Custard Cream Hearts

custard cream hearts

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!


Custard Cream Hearts

5 from 1 review

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: Makes 16 biscuits

Recipe adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson


For the biscuits

For the custard cream


  1. 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.
  2. Add the egg and milk and blitz again until the mixture clumps together.
  3. Wrap the mixture in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  5. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface to about 4mm thickness.
  6. 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.
  7. Place the biscuits in the oven and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool the biscuits on a wire rack.
  8. To make the custard cream, mix together all of the ingredients until you have a smooth but thick mixture.
  9. Sandwich each biscuit together with about a teaspoon of custard cream.
  10. Makes about 16 biscuits.

Kitchen Notes

All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

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  1. Jo 14 February 2012

    Thanh – I love this recipe so much and how romantic your styling is on this post warms my sentimental fool’s heart it does. I cut it out of a Good Food mag years ago before I knew it was Nigella’s (I didn’t cut out the bit with the author on!) but when hubby gave me Feast and I saw the original recipe, I both squealed with joy over having a recipe for a much loved childhood biccie but also wailed in dismay I had left it so long before trying! This is a gem of a recipe (also repeated in Baking and Cookie Magic, boils by Kate Shirazi, FYI!) I must make again soon.

    And another FYI – in my primary school we could pay 5 or 10 pence to have a custard cream or two with a jelly sweet on at break time. I have no idea if such a naughty snack would be permitted these days but those biccies, plus the art supply boxes & easels are my main memories of primary school! Ahhhh, nostalgia! 😀 xx

    • eat, little bird 14 February 2012

      I’m glad to know of another fan of this recipe! I wish I made it more often but I, at least, religiously make it each year for Valentine’s Day. I just love how old-fashioned this recipe is – I think anything which has custard powder as an ingredient invokes something nostalgic. When I was younger, I probably never thought that you could make these types of biscuits at home, and given that custard creams don’t exist in this part of the world where I am now living, it’s nice to be able to recreate some foods at home that brings nice memories 🙂

      • Jo 15 February 2012

        Oh yes – I wouldn’t have wanted to try making such a thing when I was little in case it didn’t come out like the packet one did! It’s such a joy to be able to replicate them at home. Once I saw them being made in a Sunday supplement magazine and the food economist had actually piped out the traditional pattern of a custard cream onto her homemade biscuits! A step too far for the home cook methinks 😀

        • eat, little bird 15 February 2012

          Oh yes, that sounds like a but too much for me as well, LOL!! If I could, I think I would always have a stash of these custard creams just to have with my afternoon tea, which I am sitting down to one now 🙂

    • bindiibabe 4 February 2014

      As a Dinnerlady in a High School, I can confirm that custard creams are most definately still on the menu! In fact, I made some this morning 🙂
      Although, they are 50p these days 😉

      • eat, little bird 4 February 2014

        Oh that’s lovely to know that these old-fashioned biscuits are still being served in schools. Beats many things that kids eat these days!

  2. Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen 15 February 2012

    ohh… i love custard .. why didnt i think of custard biscuits! I love how simple your biscuits look. Yet so elegant. No fuzz… Brilliant pictures too!

    • eat, little bird 15 February 2012

      Thank you, Jesica! I also love custard, and while I would never make custard from powder, I’m happy to use the powder at other times, such as in these biscuits 🙂

  3. Heather 15 February 2012

    oh my gosh. Your blog is so darn cute. I absolutely love it. Your pictures are so pretty. Lovely props and nice lighting.

    • eat, little bird 15 February 2012

      Thanks Heather! I just had a quick look at your blog and loving your posts so far! Off to have another nosey …

  4. Hannah de Bevy de La Faverge 15 February 2012

    Creme, I’ve been wanting to try these for an age…they look so pretty and inviting! Still haven’t got hold of a heart shaped cutter, which is a feable excuse I know as they could easily be done in a round shape but I just want those pretty coeurs!

