Chocolate chunk shortbread

I believe enjoying food is about balance and sometimes maintaining balance is actually about enjoying a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. I made these shortbread hearts yesterday when I just fancied something baked at home. Including chilling time these took about an hour and half to make; not bad for a Tuesday night.

If you really are trying to maintain a healthy balance with food (which is actually my most stable way of keeping weight off) just bear in mind that these keep in a tin for several days. So really, you can enjoy a little treat every now and again.

DSC_0318

As I have mentioned in a previous post the basic recipe for shortbread is 3 parts flour to 2 parts butter to 1 part sugar. In this case though the chocolate makes this recipe a bit drier so I added a little extra milk and butter to the mix.

To make a batch of this shortbread you will need:

300g plain flour

220g butter, softened

100g caster sugar

1 tablespoon milk

150g milk chocolate, broken into chunks (I do this by smashing the chocolate against my kitchen worktop, then whacking it into shards with a rolling pin)

Put the flour, butter and sugar into a mixing bowl. Rub this together with your hands. When the mixture starts to come together add the chocolate chunks and finally the milk to bind the dough together. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least an hour.

DSC_0313
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1cm thick. Cut out your biscuit shapes. I used my heart cutter and D asked if this was a Valentine’s themed post – I suppose it could be a nice recipe for then. Place these on a baking tray. Bring together the dough that didn’t get cut out and roll out the  dough for more biscuits.

DSC_0314

DSC_0315

Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes until golden. They will firm up as they cool.

DSC_0316

These biscuits have proved very popular. I suggest you whip up a batch and then put your feet up to really enjoy them.

DSC_0318

Chocolate orange cookies

IMG_0312

So this recipe is a simple adaptation of a cookie recipe I have previously written about making during my formative years. Still, sometimes its nice to add a twist to an old favourite – I use less butter in this version as the dough can be quite sticky with the chocolate not being spread through the dough. Terry’s chocolate orange is something I traditionally associate with Christmas, however I made up a batch of these for my birthday gathering as they look wonderful and take hardly any time to make.

In this recipe everything is measured with mugs as it is one from a time before I owned a set of scales – I could weigh it out but to be honest its nice having a few recipes in my head that I can make without having to follow a set of instructions. I like to think if I really, really needed cookies at 3 am I could pull this recipe from my head with no bother.

For chocolate orange cookies you will need:

1 mug of soft brown sugar

110g softened butter

1 egg

1 and 1/2 mugs self raising flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 chocolate orange (eg. Terry’s)

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line 2 or more baking trays with baking paper or thoroughly grease them. Use a wooden spoon to cream together your butter and sugar. To this add your vanilla and egg making sure your beat the mix well.

DSC_1318To this mix add your flour. Once the flour is nearly incorporated into your mix bring everything together with your hands. Roll the cookie dough into balls. Flatten each cookie dough ball and place on your lined baking tray. Take care each cookie has room to spread as they will do so whilst baking.DSC_1319DSC_1320Break apart your chocolate orange into segments. Press a segment firmly on top of each cookie. Bake each cookie for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly on the baking tray as the cookies will be sort fresh from the oven.

DSC_1321DSC_1322

What could be better than a delicious chocolatey orangey cookie on a slightly damp May day?

What

Caramel slices (Millionaire’s Shortbread)

I’m yet to find anybody who dislikes these beauties. There’s something pretty wonderful about homemade caramel slices that is even more decadent than the shop bought versions. Each step of making these is really straightforward but it is time consuming waiting for the caramel to cool – you really can’t add the chocolate layer while the caramel is too hot or it ruins the chocolate. Anyway, when I made these my friends all went a bit nuts for them and my boyfriend kept mentioning them until the last one was eaten (something that didn’t take very long).

To make these you will need:

For the biscuit layer
175g butter (plus extra for greasing)
75g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
225g plain flour
For the caramel layer
200g butter
1 397g can of condensed milk
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp sea salt (entirely optional but it adds extra depth to the caramel)
For the chocolate layer
300g milk chocolate
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a small deep baking tin (approx 20 cm x 20cm). Rub the butter, sugar, vanilla and flour together to form the biscuit dough. Use your fingers to push this into an even layer in your baking tin. Prick this with a fork and bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Turn the oven down to 150°C and bake for a further 30 minutes, until the layer is golden brown.
DSCN1870
DSCN1872
DSCN1878
While your biscuit layer is cooling make your caramel. To do this melt your butter, condensed milk and golden syrup and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring to stop the bottom burning.
DSCN1873
DSCN1875
DSCN1876
Once the caramel is simmered stir in the salt and pour over your biscuit layer. Cool until the caramel is set.
DSCN1877
DSCN1879
Melt your chocolate and spread it over the caramel.
DSCN1880
DSCN1881I like to use a form to make a slight pattern in the chocolate and to even out the layer.
DSCN1884
Once the chocolate has set use a sharp knife to cut this into squares.
DSCN1885
DSCN1887
Serve with a cup of tea. These are particularly excellent when you’ve had a busy day or you think you deserve a treat!
DSCN1891

