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Close up of Swedish Custard Hearts

Buttery Swedish Custard Hearts (Vaniljhjärtan)

Buttery and tender heart-shaped pastry encases rich vanilla pastry cream.
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Course: baking, Dessert, Fika
Cuisine: Nordic, Scandinavian, Swedish
Keyword: heart shaped pastry
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 292kcal
Author: Kristi


  • Food processor
  • At least 8 small heart-shaped pans or sandbakkel tins (any shape will work just fine)


  • For the Dough:
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ⅓ cup powdered confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and chilled
  • For the Vanilla Pastry Cream:
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups half and half or whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Make the dough: Whisk the egg yolk, cream and vanilla together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Combine the flour, powdered sugar and salt in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand, about 10-12 pulses.
  • With the machine running, pour the egg mixture into the food processor through the feed tube. Process until a cohesive dough forms.
  • Remove the dough from the food processor and divide into two pieces. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap, pressing it into a 6 inch disc in the process. Chill for at least an hour or up to two days (the dough will harden significantly if it’s in the refrigerator for more than a few hours so you may need to let it warm up slightly before rolling).
  • While the dough chills, make the pastry cream: Whisk egg yolks, cornstarch, half and half, sugar and salt together in a medium saucepan. Add butter. Place pan over medium low heat and whisk constantly until butter melts and mixture becomes smooth and thick, about 3-5 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Stir in vanilla. Place a piece of parchment paper directly on top of the pastry cream, followed by a layer of plastic wrap (this prevents the custard from forming a skin). Refrigerate until you are ready to use. (Vanilla Pastry Cream can be made 1-2 days in advance.)
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove one of the discs of dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured work surface until it is ⅛ of an inch thick. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter just slightly larger than the heart mold, cut 8 circles from the dough. Press a round of dough lightly into a mold and let the excess dough fold over the edge. Transfer the mold to a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Store the tart bottoms in the refrigerator while you prepare the tops. Gather any dough scraps, wrap in plastic and transfer to the refrigerator for a second batch.
  • Remove the second disc of dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured work surface until it is ⅛ inch thick. Using the same biscuit or cookie cutter, cut 8 more circles. Remove the tart bottoms from the refrigerator and fill about ⅔ full with chilled pastry cream. Lay a second dough circle on top of each filled bottom and gently wrap the dough around the edges of the tart pan. Using a sharp, small knife, cut any excess dough from around the molds and press the edges gently to seal. Chill the assembled tarts in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before baking. Gather any dough scraps, wrap in plastic and transfer to the refrigerator for a second batch.
  • Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the tarts until golden and puffed slightly in the center, about 18-23 minutes. Let the Vaniljhjärtan cool slightly in the molds and then carefully remove them and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Repeat the process with the dough scraps once they are cool enough to work with for a second batch.


These tarts are best the day they are made, but you can store any leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator. Set them out at room temperature to warm slightly before enjoying.


Calories: 292kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 226mg | Potassium: 205mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 647IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 138mg | Iron: 1mg