Monday, 30 November 2009

Belgium fingers (Mπισκότο Βελγίου)

Greek cakes and sweets are usually overly sweet and syrupy, or creamy and stodgy. They are very difficult to enjoy on the road, as they leave behind messy trails of syrup and cream. The window displays of Greek cake shops are very tempting, but most of the cakes found there taste very similar to each other, even though they look very different from one another. Appearances count much more than what's inside them. If you have a particular fondness for chocolate, for instance, then how do you choose among the chocolate 'pas-tes' available? They all taste the same anyway, so no matter which one you choose, you will be satiated in the same way.

zaharoplasteo egaleo athens
The typical Greek zaharoplasteio: everything looks unique, but it generally tastes the same.

The is the exact opposite of the typical English cake display. Everything displayed in a shop window has its own unique appearance and taste. No two items are alike. If you have a particularly fondness for fruity desserts, for instance, you'll choose a strawberry tart. But if you prefer a crisp spicy biscuit, you'll want a gingerbread man. Do you like chocolate? Then go for a creamy eclair or a cakey muffin. Want to keep healthy? Then try some carrot cake. Not a single one of these sweets bears any resemblance to one another. And they're all delicious.

cake shop greenwich london
Cake shop in Greenwich, London: can you name all the sweets?

These sweet treats are very similar to the kinds of cakes and biscuits that were available at the confectionery stores in Wellington when I was living there. They were also similar to the sweets you could order in a cafe to go with a very large cup of cappuccino, along with some Kiwi favorites, like afghan biscuits, which had nothing to do with Afghanistan ,and Belgium biscuits, which, again, had nothing whatsoever to do with Belgium. Belgium (or Belgian) biscuits are spicy jam-filled topped with pink icing. They have their own unique taste.

You need:
125g butter or margarine
1/4 cup soft brown sugar (not granulated, crystal or powder sugar; soft dark brown sugar is the most suitable - I didn't have any available, so I used crystallised brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups plain flour
raspberry jam
pink icing (I didn't use this, but these biscuits are usually iced in this way)

Cream butter and sugar together with the spices, then mix in the beaten egg. Add the flour and baking powder, and mix into the dough, which will be very soft. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface and cut small cookie-sized rounds. Spread a dab of raspberry jam over one cookie and top with another cookie round. Place the sandwich biscuits onto a greased baking tray and cook in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes, till golden brown.

belgium biscuits

If you want to ice the biscuits, let them cool down completely, and then ice them on one side.

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