November is fete time at our school. Our fete is an annual event, and is a major source of the funds the P&C earns each year. It is HUGE! And of course no fete is complete without the ubiquitous cake stall. There is always a scramble at the first fete meeting to claim the cake stall for one’s class. Almost no prepration is required, and the whole school community contributes its baking efforts on the day!
I wasn’t so lucky this year, so my contribution had to be quick and easy to make, but pretty enough to sell well. Shortbread is the perfect option! These cookies have the most wonderful texture, along with a delicious buttery taste.
- 250g butter, softened
- 3/4 c icing sugar
- 1 t vanilla
- 2 c plain flour, sifted
- 1/2 c cornflour
- 2 T icing sugar extra
Pre-heat oven to 160C. Cream butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add the flours, 1 cup at a time. Mix until a soft dough is formed.
Refridgerate for 15-20 minutes. Gently roll out dough between 2 sheets of baking paper to the desired thickness. I like mine to be about 3/4cm. Use cookie cutters or a knife to cut into shapes.
Bake on lined cookie sheets for 12-15 minutes or until a hint of colour starts to appear. Sprinkle with extra icing sugar immediately. Leave to cool on cookie sheets.
I should probably be posting salad recipes right after Halloween, but these cookies really need to be shared! And of course there is no such thing as too much chocolate is there?
These are our latest house favourite. So rich and intense! The good thing is, they are rich enough that you only need one or two to feel sated.
The key to success is high quality chocolate.
- 400 g good quality dark chocolate
- 125 g butter, chopped
- 1 T dried espresso coffee grounds
- 1 3/4 caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 c plain flour
- 1/4 t baking powder
- 1/8 t salt
- 1 1/2 c dark chocolate chips (optional)
Heat chocolate, butter and coffee in a saucepan over a low heat until melted and smooth. Use a metal spoon to stir. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
Beat sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl on high speed until thick and pale. Add chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Sift dry ingredients over the chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Cover dough and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. The dough is very soft so it is important that you keep the dough refridgerated between batches.
Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper. Drop heaped teaspoons of mixture onto prepared trays, allowing room for spreading. Bake 1 tray at a time for 10-12 minutes or until cookie tops are set. Stand on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to complete cooling.
Adapted from “Family Circle“, December 2008, p75
I have talked before about my mom’s inclination to substitute ingredients in her baking and the frequently dodgy results. Sweets in my adolescent years tended to be hard as rocks, and as heavy. Of course we still ate them, but I frequently moaned about the obvious inadvisability of using recipes written for different ingredients (Betty Crocker sponge cakes really don’t work with wholemeal flour, honey and half the number of eggs!). In fairness to my mom, there weren’t too many cookbooks out there back then that catered to alternative diets – particularly not for baking. Ingredients then were also much more limited: flour was either white or wholemeal, sweet meant sugar or honey, gluten free meant rice cakes and corn bread.
Nowadays we are so spoiled with options. Now there is a range of ingredients out there with which to excite any palette or dietary limitations. Inspiring cookbooks catering to this broader range of ingredients are still relatively rare, but they are there. I have one in particular that I really love for baking: Leon: baking and puddings – book 3 by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbley. Aside from the great range of recipes (not all of which require ‘health food aisle’ ingredients), this book also offers a fantastic guide to baking ingredients. It explains (and demystefies) the different types of flour, sweeteners, fats, and rising and binding agents that are used in baking.
The recipe shown here from this book is for the best coconut macaroons I have ever tasted. They are super easy and work perfectly every time. They are crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and totally mouth-watering!
- 3 egg whites
- 150 g caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 t honey
- 150 g desiccated coconut
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
Line a baking sheet with baking paper and pre-heat oven to 150C.
Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a large saucepan. Stir all ingredients over a medium-low heat until well mixed and just beginning to scorch on the bottom. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Cook the mixture completely. Use an ice cream scoop (about 50ml) to scoop out 10 even sized macaroons onto the baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and set. Cool completely before taking off the sheet.
