Monday, 17 February 2014

Valentine's Day Jammy Dodgers

I was extremely pleased with these biscuits which I made to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on 14th February. The shortbread was beautifully crisp and delicately flavoured with lemon zest, which set off the raspberry jam centres of the biscuits just perfectly. These are seriously tasty biscuits and are easily adapted so that they do not have to be made for Valentine’s Day only. I have made the same biscuits with letters of the alphabet cut out of them to represent the initial letters of recipient’s names;- particularly popular for birthday parties.

I particularly like the raspberry and lemon combination but you could rework these flavours by including spices such as ginger, nutmeg or cinnamon in the biscuit dough and sandwich them together using different flavoured jams, curds or marmalades. Although I haven’t as yet tried it, I think that some ground ginger added to the dough would be especially delicious, and the finished biscuits sandwiched together with some homemade lemon curd. As with many of the recipes that I give, I recommend that you try the basic recipe first of all and then subsequently adapt it to reflect your own tastes.

Do try to use a good quality jam with a high fruit content as you really want the fruit flavour to shine through. Although you don’t absolutely have to sieve any seeds out of the jam, I really do think that it makes a difference to the finished biscuit and, as it only takes a few minutes, I advise you to do so.

Even though I am a fan of the commercially produced Jammie Dodgers with their cherry flavoured centres, these biscuits are truly wonderful and a world removed from any mass-produced versions that you could buy.

The filled biscuits were still crisp the day after I made them, so their keeping qualities appear to be very good. Honestly though, this isn’t really an issue as these biscuits are usually wolfed down very quickly by my gang… but this is what cooking and baking should be all about…feeding and creating delicious food and tasty treats for the people you love!

For me cooking and baking is a way of expressing my love for those people closest to me and I get so much pleasure from seeing those I care about enjoy the foods I make; and never more so than on St. Valentine’s Day!
 

Ingredients:

225g butter, softened
125g icing sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large egg yolks
300g plain flour
For the centre of the biscuits:
115g raspberry jam
To finish:
Some icing sugar to sprinkle over finished biscuits
 

Method:

1. Using a hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter, icing sugar and lemon zest together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix together to fully incorporate them. Using a wooden spoon mix in the flour, to form a soft dough.
2. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured work-surface and knead briefly to bring together into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly, wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for at least an hour so that the dough has a chance to firm up.
3. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/ Gas Mark 4. Line two or three large baking trays with non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
4. Thinly roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured work-surface to a thickness of about 5mm. Use a 6cm – 8cm round cookie cutter to stamp out circles from the dough. Put half of the circles, as they are, on the lined baking trays. Using a small heart shaped cookie cutter, stamp out heart shapes from the centre of the remainder of the circles. Place these on the baking trays also.
5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes until just beginning to colour at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking trays for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
To finish:
6. Put the jam in a very small saucepan and heat gently until it becomes a little runnier. Pass the heated jam through a wire sieve into a small, clean bowl and set aside to cool. Discard any seeds from the raspberry jam which have collected in the sieve.
7. Sprinkle icing sugar evenly over the top of the biscuits with the hearts cut out of them.
8. Put a dollop of jam in the centre of the underside (the side that was against the parchment on the baking trays) of the circular biscuits and sandwich together carefully with the icing sugar dredged biscuits uppermost.

Makes 12-16 sandwiched biscuits depending on the size of the cutters used.