A New Zealander may not immediately link Belgium Biscuits with Valentines Day, but I was searching for an original idea (I was determined not to go down the decorated cup cake route) when I remembered that Belgium Biscuits had been on my list to make for a while now. I mean, they fit the criteria right? They’re pink, filled with jam, and these ones are cute miniature versions. Perfect!
For those of you who aren’t from New Zealand, a little history lesson might be in order. Belgium Biscuits are another baked Kiwi classic, although I admit that I’ve only ever tried the store-bought versions. They evolved from the (Scottish) Empire Biscuits which traditionally are made from two plain biscuits being sandwiched together with jam, and covered in white icing and a glace cherry (or something similar). However, the New Zealand Belgium Biscuit differs slightly in that the biscuit is made with a cinnamon spice mix (reminiscent of Dutch Speculaas cookies) and are usually covered in pink glace icing.
So what has this got to do with Belgium you may ask? Absolutely nothing! Both the Belgium and the Empire biscuit were originally called German Biscuits, but during the First World War, the name was changed to either Empire or Belgium as, of course, it suddenly became very unpopular for anything to be associated with Germany.
The classic Belgium Biscuit recipe can be found in The Edmond’s Cookbook (the quintessential New Zealand cookbook) and there aren’t, it seems, many variations on this recipe in existance. I did find a couple of recipes which use a more buttery cookie dough, and thereby producing a more classic “cookie”. But for me, a Belgium Biscuit is at its best when made with a dry, crumbly biscuit which complements the gooeyness of the jam filling and the super sweet glace icing. I therefore still swear by the original Edmond’s recipe.
I do also have to mention that this recipe is slightly fiddly and time consuming. But then a Valentine’s gift wouldn’t be the same if it hadn’t taken some effort right? They take quite some time to assemble and you need a little bit of skill when dealing with the biscuit dough and cutting out the cookie shapes. However, the advantage of a cookie dough that contains less butter is that you don’t have to worry as much about the dough getting too warm and soft to handle and the rounds spreading in the oven. This biscuit dough is pretty user-friendly.