1 hour prep, 3 hours set. Makes 9.
Custard Square, or Vanilla Square if you speak Australian, is a puff pastry sandwich with set custard in the middle, iced with icing sugar and coconut. Perhaps the most defining item of a New Zealand bakery - if it doesn't have custard square, then its probably no good.
For this recipe I am using ready-made puff pastry, because of 2 reasons. 1) it's far easier, and much less time consuming and 2) making a gluten free puff pastry recipe will consume me for the rest of my days and I didn't want you have to wait for the custard square recipe. In the U.K., my preferred gluten free puff pastry brand is Jus Rol, which is what I used for this recipe with great results. If you are using Jus Rol, you will only need one packet, cut directly in half. In New Zealand, I would suggest using Pavillion, although I've not used it for this recipe, I have eaten it in the past and enjoy it.
Some people may think that custard is very difficult to make, I would disagree, just make sure you read ahead in the recipe so you know what you need to do. Luckily, this recipe doesn't contain egg, so you don't need to worry about scrambling, making it even easier than other custards. Here are my tips on making custard:
Don't stop whisking! When you are thickening the custard, dig deep, use those biceps and whisk like you life (or custard) depends on it.
Make sure you are whisking all parts of the pan. A common mistake not reaching the ingredients around the bottom rim of the saucepan. So keep moving your saucepan around, and making sure to get the whisk in all corners.
You will know when it's done when the custard coats the back of a spoon and doesn't run off. After that, remove from heat, and still lightly whisk while it cools down.
I N G R E D I E N T S
1 sheet of defrosted ready roll gluten free puff pastry (I use Jus Rol)
2 Cups of Whole Milk
1/3 cup of cornflour
4 tsps of vanilla essence
75 grams of butter (chilled and cut into chunks)
6 Tbsp of icing sugar
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
M E T H O D
Preheat the oven to 180° celsius/bake. Roll out the pastry, cut in half, and place on a flat baking tray. This will be the bottom and top of the custard square.
Prick the pastry with a fork several times and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
When the pastry is done, take it out of the oven and immediately press down on the pastry with a spatula. This will provide a flat base and top for the custard. If you don't do this, you will find it difficult to seperate the layers.
Leave the pastry to cool and move onto the custard.
In a medium saucepan, pour in the milk, vanilla essence, cornflour, and icing sugar and mix with a wooden spoon., until combined. Make sure there are no ingredients sticking to the bottom.
Turn the stove onto a medium heat and add the butter, stirring again until it's all melted and combined, still checking that nothing is sticking to the sides or bottom of the pan.
Once the butter is melted, start whisking and don't stop until the custard can coat the back of the wooden spoon. It should take around 5 minutes. Make sure you are whisking right into the bottom rim of the saucepan. If your mixture starts to have bits floating around in it, that means it's started to cook on the bottom. Don't worry! While it's not ideal, you can strain the custard until it's smooth again.
Remove the custard from the heat, and gently whisk while it cools.
Place the bottom layer of pastry onto a chopping board that you will be able to move into the fridge.
Carefully start spooning the custard onto the bottom layer of the pastry. You might wonder how you are going to create enough height like this because the pastry is pretty much a liquid, however it will quickly start to set and you can slowly build on top of it. If it leaks over the side, just spoon it back on top.
Once all the custard is on the pastry, gently place the top layer of pastry on top. Press down carefully so there is no air bubbles between the custard and pastry.
Place the custard square into the fridge and set of 1-2 hours, or until the custard is set.
Once the custard is set, mix together the icing sugar, lemon juice, and a tablespoon of water in a bowl and mix until you have a thick, smooth icing.
Ice the top layer of pastry, covering it completely. Then sprinkle over the desiccated coconut, and return to the fridge for the icing to set for another hour.
Once everything has set, cut the custard square into 9 slices using a serrated knife and enjoy! Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.