Cornflakes are a rarity in our house. Cereal is generally a pretty boring affair, with high-fibre and low sugar being the key factors for choosing. Lots of bran and oats – yum. So cornflakes are only bought as a rare treat. It says a lot about my kids’ diet though that they never even think to ask for things like Coco Pops or Fruit Loops! When we do have some cornflakes about, I will often make some cookies with them.
These cookies have a lovely soft texture on the inside, with bites of chocolate and date sweetness, and a crunchy outside.
- 250 g butter, softened
- 1/2 c brown sugar, loosely packed
- 1/2 c raw sugar
- 1 t vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 2 c plain flour
- 3 t baking powder
- 1 c dried dates, chopped
- 1 c dark chocolate bits
Line baking trays with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180C.
Beat butter, sugars and vanilla together until batter is light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time and beat until well mixed. Mix baking powder with flour, and add to egg batter in batches, mixing well with each addition. Add dates and choc bits and mix until well combined.
Roll into teaspoon sized balls and roll in cornflakes, pressing them into the dough. Place on baking tray with room for them to spread.
Cook for about 10 minutes to until just set. Leave to cool fully on trays.
Cooking the corned beef the other day set me to thinking about my dad and food memories, and it occured to me that he can’t eat many of the recipes I have published on this blog to date.
I use oranges, lemons and limes in a lot of my cooking, but Prof is severely allergic to citrus fruit; he can’t even handle the aroma left over from washing dishes in a citrus dish detergent. As kids we learned to check the ingredients of all packaged food and other products to ensure what we bought was safe.
The other problem Prof might have with some of my recipes is that he lives in a very remote part of the United States, where some ingredients are hard to obtain, and where the winters are so severe he can be housebound for days, so he has to rely on what he has to hand.
So, I’ve decided it is time to include a recipe just for him. Prof used to buy gingernut cookies a lot. We always had them in the house when I was little. Possibly one thing he liked about them was that they were too hard for our young teeth, so he didn’t need to share! The ingredients are easy to find and are staple items in many kitchens. These are not quite as hard as the store bought variety, but they taste better!
- 300 g plain flour
- 6 t ground ginger
- 1/2 t bicarb soda
- 1 1/2 T golden syrup
- 250 g caster sugar
- 125 g butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 T sour cream
Using a pastry cutter or a fork cut all ingredients except egg yolk and sour cream until mixture ressembles a crumble topping. Add the egg and sour cream and mix with spoon until the dough sticks together enough to create balls. Line cookie trays with baking paper and dust with corn flour.
Roll dough into small balls and place on trays leaving space for spreading. Cook at 150C for about 12 minutes or until a pale golden colour. Cool on trays before serving.
I know. Recipes for chocolate chip cookies abound. They are a regular feature of fairs, fetes and church bake sales. This is my grandmother’s version of the recipe, and it is a bit different to the others that I have. What I like about this one is that it gives light crisp cookies with the right amount of substance and body. Don’t be frightened by the volumes – this recipe makes a lot of cookes. My grandmother always halved the recipe (although I don’t know how she resolved the 1 egg part… perhaps just a very small one).
Chocolate Chip cookies
1 c softened butter
- 1 c granulated sugar
- 1 c brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 T milk
- 2 t vanilla
- 1 c peanut oil (other oils will work but this gives a nice hint of nuts)
- 3 1/2 c plain flour
- 1 T baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
- 350 g dark chocolate chips
- 1 c Sultana Bran or cornflakes
- 1 c rolled oats
- 1 c chopped nuts (optional)
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy, add egg, milk and vanilla and mix well. Slowly add oil and beat until well mix. Blend in sifted flour, soda and salt. Then add chocolate chips, sultana bran and oats, and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Drop mounded teaspoons onto baking paper lined trays, 3 cm apart. Cook at 185C for 10-12 minutes or until a light golden brown. Leave on trays for a few minutes before moving onto racks to cool.