Archive for the Biscuits/Cookies Category

A: Stuck a feather in his hat…

Posted in Biscuits/Cookies with tags , , , on November 30, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

…and called it macaroooooony!

There is only so much pavlova or meringue one can make with leftover eggwhite before becoming completely and utterly sickened at the mere thought of recipes that call for yolks only. I used to freeze my leftover whites, fully intentioned to use them at some point to make cakes, biscuits, etc. only to leave them forgotten in the freezer as the stockpile of whites pile up gradually over the year. So when we was faced with 2 egg whites left over from a carbonara last night, I prompted placed them in the fridge and vowed to use them this morning.

Nigella Lawson has a wonderfully simple recipe for chewy macaroons in Feast, which I have made countless times before. They do tend to be quite sweet as she recommends a 1:1 ratio of sugar to almond meal. I make it with much less sugar, which doesn’t seem to affect the texture much and results in a far more palatable biscuit for someone with only a moderate sweet tooth, looking for a side-of-the-saucer biscuit for afternoon tea. If anything, I love making these as I end up with lovely rose water-scented hands for the rest of the day, which I find to be strangely restorative and grounding all at once.

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Chewy Macaroons (adapted from Feast)

Ingredients:

140g caster sugar

200g ground almonds

2 egg whites

1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds

approximately 24 blanched almonds (depending on how greedily you shape your macaroons, one almond per macaroon)

2-3 tablespoons rosewater

Method:

Combine all your ingredients except for the blanched almonds and rose water into your mixer and using the paddle attachment, mix until well-combined.

Coat your hands with rosewater, then shape mixture into walnut-sized balls, rolling each ball between your hands to scent it.

Place biscuits on a baking sheet, spaced 2-3 cm apart, squish an almond into each macaroon, flattening it slightly and bake at 200C for 12 minutes.

Macaroons are pale even when ready, and will firm slightly on cooling.

macaroons3

From mixer to table in under 20 minutes, a perfect mid-week sweet!

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A: Friday night jam session.

Posted in Biscuits/Cookies with tags , , on November 16, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

I love thumbprint cookies. I love them because they’re so very simple, extremely pretty, while maintaining their kitsch retro status all at the same time. They’re also a great way to showcase homemade jam, for what is in my view a great example of hands-on, good old-fashioned baking.

As always, it’s Dorie to the rescue.

thumbprint-cookies-003

Thumbprints For Us Big Guys (from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Ingredients:

1 3/4 C finely ground hazelnuts

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour (whisked into the hazelnuts)

225g butter, at room temperature

1/2 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup jam of your choice (I used my own homemade strawberry jam)

Method:

Preheat over to 180C

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the extracts and beat to blend.

Add flour-hazelnut mixture and mix until just incorporated into the dough.

Roll 1 tsp of dough at a time between your palms and place on a baking sheet (about 3-4 cm apart).

Poke a hole (careful it doesn’t go all the way through) in the center of each biscuit with your thumb, pinkie, end of a wooden spoon or whatever comes handy (although, what is more handy than a finger?)

Bake for 15-18 minutes until slightly coloured, looking slightly underdone.

Cool for 2 mins on the sheet before transferring onto a rack and sifting icing sugar all over biscuits.

Bring the jam to a boil and remove from the heat. Fill cookie-holes with as much jam as they will hold, then a little dollop more… just to be sure.

Dorie says these make about 60. I estimated about 50, but I use standard glutton measures when deciding how big my biscuits should be, so that shouldn’t really come as a surprise to me!

I halved the recipe when I made these on Friday night (made 24), brought half to the gym on Saturday morning for my boys, left the other half at home and by lunchtime Saturday every last biscuit was GONE!

A: The science of tea-biscuit ratios best explained.

Posted in Biscuits/Cookies with tags , , on August 20, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

A cup of tea and biscuit. It’s really quite self-explanatory. Drink your tea, eat your biscuit. Repeat.

