Having had a frantic past couple of days, I had to re-prioritise a few things in order to squeeze in a spot of last minute Valentine’s Day baking for hubby. On my list of things to do today, Valentine’s Day sat up there with “Advise on price sensitivity of Project X”. For a day which only comes around once a year, I didn’t want to miss out on the festivities, even if I was going to be the sole participant.
Nigella has a lovely recipe for custard cream biscuits in Feast, a recipe which I faithfully follow each year for Valentine’s Day, but also at other times during the year when the craving calls.
I have always had a soft spot for custard cream biscuits and, growing up, there was almost always a packet of these in the cupboard, almost always Arnott’s brand. I don’t think there is anything wrong with shop-bought biscuits, but the satisfaction that comes from making your own at home makes it worth the time and effort.
The recipe itself is easy to follow but requires some time if you wish to decorate the biscuits with a dotted border. However, this quiet, repetitive activity is curiously calming, especially if you have spent the whole morning responding to (seemingly) urgent, frantic phone calls. People have different ways of responding to stress. This is my way, poised with a cake skewer in one hand.
Nigella’s recipe for the biscuit uses a mix of butter and vegetable shortening. At a push, you could use all butter but beware that your biscuits will not be as light and crumbly. I have yet to work out what vegetable shortening is called in German, or where I can find it in the supermarkets, so I use lard (sorry hubby!), mostly because I tend to have it on hand for other baking recipes.
The recipe calls for Bird’s Custard Powder which is a product from the UK, but can be found in specialty stores in most other countries. But if anyone has tried this recipe with an another brand of custard powder, please let me know as I’m sure there are others who are also curious.
So even when time is tight, these Custard Cream Hearts are certainly doable, whether for your sweetheart or for your solitary enjoyment. Happy Valentine’s Day!
- For the biscuits
- 175 g plain flour
- 3 tablespoons Bird’s custard powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 50 g vegetable shortening or lard
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- For the custard cream
- 1 tablespoon Bird’s custard powder
- 100 g icing sugar
- 50 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon boiling water
- To make the biscuits, put the flour, custard powder, baking powder, sugar, butter and vegetable shortening (or lard) into a food processor and blitz to produce a crumbly mixture.
- Add the egg and milk and blitz again until the mixture clumps together.
- Wrap the mixture in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface to about 4mm thickness.
- Cut out heart shapes and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Use a cake skewer or corn cob holder to prick a dotted border.
- Place the biscuits in the oven and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool the biscuits on a wire rack.
- To make the custard cream, mix together all of the ingredients until you have a smooth but thick mixture.
- Sandwich each biscuit together with about a teaspoon of custard cream.
- Makes about 16 biscuits.
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If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird