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Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts

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Joulutorttu aka Tahtitorttu are traditional Finnish ChristmasTarts that are specially eaten during Christmas and holiday season.

Prepared with soft, delicate and buttery pastry and filled with plum jam, these tarts are the essence of a traditional Christmas food for Finnish people.

close up of 4 Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts

It is one of such recipes which are family treasures and has been passed down through the generations.

Making these tarts with the kids is so easy and fun and it comes together pretty quickly. Just one bite into a baked flaky tart would awaken your taste senses. Plus, when you bake these pretty tarts, your oven smells so good.

overhead shot of 6 Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts

About Joulutorttu (Finnish Christmas Tarts)

Joulutorttu or Joulutortttut (plural) (also known as Finnish Christmas Star Tarts) is a Finnish pastry which is very popular during the Christmas season. It is a flaky Finnish tart which is filled with a homemade plum/prune jam and folded into stars or flowers.

These delightful tarts look like gorgeous windmills with an astonishing center. The sweetness of jam compliments flaky pastries very well.

The literal translation of Joulutorttu is a Christmas Tart. It is a festive dessert of snack that is prepared in celebration of Christmas! These tarts also have another name which is Tahtitorttu (start tarts).

Living in Finland for many years, this classic recipe has been so close to my heart. Other than Joulupukki (Santa Claus) Joulutorttu is an epitome of Finnish Christmas traditions. I have always wanted to share this traditional Finnish recipe with my readers, but didn’t get any chance. However, this time I have decided to share it finally with you all, and here I am.

2 Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts in a grey ceramic plate with a glass of milkshake

Making them is so easy and quick, when you have pastry sheets ready. Just shape the pastry sheets into stars or flowers and top them with jam. They are then brushed with an egg wash and baked until golden. Once out of the oven, these pastries are dust with powdered sugar. You can devour them straight away or refrigerate them if not served immediately.

Traditionally these tarts are either filled with a plum or prune jam, but you can top them with other jams or marmalades. Other marmalades or jams which taste good in the Jolulutorttu are raspberry jam, blueberry jam, strawberry jam, mixed berry jam, peach jam, or apricot jam.

For an added fruity punch, I personally like to top the centers with more jam, but this step is entirely optional. These tarts are also freezer friendly. You can always make a big batch and freeze them into freezer bags for later use.

For pastry base you can either use pre-made puff pastry sheets, or homemade pastry sheets. Some people also use pie crust as base, but the tarts don’t come out as flaky.

Authentic Joulutorttu is formed into star/flower shapes, but there is no harm in shaping them into other shapes as well. You can surely be creative when folding these pastries.

a hand holding 1 Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tart from a grey ceramic plate

These Joulutorttu

✔ are a perfect Christmas dessert

✔ ideal for a holiday parties & other festive events

✔ are very quick and simple to make

✔ are completely freezable

✔ can be made with different toppings

✔ also make a pretty dessert for dinner parties

✔ can be made with pastry sheets or pie dough

How to Make Finnish Christmas Tarts

Joulutarttu is a flower shaped cookie (pastry) also known as festive Finnish Christmas Star Cookies and is very easy and simple to bake. Here a beautiful, crisp, crunchy, and flaky pastry (which resembles a windmill) is filled with a sweet jam.

Just cut the pastry sheets into squares. After cutting the sheet of dough into squares, use a sharp knife to make cuts from each corner about halfway towards the center. Then fold every other split corner to the center. 

After that, each pastry is brushed with egg wash to moisten the dough and to get a slight color.

There are two ways these tarts can be shaped. You can either fill the jam into the center and fold. Or fold the pastries first and then fill the centers with the jam.

5 Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts in a baking sheets with bouquet lights in the background

Ingredients

For making this traditional Finnish dessert, you will need only 4 basic ingredients. These are:

  • Pastry sheets – For making tarts, you will need pastry sheets. You can either use homemade pastry sheets or store-bought pre-made frozen sheets. I have used store-bought sheets here.

  • Jam – Traditionally the center of these tarts are topped with plum or prune jam. But you can also use other jams or marmalades such as strawberry jam, raspberry jam, mixed berry jam, orange jam or apricot jam.

  • Powdered sugar – It is used for dusting baked tarts. 

  • Egg wash – This is used to moisten the dough and also it gives a nice golden color to the tart. Instead of brushing with egg wash, you can also brush them with milk or melted butter.

Storage Suggestion

You can store leftover Joulutorttu in the refrigerator in an airtight container. To store, line an air-tight container with a parchment paper and then arrange tarts in a single layer and store for up to 1 week. 

You can serve them chilled for reheat in a microwave for 20 seconds.

Serving Suggestion 

These tarts taste amazing when served at room temperature and also straight out of the oven. Serve as an after-meal dessert with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or strawberry ice cream. Or pair them with a cup of black coffee, cafe latte or even with mulled wine for a brunch or snack.

closeup shot of a person holding 1 Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts

Pro tips, tricks, and variations

  1. You can cut your squares of any size for making Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts.

  2. The tarts made with puff pastry are flakier and richer. If you want to make a cookie like tart, then use pie dough.

  3. Always use chilled puff pastry sheets for making these Christmas tarts.

  4. The pastry puffs in the oven, and secures the edges of the jam. So I personally like to top them with some jam also after baking and dusting with sugar. This makes the pastries look prettier, sweeter and fruitier, but adding a teaspoon of jam after baking is not compulsory.

