Honey hearts

Honey hearts

Scandinavian Christmas
7 large, 15 middle-sized and 13 small
Lars Ranek

Spiced honey cakes are a famous speciality from Christiansfelt, dating back to 1780, and it simply would not be Christmas without these... I eat them guiltily all through December for afternoon tea. They are one of the first things I bake in late November. It’s very important to remember that the full flavour of the honey in these only really comes out after a week, so bake them well in advance of Christmas. They become softer as they mature. They can be used as Christmas tree decorations (iced with white icing, not chocolate). They are often heart-shaped, but can also be formed into men, women or Santa. If you can find baker’s ammonia and baker’s potash, use 1 tsp and 2 tsp respectively, and omit the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, to keep the cookies soft for longer.


Quantity Ingredient
500g good-quality honey
3 egg yolks
200ml buttermilk
500g plain flour, plus more to dust
100g rye flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice

For the tempered chocolate

Quantity Ingredient
400-500g dark chocolate, finely chopped, (see note)


  1. Melt the honey and leave it to cool. Add the egg yolks and buttermilk and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then fold them into the honey mixture.
  2. On a floured work surface, knead the dough until smooth. Wrap it in cling film and chill for at least 24 hours.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 170°C. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and place it between two sheets of baking parchment. Roll the dough between the parchments to 1cm thick. Peel off the top layer of parchment and cut out hearts with different sized cutters, until all the dough has been used.
  4. Place the cookies on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake for 12 minutes, then cool on a wire rack. (You may need to bake in batches.) Store in an airtight tin for about a week before covering them with tempered chocolate.
  5. Cover the hearts in the chocolate and place on a tray lined with baking parchment. Let cool until set, then store in an airtight tin. We usually decorate each with a small glossy picture. They keep for two to three weeks.

Tempered chocolate

  • You will need a sugar thermometer. Melt two-thirds of the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (the bowl must not touch the water). When it has reached 50°C, add the rest of the chocolate. Mix well until melted. Gently heat until it reaches 31°C. Now it is ready to use.
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