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Category Archives: Biscuits and Slices

Nutty Praline Slice

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I love nuts! I will put them in all kinds of recipes, sweet and savoury, just to get that lovely crunch when you bite into something yummy.

I made this Nutty Praline Slice when I had some left over sweet pastry and lots of hazelnuts. I made some hazelnut praline as a topping, and incorporated hazelnut praline paste into the slice.

Ingredients 

Sweet Pastry Base

200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

60g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

130g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 free range egg yolk

10ml water

Hazelnut Praline Filling

60g butter

60g caster sugar

50g praline paste*

35g plain flour

Lemon Icing

Juice of half a lemon

Enough icing sugar to make a runny icing

Hazelnut Praline  

3 tbls caster sugar

75g hazelnuts

Method

To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar and salt into a food processor. Add the butter and lemon zest, then pulse a few times, until the mixture is the consistency of fresh breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg yolk and water, then add to the mix. Process once more, just until the dough comes together, then tip on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough into a ball, wrap in cling wrap and press gently into a flattish disc. Put the dough in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven (fan-forced) to 160 degrees C. Grease and line with baking paper a 27cm x 17cm baking tin.

Roll out the pastry into a rectangle and ease into the baking tin.

To make the hazelnut praline filling, blitz the butter and caster sugar in a food processor, add the praline paste, then add the flour and pulse until the mixture come together into a smooth filling.

Spread the filling on top of the pastry base, smoothing the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven until the filling and the shortbread underneath is cooked.

Leave in the tin until cool.

For the lemon icing, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make a runny icing. Spread or drizzle the lemon icing over the slice.

For the praline, spread the nuts onto a piece of baking paper on baking tray. Put the caster sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy based frying pan. Carefully melt the sugar over a medium heat, being careful not to stir the sugar or it will crystalize. Once the sugar has melted and turned a tea colour, carefully pour the hot toffee over the nuts and allow to set. Once set, bash the praline into small pieces.

Scatter the crushed praline over the top of the slice, and cut into squares to serve.

*You can buy hazelnut praline paste from specialist food supply stores. I actually had to buy the praline paste in Melbourne, not sure why I couldn’t get it in Sydney!

I know it’s readily available in the UK from Callebaut.

You can also make your own – I found this recipe works well: https://snapguide.com/guides/make-hazelnut-praline-paste/

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Macadamia White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The search for cookie Nirvana continues! So close and yet so far…But the journey is so much fun and so yummy!

This recipe comes from Queen Fine Foods, makers of lots of lovely flavourings including classic vanilla. I’ve been baking with Queen vanilla all my life.

These cookies are right up there in my search. They are nice and fat and very satisfying. Readers of others of my cookie recipes may remember that I’m looking for substance not splat! That’s fat cookies not thin ones.

The baking powder gives these cookies a bit more substance, plus there seemed to be quite a lot of flour in the mix making it quite stiff.

And I really like the chunks of white chocolate in the cookies instead of chocolate bits.

Here is the recipe from Queen Fine Foods, with a couple of my tweaks:

Ingredients

125g butter at room temperature

110g brown sugar

55g caster sugar

2 tsp Queen Cinnamon Baking Paste

1 tsp Queen Natural Organic Vanilla Extract

1 large free-range egg

300g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

180g white chocolate, coarsely chopped

120g macadamias, coarsely chopped*

Method

Preheat oven to 160 C degrees fan-forced. Line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Put the butter, sugar, Cinnamon Baking Paste and Vanilla Extract in a food processor and process until pale and creamy. Add the egg and blitz until well combined.

Add the flour and baking powder to the butter/sugar mixture and blitz for until just combined. Stir in the  chocolate and macadamias and mix with a big spoon. You don’t want to process the chocolate and macadamias as they will just go crumbly.

Roll slightly heaped tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and place about a few centimetres  apart on each baking  tray. Use fingertips to flatten each ball to about 1cm thick and 6cm in diameter.

Bake in the preheated oven, swapping the trays halfway through baking, for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through. I prefer to cook each tray one at a time, I think it makes for a batter bake.

Cool cookies on the trays.

* I used salted macadamias. The original recipe says unsalted, but I’m a huge fan of salted nuts in cookies and trybakes.

Festive Rocky Road

 

Rocky Road has to be the easiest sweet to make at Christmas. And it’s not even a bake!

