Vanilla Cheesecake Slice

Pirate Dreams
Posted on 09/18/2012 by cakecrumbs
Here's another treat I baked for Father's Day! This one went to my boyfriend's dad. 



After a delicious lunch at his house, there definitely was an abundance of dessert. His sister-in-law brought a delicious ginger cake she'd baked, and his mum provided a hummingbird cake as well as platters of different biscuits, nuts, chocolates and other sweets. In between these two courses, we all had this vanilla cheesecake slice.



This slice is a layer of vanilla custard and a layer of vanilla cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry. It's then dusted in icing sugar and patterned with a caramelised lattice.



It is a little difficult to cut when fresh. You need a hot knife and a bit of patience to avoid squishing the custard out in every direction. With care, you'll end up with two even layers of filling. Once the slice has been refrigerated for a day or two and the pastry has taken up some of the moisture, it is much easier to cut through -- if you can wait that long!



Cut the slices as big...



... or as small as you like.

I cut them into 16 squares. At this size, it was large enough to enjoy while still leaving plenty of room for more dessert (or a second slice if you can't resist). If serving as a dessert or treat by itself, you may want to cut it into 9 or 12 pieces.



I didn't use any gelatine in the custard portion. If you want to stabilise it and make the slice easier to cut, you can add the same amount required for the cheesecake layer. If aesthetics doesn't bother you, you don't have to bother with it.


Vanilla Cheesecake Slice 

Ingredients

Custard Layer
1/2 cup (110g) icing sugar
1/3 cup (50g) cornflour
1/4 cup (30g) custard powder
2 cups (500ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
40g butter, chopped
2 egg yolks

Cheesecake Layer
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
1 tablespoon water
250g cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
3/4 cup (180ml) cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

2x 23cm squares of puff pastry
icing sugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 240°C (220°C fan-forced/465°F). Line a 23cm square cake pan with greaseproof paper, foil or cling wrap. Line or grease a large baking tray.
  2. Place puff pastry on baking tray; prick all over with a fork and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden in colour. Leave aside to cool; flatten if necessary and place one sheet into the cake tin.
  3. To make custard; blend dry ingredients in a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup of milk. Ensure no lumps remain, then add the rest of the milk and the vanilla. Stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens; stir in egg yolks and butter until smooth and well incorporated. Pour into cake pan and spread evenly over pastry. 
  4. To make the cheesecake layer; sprinkle gelatin over water inside a small heatproof jug or glass. Simmer in a small saucepan of water, stirring, until gelatin disovles. Remove pan from heat and let stand. Beat cream cheese and sugar in a medium mixing bowl until smooth. Beat in cream and vanilla essence; beat in gelatine. Spread over custard layer
  5. Top with second sheet of pastry; gently press down to ensure it adheres. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Once set, remove from pan and place on a large platter or chopping board. 
  6. To make sugar lattice; dust the top of the pastry with a generous layer of icing sugar. Heat a metal skewer over a flame until red hot (a gas hotplate is idea for this) then drag in a straight line across the surface of the icing sugar. To make this process quicker, I use two metal skewers and leave one to heat over the hotplate while using the second to caramelise the sugar. You will need to re-heat them several times. Use a cloth to wipe the skewers of any remaining icing sugar between bouts. 
  7. Cut into 9, 12 or 16 slices. 


To see more pictures of this slice, read about lunch time with my boyfriend's family, check out my mother hen warnings for caramelising the sugar, or just to grab a printable version of this recipe, check out the post at Cakecrumbs





mamoosh 17th-Sep-2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
Do you press the entire length of the hot skewer into the sugar, or just drag the tip across? Because this is genius, and I need to know how to do it!
cakecrumbs 23rd-Sep-2012 11:50 am (UTC)
Apologies for the belated reply! You can do either, but I found it easier to heat the top and drag it. I heated only as much of the skewer as fit over my hot plate. It takes a lot to heat it up enough to work, so I couldn't be bothered waiting for the entire skewer to heat up.
pakaboori 23rd-Sep-2012 07:18 am (UTC)
This looks so appealing, I can't wait to try it! However, it seems a bit beyond my skill level, so I have a few questions I hope you may answer.

1 - So the whole thing can be made ahead and left in refrigeration for a day or two? I see your note that it's easier to cut after a few days, and I'm thinking I can plan to wait if that'll make it less messy.

2 - If using the gelatine to set the custard, at what point should it be added?

3 - Do you have any thoughts on what other form of vanilla could be substituted for the vanilla bean paste in the custard? I'm sure the bean paste gives superior flavour and quality, but I doubt I can get my hands on some in the timeframe I have in mind.

