Many of my friends are the same age, which is what happens when we all meet at university, and so we’re in the middle of a 36-month window of everybody turning 40. It came to pass that my second-oldest university friend, Angela, had her birthday over the weekend, and she had a tea party. It was lovely (albeit so many people), and special occasion meant I wanted to make something nice to take along.
Ridiculous man that I am, Viennese whirls sat in my head the night before the party. I slept on the idea, woke at 6:20, sighed and got up to beat up some butter and sugar. Because that’s the secret to Viennese whirls; proper butter that’s beaten until soft – if you microwave it the butter goes too soft and the biscuits will spread while baking – then beaten with icing sugar until fluffy, and then beaten with flour until smooth. This is fine if you have a food processor. I don’t. I have a wooden spoon and a slighly dodgy right shoulder. Also, I’d run out of plain flour because someone had pancakes during the week, so I ended up using bread flour instead, but it doesn’t matter (that much, they came out a little tougher than I’d like but tasted fine) as long as you’re not using self-raising. And where was my 1.5″ star nozzle? I’ve bought three of these over the years and they just vanish. So I raided the piping set for a tiny, tiny star nozzle best suited for royal icing, not biccie dough.
Viennese whirls are lovely biccies in themselves but for special occasions they need to be filled and sandwiched, so I went to old faithful: whipped cream ganache with fresh raspberries. Seconds to make, tastes like the lightest, chocolatiest mousse ever. Amazing.
They went to the party, and every now and then I’d see someone pick one up and eat it, and they’d say something like “these are delicious!” and I’d say “thank you” and they’d look horrified, like they’d been caught filling tennis balls with jelly, or something. I don’t know why. Should I be insulted when someone says “you made these?” or pleased? I’ve never really worked that out.
Anyway, have a recipe.
Biccies: 250g softish unsalted butter, 75g icing sugar, pinch of salt, 275g plain flour. Don’t be tempted to buy salted butter and leave the salt out, because the biccies will be too salty. Beat up the butter until it’s soft, then add the icing sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the salt and (sifted) flour and beat until smooth. Put into a piping bag with the biggest star nozzle you have, and pipe swirls onto baking parchment. The bigger the nozzle, the bigger the biccies. Those in the picture are tiny, so I got something like 80 biccies out of this mixture (sandwiched, about 40). If you have a 2″ nozzle you might get 24. Bake on sheets at GM4/180C for 12 minutes, or until the biscuits start colouring (they shouldn’t spread much) then turn the oven off, prop the door open slightly and leave until the oven cools down, then gently take off the baking sheets and leave to cool.
Melt 100g of good dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Take off the heat when you’ve still got a few solid bits, and stir them in so residual heat melts them. Leave to cool down for a bit. Whip up a small pot (125ml) of cold double cream to soft peaks, pour in the melted chocolate and fold it in so it’s well mixed, but try not to beat it too much or the cream will collapse.
Wash some raspberries and tear them in half. Put a splodge of ganache on a biscuit, put a halved raspberry in the middle and then put another biscuit on top to sandwich. And once you’ve sandwiched all the biccies you’ve made you are done! Pop them in the fridge to store (will last a few days) but take them out an hour before serving so the ganache can relax a bit.
Don’t worry about being a bit slapdash in the piping; these will look and taste amazing regardless. And they’re perfect for birthday parties.