Hopefully you had a chance to check out our festive cookie art project, and if so, you might have spotted a little Swiss delight on there called Spitzbuben. The name translates roughly as scoundrels, but I think “cheeky rascals” is probably more fitting given how they look.
These are one of those great recipes that is easy to make but looks sensational. They are made from two butter shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with jam. You cut shapes from the top layer so you can see the jam, dust with icing sugar, and that’s basically it. Swiss efficiency!
I chose to make my Spitzbuben with three different types of jam – apricot, raspberry and blaeberry. You can, of course, use pretty much any type of jam you want, but it’s worth thinking about the colour – you want a bit of contrast and bright colours if you can get them. Redcurrant jelly is probably the best of all for this!
I think part of the genius of these cookies is that from the same basic dough, you can make a variety of shapes, and with the different types of jam, you get a nifty selection of jewel-bright cookies that look super on the plate. As you can see below, most of my Spitzbuben were made from small fluted cutters with a circle cut out, but I tried a few other looks as well. The stars and multi-dot versions also looked great.
In terms of baking tips, I think there are two to keep in mind. First, the dough should not be too warm. I found that the first batch baked perfectly, but the next puffed up slightly in the oven. Keeping the dough cool helped, as the last batch were again perfect. If you cut the dough and think it’s too warm, just pop into the fridge for a few minutes before baking.
My second tip – be generous with the jam, and try to have slightly more in the middle than at the edges (do this by smoothing with then back of a spoon, and then swirling it and lifting the spoon from the middle of the cookie – you’d get a jammy “bump”). Then just rest the top on the base, and push gently so the jam is only just forced to the edges. If you skimp on the jam, you’ll kick yourself!
And with that, we’ve reach the three-quarters point of the Twelve Days of Christmas Baking series! Hope you’re enjoying it so far.
To make Spitzbuben:
Makes around 40
• 175g butter, softened
• 80g icing sugar
• pinch of salt
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 dessert spoons water
• 250g plain flour
• 6 large tablespoons jam (one type or several)
• icing sugar, to dust
1. Beat the butter until soft. Add the icing sugar, salt, vanilla and water and beat until pale, fluffy and completely combined. Sieve the flour and add to the rest of the ingredients. Mix until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°C). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Roll out the dough to 1/3 cm (1/4 inch) and cut shapes with a round or fluted cutter. Bake half the cookies until just golden at the edges (5-10 minutes depending on size – mine baked in 6). In the meantime, remove the centres from the other half of the cookies with a cutter, then bake. Repeat until all the dough has been used.
3. Once the cookies are cooled, it’s time to assemble them. Put the jam in a saucepan. Heat until runny, then pass through a sieve. Allow to cool until thickened, then spoon a little jam onto the basis. Smooth with a spoon, then at a top. When all the cookies are done, dust lightly with icing sugar – any sugar that lands on the jam will dissolve.
Worth making?These cookies are great! No fancy ingredients, easy recipe and they look stunning.