Honey hearts take at least a month to make but they are absolutely worth it! They aren’t difficult to make but the flavours need time to develop. Get started now to have them ready for Christmas.
A Danish Christmas Speciality – Honning Hjerter
Honning Hjerter, or Honey hearts in English, are a Danish Christmas speciality. The first thing that hits you is the wonderful, spicy smell. This is Christmas in a cake! Shaped as hearts, covered in dark, rich chocolate, filled with apricot or orange jam. My mouth waters just typing the words. You can’t do the taste justice in words, you have to try them yourself!
This recipe is easy to make but it does take some planning if you want your honey hearts to be ready for Christmas. I usually start around my birthday, which happens to be exactly two months before Christmas day.
Honey hearts are prepared in several stages. Each stage doesn’t take a lot of time, but time is required for the flavour and consistency to develop between each step.
The History of Honey Hearts
Honey cakes can be traced back to the medieval ages and the lebkuchen from Nürnberg, Germany. Originally a pepper cake, the Danes changed the spice mix and made it a sweeter cake. We still eat pepper cakes around Christmas time as well either cut in shaped as men, ladies and pigs or as peppernuts.
Honey hearts specifically date back to the 19th century in Denmark, where they were baked in Christiansfeld, in the south of Jutland.
These cakes could last for months in airtight containers without getting dry so visitors began to buy enough to bring home and keep on hand for guests. Danes ate rye bread every day while the well-off had wheat bread on Sundays. This made the delicious honey hearts a special treat.
Back in the 19th century, marriages were still arranged by parents. After a deal was struck, the young man and women would be brought to the priest who would break a honey heart in half and offer them each one half as he gave them his blessing.
Mid-19th century they started to add flimsy images know as glansbilleder to the top of each honey heart and as a child, I would collect them every year. Hoping to add at least 3-5 to my collection during the season.
Honning Hjerter, or Honey Hearts in English, are a Danish Christmas speciality. The first thing that hits you is the wonderful, spicy smell. This is Christmas in a cake! Shaped as hearts, covered in dark, rich chocolate and filled with apricot or orange jam - You just have to try them.
Great taste takes time, get your pre-dough ready about 5 weeks before you want to eat the hearts.
- 500 g Honey Raw and local preferably
- 500 g Flour Traditionally wheat
- 10 g Potash
- 2 Egg yolks
- 5 g Cinnamon
- 5 g Cloves
- 1.5 tsp Ammonium bicarbonate
Mix the honey and flour until it forms a ball. If your honey is more liquid mix it until fully blended.
Put the mixture in a container and let it rest in the refrigerator for a month or longer.
3-4 days before you want to eat the hearts:
Add all the additional ingredients to your pre-dough, knead until it is fully blended. This may take some time.
Roll out the dough in a thin layer, 1/8" or thinner (0.5 cm) and cut out heart shapes.
Bake the hearts for 8-10 min at 350F / 180C.
Let the hearts cool.
Wrap the cool hearts in a damp kitchen towel and place them in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
On the day you want to eat the hearts:
Split the hearts and cover the bottom half with a layer of apricot or orange jam.
Carefully melt chocolate in a Bain-marie and cover the hearts.
Serve after the chocolate has fully cooled.
Have you ever tried Danish Honey Hearts? Is there a treat that’s the essence of Christmas to you?