I’m revisiting a recipe that is based on Nigella’s Christmas Rocky Road, from her book Nigella Christmas. I like it as it’s an adult version of Rocky Road, with dark chocolate and lots of nuts.

I substituted ginger nut biscuits for amaretti biscuits in Nigella’s recipe and I used a mixture of brazil nuts, cashews and pecans.

Ingredients
250 gms dark chocolate
150 gms milk chocolate
175 gms soft butter
4 tbls golden syrup
200 gms ginger nut biscuits
150 gms brazil nuts, cashews and pecans
150 gms red glace cherries
125 gms mini marshmallows or whole marshamllows cut in half
Edible glitter and icing sugar to decorate

Method
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and then put into a heavy-based saucepan to melt with the butter and syrup over a gentle heat.
Put the biscuits into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin to get big and little pieces. Put the mixed nuts into another freezer bag and bash them to get different sized nut pieces.
Take the saucepan off the heat, and add the crushed biscuits and nuts, whole glacé cherries and marshmallows, turning carefully to coat everything with the chocolate.
Line a rectangular or square tin with baking paper. A larger tin will give you thinner Rocky Road, a smaller tin will give you a chunkier version. Smooth the top, not too much as the rough look is what you want.
Refrigerate until firm enough to cut, at least 2 hours, the longer the better. Remove the set Rocky Road from the tin and cut into squares or slabs – whatever you prefer.
To decorate, sprinkle the top of the Rocky Road with edible glitter – I used gold. Dust with icing sugar for a snowy effect.

Apricot Almond Traybake

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Stone fruit is just coming into season in Sydney at the start of summer.  While peaches and nectarines are still a little firm, apricots are good eating.

The traybake is based on a recipe from Gabriel Gate from an SBS program, see here for the original. This is an ultra simple cake, made in a square tin in a shallow layer so that you end up with a traybake rather than a cake. I think it works quite well in this form.  I also made the whole cake in food processor, making it really simple.

Ingredients 

5 ripe apricots
150 g butter
100 g caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
50 g honey
120 g ground almonds
100 g self-raising flour
20 g flaked almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced. Grease and line with baking paper a 24 cm square cake tin. Halve the apricots and remove stones.

Cream the butter and caster sugar in the food processor. Add the eggs and process till well mixed. Stir in the honey and then the ground almond and flour.

Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and arrange the apricot halves on top. Sprinkle with flaked almonds in the spaces between the apricots.

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Bake the cake in the preheated oven for  30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.  When cool, gently lift the whole traybake out of the tin using the baking paper.

Brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam to glaze and cut into squares to serve.

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Cherry and Almond Traybake

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I’m a huge fan of the Great British Bake-off. I have watched every episode of every season…a few times!

Kimberley Wilson was a contestant on GBBO in 2013, and I loved her bakes on the program. Her Very Cherry and Almond Traybake really caught my eye  – and tastebuds. The link to the recipe on Kimberley’s website is here.

Here is Kimberley’s recipe, with any tweakings that I made.

Ingredients

For the base:

90g unsalted butter, softened
90g caster sugar
1 large free-range egg, beaten
110g plain flour
20g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

For the filling:

6-8 tablespoons of morello cherry jam (I left this out)
40g dried sour cherries, chopped
5 maraschino cherries chopped

Frangipane:

90g unsalted butter, softened
80g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
180g ground almonds
30g plain flour
A few drops almond extract
Zest of a lemon
Pinch of salt

Topping:

60g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
1tbsp runny honey
60g flaked almonds (I used macadamias)
40g dried sour cherries, chopped
30g glacé cherries, chopped

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Method

Heat the oven to 180 C degrees or 160 C degrees fan-forced. Line a 18cm x 27cm x 3cm baking tray with baking paper leaving 5cm excess on all sides.

Combine the ingredients for the base in a bowl and mix. Dollop the mixture into the lined tray and using the back of a spoon, smooth out the batter to create an even base.

Combine the ingredients for the filling and spoon across the base.

Combine the ingredients for the frangipane and mix until smooth. Put spoonfuls of the frangipane  over the cherry layer and then, with a fork, push the batter across to create a smooth layer. Even the surface with the back of a spoon.

Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 20-23minutes until the top is puffed and golden.

