{12} Rhubarb Half-Moon Cookies

That’s the end of 2014! Hope you had a blast! I spent the evening in central London to see the fireworks, which is something I haven’t done for about ten years. It might have been chilly, but we were all wrapped up and there was enough champagne and fireworks so that we didn’t really notice how cold it was. Today all the decorations came down and it was back to normal with a bit of a bump. Hey ho…

Today is also the final instalment of the 12 Bakes of Christmas. I usually aim to get them all done before Christmas, or at least before New Year’s Eve, but this year, things went slightly awry. I would love to imagine that I am an organised person, and I had all the best intentions about the bakes I was going to do. Everything would be done in good time. Festive baking would be stress-free. For my final bake, I had something quite impressive in mind too. I hunted around for the ingredients. I even bought a special mould! And then I made them…and they were really awful. Unperturbed, I put it down to a mistake I must have made, and had another go. Also dreadful. It turns out that my baking skills were spot on…it was just that my chosen recipe (which you may notice I’ve avoided naming) simply was not actually that nice! So, I had to abandon my original plan, and go on the hunt for something else to round off this year’s baking. But what?

Well, as fortune would have it, someone read last year’s post about hálfmánar, or Icelandic half-moon cookies. I had used prune filling, but my Icelandic reader told me that apparently this is not really authentic (based on a straw pole of some Icelandic people, which I am willing to accept as 100% scientific). So I was given his mum’s recipe for making them, using rhubarb jam (which I love) as well as baker’s ammonia (which is my all-time favourite novelty baking ingredient). And so it was settled – I would just have another go at one of my favourite recipes from last year, just a more authentic version of it.


As with so many things, nothing beats an authentic recipe – the pastry is great (that baker’s ammonia makes they very light and airy) and the rhubarb jam really is nice in these things, a nice combination of tart and sweet. And yes – better than the prune fulling I used last time! I also took a little more time this year with the finishing – I used a scalloped rather than round cutter on the pastry, used a fork to get good, deep crimping on the edges, and brushed them with a little beaten egg to get a good colour and shine. They also provide a nice alternative to all those rich, spiced goodies at this time of year – lighter and a little unusual.

One final confession – this is not 100% my reader’s mum’s recipe. The recipe I got looked like it would make quite a lot of biscuits, so I divided it by three, which still yielded 25 little rhubarb pastries. Have some pity – when you do twelve recipes in rapid succession, you do get rather a glut of baked goods, and there are limits to how much my friends are willing to eat!


Finally, I hope you’ve enjoyed the 12 Festive Bakes of Christmas series for this year. I’m sure we’ll be kicking off again in about 11 months’ time!

 To make Rhubarb Hálfmánar (makes 25):

• 165g flour
• 80g sugar
• 80g butter
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1 medium egg

• 1/2 teaspoon baker’s ammonia
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• rhubarb jam
• milk, to seal
• beaten egg, to glaze

1. Start with the pastry: in a bowl, rub the butter into the flour. Mix in the sugar, spices and baker’s ammonia. Mix in the egg and work to a soft dough (add a dash more flour if needed). Chill in the fridge overnight (the dough will be quite soft, but will firm up in the fridge).

2. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

3. Make the biscuits. Roll out the pastry, then cut out 8cm diameter discs of pastry (use a round or scalloped cutter – I used scalloped). Put about a quarter of a teaspoon of rhubarb jam in the middle of each piece. Moisten the edges of the pastry disc with milk, them fold in half. Use a fork to seal and crimp the edges.

4. Beat an egg and brush the top of each bookie.

5. Bake the cookies for around 10-12 minutes until golden.


Filed under Christmas, Recipe, Sweet Things

17 responses to “{12} Rhubarb Half-Moon Cookies

  1. These look fantastic! Great way to end this holiday baking stuff…even if it happened post-Christmas, haha.

  2. Great idea – they look perfectly formed too.

  3. lcathrin

    looks heavenly! ♥

  4. I am making these tonight, but using raspberry due to rhubarb being out of season. Thank you, my grandmother made these and they are a favorite of mine.

  5. Hey there! Just came across your blog on my “you may like…” sidebar! Probably because I’ve recently posted a “London Eats” blog post on my foodie adventures while visiting.

    These look so beautiful and sound delicious too! Looking forward to seeing more of your recipes!

  6. *DROOLS* – these look amazing and I can imagine devouring them with a cup of tea… Can’t wait to try and loving your blog 🙂


    • Thanks! Yes, they’re good with a cuppa. Also play around with the jam – rhubarb is quite a mild flavour, so if you like something tangy, you could try marmalade, cherry jam, raspberry jam…and of course, you can use different flavours in one batch 🙂

      • I think for an adult palette rhubarb is a quite suitable option.. but you’re right to have a bit of variance and looking at the younger audience a sweet fruity jam would be a yummy alternative. Good one!

  7. Rhubarb biscuits sounds great, what is baker’s ammonia? If it’s not available where I am, what can I substitute it with?

    • Hi Mary – great question! Baker’s ammonia is a raising agent that is used in Germany and Northern Europe. It gives you really light and crisp baked goods, but when you’re baking, you get a bit of a pong of ammonia when it comes out of the oven (all perfectly harmless, but turn on the fan or open a window). You should be able to get it from a German or Scandinavian shop, otherwise try Amazon. There are some recipe recipes where you need the baker’s ammonia to get a very light result (like these Icelandice air cookies or Swedish dream cookies).

      However, in this recipe, you could just use some baking powder in place of baker’s ammonia – I’ve done it before and it works fine. Good luck if you’re going to have a go at them.

Tell me what you are thinking!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s