These traditional Christmas biscuits are known under quite a number of different names throughout Germany: ‘Husarenkrapfen’ ‘Fingerkolatschen’, ‘Engelsaugen’ and many other names. ‘Husarenkrapfen’ translates to ‘Hussar’s doughnut’ – I have no idea what the Hussars have to do with these biscuits, but ‘Krapfen’ is one of the German words for filled doughnuts. Yes, we have several words for doughnuts depending on where in Germany you’re from, which can get a bit confusing if you’re talking to someone who is using a different word for the same thing (especially if that word means something completely different to you) 😉 But anyway, back to the biscuits: I have chosen to use ‘Husarenkrapfen’ for them in this blog post, simply because that is the first name I ever knew for them. But I have to say my favourite is ‘Engelsaugen’, which means ‘angel eyes’!
The biscuits are crumbly and flavoured with vanilla and hazelnuts, but they will soften a bit after a couple of days from the jam. And I have to say, they really are at their best if you leave them for a couple of days in an airtight container, so the jam has time to soften the biscuit and all the flavours can develop. But of course I can never resist eating a couple when I’ve just finished them.
The best jam to use in these is one that is not too sweet and personally I like them with a seedless jam. I usually use redcurrant jam, but they would also be good with seedless raspberry jam or apple jelly. A tart jam balances out the sweetness of the biscuit, but if you’ve got a bit more of a sweet tooth then use your favourite jam in these. Heating up the jam to make it runny makes it much easier to fill it into the biscuits and it also means it will look much neater. The jam will set again, so there’s no worry about it running out or the biscuits sticking together.
These are an absolute breeze to make, there’s no rolling out the dough and stamping out tons and tons of shapes. The dough is just rolled into little balls, placed onto baking trays and then they get a hole pressed into them. You can just use your fingers to make the holes, but I prefer to use the handle of a wooden spoon – you get much neater holes like that. And that’s it, they’re ready for the oven! Because they are so easy, they’re a brilliant bake to make with the kids; you can sit them down at the table, give each their own little bit of dough and let them roll it into balls. Then you can help press in the holes and you’re all done.
Try to keep the dough as chilled as possible while making them, otherwise they might spread too much while baking and will be difficult to fill with the jam. Should it get too warm and soft (which can happen, especially if there are little hands helping), just pop the trays in the fridge for about 15 minute before baking. That way the butter has time to firm up again and the biscuits will keep their shape better during baking.
Makes about 50-60
You will need
200g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 egg yolks or 1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
300g plain flour
80g ground hazelnuts
Tart seedless jam, like raspberry or redcurrant
Icing sugar (optional)
- Put all the ingredients, except the jam and the icing sugar, into a bowl and mix into a smooth dough using the dough hooks of an electric hand mixer or the paddle attachment in a stand mixer. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C / gas mark 4 and line two baking trays with baking paper. Roll the chilled dough into little balls about the size of a walnut and place on the trays. Using the end of a wooden spoon or your fingers, press holes into the balls of dough. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Heat the jam in the microwave until runny and fill into the holes in the biscuits using a teaspoon. Dust with icing sugar if you like and leave to set. Will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks.