Given my infatuation with custard squares there was no way I could pass through Timaru without paying a visit to Denheath - I do think they're the best custard squares to be found (I've written about them before) and I love that you can order a box of them to be delivered to your door. Mr Cake has done this for me in the past as an extra special treat and it really is quite exciting; they're transported frozen (don't worry, they still taste great!) and arrive in a perfectly dimensioned chiller box:
Denheath also make cheesecake squares and custard e-squares (fascinating square eclairs!), and the custard squares come in a range of yummy flavours (the classic vanilla is my favourite but passionfruit comes a close second, followed by chocolate - well, I'll take any of them, really). So even if, like my brother-in-law, you are not a custard fan (how can you not like custard?) you can still have a nice dessert. Lisa also makes stunning cakes and cupcakes and you can even have a slab of custard square as a birthday cake.
Lisa and Donald, who run Denheath, have been slogging away for many years to share their custard squares with the nation - the secret recipe for the custard squares comes from the original owners of Denheath House in Pleasant Point. Lisa's family bought the house on the strength of the custard square recipe (the recipe came with the property!) and in 2000 Lisa and Donald started selling to cafes (the Ballantynes tea room, which is where I discovered them, was their very first vendor). Now there are hundreds of spots around New Zealand for you to get your fix - but it's still very much a family business, and when we popped in Lisa and Donald were both in the office. Though they were surprised we had braved the weather (by the way, Mr Cake tells me the reason we travelled was not because we are stubborn, which is what I said the other day, but because we are "gung ho." Correction noted, Mr Cake) they were very welcoming and friendly, and happy to share their story with us.
So how do the custard squares rate? Well, I love them - they are very rich and decadent, true custard flavour but minus the gelatinous texture so common among bakery specimens. They are hard to eat - you really do need a fork, or to be willing to get a bit messy - but it's well worth the effort. The icing isn't too sickly and comes with a generous topping of coconut. The pastry is flaky, and will avoid sogginess if they're defrosted properly (though if you pass through Timaru and visit the factory you might be lucky enough to get fresh ones!). The biggest argument against them is that they're a bit tricky to eat out of a paper bag at morning tea time - but that's a convenience I'm willing to sacrifice in exchange for having a deliciously fluffy filling. Though they're pricier than your average custard square I think they're well worth it, and my previous rating of 9/10 definitely still stands.
Have you tried Denheath custard squares? And don't you think all dessert should be available by mail order?
Denheath custard squares are available from various retailers nationwide, and online from www.denheath.co.nz.