Vanilla Slices: Not Quite There

As feared, American JELL-O vanilla custard/pie filling mix doesn’t have the rigidity of Australian custard powder, even at 125% concentration. Seems I’m going to have to double-concentrate it if I want the tensile strength of the real deal. Bear with me, friends, we’ll get there!

24 thoughts on “Vanilla Slices: Not Quite There”

  1. are you adding cornstarch in addition to the vanilla pudding? most of the recipes call for a ton of cornstarch in addition to the custard powder (which by itself would be about the same as the vanilla pudding).

    here are two examples:

    2 bought puff pastry sheets
    250ml (1 cup) milk
    1 vanilla bean, split
    3/4 cup cornflour
    1/2 cup custard powder
    220g (1 cup) caster sugar
    750ml (3 cups) thickened cream
    50g unsalted butter
    3 egg yolks
    Icing sugar, to dust

    1 1/4 cups milk
    300ml thickened cream
    4 egg yolks
    1/2 cup caster sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla essence
    1/3 cup cornflour
    1/3 cup custard powder
    60g butter, chopped
    2 sheets frozen puff pastry, partially thawed

    1. Hey Candide!

      I think I will just beef up the pre-made mix with more cornstarch, actually. I already did an “uptown” version with actual pastry cream and fondant. This one I’d rather be as down-and-dirty as possible. More pudding mix to liquid is one way to go, but then I don’t want it to be too terribly sweet, so I think the added cornstarch will do the trick!


      – Joe

      1. more cornstarch will definitely help. but note also that in addition to the custard powder augmented with a ton of cornstarch, they also use egg yolks, thickened cream and butter, all of which contribute to achieving the traditional thick texture when cooled.

        1. Oh I follow for sure. However this version is going to be a hyper-convenient, all out-of-the-box affair. Anything as dignified as an egg yolk or a drop of real cream is strictly forbidden. Thanks though!

          – Joe

  2. Looking good Joe, I’d eat that 🙂

    Then again, I’ve eaten barbqued cane rat in Thailand as well so my recommendation may not be what you want 🙂

    1. I think I have the problem solved now, CfDU. Thanks though. I’ll remember to stock up when I finally get there one day!

      – Joe

  3. I used to make jello blocks for the kids. I always used one package of Knox gelatin with one box of jello. Those things could take a beating!

  4. I’m having some trouble imagining jellied pastry cream and stiffened boxed pudding. I expect my mouth to be confused when the texture doesn’t match the flavor as I expect.

    For the express version, will you use something like pie pastry made with butter and added baking powder instead of elegant puff pastry for the base?

    1. Hey LML!

      Good question. As I understand it, easy vanilla slices still use store-bought puff pastry as a base. The extra-express versions use lightly sweet biscuits, (digestive-style) but that’s going too far, even for me!


      – Joe

  5. Essentially all that our custard powder is made from is cornflour/starch, with colouring and vanilla flavour anyway.

    1. Hey Annemarie!

      Yes, I’m going to beef up the cornstarch for sure. I expect that will do the trick!


      – Joe

  6. Australian custard mix is pretty much design for vanilla slices and custard tarts. After all the receipts are on the back of the box!

    I used frozen puffy pastry and everything but sugar free custard mix and it was much better than I thought. Think this will be my default dessert dish from now on!

    1. I’m getting that impression! 😉

      I made some this morning and extra cornstarch is definitely what was needed. Pictures up soon!

      Thanks, Izzy!

      – Joe

  7. Joe – your first version looked spot on. This one, not so much but still looks delicious. Looks like you will just have to book some flights and come Down Under to try the real thing (best from a country bakery – not a big city one!)

    1. Hey Sarah!

      I’ve got one more attempt in me! But I appreciate the comment. Personally I prefer the previous version, however I’m keen to master the quick-and-easy iteration made from the boxed stuff. But you’re absolutely right that I need to travel there in order to really experience the vanilla slice zeitgeist. Many thanks!

      – Joe

  8. I know you like to use ingredients from main stream grocery stores, but amazon has Bird’s custard powder available for comparison purposes.

    1. Hey Susan!

      I think this is really all about cornstarch. Having eaten Bird’s custard powder in Britain I don’t think it’s strong enough for the Australian vanilla square. My guess is there’s a special formulation there that’s just for these sorts of applications. Thanks for the excellent advice and look for another attempt this afternoon!


      – Joe

  9. That sounds delicious and looks so irresistible.. I would love to try this at home too? xx

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