Almost a cake, a Viennese Whirl just about qualifies as a biscuit due to its firm and buttery texture. Traditionally they are two buttery shortcake biscuit halves, sandwiched with jam and a cream filling. The ‘whirl’ in the name comes from the way these biscuits are presented in a swirling pattern.
The actual biscuit is usually a rich, shortbread style dough made with large quantities of butter, giving the whirl its golden colour. The dough is kneaded to aerate the biscuit and to create a light, crumbly texture. The distinctive whirl is created when the biscuit dough is delicately piped onto a tray – it’s really not as hard as it looks to create a gorgeous-looking Viennese Whirl (and if it all goes wrong then a healthy dusting of icing sugar is usually enough to disguise all but the worst mistakes! Each biscuit half is then cooked and chilled, with the cream and jam (usually raspberry, but we’ve seen several with strawberry) being spread between the two pieces.
Viennese Whirl Varieties
Aside from the classic round whirl, there are a number of variations available for purchase. We’ve commonly seen Viennese Fingers, which are a longer, stretched-out piping of biscuit. They sometimes come as a two-part cream sandwich, and very often one end is dipped in chocolate. Supermarkets like Marks and Spencer also make flat Viennese Fingers (almost square in shape) but they still feature the trademark swirled piping and are also dipped in milk chocolate.
We’ve also seen ziz-zag style Viennese Whirls, and even round “Viennese shortbread” biscuits which bear no resemblance to any of the traditional styles described above.
Some companies make Viennese whirl biscuits without any filling, such as these Viennese biscuits made by Borders. They come in packets of two, but each biscuit is just a sad jam-free experience.
Viennese Whirl History
The precise history of the Viennese Whirl isn’t entirely clear, but it appears that they weren’t in fact created in the mountains and lakes of Austria, but instead in the south-east of England. It seems that the very first Viennese Whirl was baked by none other than Mr Kipling (him of the exceedingly good cakes claim), and they are still for sale today in packs of 6:
Whilst Mr Kipling’s Viennese Whirls are tasty, they are quite small compared to a Viennese Whirl you might find in a local bakery, and the cream and jam isn’t the best. Here at Nibble My Biscuit we think that you can’t beat a home-baked version – check out our Viennese Whirl Recipe for more details.