4 - Should the pan be refrigerated between layers? Ie, I'll have the custard ready to pour when the puff pastry comes out, but then I'll need to get the cheesecake together so the pan will be left sitting on the counter for a while...or can I get both fillings ready ahead of the puff pastry, and let them sit until that's done?

5 - Is this skewer technique your own invention? If not, do you suppose there's video anywhere? I'm hesitant to try it for the first time on the slice itself. Might it be possible to practice with sugar dusted onto parchment paper?

Whether or not you can answer these questions, thanks for sharing this marvelous recipe!
cakecrumbs 23rd-Sep-2012 12:26 pm (UTC)
Let me know if I miss anything as I have a habit of getting carried away and missing parts!

1. Definitely. I had a couple of leftover slices I'd left for others to claim that were left in the fridge for 2-3 days. They went unclaimed so I ate them and found them much easier to get the spoon through the pastry. Custard and cheesecake will keep for a while. The thing that deteriorates the quickest is the pastry as it eventually goes all soggy in the fridge. But on the slice, it makes it easier to deal with. I'd refrigerated mine overnight (approx 8 hours) and it required all my patience to cut. The sugar lattice especially is difficult to cut through. One way you can navigate this is by using scissors to cut through the top layer of sugar/pastry, then use a hot knife to slice through the rest.

2. I'd add the gelatine when adding the yolks. You could theoretically do it at any stage and the gelatine will stay liquidy when stirred over heat. An even simpler way would be to use gelatine leaves and stir that in once the milk is hot.

3. You could use vanilla essence/extract. As you said, the flavour won't be the same, but it will still work as a flavour enhancer as well as giving it a hint of vanilla. I rarely measure when using vanilla essence - I usually just use 1/2 a capful or so.

4. I didn't refrigerate between. It's usually a bad idea to put hot stuff in your fridge (it can facilitate bacteria growth throughout your fridge by reducing the temp inside). I baked the puff, had that ready on the bench while making the custard, poured the custard on top and then covered the tin with glad (plastic) wrap while preparing the cheesecake layer. You can let the custard cool a little and then put it in the fridge. It will begin to set as it cools to room temp. If you're adding gelatine, don't make them in advance. If the mixture sets before you have a chance to pour it you will go through hell trying to get smooth layers.

5. The skewer thing is a technique I've heard of before but never seen. It took me a lot of trial and error to get it (mainly it is very easy to underestimate how hot the skewer needs to be for this to work). You could practise beforehand but I'd suggest trying on a tray. If the skewer gets really hot it can ignite a flame when touched to the sugar and I'm not 100% certain that parchment paper could withstand it.
pakaboori 24th-Sep-2012 04:30 am (UTC)
Whee, thank you for the reply! You didn't miss anything, and I'm feeling a lot more confident with the new information. Two more questions have occurred to me, though. First, by custard powder, do you mean something like Bird's? It's not used much here so I want to be sure. Second, did you make the lattice before or after refrigerating it overnight? I was assuming that it had to be made just prior to serving, ie after refrigerating.

Also, would you make this again?
pakaboori 24th-Sep-2012 04:32 am (UTC)
Also, in your instructions for the lattice you've written to dust with caster sugar - but it looks like you used (and called for in the ingredients list) icing sugar?
cakecrumbs 24th-Sep-2012 10:09 am (UTC)
Yes! Icing sugar, not caster! Thank you for pointing that out.

That Bird's stuff looks like the right thing. If it helps, I use Foster Clark's brand, which lists its ingredients as: "Cornflour (maize wheaten), sugar, salt, colours (102, 110), flavours". The exact content of the powder shouldn't matter too much as I add so many extra things to the custard the custard powder ends up acting just as a thickening agent with a little extra flavour.

I made the lattice after refrigerating overnight so that it's easy to get out of the pan. I think did the lattice, took photos, then popped it back in the fridge for later. The lattice did remain after refrigerating, but it's not as clear and distinct. It's best to do it soon before serving, but if you do it a few hours before it should last.

I would definitely make this again. Everyone loved it and it is pretty quick and easy to make in comparison to most desserts I do. I've had several requests to do so and my boyfriend has this on his list of favourite desserts ever (and keeps dropping hints for more). I usually wait a while before repeating stuff as I prefer to experiment with new stuff rather than revisiting something I've just made, but it's likely to make several more appearances in the future.
pakaboori 6th-Oct-2012 01:23 am (UTC)
Belated thank you for your follow up comments! I finally made the slice this week for my birthday, although I had to make a series of last minute alterations so your recipe was more a guide for my chaos. I did find the vanilla bean paste, though, and it's lovely! I also found the skewer technique easier than I thought it would be, although I didn't do a full lattice (four roman numerals for my age instead).

Thanks again! Your post really caught my eye, and then my imagination, and I'm glad I could follow through on attempting it as a departure from my usual baking :)
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