    Not sure what I’d use for vegetable shortening here in France! Any ideas? Lard is elusive too! Saindoux? Perhaps a bit piggy tasting?

    Stunning photos, comme d’habitude Creme!

    • eat, little bird 15 February 2012

      These biscuits might sound daunting at first if you are used to the shop-bought versions, but they are pretty simple and quick to make. You can certainly use any cookie cutter shape you like but there is something about this heart shape 🙂 I think you need to add one quickly to your collection!

      I used saindoux in this recipe and it works beautifully, no piggy taste at all, though maybe that changes from brand to brand?

      I’m sure they sell vegetable shortening in France, graisse végétale? Laura has just pointed out to me that it’s called Pflanzenfett in German, and now that I know that, I think I’ve seen it sold with the bottles of oil in the supermarket. Maybe it is the same in France?

      • Hannah de Bevy de La Faverge 16 February 2012

        Thanks Creme. I’ll look out for it and if not give the Saindoux a go!

  5. Laura 15 February 2012

    Hey there, I just stumbled upon your blog today for the first time via and I have to say I already love it! Your pictures make the food look so good and I really like the romantic feel of the blog. 🙂
    I live in Germany, but had been living in Ireland a few years back and that’s where I discovered the magic of custard and bourbon cream cookies. lol They’re my all time favourites, but sadly quite hard to get where I live. Im super excited to have found your easy enough sounding recipe for them and can’t wait to try it. So, thanks for sharing!
    Just a FYI: vegetable shortening is “ungehärtetes Pflanzenfett” in German. You can find it in the dairy section next to the butters and margarine in nearly every supermarket. A leading brand is Palmin. HTH!

    • eat, little bird 15 February 2012

      Hi Laura! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoy my blog 🙂

      Thank you so much with your help with the German translation!! Now that you’ve mentioned it, I think I’ve seen it in tubs next to the bottles of oil, but there might also be a variety which is sold in the refrigerated section with the butter and margarine. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

      Can you find Bird’s Custard Powder where you are? Hopefully yes so you can try to recreate these biscuits at home. You can bring back some memories of Ireland at home 🙂

      • Laura 17 February 2012

        Hey again, yes, I can get Bird’s here. It’s a tad more difficult than buying the local stuff, but it can be done. 🙂 Ill start with using the custard powder you used and then after having tested that version, Ill try a local custard powder and see how it compares. I cant wait! 🙂

  6. The Food Sage 15 February 2012

    Love custard creams. And love your re-modelling! Great work.

    • eat, little bird 15 February 2012

      Thanks Rachel!! They were only little changes but I’m happy someone noticed 🙂

  7. Dina 15 February 2012

    these are so pretty! and they look yummy too.

  8. sophistimom 15 February 2012

    Those are absolutely adorable.

    I imagine you can’t find vegetable shortening in Germany because it is hydrogenated oil, and therefore unnaturally produced. I don’t keep it in my cupboards. Lard, at least is natural, so I’d say you made the right call. 🙂

    • eat, little bird 15 February 2012

      Hello! Thank you for this piece of information … I’m glad my choice in using lard wasn’t so bad after all 🙂 I know that it is high in cholesterol and all the rest compared to its manufactured counterpart, much like comparing butter and margarine, so I always try to use naturally produced products where possible. The key is to use these ingredients in moderation, I suppose. I seem to only reach for the tub of lard once or twice a year, so hopefully that’s a good sign 🙂

  9. Julia Levy 15 February 2012

    Gorgeous Thanh, these are also one of my favourites to make and eat of course. So many are bah humbug about valentine’s, yes it’s corny and cheesy and tacky and it’s also lovely. So how lovely you made time to make some lovely cookies for your hubby, lucky guy.

    I switched it up a little this year and did the biscuits ginger and the cream lemon – delish. But the original is definitely more comforty and traditional.

    If you ever can’t get custard powder you can up the vanilla and use cornflour instead as that’s essentially what custard powder is, just a thought.

