Clementine butter biscuits
Makes about 20
Prep time: 15 minutes plus 30 minutes chilling
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 350g plain flour
- ¾tsp fine sea salt
- 250g unsalted butter, well chilled
- 125g icing sugar
- Zest of 2 clementines
- 1 medium egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1tsp milk or water (if needed)
- 300g packet royal icing
- 30g edible silver balls
This Christmas, try your hand at baking Signe Johansen’s delicious Scandinavian -style sweet treats
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, grate in the chilled butter and combine using your hands until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir in the icing sugar and clementine zest and then add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and bring it together. If the dough feels dry, mix in the teaspoon of milk or water to soften it. Divide the dough in two, shape in rounds, wrap in cling film and place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.
Remove the dough from the freezer and leave to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and line two baking trays with baking parchment.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until 3mm thick, then use a pastry cutter to cut out the shapes. Use a sharp knife to cut out a little circle (3-5mm wide) near the top of each biscuit. Place on the baking trays and pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
Make up the royal icing in accordance with the packet instructions, then ice the biscuits using a piping bag or small spoon. Cover the biscuits with a simple, smooth blanket of icing, or draw patterns. Dot the icing with silver balls and allow to set completely before tying loops of ribbon through the holes and hanging on your tree.
Baked marzipan macaroons (Kransekake)
Makes approx 40-50 biscuits
Prep time: 10 minutes plus 2 hours chilling
Cooking time: 10 minutes
- 200g almond paste (try Odense Mandelmasse, available from Ocado.com)
- 100g whole almonds
- 100g icing sugar
- 3 medium egg whites
- 50g butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- ¼tsp fine sea salt
- 50g dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and line two baking trays with baking parchment. Blitz the almond paste, almonds and icing sugar in a food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs. Mix with the other ingredients in a large bowl and combine to make a thick, sticky mixture, bringing it together with your hands if necessary. Don’t overwork, as the almond oil will leach out and leave a greasy film on the biscuits. Cover with cling film and chill for a couple of hours or overnight.
Dollop teaspoonfuls of the mixture on the baking trays, leaving 6-7cm between them. Place on the upper-middle shelf of the oven for 5-8 minutes or until pale golden. Cool on a rack.
These keep in an airtight container for a week or can be frozen for a month – crisp in an oven at 160°C/ 310°F/gas mark 3 for a few minutes. For the decoration, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and drizzle over the biscuits.
Nutritional information: 55 calories 3g fat
Finnish Christmas jam stars (Joulutorttu)
Prep time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour 30 minutes chilling
Cooking time: 20 minutes
For the pastry
- 110g unsalted butter, softened
- 110g caster sugar
- 250g plain flour
- 2tsp baking powder
- ¼tsp fine sea salt
- 75ml double cream
- 1 medium egg yolk
For the filling
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 star anise
- ¼ nutmeg, freshly grated
- 200g soft Agen prunes
- Juice and zest of 1 orange
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Maple syrup or soft brown sugar to taste
- 1 medium egg, beaten, to glaze
- Sugar crystals
To make the pastry, mix the butter and caster sugar until just combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and combine until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the double cream and egg yolk then mix until the pastry comes together. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 1 hour while you make the filling.
Wrap the spices in a muslin cloth and tie with string to create a small bag. Place the spice bag, prunes, orange juice and zest in a small saucepan, with enough water to cover the fruit and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until the fruit has softened. Stir in the lemon juice and taste – if it’s too acidic add a few tablespoons of maple syrup or soft brown sugar. Set aside to cool.
Line two baking trays with baking parchment. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it forms a square about 3mm thick, then use a sharp knife to slice into 20-24 smaller squares of roughly equal size. Take each square and cut inwards from the points of the corners, slicing halfway towards the middle of the pastry. Dollop the prune filling in the middle of each square and fold half of each s
plit corner towards the middle to make a jam-centred pinwheel star, sticking the pastry tips together with a little water or milk. Put the stars on the baking trays and chill for 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°F/gas mark 6.
Glaze the stars with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar crystals. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown, keeping an eye on them after 5 minutes or so to ensure that they don’t burn. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.
- Recipes taken from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, out now (Saltyard Books, £25).