Orange Custard Squares. An old fashioned favourite cookie bar made with a rich orange custard filling between 2 layers of shortbread crumble.
These Orange Custard Squares are cookie bars that I remember making many years ago, especially at this time of year in the height of Christmas baking season.
Bird’s Custard is one of those British institutions that still remains very popular here in Newfoundland; if not quite as popular as in the post war decades when it was a regular Sunday supper dessert treat. Jelly and custard was found at practically every household I knew on a Sunday evening, even well up into the 70’s.
In my extended family we even now use the term, “Jelly & Custard House” to describe any typical, cozy Newfoundland saltbox style house we pass. That style of home would be where you would be sure to find a bowl of jelly & custard waiting at the end of your Sunday cold plate supper.
These cookie bars are very simple but very delicious. The richness and flavour of the custard powder is what sets this recipe apart, paired with the simple but delicious buttery shortbread crumble. They will make a delightful addition to the treats in your Holiday freezer but are ideal for anytime baking throughout the year too.
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- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp custard powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups orange juice
- zest of 2 small oranges finely minced, or 1 large
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolks lightly whisked
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
Mix together the sugar and custard powder in a small saucepan.
Add the orange juice, zest and vanilla extract. Stir well.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring slowly but constantly. I prefer to use a silicone spatula for this, so that I can continuously run it along the entire bottom of the pot.
When the filling thickens, remove from the heat and pour about a half cup onto the egg yolks, whisking constantly.
Return the egg mixture quickly back to the pot, again stirring constantly. Cook for one more minute,
Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Set aside while you prepare the crumble.
Mix together the flour, sugar & baking powder.
Sprinkle on the vanilla extract.
Using your hands or a pastry blender cut in the butter until the it is completely incorporated into the dry ingredients. You can also do this very quickly in a food processor.
Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch well greased baking pan. Pour the orange custard filling evenly over the bottom crumbs. Gently sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the orange custard filling and press down gently.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 40 - 45 minutes or until light golden brown in color. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares and serving.
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