For some odd reason, I’ve never particularly liked Belgian Biscuits, or Belgium biscuits as they’re sometimes called. I’ve never been overly impressed with the flavour of the commercial brands, but then I tried making my own and discovered just how tasty they can be.
It’s not entirely clear why Belgian biscuits are so named. They arguably hail from Germany, though they seem to hold a special place in Commonwealth countries – not entirely sure why. Regardless, they’ve been around for a long time and are a firm favourite on New Zealand shores. For those who haven’t heard of them before, they’re two spicy ‘short’ biscuits sandwiched together with raspberry jam, topped with pink icing and sprinkled with sugar – though people often use raspberry jelly crystals instead.
Thanks to Dish.co.nz and Robyn Martin for the recipe, which comes out of ‘The Great New Zealand Baking Book’, by Murray Thom and Tim Harper, published by Thom & PQ Blackwell. What I liked about this recipe, in comparison with other recipes, was the decent amount of spices used. It also uses very little sugar in the biscuit itself – the sweetness comes almost exclusively from the jam filling and sugar topping.
The other thing I truly appreciated about this recipe, was that it was a one bowl affair. Unlike other recipes I saw, you don’t have to cream the butter – everything is tossed in one saucepan with melted butter – ease personified! The only (tiny) thing I would change in the future would be to sub in some jelly crystals or, better still, freeze dried raspberry powder instead of the coloured sugar. That slight hit of tang would enhance and complement the existing flavours beautifully I reckon.
If you’re after a biscuit that is a cinch to make, looks pretty, tastes great and pairs beautifully with your afternoon cup of tea, you can’t go past this one. Enjoy!
For the Biscuits
- 4.4 oz butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
- 1-3/4 cups plain flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam
For the coloured sugar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 drop pink food colouring
For the Icing
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 drops pink food colouring
- Hot water, you'll only need a small amount
For the biscuits:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add in the brown sugar and lightly beaten egg. Whisk together until it is well combined (you’ll find the egg will thicken the mixture as you whisk it).
- Into the same saucepan, sift in the flour, salt, baking powder, spices and cocoa and stir with a wooden spoon until combined (it will become very thick).
- Place the dough on the kitchen counter between two sheets of baking paper and roll to 3mm thick. Use a biscuit cutter (I used a 6cm (2.5 inch) cutter) and cut out the biscuits. Use an offset spatula to gently lift the biscuits and place them on the lined baking trays as you go. Bring together the dough scraps and continue to roll and cut until all the dough is used.
- Bake the biscuits for 12–15 minutes or until lightly golden, and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the topping:
- For the coloured sugar, mix the sugar and food colouring together in a small bowl and set aside. (Otherwise, if using jelly crystals or freeze dried raspberry powder, have these ready to use).
- For the icing, put the icing sugar and food colouring into a small bowl. Add the hot water in increments and only until the icing is just spreadable (but not runny).
- Add a small dollop of of the icing on top of half of the biscuits (if your mixture is not spreading, simply dip your finger into warm water and press it down).
- Before the icing has set, sprinkle over the coloured sugar (or jelly crystals or freeze dried raspberry powder) on top.
- Turn over the remaining biscuits and place a small amount of raspberry jam on the inside and gently spread with the back of a teaspoon so that the jam almost covers the biscuit (don’t use too much jam or it will squish out the sides when the biscuit is eaten).
- Sandwich the biscuits together, with the jam inside and the icing on top.