However, when confronted with prime baked goods like a beautiful, lovingly made and presented Wagon Wheel, one does have to think things through before delving into things with little forethought! Wagon wheel= obscenely sweet homemade marshmallow teamed with a classy bittersweet chocolate-covered biscuit. Tea= strong assam with 1 heaped teaspoon of condensed milk to match the sweetness of the biscuit.

Nibble at your wagon wheel while waiting for tea to brew.

Step 1: Nibble at your wagon wheel while waiting for tea to brew.

Fresh, loose tea leaves are key when making a cuppa. It’s more economical, has a smaller environmental impact in terms of packaging materials and it really, really does taste better. And none of this English breakfast dodgy blended tea nonsense. Orange pekoe and assam have a far superior flavour profile as far as I’m concerned.

Follow with another generous nibble at your biscuit and wash it down with your hot milky tea.

Step 2: Follow with another generous nibble at your biscuit and wash it down with your hot milky tea.

By now the tea is starting to cool down, so you might have to follow your next mouthful of home-baked goodness with a couple of mouthfuls of still-warm tea.

Step 3: By now the tea is starting to cool down, so you might have to follow your next mouthful of home-baked goodness with a few extra sips of still-warm tea.

Don't panic if you run out of tea...

Step 4: Don't panic if you run out of tea...

... just make another cuppa! This time perhaps a palate-cleansing cup of black tea to finish it all off.

... just make another cuppa! This time perhaps a palate-cleansing cup of black tea to finish it all off.

Take some time to enjoy the beautiful weather.

Take some time to enjoy the beautiful weather.

While you crunch...

While you crunch...

...and sip...

...and sip...

...the day away!

...the day away!

A: When the going gets tough…

Posted in Biscuits/Cookies with tags , , , on June 14, 2008 by gluttondressedaslamb

The tough get baking!

It’s a busy time at work and of course I have left too much too late. The house is a mess, car needs fixing, and of course there’s the impending in-laws visit. So what do I do 90 minutes before we’re due at the airport to pick them up, surrounded by a paper-trail-moat and tripping over misplaced magazines and bric-brac? BAKE!

On one of my late night trawls through the internet I chanced upon Baking (From my home to yours) by Dorie Greenspan and I officially LOVE it. She offers up interesting alternatives and substitutions and her recipes are nothing if not versatile and plain ‘ol YUM.

So, I pile up paper-trail-moat to build a substantial tower instead, shovel all else under some unassuming rug and started on Dorie’s Chocolate Chunkers. Mmmm…..

Prepped it, baked 4 batches, washed up, and we still had to wait 15 minutes at the airport for said in-laws to clear customs.

Fresh from the oven!

Left chunkers (and they really are very chunky) to cool and returned an hour later, weary guests in tow to the warm homely smell of freshly baked cookies. Didn’t take long for taste tests 1, 2, 3 and then some, to take the edge off having sat 5 hours in a cramped budget airline cabin. YAY! Took some more to gym this morning and shared it with my workout posse (ironic really but we feel we earned the sugar hit), then sat down to a relaxed cup of tea on the balcony this afternoon in between procrastination and daydreaming to savour what was left of the bickies.

Enjoying some much needed balcony time

Chocolate Chunkers (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking)

1/3 cup plain flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp softened butter

200g 70% chocolate

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

175g 70% chocolate, chopped

175g white chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (I roasted some pecans before chopping and adding to the mix)

Melt butter and 200g lot of 70% chocolate (I use the microwave and watch it like a hawk). Set it aside to cool.

Beat eggs and sugar on med-high until pale and foamy.

Beat in vanilla then add melted butter and chocolate, mixing only until incorporated.

Scrape down the bowl, then add dry ingredients on low. Dough will be thick.

Using a spatula, mix in chocolate and nuts (original recipe also called for 1 cup raisins or chopped apricots)

Drop dough by generous tablespoons onto baking sheets, leaving room between each mound and bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!