Vanilla slices, also known as custard slices or mille-feuille, are a classic pastry that has delighted dessert enthusiasts for centuries. This delectable treat, with its layers of puff pastry and luscious vanilla custard, is a perfect combination of flaky, buttery goodness and sweet, creamy indulgence. In this article, we will explore the history of vanilla slices and guide you through an irresistible vanilla slice recipe that will have you savoring every delightful bite.
History of Vanilla Slices:
The origin of vanilla slices can be traced back to France, where the mille-feuille, meaning “thousand sheets” in French, was born. The traditional mille-feuille consists of layers of puff pastry and pastry cream, topped with a glossy layer of icing. Over time, this classic pastry spread across Europe and evolved into various regional interpretations.
In England, the vanilla slice became immensely popular, with bakeries and patisseries offering their own unique twists on the classic recipe. The Australian vanilla slice, often referred to as the “snot block” due to its gooey texture, has become an iconic dessert Down Under. Regardless of its name or regional variations, the vanilla slice has stood the test of time, captivating taste buds worldwide.
Ingredients for Vanilla Slice:
Before diving into the step-by-step guide, let’s gather the ingredients for this delightful vanilla slice recipe:
For the puff pastry:
- 2 sheets of store-bought puff pastry
For the vanilla custard filling:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
For the icing:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Prepare the Puff Pastry: Lay out the puff pastry sheets on the prepared baking sheet and bake according to the package instructions or until they are golden brown and puffed up. Allow them to cool completely.
- Make the Vanilla Custard: a. In a saucepan, heat the milk and cream over medium heat. If using a vanilla bean, split it lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture. If using vanilla extract, add it to the mixture. b. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until well combined. c. Gradually pour the heated milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. d. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until it thickens into a custard-like consistency. e. Remove the pan from heat, stir in the butter until melted, and let the custard cool.
- Assemble the Vanilla Slice: a. Place one sheet of puff pastry on a serving dish. b. Spread the cooled vanilla custard evenly over the pastry. c. Place the second sheet of puff pastry on top of the custard layer.
- Prepare the Icing: In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar or milk as needed.
- Ice the Vanilla Slice: Pour the icing over the top layer of puff pastry, spreading it evenly with a spatula. Allow the icing to set for a few minutes.
- Chill and Serve: Place the assembled vanilla slice in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow the custard to set and the flavors to meld. Once chilled, cut the vanilla slice into squares or rectangles and serve.
Congratulations! You have successfully embarked on a delightful journey into the world of vanilla slices. This classic pastry, with its layers of flaky puff pastry and velvety vanilla custard, is a testament to the timeless appeal of simple yet elegant desserts. Whether you enjoy it as a sweet treat with your afternoon tea or as a show-stopping finale to a special meal, the vanilla slice is sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. So, gather your ingredients, follow the steps, and savor the joy of creating and indulging in this scrumptious vanilla slice recipe.