Get ready for gooey, jammy, and crisp all at the same time. These bars have the toasty crust, the tangy jam, and the sink your teeth into gooey bliss goodness that we all crave in dessert. These Gooey Raspberry Custard Bars With Hazelnut Shortbread Crust are really effing good. The first layer is a toasty, buttery hazelnut shortbread that is covered in homemade raspberry jam. Then a Grand Marnier and vanilla bean custard tops that. The bars are baked, cooled, then covered in a dusting of powdered sugar.
I posted a pic of these Gooey Raspberry Custard Bars on Instagram a few days ago and got so many requests for the recipe. I should’ve remembered my Mom’s advice from Banana Chocolate Marble Loaf, and not put up a photo without a post to back it up! So here it is!
These bars remind me of a mash up of famous St. Louis gooey butter cake, jam filled cookies, and Portuguese custard tarts all in one.
These gooey custard bars are easily prepped in 20 minutes and take only 25 minutes to bake. This is a great way to use ripe raspberries for a simple yet crowd pleasing treat.
Raspberries in Fall
Raspberries are a late Summer and Fall berry, which makes them a great holiday baking berry. In St. Louis I have found this year’s Raspberries to be particularly tart. Which gives them a great element of tang to offset the sweetness in these bars.
The latest batch of raspberries I bought were so juicy they definitely needed to be used immediately. Jam is one of my favorite ways to use up ripe raspberries. What I love about this dessert is that it can be made in less than an hour. When I created these on the fly I had 45 only minutes before Bea’s bus arrived. So I got moving and came up with these Gooey Raspberry Custard Bars. Making these at least a couple of hours before serving is essential since the bars need time to finish setting and cooling.
Raspberry Jam Filling
The first step to making these Gooey Raspberry Custard Bars is to make the raspberry jam filling. Use a heavy bottom saucepan set over medium high heat. Add the raspberries, sugar, mandarin juice, and zest. Cook for 15 minutes, mashing along the way. The jam will thicken as it cooks and then more as it cools.
This jam filling is tangy and juicy, with a hint of citrus. Set it aside to cool while you work on the rest of the Raspberry Custard Bars.
Hazelnut Shortbread Crust
The next step is the press in hazelnut crust. The crust is buttery, toasted, and melt in your mouth. This is a great base crust to swap out in other recipes like my brown butter pumpkin bars.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch square pan and set aside.
The simplest way to make this crust is to use pre-made hazelnut flour. However, you can also put some hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Then cool them before using a food processor to make them into a flour. Stop before it begins to clump and turn into butter.
*To add a toasty and extra nutty element to these custard bars, brown butter and toast up the hazelnut flour. These are optional steps. If you want a more traditionally vanilla taste, then skip these steps.
To brown butter, melt butter over medium to medium-high heat on the stove. Use a heavy bottom pan. The butter will begin sputtering and foam up after a few minutes. As it foams up it will begin releasing a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat. Pour into a heatproof bowl and scrape all the bits on the bottom of the pan. This is where that flavor comes from!
If f using hazelnut flour instead of ground hazelnuts, toast the hazelnut flour in a skillet over medium heat. Stir and toss the flour for 5 minutes. Add cinnamon and toss another 30 seconds. Then remove from the heat and cool.
Then in a bowl, mix the room temperature butter until smooth. Add the sugar and mix again for a minute. Then add the flours. Like crust for lemon bars, just press this into the bottom and a bit up the sides of your baking pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until it is starting to brown and is pre-baked.
Gooey Raspberry Custard Bars With Hazelnut Crust
Being a St. Louis native, I am right in the center of the Gooey butter cake craze. In fact, during the holidays, many St. Louisans serve Gooey Butter cake instead of pumpkin pie! So I have gotten some messages from local readers and viewers of my appearances on Show Me St. Louis asking for my own version.
Traditional gooey butter cake has a debate going on. There are two solid versions circulating around. First, there is the true original gooey butter cake. This cake has roots from the 1930’s. The original gooey butter cake has a yeast base crust and a very sweet, ooey, gooey filling with a traditional dusting of powdered sugar. This is the gooey butter cake that is sold in most bakeries and grocery stores around St. Louis.
The other version is more semi homemade, using box cake mix for the Base with a super sweet cream cheese and corn syrup filling. This version was made famous when Paula Deen put up a recipe.
Let’s get back to my Gooey Raspberry Custard Bars. The custard filling for these bars is in fact a gooey cake and custard hybrid. There is less flour to butter and cream in the “cake”. But the difference between these and traditional gooey butter cake is that there’s a nutty shortbread crust, and this take is not as sweet. These bars do not have any cream cheese or corn syrup. Also, the filling leans towards custard. These are definitely a unique bar that will remind you of a jam cookie meets custard meets gooey butter cake.
Gooey Custard Filling
The last component of these Raspberry Custard Bars is the custard-cake hybrid filling. While the jam is sitting and the crust is baking, make this filling.
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
Use your hand mixer to whisk the egg yolks and egg on medium speed with sugar, salt, grand Marnier, and pure vanilla extract for a minute. Then drizzle in the butter and continue whisking for a minute more. Next, add the heavy cream. Turn the mixer to low and finish with the flour and cornstarch.
To assemble the bars, spread the jam over the hot crust. Pour the custard over the jam.
Then bake the bars for about 24-28 minutes until it starts to brown slightly on top. The bars will need to cool completely before they are set and ready to eat. Before serving, dust the room temperature Gooey Raspberry Custard Bars with plenty of powdered sugar.
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Gooey Raspberry Custard Bars with Hazelnut Crust
Buttery hazelnut shortbread is covered in homemade raspberry jam and then a grand marnier and vanilla bean custard tops that. These are gooey, sweet, jammy, and addictive!
Raspberry Jam Layer
- 2 cups fresh raspberries
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- zest of one mandarin
- 1 tablespoon mandarin juice
Hazelnut Shortbread Crust
- 6 tablespoons butter browned
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup hazelnut flour
- 2/3 cup AP Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon grand marnier
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1/3 cup AP Cake Flour
- pinch fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/ 180 C.
Butter a 9 inch square baking pan. Use parchment paper on the bottom, if desired, and butter the bottom of that as well.
1. Use a heavy bottom saucepan set over medium high heat. Place all ingredients in pan. Bring to a boil.
2. Allow to boil for 10 minutes, mashing down the berries every few minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium and cook another 5-10 minutes to thicken. Then remove from the heat and set aside.
1. Brown the butter and set aside. To brown butter, put butter in saucepan over medium to medium high heat. It will sputter and foam up after a few minutes. Then once the nutty aroma and brown bits are visible, remove from the heat and pour into a heat proof bowl. Note, you can use plain melted butter, if desired.
2. This step is also optional, but it add a further toasty element to the crust. Toast the hazelnut flour in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until lightly brown and fragrant. Stir constantly. Add the cinnamon, toast an additional 30 seconds, then set aside.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients for the crust. Then add the melted browned butter and use a spatula to mix together until a dough forms.
3. Press the dough on the bottom and slightly up the sides of the baking pan.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until slightly brown and fragrant.
1. Melt butter and set aside.
2. Use a hand mixer to whisk the egg yolks and egg with sugar for one minute.
3. Then add the grand Marnier, vanilla, and pinch of salt. Beat another minute.
4. Drizzle in the butter and whisk until incorporated.
5. Add the cream and mix.
6. Finish with the flour.
7. Spread the jam over the crust.
8. Pour the custard filling over the jam.
9. Bake for 22-25 minutes.
10. Allow to cool completely to room temperature before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.