I’ve made these Viennese whirls before, but an orange alternative, and I’d forgotten just how completely delicious they are. Dare I say it? In my opinion, these biscuits beat Mr Kipling. That’s saying something.
I don’t know whether it’s the icing sugar, the cornflour, or a mixture of all the ingredients, but these are just so soft and crumbly. They’re perfectly light, not crunchy at all, and so, so moreish. It’s ideal that you get two in every Viennese whirl you have! Bonus.
I tried to make these a little different from the shop-bought offerings, so made them less whirly and more starry. I actually really like how these turned out, like little Viennese-biscuit-mountains, but if you want them flatter, just reduce the amount of flour in the recipe by about 25g.
For a festive twist, I decided to add a layer of homemade mincemeat instead of the traditional jam. Now, I have a slight confession: I don’t know what these taste like. I sandwiched a couple of biscuits together with just buttercream and they were completely delicious, but as for the mincemeat addition, I’m trusting the opinions of my brave, and always willing, Taste Tester- who’s given it two thumbs up.
One of the only foods I don’t like is dried fruits. I cannot stand currants, sultanas, or raisins- never have, probably never will (it’s the strange, squidgy texture. It’s the same with baked beans), so I’ll never eat mincemeat. I feel strangely melancholic over the fact I’ll never get to sample Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, mince pies, or Stollen. Afternoon tea and dessert on Christmas Day for me has often been a miserable affair.
I wonder if it’s a genetic thing, because whenever I mention my dislike of dried fruits to a relative on my dad’s side, they’ll recount the tale of my Nanna spitting out the fruit from fruit loaf and hiding it on the ledge under the table, and they’ll usually tell me that they know another member of the family who can’t stand them, either. It does sort of give a feeling of solidarity, but it’s a shame, because it’s such an ingrained part of Christmas that I can’t help but feel I’m missing out.
Some Christmas trivia, if you’re interested, and if you want to wow Nan at the Christmas dinner table: in the UK, ‘raisin’ is a dark-coloured, dried large grape, while ‘sultana’ is a golden-coloured dried grape. ‘Currant’ is a small, black, seedless dried grape and (whilst we’re on the subject) prunes are dried plums.
So despite my hatred of all forms of dried fruit, I still like making mincemeat, and all the rest of that very traditional Christmas fare. And it’s because of that, that we’ve ended up with six jars of mincemeat in the cupboard and a very slowly depleting store of mince pies in the tin. There’s also a Christmas cake hidden at the back somewhere that needs to be decorated, but since I’ve only just managed to palm the first cake off on some unsuspecting taste testers I’m not rushing that. (The cake-culprits were my dad and his work friends, who enjoyed a leisurely mid-morning tea break with homemade Christmas Cake, in a van on the side of a road somewhere.)
To use up the mincemeat, I created these mincemeat Viennese whirls, and they’ve been a hit, which must be good news! If you haven’t had the chance to make your own mincemeat, store-bought will work just as well. Although usually, there’s a willing mincemeat-maker who’ll no doubt share their produce with you- in exchange for some mincemeat Viennese whirls. I’d call that a fair trade!
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A Christmassy twist on Viennese whirls- crumbly and soft biscuits sandwiched together with smooth almond buttercream and a layer of festive mincemeat. A fun and tasty alternative to mince pies!
- FOR THE VIENNESE WHIRL BISCUITS
- 100g softened butter
- 25g icing sugar
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 100g self-raising flour
- 25g cornflour
- FOR THE FILLING
- 25g softened butter
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 50g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 2tbsp mincemeat
- Pre-heat the oven to 190°c/375°f/gas mark 5. Draw sixteen 5cm circles on a sheet of greaseproof paper, then turn the paper over and use to line a baking sheet.
- For the biscuits, beat together the butter, icing sugar, and almond extract until smooth. Sieve in the flour and cornflour and use a large metal spoon to fold in. It should form a stiff but pipe-able mixture.
- Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle (I use a Wilton 1M). Pipe the biscuits onto the paper, fitting it inside the pencil circle templates. (You can either swirl the mixture to get the classic whirl shape, or pipe down in a simple straight star shape for something a bit different.)
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and firm. Cool slightly on the tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the icing, beat together the butter, almond extract and sugar to a smooth creamy paste. Spread, or pipe, the icing over the base of half the biscuits, then spread the mincemeat over the remaining biscuits. Sandwich the biscuits together then dust with icing sugar. ▪