We are always on the lookout for new afternoon tea treats. Whenever we visit a tea room, I always take notes of the menus so we can incorporate the tastiest bites into our afternoon teas at home. This is why I’m totally fine justifying our afternoon tea visits as “educational experiences.”
In the same vein, watching hours of Great British Bake Off is also considered an “educational experience.” While I’ve learned plenty from watching this show, the best part is that I know Xak can’t resist baking some of the technical challenges like povitica. On one particular episode that we watched during Xak’s Sabbatical, Mary Berry had set up a technical challenge for a “Viennese Whirl.”
Viennese whirls are two buttery shortbread cookies sandwiching jam and buttercream. Mary Berry’s version includes homemade raspberry jam and Xak was especially eager to take this on as a brand new challenge. The cookies are piped in the shape of a whirl (hence the name).
While I usually prefer decadent, chocolatey desserts, these really seemed absolutely perfect for an afternoon tea.
The Viennese Whirls Process
These delicate cookies don’t have a ton of ingredients. Viennese Whirls are made of flour, sugar, cornflour, and butter. The jam is raspberries and sugar and the buttercream layer includes more butter, sugar, and vanilla.
Making the Raspberry Jam
The first step is to make the jam. Xak is a big fan of Bonne Maman so usually we buy a jar (or six) to spread on top of our scones. We’ve never made our own before so both Xak and I were extremely eager to see how this would turn out. My minimal knowledge of jam is that it includes fruit, sugar, and pectin, although I noticed this recipe didn’t call for it. I’m not going to question Mary Berry.
Xak crushed the raspberries and combined it with sugar on the stove. After several minutes and letting it boil, he removed it from the stove and then poured some through the sifter to catch the seeds and allow the liquid to pass into the bowl. The remaining jam mixture from the pot then went into a container to cool, seeds and all.
Making the Cookies
Next, Xak needed to create the cookie batter to pipe into circles. Using the round cookie cutters we received as a wedding present (thank you!), Xak drew a template on the parchment paper to ensure that the cookies would be relatively the same size since these are sandwich cookies.
Although the cookie batter doesn’t take too long to come together, the difference with these cookies is the distinctive whirled shape which gets piped into the circles. The recipe instructed to only put about 8 cookies per sheet so Xak steadily piped for quite some time. I’m guessing this is to prevent the batter from spreading which has definitely happened to me before when I attempted ginger snaps.
Making the Buttercream
While the cookies baked, Xak then moved onto the next step of creating the buttercream filling. We’ve made buttercream in the past for macarons and for cakes and it’s so good! For the Viennese Whirls, the buttercream was only flavored with vanilla which would still be delicious. I briefly wondered if we could portion out some buttercream to save for graham crackers later like a homemade Dunkaroo.
Assembling the Viennese Whirls
The cookies didn’t take too long to bake, and after letting them cool on wire racks, it was time for assembly to begin! A layer of jam was spooned and distributed on half of the cookies and Xak piped a circle of the vanilla buttercream on top of the jam and then pressed a cookie on top.
They looked awesome and I was so ready to dive into one! Unfortunately the recipe only makes 24 cookies, meaning 12 sandwiches total. This means you can’t take one without anyone noticing 😬
The Leftover Tea
After Xak finished the cookies, we were ready to sit down for our leftover tea.
Tea is a big part of Xak’s and my lives and we drink tea together nearly everyday. On most days we simply have a cup of tea with a cookie in the afternoon. Other days we’ll plan out elaborately themed tea events for ourselves, and then there are times we revisit treats from the past to have a leftover tea.
Leftover tea is extremely informal. It’s when we have tea bags in mugs (as opposed to brewing up a pot with leaves). It also means leaving the crusts on the sandwiches, and digging out whatever tea delicacies we stored in the freezers specifically for leftover tea days.
I love leftover tea days because not only is the food great, but every dish can go into the dishwasher!
For today’s leftover tea, we decided to have our fig scones with FROG jam, a cucumber sandwich (crusts in tact), a mini cheesecake, and one Viennese Whirl each paired with a delightful cup of Lemon Drop tea.
The Viennese Whirl was dynamite! It really did seem to melt in my mouth and the jam was extremely tasty. It is absolutely an ideal tea dessert. It’s not really a cookie I see myself eating sleeves of (like Oreos) since it’s so buttery, rich, and crumbly, but the experience of eating it felt quite special and something I wanted to savor. It had a very nice taste and went fantastic with my Lemon Drop tea.
As we happily enjoyed our Leftover Tea, I made a mental note to add Viennese Whirls to our Afternoon Tea Treats repertoire. I definitely want these again the future!