidant pigment that helps protect your eyes from macular degeneration), and a high amount of resistant starch which is a fibre that has protective effects against bowel cancer. But when I saw this recipe for fig and vanilla slice made with polenta, I couldn’t resist. And I do not regret the decision.
Inspired by an amazing cookbook my friend gave me called “Food as Medicine” (I am sticking to my resolution and using my cook books – are you proud?), this recipe is seriously easy to make. I made mine slightly less sweet than the recipe by adding slightly less honey, but it is still figgin’ delicious.
- 1 cup polenta
- 4 cups almond milk*
- 1/4 cup honey
- 8 dried figs, finely chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla extra
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
- Add the almond milk and 1/2 cup of water into a small saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Be careful not to boil the milk.
- Gradually add in the polenta, stirring constantly until the milk has just been absorbed. This should take about a minute.
- Add in the honey, chopped figs, vanilla extra and continue to stir over a low heat for 7 minutes. If the polenta becomes too thick, add some extra water to thin it.
- Sprinkle half of the coconut onto the bottom of a rectangular baking dish. Pour the hot polenta mixture over the top and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut.
- Let the mixture to cool slightly before putting it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until set.
- Cut into 12 squares and serve cold.
- *you could use any milk you like - this is just a dairy free, vegan version.