Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Belgian (or 'Belgium') biscuits are a Kiwi classic - spiced cookies sandwiched together with raspberry jam and iced. In NZ, we sprinkle them with raspberry jelly crystals, but here in the UK, instant jelly comes in gelatinous cubes (apart from the nasty sugar-free variety). I've researched so many recipes for this, but none of them quite make it for me. They're either too sweet, too bland - and none of them had the 'tang' I was after to replace the jelly crystals - or the quintessential flavour of those Griffins Belgian Cremes (the 'shop-bought' version). So, here is my tried and tested recipe. I challenge you to try it yourself and please comment below to tell me what you thought!
135g butter, softened
65g brown sugar
2 cups/250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cocoa
½ cup raspberry jam
Either royal icing
1 Tbsp lemon juice
OR regular icing 150g icing sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp soft butter (you can do whatever you like - I just love the lemon icing to offset the sweetness of the sugar crystals and add depth to the spice, but if you're a purist, you might like to use raspberry extract or just colour it pink!)
a few drops of pink or red food colouring (I used Sugarflair edible sugar tint in 'fuschia')
granulated sugar (or raspberry jelly crystals in place of the two ingredients above)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and line one or two oven trays.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Sift flour, baking powder, cocoa and all the spices together. Mix in to the creamed mixture to make a firm dough. On a lightly floured board, roll out to about 3mm-4mm thickness and cut out desired shapes to about 6.5cm diameter (they're usually round but as you see they can be anything). Bake for 12-14 minutes until slightly golden (this usually takes two trays-worth). When cold, ice half of the biscuits (I used a piping bag and nozzle, but you can also just snip the corner off a plastic sandwich bag and it does the same thing... but only do it if you're going to keep it and use it again!) and sprinkle coloured sugar or jelly crystals on the top before the icing sets. Spread the rest of the un-iced biscuits with raspberry jam. Sandwich the iced ones to the jammy ones!
First, mix the sugar granules with the food colouring to make pink crystals
Beat the royal icing sugar according to the packet instructions, omitting 15mL of the water, until the desired consistency is reached, then add lemon juice and beat well. OR
Sift icing sugar and mix/beat well with the butter and lemon juice. Add more icing sugar if it's too wet, or lemon juice if it's too dry!
I used 'sanding sugar' on these cookies. It was a gift from a friend from New York. Sanding sugar is great for edible decorating because it won't dissolve with heat. It also creates a sparkly effect because of the large size of the crystals reflecting light.