About 15 minutes into the cooking time, put all of the ingredients for the topping into a saucepan. Place over a low heat and stir gently until the butter and sugar has melted. Turn up the heat and simmer for three minutes.

Remove the traybake from the oven and pour the topping over the surface. Using the back of a metal spoon, spread and smooth the topping all over the frangipane.

Return to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until the nuts are golden and the honey syrup is bubbling all over.

To get a really neat finish on the portions the traybake needs to be cut upside-down, so that you are cutting the nutty topping against the firm surface of a chopping board.

Remove the traybake from the oven and cool in the tin for 15 minutes. This allows for the topping to cool and set a little so that it does not stick to the board when you turn it out. Place a clean chopping board on top of the bake and, wearing oven gloves, flip it over. Peel away the baking paper and place a wire rack, upside down, on the bake. Flip again and remove the chopping board. Cool completely on the rack.

When cool, replace the chopping board gently on top and flip the bake as above. Using a large, sharp knife trim the edges and then cut into portions.

Delicious straight away and keeps well if you put it into an airtight tin.

 

Oat Crumble Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies –  chewy or crisp, risen or flat,  there are so many decisions to be made by the baker who’s in search of Cookie Nirvana! I have made so many recipes, followed instructions or tweaked the recipes, just to get the version I like.

I stumbled across this cookie incarnation by chance, when I had some left over crumble mixture. I added a few ingredients, shaped the mixture into balls, chilled in the fridge for 1/2 hour, then stuck them in the oven. The result was nice big pillowy cookies. which were dense and slightly chewy, just like I like them!

I’ve made them heaps of times since, just to make sure the recipe works. And it does. Every time!

The secret to the plump shape of the cookies is definitely chilling the balls in the fridge first before baking.

Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup roughly chopped nuts (macadamias or pecans work well)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 

125 g melted butter

1/2 cup condensed milk

1/2 cup chocolate chips of your choice (dark, milk or white)

Method

Place all the ingredients  except the condensed milk and chocolate chips in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Or put the ingredients into a food processor and pulse gently to combine. If you do this, be careful not to overmix. You want a crumbly texture, not a mushy paste!

Add the condensed milk. This will loosen the mixture and make it easier to shape into balls. You may need to add a little more if the mixture is still too dry. Stir through the chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees fan-forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Shape large teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the baking trays, at least 2 centimetres apart to allow for spreading in the oven. Pace trays in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Take the trays out of the fridge, and before putting in the oven, flatten the balls slightly with your thumb or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Cool on the trays for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies can be frozen before baking, and frozen after baking too, so one way or another, you can always have cookies on hand!

 

 

St Clement’s Polenta Biscuits – Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients

 

 

I’ve just acquired Jamie’s new book, 5 Ingredients  – see here for link. It’s exactly what the name suggests, lots of great recipes using 5 ingredients. 5 is a really good number to create recipes with – enough to make a recipe coherent, but not too many to over complicate things.

Today I made St Clement’s Polenta Biscuits from the book.  I can attest to how easy the recipe is. I am currently cooking without a kitchen, as mine is being renovated. So I made these biscuits on my dining room table, using my food processor and an old camping oven friends have lent me. Thank you Roger ‘n’ Ruth –  lifesavers as usual in times of crisis!

So the biscuits couldn’t be easier. I had to make them in batches of 6, as the oven could only hold a tiny baking tray. I didn’t quite get 24 biscuits out of the mix- maybe I made the balls too big.

They are delicious, with a slightly crunchy texture from the polenta, and a real orange tang.

Here’s Jamie’s recipe:

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter (cold)

50g fine polenta

150g self-raising flour

100g golden caster sugar

2 oranges (or lemons)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper and rub with olive oil. ( I used baking paper and left out the olive oil). Cube the butter and place in a food processor with the polenta, flour and sugar. Finely grate in the zest of 1 orange (or lemon), then pulse to combine. Squeeze in the juice of half an orange (or lemon), and pulse again to bring the mixture together into a ball of dough.

Divide into 24 pieces (or however many the mixture yields), roll into balls and place on the trays, leaving a 5cm gap between them. With your thumb, create a 1cm deep dent in the centre of each ball. Finely grate the remaining orange (or lemon) zest and scatter into the dents, followed by a little sprinkle of caster sugar. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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