Raspberry, white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake

This cheesecake is a little bit special if I do say so myself. I adapted this massively from a beautiful lemon cheesecake recipe I used in my student days. If you regularly read my blog you will know by now that I am something of a chocoholic and prefer my desserts with a pretty high percentage of cocoa in them. However, when it comes to cheesecake I tend to favour fruit based variations. In this the white chocolate adds a bit of extra richness that cuts through the tartness of the raspberries. I used frozen raspberries in this but you can use fresh if you prefer.

If you want to make cheesecake you will need:

250g ginger biscuits or digestives

150g butter

200g full fat cream cheese

3/4 pint (450ml) double cream

2 tablespoons caster sugar

100g frozen raspberries (plus extra to decorate)

3 passion fruit (you can leave these out, but they add a certain loveliness I can’t describe)

100g white chocolate

 

Smash your biscuits up to make your cheesecake base. (Feel free to sing that old YouTube song while doing this step). I whizzed my biscuits up in the food processor but I believe it was Ed who told me she likes to do this bit with a rolling pin as it means that she can nibble on the bigger bits of biscuit.

2014-02-14 17.40.30

Met your butter and add in your biscuit crumbs. Put this mixture into a loose bottomed tin and press it into an even layer (or any vessl in which you wish to make cheesecake). Place in the fridge to cool. You can do this several hours in advance or as you are making the filling.

2014-02-14 17.49.25

2014-02-14 17.56.14

Buttery biscuit base – all you Masterchef fans would be proud

Whisk your cream and sugar until the cream has thickened and leaves a trail when you lift the whisk up.

2014-02-14 18.01.53

Add the cream cheese and give the mixture another good whisk.

2014-02-14 18.03.03

Melt in the white chocolate and whisk in so that everything is well mixed.

2014-02-14 18.11.11

Add your raspberries and the flesh of the passion fruit. Mix in using a wooden spoon.

2014-02-14 18.16.16

Cheers me old fruit

Spoon the cheesecake mix over the base and spread in an even layer.

2014-02-14 18.18.43

2014-02-14 18.19.59

I love the swirls of pink in this

Decorate with raspberries, or as you wish and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. This dessert is one that doesn’t need anything with it, but if you want to push the boat out is goes well with ginger ice cream.

2014-02-14 18.21.35

I was certainly popular last Friday night.

Zombie gingerbread

Happy Hallowe’en everybody!

2013-10-30 19.53.00

This year I thought I’d share my recipe for gingerbread. Partly because they’re perfect to share at this time of year, or to give out to trick or treaters. Mostly because I have had zombie cookie cutters since I went to the cake and bake show back in March. These biscuits have an absolutely fantastic flavour. Almost makes you want to keep your lights off and pretend you aren’t home on Hallowe’en so you can eat these babies yourself!

To make gingerbread  men of any kind you will need:

350g plain flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g butter

175g soft light brown sugar

1 egg

4 tsp golden syrup

To decorate

Shop bought writing icing (you could make your own Royal icing; but this is easier midweek)

 

Sift your flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Cut your butter into chunks and rub into the dry ingredients in order to form breadcrumbs.

2013-10-30 19.22.13

2013-10-30 19.23.39

Stir in your brown sugar.

2013-10-30 19.30.44

In a separate bowl whisk together your golden syrup and your egg until smooth.

2013-10-30 19.36.11

2013-10-30 19.37.42

Add the golden syrup and egg mix to your sugar and flour breadcrumb mix. Use your hands to mix everything together into a smooth, soft dough. If your dough is too sticky add more flour; otherwise it will be a nightmare to roll out later.

2013-10-30 19.38.04

2013-10-30 19.39.04

2013-10-30 19.44.42

Wrap your dough in cling film and chill for about an hour before rolling out.

2013-10-30 19.45.48

Preheat your oven to 190°C. Line your baking tray with greaseproof paper. Flour a hard surface and roll out your dough until it’s around 4mm thick. Use the biscuit cutters of your choice to make gingerbread shapes. If you have no cutter you could always use a knife (not too sharp) to cut out your own shapes.

