Since the recipe contains a nut filling I want to share a few thoughts about hazelnuts. Ever since I read an article about hazelnut harvesting and researching more about this topic I got an entire new perspective of hazelnuts. I knew about child labor in the production of such as coffee beans, cacao beans, sugar canes and bananas (and I, as a consumer, have the possibility to purchase these groceries under fairtrade conditions) but I did not associated the hazelnut harvesting with child labor. Until a few weeks ago I had no clue that Turkey is the main supplier of hazelnuts in the world market. 75% (!) of the entire world hazelnut production comes from Turkey. Domestic migrant workers harvest the hazelnuts. Many migrant workers come from villages in the Southeast of Turkey and travel to the Black Sea Coast in order to work as seasonal workers. Entire families work on hazelnut farms (11 hours a day/ 1,30 € per hour) and they are living in unacceptable conditions. The Turkish government signed an agreement to ban child labor in agriculture until 2015 (here is an interesting video from the International Labour Organization). I do hope that changes will be made in the near future but I do think that banning child labor from agriculture is not enough since it does not include factories and children will continue working in factories.
This year we will also notice a significant change in the price of hazelnuts but not due to better working conditions and prohibition of child labor but because of bad harvest. Last March there was unusual cold weather which caused the damage of half of the hazelnut crops in Turkey. I cannot imagine what impact it had and has on the people who are involved in the hazelnut industry (2 million people are directly and 6 million people indirectly involved in Turkey). The almond production is facing a similar situation but not the cold temperature is a problem but the drought in California. 80 % (!) of the world almond production comes from the Central Valley in California and that is why the price of almonds is constantly increasing and the almond farmers constantly worry about their harvest.
While researching about this topic I also made an interesting observation about the labeling of hazelnuts versus almonds. On the front side of almond bags there are big letters that indicates that the almonds are from California. In the back of my head it was always present that that the almonds that I buy on a regular basis are from California ( I was only surprised to learn that 80% of the almonds are produced in California). However, I had no idea that the hazelnuts that I purchase at the grocery store were from Turkey. On the front side of hazelnut bags there are no big letters that advertise that the hazelnut are from Turkey. On the backside of hazelnut bags one can find the producing country Turkey in very small letters. Why? Does Californian almonds sound better than Turkish hazelnuts? I hope you did not mind my little nut excursion. I do not like to preach about things - this is not a blog about politics or ethical questions - but the hazelnut harvesting story was an eye opener for me and I really wanted to share it with you. Maybe you are or were also wondering about the increase prices of hazelnuts and almonds. Maybe you will experience a shortage of hazelnuts in your local grocery store. Or maybe you are wondering why the price of Nutella jar is increasing (by the way, Nutella contains only 13% hazelnuts and 70% sugar and saturated fat, is it really a hazelnut spread?). Now you know why.
NOTES: The Kejsarkronor filling can be made with hazelnuts or almonds; both version can be found in Swedish bakeries. I personally prefer the hazelnut filling. The Kejsarkronor in the photos are made with a hazelnut filling.
Little tart tins are often used for different kinds of cakes in Swedish baking. My tart tins are 6 cm (2,4 inches wide and 2 cm (0,8 inches) tall. If you do not have such small tart tins on hand you can also use little muffin tins. Depending on the size of your tins the baking time might be a little bit longer. But I must confess that I do love the size of my tiny tart tins. Making little treats - or bakelse as I say in Swedish - in these tins are the perfect size for an afternoon pick-me-up without feeling too guilty about it. Next time I am in Sweden I will buy a few tartlet tins and do a little giveaway on the blog.
Makes about 16 Kejsakronor
- 150 g all-purpose flour
- 100 g unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
- 50 g granulated sugar
- 1 egg (small)
- 100 g hazelnut meal or almond meal
- 175 g powdered sugar (sifted)
- 75 g egg whites ( 2 egg whites)
- Knead together all dough ingredients until it is a smooth dough (if the dough is too sticky add more flour, if the dough is too dry add a little bit of cold water). Form to a ball and flatten the dough slightly. Wrap the dough into clingwrap and let the dough rest in the fridge for one hour.
- Butter and flour the tartlet tins.
- Mix powdered sugar and hazelnut flour. Add the egg whites and mix until all ingredients are well combined.
- Preheat the oven to 175 °C.
- On a slightly floured surface roll out the dough until 3 mm thick.
- Cut eight stripes (0,5 cm wide) with a fluted pastry wheel or a knife. Each stripe should be 24 cm long which you cut into 4 pieces. If you use bigger tart tins the stripes must be longer of course.
- Cut out circles (the circles should be a little bit bigger than the tartlet tins) from the reaming dough. Gently press the circles into the tins. Trim away any excess dough with a sharp knife.
- Fill the tartlet shells with the nut filling but no more than 2/3. Take two stripes and arrange them over the center of each tartlet to form a cross.
- Place the tartlet tins on a baking sheet and bake the Kejsarkronor for 20 to 25 minutes until they are slightly golden in color. If you use bigger tartlet tins the baking time will be a few minutes longer.
- Keep the Kejsarkronor in an air-tight container up to a week