Vanilla Custard Squares


Our family LOVES puff pastry. We also LOVE custard, so this dessert is right up our alley. It’s somewhat time consuming to make, and you have to plan ahead because it needs to chill for four hours before you serve it, but it’s well worth the planning. Our family inhaled it.

Buying Pepperidge Farm puff pastry makes this easy, because there’s no need to roll the dough. It comes out of the package the perfect size. The photo above is the whole dessert, uncut. The photo below is one piece. One would think that the custard would ooze out when you tried to cut it, but miraculously, it doesn’t. This dessert will be on repeat in our house, especially when the boys are home from school.

Vanilla Custard Squares
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

2 8.5-ounce sheets ready-rolled puffed pastry, defrosted [from a 1.1-pound (490-gram) package]
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

Prepare the pastry: Heat oven to 375°F. If your puffed pastry comes out of the box as a 9-inch square, no rolling is necessary. If your puffed pastry is not that size, roll it on a lightly floured surface until it’s roughly a 9-inch square. Take each piece and put it on its own parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the puff pastry all over with a fork. This will hopefully prevent it from puffing up in the oven. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of each sheet, then another 1 or 2 baking sheets on top of the parchment paper to weigh it down. Bake the puff pastry in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, then remove the baking sheet weights and top sheet of paper and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown. Set pastry aside to cool completely.

Line the base and sides of an 8×8-inch cake pan with a large sheet of foil so the excess goes up the sides. I learned from Smitten Kitchen that it helps to first mold the foil over the outside of the baking pan and then transfer it inside.

Place first cooled square of pastry on a cutting board and use bottom of the cake pan to cut it into a square that will fit tightly inside the pan. Repeat with second square. Place the first square inside the pan; save the second square until needed.

Make the custard: In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, starch, and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until smooth and no pockets of sugar-starch remain before adding the second. Whisk in vanilla extract, and then, very gradually, whisking the whole time, pour in milk, then cream. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking the whole time. As the custard begins to bubble, it will thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until it is fully melted.

Assemble the squares: Immediately pour the warm custard into the baking pan over the first sheet of puff pastry and spread evenly. Place the second sheet of pastry on top, pressing gently to secure in place.

Chill the squares: Cover the pan in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow the custard to fully set. Once chilled and set, use the foil to carefully lift the mixture from the tin. Dust with powdered sugar then use a sharp, serrated knife to cut it into squares.

These will keep for a couple of days if they’re wrapped up and kept in the refrigerator, but the puff pastry will soften the longer they are kept.

Yield: Sixteen small pieces

One year ago: Ultranutty Pecan Bars
Two years ago: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Three years ago: Louisa’s Cake
Four years ago: Hummus
Five years ago: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Six years ago: Mallobars
Seven years ago: Sweet Potato-Sausage Soup
Eight years ago: Marcus Samuelsson’s Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup
Nine years ago: Honey Roasted Almonds
Ten years ago: Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake
Eleven years ago: Chocolate Dipped Meringue Cookies
Twelve years ago: Snickerdoodles

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