I am all for shortcuts and kitchen hacks but sometimes you look at something and it just doesn't seem right - this was one of those recipes for me. However, I knew I would find plenty of willing taste-testers at work and I figured it couldn't taste bad - at worst it would taste like instant pudding and pastry, right?
As ever, I used the Edmonds Butter Puff pastry - so yummy - and the three sheets I had in my freezer was spot on for the amount of filling this creates. I would have liked them to be a bit taller but the filling is very soft and was hard enough to keep the custard with the pastry as it was. Stabbing the pastry all over with a fork was the most tedious part of the whole recipe, but is important to stop it from puffing up - it lets the hot air out as the pastry cooks.
Putting it together was easy - slop the 'custard' onto the bottom sheet of pastry, then spread as evenly as you can and press the rest of the pastry on top.
I am a fan of the coconut topping - I know many people aren't and you can easily leave this out. You can also use vanilla essence and water for the icing - or passionfruit syrup or pulp and water - or anything else you feel like!
The filling is very tasty and creamy - and incredibly rich - and everyone at work raved about it. I don't think it's very similar to the Denheath's squares at all - theirs have a whole other level of creamy-awesome - but it does fill a pretty neat niche for an easy and impressive custard square; you could probably put it together in a little over half an hour at a pinch. A recipe which will stay in my artillery for its simplicity!
Easy Custard Squares (makes 18-24)
3 sheets butter puff pastry
4 x 70g packets vanilla instant pudding
100g butter, melted
2 cups icing sugar
lemon juice (or vanilla essence)
Preheat the oven to 220 C. Cut one of the pastry sheets in half and place all of them on lined baking trays and prick all over with a fork. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Press down with a clean teatowel to ensure they are flat. Cool.
Place the milk, cream and instant pudding mix in a large bowl and beat for 6-8 minutes or until thick and creamy. Scoop the filling mixture onto one of the large and one of the small pastry sheets, and spread out evenly with a spatula. Top with the remaining pastry and use a spatula to even out the filling around the edges.
In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the icing sugar, and then add lemon juice and water if needed to get to a good spreading consistency. Spread over the pastry tops and sprinkle with coconut. Chill for an hour then use a serrated knife to saw through the pastry to cut into squares. Keep chilled; eat within 48 hours.