Almond tartlets


Almond tartlets, also known as Helena tartlets

Helenabakelser (Helena tartlets) are classic Swedish nutty tartlets which, although quite small, are very moreish.

Nutty twins

Polnesians and Helena tartlets

Helenabakelser are very similar to Polynéer (Polynesians); the only difference is that Polynéer have pâte sucrée (sweet short crust pastry) cases. (They also have a cousin: Kejsarkronor (Emperor's Crowns) that are made using puff pastry cases.)

So who was Helena?

All three tartlets have a hazelnut or almond filling and a cross on the top. Kejsarkronor seems a good description, but the origin of the names of the other two tartlets is a mystery.

Dick Harrison, professor of history at Lund University
Photo from wikipedia

I wondered whether Helenabakelser were named after Saint Helena, who lived in the 12th century, and was considered to be the patron saint of Skövde, a town about 150 km (100 miles) north east of Gothenburg. However Dick Harrison, professor of history at Lund University and Sweden's leading authority on the history of baking in Sweden told us, "There is no evidence whatsoever for a link between the Helenabakelse and Saint Helena of Skövde.

The saint was enormously popular in Western Sweden during the Middle Ages and remained popular after the Reformation, with the result that the Protestant hard-liners decided to virtually destroy all her relics in the 1590s. They did not succeed competely (two parts of her fingers were hidden away and still survive), but they did manage to wipe out her cult. The tartlets appear a couple of centuries later, when the actual memory of Saint Helena was very dim."

So we really have no idea about who the identity of Helena, but that doesn't stop us enjoying the tarlets! Karin Fürst


Recipe summary for Helena tartlets


Greased fluted tartlet tins

• Swedes use fluted mini cake tins (pans), but shallow mince pie tins can be used instead.
• The tartlets are best when fresh, but they can be kept for a week or more in an airtight container.


Pastry cases

210 g (1⅔ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
125 g (½ cup) cold butter or margarine, cut into cubes
2 tbsp   cold water


100 g (½ cup) ground almonds
150 g (1¼ cups) sifted icing sugar (powdered sugar)
2-3   eggs whites, lightly whipped


1. Add the flour to a food processor and run the machine for a few seconds to sift it.

2. Add the cold butter or margarine cubes and process for 10-15 seconds or until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Through the feed tube add the water. Process for a further 20-30 seconds or until the pastry clings together and forms a ball. Knead the pastry lightly to form a round disc, wrap in clingfilm (food wrap) and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

4. Grease some small tartlet tins (pans).

5. Pre-heat the oven to 175°C (350°F, gas 4, fan 160°C).

6. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 3 mm thick (⅛") thick.

Helena tartlet cases being filled

7. Cut two thirds of the dough into rounds and line the tartlet tins (pans).

8. Mix the filling ingredients together until smooth and use to fill the tartlets. Do not fill more than ¾ full.

Helena tartlets with a cross

9. Cut the remaining dough into narrow strips. Place the strips on top of the filling in a cross.

10. Bake on a low oven rack for around 20 minutes, until golden.


printer copy sb  printer version.pdf

Phone-and-tablet-h32  phone & tablet version.pdf

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