2013-10-30 20.32.48

Place the gingerbread shapes onto your baking tray with some space between them. When you have run out of dough ball it up and roll it out again until you run out of dough. If you need to, cook your gingerbread in batches. This recipe tends to make rather a lot of biscuits.

2013-10-30 20.42.51

Bake for around 12 minutes or until golden brown.

2013-10-30 20.56.25

When the gingerbread is cool decorate with the writing icing. My housemates A, S and I made a variety of zombie characters including skeletons, a Ninja Turtle and Hulk Hogan.

2013-10-30 21.15.02

2013-10-30 21.56.25

2013-10-30 21.56.33

I hope you all have a happy Hallowe’en, even if your idea of a good night is avoiding children by pretending not to be home!

 

Mars Bar melt cookies

I have a massive love of the type of biscuit where you can melt stuff in a pan and add it to dry ingredients. It makes baking things so quick and simple. Last week I had to provide baked goods to a cake stall at work (is bringing biscuits to a cake stall possibly not following instructions) and I made these Mars Bar cookies and some oat biscuits (recipe to be posted at a later date). These cookies are wonderfully sticky and sweet, a real crowd pleaser.

To make these cookies you will need:

125g butter (margarine tastes terrible in biscuits so always use butter if you can)

175g brown sugar (soft brown sugar is best but I ran out and used Demerara sugar and it was fine)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

150g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

200g Mars Bars (about 4)

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C if you have a fan oven. Line your baking trays with baking paper or silicone liners.
Slice your Mars Bars.

DSCN1366

Look at the glorious caramel!

Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan until it starts to bubble. Immediately take off the heat and stir to get rid of the excess heat.

DSCN1367

DSCN1369

Once the sugar and butter mixture has cooled transfer into a mixing bowl and quickly beat in your egg and vanilla extract.

DSCN1370

Add the flour and baking powder. Beat until everything is smooth.

DSCN1372

DSCN1373

Once everything is well combined stir in the chocolate.

DSCN1374

DSCN1375

Don’t forget to lick the bowl!

Use a teaspoon to put the mixture onto the baking trays. Allow plenty of space as the cookies tend to spread slightly. Cook the cookies in batches if you need to.

DSCN1376

Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes. Some of the caramel might have spread out of the cookies. If this happens, don’t despair. Just use a spatula to push the caramel back toward the cookies.

DSCN1377

Messy but delicious

It took a great deal of restraint to take these to work without having a nibble. The kitchen smelt lovely and sweet all night. These cookies can be stored for several days in an airtight container if you can resist them for that long!

 

 

Cookies – inspired by Lyddie

When I was a student I lived in a house share with rather a lot of girls. It was as you would expect, fun, very messy and more pairs of make-up and hair products under our roof than we could possibly use. Now, I occasionally used to bake with my friend Lyd. At the time we didn’t even have a mixing bowl, we used to mix up our cookies in our biggest pan. Then we used to share out cookies and watch endless episodes of whatever tv programme E4 happened to be playing on a loop that day.

Now Lyd is now a very accomplished baker (far better than me!). She makes the most beautiful looking cakes and it makes me both miss baking with her and feel horribly jealous that I no longer live close enough that I can sample the goodies.

Anyway, to remind you of the good old old days of toasties and supernoodles, here is a basic cookie recipe that can be cooked anywhere as long as you have an oven, a baking tray, a wooden spoon and a receptacle large enough to hold your cookie dough. The dough actually tastes pretty nice raw; but don’t go making yourself sick eating it or you won’t have enough cookies to enjoy for the rest of the week. (Well I say the rest of the week, I took mine to my Uncle’s and they were pretty well received).

To make these cookies you will need:

125g butter (softened)

1 mug soft brown sugar

1 1/2 mugs self raising flour

1 large egg (please please buy free range)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100g of chocolate chunks (or Smarties, Rolos or M&Ms)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a baking tray or line with baking paper or a silicone liner. Cream the butter and the sugar together.

DSCN1111

DSCN1113

Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.

DSCN1114

Sadly not a double yolker

Add the chocolate chips and the flour and mix well.

DSCN1115

These will be very chunky chocolate cookies

DSCN1116

Almost an action shot

DSCN1119

Cookie dough – this tastes pretty fantastic raw (J always tells me off for this, he thinks I’m going to catch salmonella!)

Make little balls from the cookie dough – whatever size you fancy. Place on your greased/lined baking tray.

DSCN1120

Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are golden brown.

DSCN1121

Place on a wire rack to cool (use a plate if you don’t have a wire rack).

DSCN1124

Serve with endless cups of tea. If you’re still a student and you’re making these for a party or a girls night, they also go well with cheap wine!

If you have any left put in a tupperware container or biscuit tin to keep fresh.