NOTE: Click here for a more recent post on Fortnum & Mason's Rose Biscuits + How to Make Crystallised Rose Petals. The recipe in this more recent post replicates these biscuits in a truer way than the version in this post - Kath, 25/4/16.
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The first time I went to Fortnum and Mason, I was 18, not into tea and really had no idea. What a shame. All I remember seeing is the bluey-green of the interior and thinking, ‘So the Royals buy their food here?’ Luckily things have changed.
My next encounter with Fortnum and Mason was with their Rose Shortbread, in a lovely pink cylindrical tin. Of course, it was the tin that attracted my attention first. Anyone who knows me knows that I am drawn to pink. I can’t help it. The biscuits ended up being beautiful too, so it was a win win really. Later, I found a book by Fortnum and Mason about Tea which had a biscuit recipe for rose biscuits that, I hoped would be the same as the ones that came in the pretty pink tins. Unfortunately, I had the book for a few years and never tried it. Mostly because the recipe called for crystallised rose petals and golden caster sugar. The first seemed to be basically unheard of in Australia and I was just plain confused by the second. I gave up.
When we decided we were going to London, I decided I was not going to miss out on Fortnum and Mason. And I certainly did not. Mum and I ended up going there three separate times! We had tea and scones in The Parlour, looked around the shop, including their great baking section, and admired the lovely tea sets for sale. On another visit I bought tea, and on the third I was so hungry I just had to try their macarons. I tried salted caramel, red velvet and Neapolitan. All were brilliant.
After a few weeks back at home, I re-opened the ‘Tea’ book from Fortnum and Mason. I decided that I was going to make these rose biscuits and unavailable and unheard of ingredients were not going to stop me. Unfortunately, crystallised rose petals still seem to be unheard of in Australia. Fortunately however, ‘golden caster sugar’ is now available in Australia, so after a little experimentation I have settled on this adaption of the original Fortnum and Mason recipe. I have iced them with a rose icing as the extra subtle hit of rose makes up for the crystallised rose petals.
200g unsalted butter, softened
100g golden caster sugar* or caster sugar
4 tsp rosewater
200g plain flour, sifted
100g almond meal
2.5 cups sifted icing sugar (confectioners)
2 tbsp boiling water
2.5-3 tsp rosewater
pink food colouring
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line two baking trays with baking paper.
In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and rosewater until all combined. Add the sifted flour and almond meal and mix until combined.
Using a teaspoon, take spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into balls and place on the baking trays. Flatten the balls a little so they form fat round discs.
Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly golden. Cool biscuits on the trays or on a wire rack.
Once the biscuits are cool, place the sifted icing sugar in a medium bowl. Add the boiling water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well. Then add the rosewater. Add as much or as little as you like, but I found that 3 teaspoons had a nice scent of rose without being overpowering.
Once all the liquids are added, check the consistency of the icing. It needs to be a smooth paste. If it is too runny it will run down the sides of the biscuits. Add more sifted icing sugar, in small increments, if the icing is too runny. If the icing is to thick, add more boiling water in small increments.
Once you have the right consistency, add a small amount of pink food colouring. I use gel colours, and don’t have to use very much to achieve a nice light pink colour. If using traditional food colours that are more fluid, add tiny amounts until you have a nice light pink colour. It won’t take much colouring to get a light pink. Add a litttle more sifted icing sugar/boiling water if the food colour has changed the consistency of the icing.
Once you have the desired colour and consistency for the icing, spread small amounts on the top of each biscuit. The icing will take at least a couple of hours to dry completely, but they are great to eat even if the icing hasn’t dried.
Makes 36-38 biscuits. Store in a airtight container.
*‘golden caster sugar’ may be labelled as ‘raw caster sugar’ in Australian supermarkets. However, the UK sugar manufacturer ‘Billington’s’ is available in Thomas Dux stores, Essential Ingredient and Woolworths stores. Billington’s has a range of sugars including ‘golden caster sugar’ and ‘muscovado’ sugars.
Recipe adapted from ‘Tea at Fortnum and Mason’ p.61 (Ebury Press).
Fortnum and Mason can be found at 181 Piccadilly, London.
Originally Posted March 25, 2014.