  5. Storage – They keep fresh for up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. 

  6. Chocolate – Instead of jam or marmalade you can also use Nutella or melted chocolate for filling.

More Christmas recipes you would like are: Chocolate Pomegranate Bites, Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates, Cream Cheese Cookies, Carrot Cake Balls, Lemon White Chocolate Cookies, 3-Ingredient Nutella Mousse, White Chocolate Coconut Truffles Recipe, Fruit Custard, and Fruit and Nut Ice Cream.

FAQ

Can I Freeze Joulutorttu?

Yes, this christmas tart is completely freezable. You can either freeze the assembled unbaked tarts or freeze baked tarts.

To freeze unbaked tarts, arrange tarts in a single layer on a freezer-safe paper lined tray and freeze for 4 hours. Then wrap each tart in a cling film and transfer them in a ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When you want to eat, thaw the tarts at room temperature for 30 minutes and bake until flaky and slightly golden.

Alternatively, you can freeze baked and cooled tarts. Simply wrap each tart in a cling wrap and transfer them in an air-tight freezer safe container. Simply thaw them at room temperature and bake for 10 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 150°C/300°F.

How to make Vegan Joulutorttu - Vegan  Finnish Christmas Tarts

Making a vegan version of Joulutorttu is very simple. To make vegan Joulutorttu, use vegan pastry sheets and swap egg wash with vegan butter.


Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts (Step-by-step photo instructions)

For making Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts

  1. Preheat your oven to 430°F/225°C. If using frozen pastry sheets, then thaw them at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then cut the each rectangle sheet into 3-inch squares. To make the traditional Finnish torttu (pinwheel/star) shape, use a sharp knife to make diagonal cuts in the corners of the squares towards the center of the tart (about halfway towards the center).
  2. Image of the cooking step-1-1 for Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts
  3. Lift every other split corner up and pinch them down in the middle, pressing into the centre with moistened fingers. Make more pinwheels with the remaining squares. Place 1 teaspoon of jam in the center of the square. Repeat the same with all squares.
  4. Image of the cooking step-1-2 for Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts
  5. Transfer your pinwheel shaped tarts to a parchment lined baking sheet, placing the tarts at least 1 inch apart. Lightly brush the tops of the tarts with the egg wash (beaten egg) or melted butter to moisten the corners.
  6. Image of the cooking step-1-3 for Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts
  7. Bake them in preheated oven @430°F/225°C for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Once the tarts are cooled, dust them lightly with sugar. Optional step: Top the centers with 1 teaspoon jam.
  8. Image of the cooking step-1-4 for Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts
  9. Enjoy the tarts immediately. Store the tarts in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  10. Image of the cooking step-1-5 for Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts


Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts [Recipe]

Recipe Image
Joulutorttu aka Tahtitorttu are traditional Finnish Christmas Tarts that are specially eaten during Christmas and holiday season.
★★★★✰
(Rating: 5 from 6 reviews)

Prep time 🕐 Cook time 🕐 Total time 🕐
17 mins
Category ☶ Cuisine ♨ Serves ☺
Dessert Finnish, Nordic 6
Nutrition Info ⊛ Serving size ⊚
138 calories 1

INGREDIENTS

For Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts
  • Ready made puff pastry sheets or pie dough(300 g)
  • Egg wash (1 egg, lightly beaten) or melted butter
  • 1/2 cup baking-proof plum jam/marmalade, for filling
  • Powdered sugar for dusting finished tarts

INSTRUCTIONS:

For making Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts
  1. Preheat your oven to 430°F/225°C. If using frozen pastry sheets, then thaw them at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then cut the each rectangle sheet into 3-inch squares. To make the traditional Finnish torttu (pinwheel/star) shape, use a sharp knife to make diagonal cuts in the corners of the squares towards the center of the tart (about halfway towards the center).
  2. Lift every other split corner up and pinch them down in the middle, pressing into the centre with moistened fingers. Make more pinwheels with the remaining squares. Place 1 teaspoon of jam in the center of the square. Repeat the same with all squares.
  3. Transfer your pinwheel shaped tarts to a parchment lined baking sheet, placing the tarts at least 1 inch apart. Lightly brush the tops of the tarts with the egg wash (beaten egg) or melted butter to moisten the corners.
  4. Bake them in preheated oven @430°F/225°C for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Once the tarts are cooled, dust them lightly with sugar. Optional step: Top the centers with 1 teaspoon jam.
  5. Enjoy the tarts immediately. Store the tarts in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

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NOTES:

  1. You can cut your squares of any size for making Joulutorttu - Finnish Christmas Tarts.
  2. The tarts made with puff pastry are flakier and richer. If you want to make a cookie like tart, then use pie dough.
  3. Always use chilled puff pastry sheets for making these Christmas tarts.
  4. The pastry puffs in the oven, and secures the edges of the jam. So I personally like to top them with some jam also after baking and dusting with sugar. This makes the pastries look prettier, sweeter and fruitier, but adding a teaspoon of jam after baking is not compulsory.

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