Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Vanilla Slice

Zola: I know, I know. I've been a complete slacker lately, but trust me--this one is worth the wait. Okay, so Guy has been on the road for the last few weeks and I wanted to make something really special for him when he got home. I usually try to make a nice, simple home cooked meal after he's been on tour, because I know there's been a lot crappy fast food, as well as some really good but rich dining experiences (for example, he finally got to go to Cochon in New Orleans--that place is amazing). I had my roast chicken, stuffed with lemons, garlic and thyme, some salad, a nice baguette; but I wanted something that said, "Welcome Home!!" Which made me start thinking, "what says welcome home to an expat?" Well, nothing says comfort like a dessert and I needed something very Australian. Enter Bryony. Bryony is a very dear, old friend of Guy's from Perth. I've only had the pleasure of meeting her once (ironically, in Perth, although she's been living in Philly for quite some time). Bryony and her posse showed me that I needed something that made Guy feel like this:

[sonofabitch. i've been messing around with this video all week and I can't get it to load. Here's the
link to the video]
Bryony (and her posse):

Vanilla Slice:

2 bought puff pastry sheets
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, split
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup custard powder
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
3 cups whipping cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
Powdered sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 9" square pan with aluminium foil or plastic wrap, so that the foil/wrap comes up over the sides (this allows you to lift out the slice). You can use a slightly bigger pan, like I did, but your VS won't end up as thick.

Bake pastry sheets as directed and replace any guilt over being a former pastry chef that has given in to using store-bought pastry sheets with the sheer pleasure of not having to do anything but thaw and bake, then convince yourself that the Vanilla Slice Australian kids grow up on is decidedly NOT made from hand rolled pastry.
Set pastry (and any lingering guilt) aside to cool. Once cool, place 1 pastry sheet, cooked-side up, in bottom of pan. (You may need to trim it slightly to fit.)
Place milk in a pan over medium heat. Scrape in vanilla seeds and add bean too. Warm gently, then set aside for 10 minutes.
Place cornstarch, custard powder and sugar in a pan. Strain milk, discarding bean, into pan with cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Add cream, then return to heat, stirring constantly, over low heat until the mixture thickens and boils. Now here's the thing: that is crap load of cornstarch you've got in there. When this thing starts to come together, you'll know it--it changes quite suddenly from being a liquid to becoming like pudding. IMMEDIATELY, take the pan off the heat (especially if you're cooking on an electric element). Keep stirring all the while--the residual heat of you pan will keep cooking the custard and you don't want to overcook it. Add butter, stirring well to combine, and whisk in egg yolks, one at a time, until smooth. Pour into pastry-lined pan and set aside to cool slightly before placing other piece of pastry, cooked-side up, on top. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove from pan, cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar. OR if you want to get really technical, you would make icing from powdered sugar and add some food dye to make it pink and spread that on the top. Eat with your hands and watch video again one more time for good measure.


Nicole said...

Oh my god that was funny. When the weather cools down again I'm going to try it, it looks delicious.

Zola said...

Why wait? You can pretend like you're in Australia and it's hot as Hades and you've got a fat slice of Vanilla Slice that refuses to melt. It kind of reminds me of the time that me and my parents went to a Baskin & Robbins on a *really* hot day and saw a rather large man tasting some triple chocolate fudge peanut butter toffee ripple with s'mores concoction and after smacking his lips, he declared the favor, "Refreshing!"