[serves a decent crowd, say 12 people].
Okay, let’s get one thing straight- it’s really just a slightly fancy, slap happy custard square. But a tasty one, at that. We always seem to have custard in the fridge- I don’t know if it’s a hang up from having little babies in the house. These not-so-little-now babies are still avid custard eaters, when all else fails- it is a safe bet and a custard dessert is nearly as good as Santa! And who can go past filo pastry? [“Ha, I hope you have your vacuum cleaner on hand”. That was what my sensible [and cheeky] mum said, when I told her what we were having for dessert. I’d forgotten about that bit, when I last ate filo in 2005]. All crumbs aside, I have nothing but love for that golden, crunchy and messy deliciousness.
The custard and pineapple can be done days ahead of time, the filo needs to be done the day of. Caramelising pineapple is a great way make your pineapples last [nearly] forever. Sitting in the syrupy goodness enhances the flavour even more. Serving this custard square shortly after you’ve assembled it is best. But sometimes the ducks just don’t line up, in which case your filo might be a bit soft and chewy, as opposed to super crunchy- but still a crowd pleaser.
C U S T A R D :
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4-1/2 cup / 2-4 fl oz. maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch
- 250 ml / 8.5 fl oz.coconut milk
- 250 ml / 8.5 fl oz. milk [feel free to alter these quantities, depending on how much milk or coconut milk you have to a combined total of 500 ml ]
Whisk egg yolks, cornflour, maple syrup and about 1/4 cup of above milk mixture together in a bowl and set aside. Heat remaining milks in saucepan over low- medium heat, until almost boiling. At this point, add egg yolk, cornflour, milk and maple to saucepan, whisking continuously until custard thickens. Sometimes this can take a little while, but be patient! In my experience shortcuts are never worth the risk, where custard is concerned. Once you think it’s thickened nicely, place clingfilm snug over top of custard [so you don’t get a rubbery skin on it]. Leave to cool somewhere, until you’re ready to assemble. This custard keeps for a good week in the fridge. [Just do the [very scientific] sniff test before you serve it to your custard square party participants].
C A R A M E L I S E D P I N E A P P L E :
[adapted from David Lebovitz’s Spiced Caramelized Pineapple]
- 1/2 pineapple, diced into 1cm thick pieces [but feel free to use the whole lot, just double the other ingredients]
- 1/2 cup / 4 fl. oz rum, pimms or whatever liquor you have in the cupboard [I used Malibu for a coconut kick]
- Juice of 3 lemons
- 1/2 cup / 3 oz. apricot jam [or marmalade]
- 1 tsp each cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg
- a drizzle of maple syrup
Heat oven to around 150˚C / 300˚F / gas mark 2. Place pineapple in a baking roasting dish, big enough that they fit and each piece gets to roast in the juice. Mix all other ingredients together in a bowl and slosh over top of pineapple. Place in oven, checking on it from time to time [every 15-20 mins], turning the pieces and re-coating them with the syrup. This can take around 2 hours- but you can sort of stop and start the process if need be by removing from the oven, or turning temperature down. Once pineapple is looking golden and caramelised- and the syrup sticky and mostly absorbed, remove from heat. Once cooled, place in an airtight container and store in fridge. Pineapple is best served at room temperature, so remember to pull out from fridge a couple of hours prior to serving.
F I L O :
- 12 sheets of filo
- 50 g / 1.7 oz melted butter
- Icing sugar to dust
Heat oven to 170° C / 330° F / gas mark 3 . Lay one sheet of filo out, brush with butter and dust with icing sugar before adding the next sheet. Once you have a made a pile of 4 sheets, slice into 12 even sized rectangles. Place on an oven tray and bake until golden and crispy. Repeat this with remaining sheets, until you have baked 3 full oven trays of 12 rectangles.
T O A S S E M B L E :
- 1/2 cup / 4 fl oz. cream, whipped
- icing sugar, to dust
- 1/2 cup / 4 fl oz. creme fraiche
- handful of mint, finely chopped
- toasted coconut
Get all your components and set them out in area with a decent bit of workspace, ala Subway. Beat up your cream and mix through with custard. Lay out 12 of the rectangles and spread custard over each of them [use a piping bag if you can be bothered, otherwise just slap a couple of spoonfuls on each piece]. Roughly break up pineapple and add a few pieces on top of custard. Add filo rectangle lid to each of the custard piles. Repeat above step, placing last batch of filo lids on top of each pile. Dust each custard stack with icing sugar. Mix creme fraiche and mint together and add a small dollop a top each rectangle. Finish each stack with a small piece of pineapple, some toasted coconut and a mint leaf.
Bring a plate? Oh yeah, you just aced dessert.