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Category Archives: Biscuits and Slices

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!

 

 

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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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Salted Peanut Streusel Slice

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I like a good slice, or traybake as they are known in the U.K. In Oz they’re known as a slice, but years of devoted watching of The Great British Bakeoff have taught me that a slice by any other name is a traybake in the UK!

Do you love salted peanuts? I’m mad on nuts, preferably salted, so I have created a slice or traybake to incorporate shortbread, peanuts and a streusel topping.

For the shortbread base, I have used a Mary Berry biscuit recipe which is my latest go-to cookie recipe as it’s quick, rolls out easily and freezes well for future cookie adventures.

And the streusel is just butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon roughly combined.

Ingredients

For the shortbread base:

175g butter, softened

75g caster sugar

175g  plain flour

75g semolina

For the streusel:

50g butter

50g caster sugar

50g plain flour

1tsp cinnamon

Plus

100g salted peanuts in their skins

Extra butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced. Line a rectangular baking tray – the kind with the low sides that you can make a Swiss roll in – with baking paper. My tray is 27cm x 17cm.

To make the shortbread base, put the butter, sugar, flour and semolina into the bowl of a food processor and mix until a soft dough is formed.

Remove the dough from the processor, and with your hsnds, gently bring the dough together. You could roll it out into a rectangular shape to fit your tray, but it’s just as easy to take pieces of dough and squash into the tray, smoothing and joining as you go. Just make sure the base is a uniform depth.

Make the streusel by pulsing everything in the food processor, being careful not to overmux – you want clumps of rubble streusel mixture for the topping. Put the streusel mixture over the shortbread base, covering all the shortbread.

Scatter over the salted peanuts. Dot the mixture with a little extra butter. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven until the top is golden and the shortbread underneath is cooked.

Remove from the oven, cool in the tray, and cut into slices when completely cool.

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Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

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These are great! They combine two great methods of biscuit making to create a thick, buttery, chocolately sweet treat. The recipe is more shortbread than cookie, creaming butter and sugar, and adding flour.There’s no egg, as there would be in traditional chocolate chip cookie. Add a handful of chocolate chips and the shortbread dough steps over into cookie territory.

The recipe is based on a post from “The View from Great Island”, see here. My version is minus peanut butter, and with my own variations. If you’re over  thin and crispy cookies, or soft and chewy, making a nice dense shortbread make sense.

If you want to zhush up these cookies, try mixing in a tablespoon or two of caramel filling when you cream the butter.  Something like dulche de leche is great. And sprinkle some sea salt on to the cookie rounds before baking.

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Ingredients

220g butter at room temperature

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

300g plain flour

75g icing sugar

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (dark or milk)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Cream the butter using an electric mixer until the butter is soft and whipped, Add the vanilla extract. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the butter and mix until the dough just comes together. Stir in the chocolate chips, making sure not to overmix the dough.

Turn the dough out onto greaseproof paper. Divide the dough into two, for easier handling.  You need to gently shape each dough portion to form them into a log shape. Each log will be about 15- 20cms in length and the diameter will be about what you would expect form a round cookie…ie 8-10 cms. But the size of the logs is really whatever size you want your cookies to be!

You may need to work it with your hands if it is too crumbly. Roll them up in the greaseproof paper, carefully making the log the shape, Twist both ends of the logs securely.

Refrigerate for  one to two hours until the logs are really firm.

Cut the logs into 1 cm slices with a very sharp knife, I find that a serrated knife works well. Some will be more even shaped than others, and the ends of the logs will be smaller.

Place the cookie slices on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. You may need 2 baking sheets depending on how many cookies you are baking. I usually get 20-22 good sized cookies from the dough quantity. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, until the cookies are light golden and look like shortbread.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

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Berry and Custard Chocolate Brownies

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This is a great recipe for chocolate brownies with a couple of twists. It’s based on Jamie Oliver’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Brownies from his lovely book of delights Comfort Food.

I loved the idea of this recipe with its peanut butter custard, but sadly had to forgo the peanut butter as the group I was baking for had some problems with nuts. I made the custard with just vanilla. It was fine – the custard gives a velvety smoothness to the brownies. The “jelly” in Jamie’s recipe is raspberry jam. This part of the recipe I did adhere to, but added fresh strawberries instead of raspberries.

The resulting brownie is very chocolatey, with its rough chunks of dark chocolate, soft with the custard and sweet and sharp with the berry tang. Recommended!

Ingredients

Custard
250ml semi-skimmed milk
1 vanilla pod
2 large free-range egg yolks
50g golden caster sugar (or raw sugar)
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
20g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

Brownie mixture
230g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g dark chocolate + 50g extra for chocolate chunks in the brownie
230g golden caster sugar (or raw sugar)
4 large free-range eggs
150g plain flour
2 tbls raspberry jam
75g fresh berries (I used strawberries)

Method

To make the custard, put the milk into a pan, halve the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds, then add both pod and seeds to the pan and lightly simmer on the hob, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a bowl, use a balloon whisk to combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and soft butter. Whisking constantly, gradually pour the hot milk into the bowl, until combined. Return the custard mixture to the pan, place over a low heat and stir gently for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened. Leave the custard to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. For the brownies, grease and line a deep baking tray (20cm x 30cm). Melt the butter in a non-stick pan on a very low heat, then snap up and add the chocolate. Stir regularly with a spatula until melted and combined, then remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Leave to cool slightly, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until silky. Sift in the flour and mix well.

Pour the chocolatey brownie mix into the prepared tray, then swirl through the chilled custard (discarding the vanilla pod). Roughly mix in the additional chocolate chunks. Erratically distribute little spoonfuls of jam over the surface, then poke in the fresh berries (any fresh seasonal berries that correspond with the jam you’re using). Bake for around 25 minutes, or until cooked on the outside but still a bit gooey in the middle. Leave to cool before cutting into portions.

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