Eggnog Custard Slices

This dish combines three of my favourite things - flaky pastry, velvety vanilla custard, and the rich flavours of one of the loveliest Christmas tipples, eggnog. If you're not familiar with it, it's a rich & creamy concoction flavoured with brandy, cinnamon and nutmeg. It makes for a fabulous dessert that's full of festive spirit.

Ingredients


1 block of ready-made puff pastry
375ml milk
375ml single cream
60g unsalted butter, chopped
2 tsp vanilla essence
150g caster sugar
50g cornflour
125ml water
6 egg yolks
A pinch of nutmeg & cinnamon
30ml brandy

Makes 10-12 slices

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Before you start, choose the tin that you'll use to place the dessert in, to set. You need it to be fairly deep, so I'd suggest a brownie tin. Mine is roughly 23cm square, but you can make it fit whichever tin you have.

Begin with the pastry - cut the block in half, and roll out each half into a thin sheet that's just a bit bigger than the tin you're going to use. Place each piece on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper, lay another sheet of paper on top, and weight down with another tray on top (I filled mine with baking beans). This will stop the pastry puffing up unevenly as it cooks. Place the trays in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is just starting to turn golden. When the pastry is done, allow it to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave until completely cold. Line your chosen tin with another sheet of grease proof paper, and cut the pastry so that it fits tightly into the tin. Place one sheet of pastry in the bottom of the tin and keep the other sheet to one side.

Next, make the custard. It all happens quite quickly at the end so it’s worth getting prepared – separate the eggs so that you have all the yolks ready in a jug (you don’t need the egg whites for this recipe – try using them for this rather scrumptious Lemon Meringue). Measure out the cornflour and mix with the water until completely absorbed.

In a large saucepan, combine the milk, cream, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar, and place on a medium heat. Stir gently until the butter has melted and all the ingredients are combined (don't worry if you can see patches of the liquid melted butter refusing to mix with the cream, it will later), and then bring to the boil. As soon as you hit this point, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the water & cornflour, and the egg yolks. Make sure that you keep whisking continuously as you pour the ingredients in.

Return the pan to the hob, on a high heat, still whisking constantly, and cook for 30-60 seconds until the custard suddenly thickens. Add the brandy and whisk briefly to combine. Pour into the prepared tin on top of the first sheet of pastry, then lay the second sheet on top and press down gently, so that it settles flat. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, to set, and serve with a dusting of icing sugar.