For the past two weeks, I've been hosting an international guest at work. In a bid to break the ice with my coworkers, I brought in these biscuits to draw a crowd to my guest's first lunch in the office.
Initially I was planning to bake a cake and set on trying something from my newest cookbook, Sweet. But, as I flicked through the pages, biscuits or little cakes seemed more sensible. They'd be less fussy to transport, and folks could help themselves whenever they were ready rather than waiting for me to ceremoniously portion out something larger. Oh, and I had rhubarb in the fridge! The rhubarb-iced yo-yos were an excellent fit.
I made one-and-a-half times the original quantity and turned out 20 generous biscuit sandwiches. I let my shortbreads get just a teensy bit brown around the edges, which I think is traditionally a bit of a no-no, but really worked out fine. The icing is the major novelty here, as it's prepared in a food processor and contains baked rhubarb! I was very, very worried about the fibres remaining stringy in the icing - they were visible, and I picked some of them out, but actually they seemed very soft and inoffensive in the couple of biscuits I ate. If I made this recipe again, I'd blend the rhubarb in my spice grinder attachment to give it more contact with the blade, then perhaps beat it together with the other icing ingredients in a bowl.
I stored the biscuits (airtight on the bench) and icing (airtight in the fridge) overnight before assembling the yo-yos, with the aim of keeping them fresh, uncrushed and non-soggy. This worked well; they needed gentle handling but none of them crumbled under my fingers and all of them looked handsome at the lunch table. Their buttery crumble was just right between the teeth, and I enjoyed the pink tanginess of the icing. I can't be sure whether the biscuits or the special guest was more enticing but there was a huge, friendly turn-out, an auspicious start to a lovely visit.
(slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh's Sweet)
260g plain flour
100g custard powder
100g icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
250g butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
100g butter, at room temperature
200g icing sugar
juice of half a lemon
Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with paper.
Chop the rhubarb into 3cm lengths and set them out on the baking tray. Bake them for 30 minutes, until softened. Allow them to cool to room temperature.
Time to switch to the biscuits! Turn the oven down to 170°C, and line two baking trays with fresh paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, custard powder, icing sugar and salt. Chop the butter into cubes and drop it into the flour mixture. Carefully beat the butter into the dry ingredients, adding the vanilla as you go, until the mixture forms a dough.
Use two teaspoons to grab scant tablespoons of the dough, rolling them into balls and placing them on the baking trays. Use a fork to gently press down on the balls - mine formed biscuits about 3cm in diameter and 1 cm thick before they went into the oven. Bake the biscuits for around 25 minutes, catching them just as they start going golden around the edges. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the tray before transferring them to a rack to cool right down to room temperature. If you're not assembling and serving them right away, store the biscuits in an airtight container.
Back to the icing! Place the rhubarb in a small food processor bowl and blend until as smooth as possible. Blend in the butter, then the icing sugar and lemon juice. Keep blending for a few minutes until the icing is as smooth and whipped as possible. If you're not assembling and serving the yo-yos right away, transfer the icing to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.
When it's time to assemble the yo-yos, carefully choose matching pairs of biscuits by size and shape. Use two teaspoons to scoop half-tablespoons of icing, placing them on one of the biscuits and gently sandwiching the second biscuit on top. Serve the biscuits right away, or store them in an airtight container for a couple of days (I refrigerated mine because I thought the icing looked delicate).