Last year I made an assortment of European style Christmas cookies and the Spitzbuben were the boy’s absolute favourite! This cookie originated in Switzerland and is pronounced Spitz-bu-ben, for audio click here. The name always makes me giggle, as it literally translates to “Little Rascals” in English. Although our boys are no longer little, it doesn’t mean they still can’t be rascals at times!
The classic Spitzbuben is a deliciously light shortbread, sandwiched together with a layer of jam and then dusted with icing sugar. They can be made nut free, or with ground almonds or hazelnuts. However, this year, I decided to make a chocolate version instead. The tart raspberry jam makes a delicious contrast to the lightly sweet chocolate shortbread cookie. On the first day baked they are quite crisp, but they do soften over the next few days and develop a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth texture. Traditionally, these cookies were cut using a fluted flower shaped cutter, but you can use any shape cutter you have on hand.
The amount of cookies you get, from your batch of dough, will depend up on the size of the cookie cutters you use, which in turn dictates how much jam you’ll require too. My round fluted cutter measured 6cm (approx. 2½ inches) and my square cutter measured 5cm (approx. 2 inches), with measurements being taken at the widest point. My love heart cutter measured just under 6cm (approx. 2½ inches), with the measurement being taken from where the heart joins at the top, through to the pointed tip at the bottom. I like to use all three cutters when making mine, as it makes a lovely combination of the different shaped sandwiches when doing it this way.
For accurate cup measurements, I sift the icing sugar, potato starch and cocoa powder before measuring, so that there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.
Tip: By bringing the jam to the boil, helps it to set thicker once cooled, which means the cookie base doesn’t soften as quickly as using jam straight from the jar.
Makes 28 sandwich cookies
162g (5.7 ounces or 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) pure icing sugar (I use this brand)
96g (3.4 ounces or ¾ cup) superfine white rice flour
91g (3.2 ounces or ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon) almond flour/meal
55g (1.9 ounces or ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon) potato starch
40g (1.4 ounces or ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon) tapioca starch
40g (1.4 ounces or ½ cup) cocoa powder
35g (1.2 ounces or ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon) corn starch
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) salt
182g (6.4 ounces or ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon) gluten and dairy free butter
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
Pure icing sugar, to dust (I use this brand)
Approximately 200g (7.0 ounces or a slightly heaped ½ cup) raspberry jam
First, start by sifting all the dry ingredients together, into a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla, before adding this and the butter to the dry ingredients. Work the dough with your fingers, rubbing the butter into the flour, until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs. Then work the mixture a little more with your hands, until it comes together in a ball. Divide the dough in half and wrap it in plastic wrap, before refrigerating for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 170C and line 2-3 trays with baking paper/parchment.
Work with one ball of dough at a time, leaving the other in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Roll the dough out between two pieces of baking paper/parchment, to approximately 2mm in thickness. Cut out the shapes, peel away all the surrounding dough and set aside to reuse. Gently peel the biscuits off the baking paper/parchment, which should come away quite easily, and transfer them to the prepared trays. You can put them quite close together, about 3cm apart, as they don’t spread too much during baking.
Now use the smaller cutters to remove the centre from half of your cookies, which will become the tops when you sandwich them together. Then place the pieces you cut out back on to your ball of dough, to reuse later. I actually find it easier to cut the centres out on the tray. That way, the cookies that have the middles cut out don’t loose their shape, while being transferred to the tray. Continue rolling the dough and cutting out the shapes, until the trays are full. Just ensure you refrigerate the rest of the dough until its needed.
Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, until they’re lightly brown around the edges. Once baked and removed from the oven, allow the cookies to cool on their trays for 3 minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Add the raspberry jam to a small saucepan and bring to the boil, before taking it off the heat. Then strain the jam through a sieve, to remove the seeds. Allow the jam to cool slightly, before brushing it over the top of your base cookies only. You then sandwich them together, with the ones’ which have the cut out shapes in the top.
Then, using a fine mesh sieve, lightly dust the tops of the cookies with icing sugar.
Once the rest of the jam has cooled to room temperature, spoon it in to a piping bag, fitted with a small plain nozzle, and pipe a small amount to fill in the cut out shapes in the top of your sandwich cookies. If you didn’t want to pipe the jam, you can of course use a teaspoon. However, piping it makes this task so much quicker. Just allow the jam to set completely, before eating.
Store in an airtight container. I like to put a layer of baking paper/parchment between each layer, so they don’t stick to each other.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse
Note: all recipe oven temperatures shown are for a fan forced electric oven. Please refer to the below guide to help you adjust your oven accordingly. This recipe is shown in bold.
Oven Temperatures Chart
120 °C = 100 °C Fan = 250 °F = Gas Mark ½
140 °C = 120 °C Fan = 275 °F = Gas Mark 1
150 °C = 130 °C Fan = 300 °F = Gas Mark 2
265 °C = 245 °C Fan = 325 °F = Gas Mark 3
180 °C = 160 °C Fan = 350 °F = Gas Mark 4
190 °C = 170 °C Fan = 375 °F = Gas Mark 5
200 °C = 180 °C Fan = 400 °F = Gas Mark 6
220 °C = 200 °C Fan = 425 °F = Gas Mark 7
230 °C = 210 °C Fan = 450 °F = Gas Mark 8
240 °C = 220 °C Fan = 475 °F = Gas Mark 9
250 °C = 230 °C Fan = 500 °F = Gas Mark 10