Spruce Tip Cookies with Hibiscus Jelly

Twelve glazed sandwich cookies with spruce tips sprinkled on top, sitting on a wooden dessert tray.
(Photo by: Geoff George)

We’re venturing into the wild with this flavor combination! Paired with a tart hibiscus jelly, spruce tips add lovely citrus notes to these sandwich cookies and really open up the palate.

John’s Spruce Tip Cookies with Hibiscus Jelly helped him claim the title of Star Baker for Botanical Week in Season 6 of The Great Canadian Baking Show.

Spruce Tip Cookies with Hibiscus Jelly

By John Fowler

Ingredients

Hibiscus Jelly:

  • 2 generous tbsp (7 g) dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1½ tbsp powdered gelatin
  • cooking spray

cookies

  • ¾ cup (168 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (28 g) goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp (7 g) dried spruce tips, finely ground
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2¾ cups (405g) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

icing

  • 1 white egg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1⅓ cup (150g) icing sugar

Garnish:

  • Fresh spruce tips (pick from a tree when light green and soft), optional

preparation

Hibiscus Jelly:

Combine the hibiscus flowers and water in a medium saucepan over high heat until almost at a boil. Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Put ½ cup of the liquid into a small bowl, then sprinkle the gelatin overtop and stir gently to combine. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the gelatin mixture to the reserved liquid and stir well to combine. Lightly grease a quarter-sheet pan with cooking spray, then pour the liquid onto it and place in the fridge to set, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Cookies:

Meanwhile, combine the butter, goat cheese, sugar and spruce tips in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg and mix until combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture, about a cup at a time, to the butter mixture. Divide the dough in two and shape the halves into balls. Wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap, then flatten it into ½-inch-thick disc and refrigerate for 20 to 25 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one portion of dough from the fridge. On a generously floured work surface, roll the dough out until it’s ¼ inch thick. Using a 2½-inch fluted cookie cutter, cut out 12 cookies. Cut a hole in the center of each with a 1-inch round cutter. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet. These will be the tops.

To make the bottoms, cut out 12 more cookies from the remaining dough, but don’t cut holes in the centers, then place them on the second prepared baking sheet. Bake the cookies for 11 to 14 minutes (the tops will bake in 11 to 12 mins), switching the sheets on the top and bottom racks and rotating front to back halfway through the bake time. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing:

Add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well to combine.

Assembly:

Paint the cookie tops with a light coat of icing and sprinkle with fresh spruce tips if desired. Allow to dry.

Using a 2¼-inch fluted cookie cutter, cut out rounds from the hibiscus jelly. Place one on each of the cookie bottoms, then cover with the cookie tops.

Makes 12 sandwich cookies

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