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Category Archives: Biscuits and Slices

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.

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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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Sugar Shortbread Cookies

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I love cookies and make a load of them every other week. There are always small – and big children – in my world who need feeding with…cookies of course!

I have been experimenting with a Mary Berry recipe for biscuits that I found online.  See here for Mary’s recipe. It’s actually a basic shortbread recipe, ie butter, flour, sugar (no egg) with some add ons. I’ve made my own version, as outlined below.

Ingredients
175g butter, softened
100g raw sugar
75g sweetened condensed milk
175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g semolina
2 tablespoons raw sugar, for rolling
50g milk chocolate chips

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.

Line 1 large baking tray or 2 smaller trays  with baking paper.
I make the dough in a food processor, but you could make it in an electric mixer – but the food processor method is super easy.

Put the butter, sugar, condensed milk, flour and semolina into a food processor and  process until the ingredients come together into a soft dough. It’s better to process in a few bursts so that you can make sure you don’t over process.

Place the dough on a floured work surface. Bring the dough together into a ball, and then shape into long sausages about 5cm/2″ diameter for smaller cookies or 8cm/3″ diameter for larger cookies. You need to make two sausages as it’s easier to shape them if they are not too long.

Wrap the sausages in cling film. They will still be quite soft, so you can continue to shape in the cling film, tightening the sausage shape. At this point put in the fridge and rest for at least a couple of hours to make the dough easier to cut into discs. You can leave overnight and the dough freezes really  well too!

Remove from the fridge, umwrap, and with a sharp knife, cut into slices – the thickness is up to you. Roll each cookie on both sides in raw sugar, gently pressing the sugar into the dough. Place the cookies onto the baking sheet/sheets, with space in between. They do spread a little, but largely keep their shape.

Once on the trays, you can leave as is, or press  chocolate chips individually onto the top of each cookie. It sounds labour intensive but actually doesn’t take that long!

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. If you cut your cookies quite thick they may take a couple of minutes  longer.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Baklava Traybake

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Here’s a simple version of baklava. It’s a no fuss version when you just want to throw a few ingredients together to make a sticky sweet treat.

It’s rustic – meaning I was more interested in the taste then the look of baklava – but taste wins out on visuals if  you’re short on time.

My version uses half the ingredients, with only one layer of nut filling in between the two filo layers. For a more traditional baklava, double the ingredients and make two nut layers in between three filo layers.

Ingredients
300g walnuts
50g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60g unsalted butter, melted
Half of a 375g packet filo pastry
Syrup
110g caster sugar
60g honey
30ml lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan-forced.

To make the syrup, combine the sugar, honey and 90ml water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes, then set aside to cool.

To make the filling, process the walnuts in a food processor until reasonably finely chopped – you  don’t want big pieces but you don’t want a nut paste either! Add the sugar and cinnamon and pulse to just combine.

Using a pastry brush, grease the base and sides of an 18cm x 28cm slice tin with butter.

Unroll the filo on a large chopping board. Keep filo covered with a clean, slightly damp tea towel to prevent the sheets drying out. Brush the first sheet with butter, then place it in the tin. Repeat until you have used half the filo sheets. Scatter the nut mixture over the sheets.

Brush the next sheet with melted butter and layer on top of the mixture. Repeat with the remaining sheets. Press the layered filo gently to compress slightly. Brush the top well with melted butter.

Place the baklava in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm to make it easier to score. Using a small sharp knife, score the top few layers of filo into diamond shapes. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cover the top with foil if the filo looks like it’s browning too quickly.

Remove the tin from the oven, and while still hot, pour the honey syrup over the baklava in the tin. Leave for a couple of hours or until the syrup is absorbed, and baklava is cool.

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into pieces along the score lines. It keeps well, covered, in the fridge for a week, if you can resist that long!

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