Macaroons with berry and buttercream filling

Raspberry jam thumbprints with white chocolate

Hamantaschen

Ma’amoul

Gluten-free peanut butter and dark chocolate creams

Marshmallow pies

By Petri Uys, Photography Jan Botha

Zoosh up your cookie collection with these delicious filled treats.

1. Macaroons with berry and buttercream filling (V)

Makes: about 20
Time: 40 minutes (plus 1 hour resting time)

Ingredients:

120g icing sugar/ 90g ground almonds, sifted/ 3 egg whites (90g)/ 70g castor sugar/ food colouring

For the filling:

100g butter/ 250g icing sugar/ 45ml cream/ 45ml lemon zest/ vanilla paste (or essence)/ a selection of seasonal berries

Method:

1. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds together three times. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the castor sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and you’re left with a shiny meringue mixture. 2. Add the mixture and a few drops of food colouring to the almond mixture, and mix until combined. Pipe R5-sized dollops onto a greases and lined cookie tray. 3. Wet your finger with water and smooth out any peaks. You want a smooth top. Then let the macaroons sit for at least an hour until they form a smooth skin. Preheat the oven to 130°C. 4. Bake for 13 minutes. Remove from oven and allow them to cool on the baking tray. 5. Make the filling by creaming together the butter and icing sugar. Add the cream, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until smooth. 6. Pipe the buttercream onto a macaroon, arrange the berries to your liking and top with another macaroon.

2. Raspberry jam thumbprints with white chocolate (V)

Makes: about 25
Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

200g cake flour/ 75g butter/ 5ml baking powder/ 1 egg/ 100g icing sugar/ 25ml milk/ 5ml vanilla essence/ raspberry jam/ 100g white chocolate

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the flour, butter and baking powder in a food processor and pulse until combined. Or rub the butter into the flour with your fingers. 2. Whisk together the egg, icing sugar, milk and vanilla essence before adding it to the dry ingredients. Pulse until the dough comes together. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before dividing into 25 balls. 3. Place the balls on a greased baking tray and make an indentation into each one, using the back of a wooden spoon or your thumb. It helps to flour the spoon before doing this.4. Spoon about half a teaspoon of jam into each indentation and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Let them cool on a wire rack. 5. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the cooled cookies.

Note: These are super easy and the dough freezes well. Use your favourite jam or preserve to personalise these little gems.

3. Hamantaschen (V)

Makes: about 30
Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes + cooling

Ingredients:

250ml prunes, pitted/ 250ml dried apricots/ 2 eggs/ 125ml sugar/ 60ml oil/ zest of 1 lemon/ 500ml flour/ 5ml baking powder/ 10ml lemon juice/ 60ml chopped pecan nuts/ extra sugar (to taste)

Method:

1. Place the prunes and apricots in a heavy saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the fruit is soft. Drain, mash the fruit with a fork, and set aside. 2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil and zest. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the egg mixture to the flour and mix until a smooth dough forms. 3. Roll the dough out to about 5mm thick on a floured surface and use a cookie cutter to cut out rounds. 4. To the fruit mixture, add the lemon juice, pecan nuts and extra sugar, and mix well. Place a tablespoon of the mixture onto each round and pinch the edges to form a triangle. 5. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.

4. Ma’amoul (V)

Makes: about 20
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients:

500ml flour/ 5ml baking powder/ 15ml icing sugar/ pinch of salt/ 125ml butter, room temperature (but not melted)/ 30ml oil/ 60ml milk

For the filling:

125ml almonds or pistachios/ 125ml dried fruit (apricots, raisins, dates, dried cherries etc)/ 2ml ginger/ zest of 1 lemon/ seeds of two cardamom pods, crushed/ 2ml cinnamon/ 30ml apricot jam

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Mix together the dry ingredients before adding the butter, oil and milk and mixing until just combined. This works well in a food processor.  Take care not to overwork the dough. 2. For the filling: combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Alternatively, finely chop and mix well. We used pistachios, cranberries and apricots with some cinnamon and cardamom. 3. Roll the dough into 20 equally sized balls. In the palm of your hand, pat them out to form 6cm rounds. Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre of the round and gently draw up the edges to cover. Pinch the dough together and roll the cookie gently in you hand to round them out. 4. Place the cookies seam-side down on a lined baking tray and flatten slightly. Use a toothpick to punch a decorative pattern in the dough before baking for 25 minutes, or until starting to turn golden brown.

5. Gluten-free peanut butter and dark chocolate creams (V)

Makes: about 25
Time: 1 hour + cooling

Ingredients:

60ml oil/ 125ml peanut butter/ 250ml castor sugar/ 2 eggs/ 125ml brown rice flour/ 125ml tapioca flour/ 125ml corn flour/ 125ml millet flour/ 10ml xanthan gum/ 15ml gluten-free baking powder/ 125ml roasted peanuts/ 30ml milk/ 200ml cream/ 100g butter/ 200g dark chocolate

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Whisk together the oil and peanut butter. Add the sugar and whisk until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well mixed. 2. Sift together the dry ingredients and stir into the peanut butter mixture. Mix in the roasted peanuts with the milk. 3. Roll the dough into 2 cm balls and place on a greased baking tray. Flatten gently and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool. 4. Heat the cream and butter together before stirring in the chopped chocolate. Stir until melted, remove from heat and mix until shiny. Leave until slightly thickened. 5. Place a dollop of chocolate on half the cookies and top with the remaining cookies.

Note: Use a dark chocolate that is free of gluten, as some commercial brands may contain traces thereof.

6. Marshmallow pies (V)

Makes 12
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

12 digestive biscuits/ 12 pink marshmallows/ 100g white chocolate/ sprinkles

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the digestive biscuits on a cookie tray and top each one with a marshmallow. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes, until the marshmallows soften, and expand. 2. Remove from oven and pat each marshmallow down to cover the cookie. Be careful, as the molten centre is quite hot. Allow them to cool. 3. Melt the white chocolate and dip each cookie, mallow side first into the chocolate. Arrange on a wire rack. Drizzle the remaining chocolate over the cookies before finishing off with some sprinkles.

Tip: To melt the chocolate, either heat in a microwave in short bursts of 10 seconds, stirring in between; or in a glass bowl over hot water on the stove, stirring regularly until melted.