Traditional treats gone to custard

20:00, Sep 30 2013
Banoffee chocolate and caramel mille-feuilles
Banoffee chocolate and caramel mille-feuilles.

It is generally referred to as custard square.

My grandmother would enjoy rewarding us with a slice, although she would refer to it as vanilla slice.

Most European countries refer to it as mille-feuilles (pronounced mil foi) and often called napoleon or gateau napoleon in the Americas.

The original French mille- feuilles were made with three layers of puff pastry filled with two layers of pastry cream - creme patisserie. Francois Pierre La Varenne mentioned them in his book Le Cuisinier Francois, which goes back as far as the Confederation of French cuisine itself, printed in 1651.

As mille-feuilles travelled to the United Kingdom and then around the Commonwealth, it took on new flavours and styles, with both Australia and New Zealand going for the single layer of custard (rather than the French or Danish style of custard cream) which is also somewhat firmer than the original. We also tend to use a simple butter icing topped with coconut rather than the traditional fondant icing and chocolate ripples through.

Many of the Asian countries have adopted the mille-feuilles and added their own twist to them.


Raspberries, strawberries and blueberries are commonplace, as are chocolate and banana and sea salt caramel, along with mint and chocolate.

Many of the patisseries around the world in our modern times will serve their mille-feuilles as individual portions, somewhat larger than our traditional custard square or vanilla slice in height but not too dissimilar in size of the pastry rectangle.

Today we will make our mille-feuilles somewhat different to the traditional, one that will be enjoyed by all.

To make 12 individual servings

For the pastry

enough puff pastry to cut 36 13cm by 8cm rectangles


Heat your oven to 220'C.

Place 12 of these rectangles on a baking tray and prick with a fork. Dust with heaps of icing sugar and place in the freezer to chill for five minutes.

Place the remaining pastry rectangles on a second baking sheet and place in the freezer to chill for five minutes.

Remove the pastry from the freezer and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry is browning on the top.

Cover the baking sheets with greaseproof paper and place another baking tray on top, return to the oven and bake for a further seven to 10 minutes, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.

For the caramel

150g soft brown sugar

150g butter

1 x 397g tin of condensed milk


Place all the ingredients in a pot and slowly bring to simmer.

Cook for five minutes or until it has formed a caramel.

Pour into a squeezy bottle and place in the refrigerator.

For the cream

500ml cream

2 Tbsp banana liqueur

icing sugar to sweeten


Whip until thick and forming stiff peaks then fold in the banana liqueur, adding icing sugar to taste. Spoon mixture into a piping bag, fit with a medium nozzle and refrigerate.

For the icing

2 tsp cocoa powder

200g icing sugar

2-3 Tbsp boiling water

4 ripe bananas peeled and sliced


Mix the cocoa and icing sugar in a bowl then add the boiling water and mix to a stiff paste.

Spread the icing over 12 of the rectangles using a pallet knife (these will be the 12 rectangles that you sprinkled with icing sugar prior to baking).

Squeeze four lines of caramel across the top of each and immediately drag a toothpick in the opposite direction to give a traditional feathered decoration.

To assemble:

Pipe the cream onto 12 un-iced pastry rectangles and drizzle with a generous amount of caramel.

Place sliced bananas on top.

Then place another un-iced rectangle of pastry.

Repeat the cream, caramel and banana on another layer then top with 12 iced rectangles.

Note: Southland's favorite custard square is available from a fund raising group at the Farmers market on Sunday mornings.

Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Dr/Bainfield Rd roundabout.

The Southland Times