While this dessert is a little tricky to eat without making a complete mess, it rivals any decadent layer cake out there. We say the crunchy layers of puff pastry and cool vanilla custard are well worth any minor cleanup that might ensue. See, it’s the complete package. It’s airy and creamy and just sweet enough and it’s all sandwiched with that little snappy bite of puff pastry. (And an extra dusting of powdered sugar doesn’t hurt matters either.)
It’s based upon a pastry that’s popular throughout Central and Eastern Europe called ‘kremsnite.’ Well, it goes by many names (kremsnita, cremeschnitte…) but most of them mean ‘cream slice.’ And we’re sure they’re all delicious. Our version is almost no bake and involves a quick vanilla custard topped with an airy layer of whipped cream.
The component that makes these slices so unique is the puff pastry. You bake two sheets of puff pastry for just ten minutes and let them cool while you go to work on the fillings. One sheet lines the bottom of the pan and is then layered with the vanilla custard and whipped cream. You cut the other sheet into squares before laying them on top – this makes serving MUCH easier – and dusting the whole thing with powdered sugar. It goes into the fridge to chill for a few hours, but for such a pretty pastry, it really is simple!
A note on the rum: we find it cuts through any lingering egginess in the custard, but it’s absolutely optional, so feel free to leave it out if you prefer.
Custard Cream Squares
30 minutes active, 4 hours inactive
- 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
- For the filling:
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 8 eggs, separated
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons rum (optional)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place each puff pastry sheet on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Add three cups of milk to a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the flour, vanilla, rum (if using), and remaining 1 cup of the milk.
- When milk has come to a boil, fold egg yolk mixture into boiling milk and slowly stir until thickened. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, and slowly fold into the custard mixture.
- Place one of the puff pastry sheets on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Spread custard evenly over the top. Place in refrigerator to chill until cool and stiff, 1-2 hours.
- When custard has chilled, beat whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar with an electric mixer until stiff. Spread evenly on top of custard.
- Cut second pastry sheet into 15 squares and place over whipped cream. Return to refrigerator to chill for 2 more hours.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy!
Adapted from Better Baking Bible.