    Happy valentines to you too xxx

    • eat, little bird 16 February 2012

      Ooh ginger and lemon biscuits sound delicious!!! You are very creative! Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day this year 🙂

      Good to know of a substitute for custard powder, especially since it isn’t widely available. But there is something about that pale yellow hue which is so old-fashioned and comforting, isn’t there?

      I spoke to a few ladies this week who were really against Valentine’s Day for all sorts of reasons. Yes it can be a bit tacky, but only if you choose it to be so. I just like to have a bit of fun 🙂 Even the canteen at work got into the spirit of the day and offered a free dessert to everyone – a chocolate mousse decorated with strawberries and a chocolate straw. It was rather cute to see the men at work, looking all serious and business-like in their tailored suits, joining the fun and eating a Valentine’s Day dessert 🙂

  10. Me and My Sweets 15 February 2012

    Aaaadorable!!!!! I’ve only tried shop bought ones, but home-made always taste better so I def have to try this recipe:-) Thanks for sharing!

    • eat, little bird 16 February 2012

      If you like the shop-bought ones, you will love these! Having seen what you get up to in the kitchen, you could make these biscuits with your eyes closed 😉

  11. Pili 16 February 2012

    Preciosas y delicadas galletas!!

  12. At Anna's Kitchen Table 18 February 2012

    Thanh, they are so pretty and neat! :-)) Happiness inducing I’d say!

    • eat, little bird 19 February 2012

      Thanks Anna! But I’m not sure about neat … thankfully you didn’t look too carefully 😉

  13. Liz Headon 18 February 2012

    These always look so pretty, and your accessorising sets them off to perfection !

    • eat, little bird 19 February 2012

      Thanks Liz! I also love these as heart-shaped biscuits but whatever the shape, they still manage to look pretty. Thankfully, hubby almost expects these in the heart shapes so I don’t have to worry about them being too cutesy.

  14. Anita Menon 20 February 2012

    I like the little crack on your table. The cream hearts are perfection. You have such talent for presentation.

  15. amy 16 October 2012

    Pretty biscuits! In the UK we use White Flora when following a recipe (usually US) that needs vegetable shortening. When I make custard creams, however, I make an all-butter biscuit and it works well so if you still have problems finding the right ingredient, you could try that for your husband to avoid the lard! Love your blog – found it via the wonderful Patterned Plate.

    • eat, little bird 18 October 2012

      Thanks, Amy!

      I still haven’t gotten around to finding vegetable shortening where I live … I’m sure it must exist! I’ve made these biscuits with all butter before and found that they were quite dense, although they still tasted nice. I don’t mind using lard now and then as it is not an everyday ingredient for me. Come to think of it, I haven’t made these biscuits in a while … thanks for reminding me!

  16. Fiona 12 April 2013

    Thank you for posting this recipe on here, they were delicious! I have shared the recipe on my own blog, linking back to yours (hope that is ok?!)

    • eat, little bird 25 April 2013

      Hi Fiona! I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe 🙂 Off to visit your blog now!

  17. Lysa 9 August 2013

    Hi, Love these! I stumbled across your blog whilst googling Nigella recipe’s and these custard creams hearts were a must on my baking list. (Although mine were a bit too thick) Your pictures & layout are very good, I have my eye on the coffee cake next.
    Would you be able to let me know what software you used to create the custard cream heart recipe please? It looks so pretty :0)

    • eat, little bird 9 August 2013

      Thanks, Lysa! I use Photoshop to create all of the recipe photos on this site. I’m sure you could use other photo editing software as well but Photoshop is what I am most familiar with. Hope this helps!

  18. Michaela 28 January 2014

    I’ve been looking for a good use for Bird’s custard powder! I bought it at Cost Plus World Market here in the US. Thanks for this beautiful recipe

  19. Julia 12 April 2018

    YUM, these really sound delicious! Beautiful presentation. So cute!! Thanks for the great recipe!