Category Archives: biscuits

Earl Grey Kisses

Are you ready for a tale of woe?

This month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge was hosted by Choclette and she came up with the fantastic idea of creating something with chocolate and tea.  Now straight away the thought struck me that Earl Grey truffles would be a lovely thing.  Except I had no Earl Grey in the house.

The days of February passed in a dash and I suddenly found myself in the middle of half term, at home with two busy children and still no Earl Grey.  Several trips to the shops later and still no Earl Grey.  It was the final day of the challenge and I managed to remember to buy Earl Grey, but then a cough came on and I ran out of energy and time.

Anyway, Sunday morning arrived and I thought I would make the truffles for eating after dinner.  I made them but the ganache split. I was making dinner for ten so the truffle mixture stayed in the fridge.  Monday morning and the split ganache was saved with the addition  of a bit more cream, but then I was busy and when I took the ganache out of the fridge it had set solid and there was no way any truffles could be formed.  The split ganache had returned with a fury it seems.

So today I reheated the ganache and yes it is well and truly split.  No truffles will be made from this. But in that ganache is 100g of chocolate and 200ml of cream.  I was not about to waste it.  The little one is off from nursery with a cough of her own but wanted to make cookies.  So here they are, cookies made with the ganache and filled with the ganache.

I will try to make the truffles again as the mixture tasted lovely.  These cookies are tasty but the delicate Earl Grey taste is lost amongst the biscuityness of it all.  But the ganache has at least been saved.

For the ganache:

100g best quality dark chocolate, chopped finely
200ml double cream
4 heaped tsp Earl Grey loose tea

Method

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and add the tea leaves.  Heat until just under boiling point. Take the pan off the heat and leave to infuse for  15 minutes. Place the chopped chocolate into a shallow bowl.  Strain the cream through a sieve into a jug, reheat gently and pour over the chocolate.  Leave to melt for a minute or so and then stir gently until the mixture is smooth.  If you successfully manage this without it splitting and becoming granular then you should be able to place it in the fridge for an hour or so and then roll into truffles.

For the cookies:

100g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
3 tbsps of the Earl Grey chocolate ganache
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
a splash of milk if necessary

Method

Cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until well combined.  Add the ganache and stir to mix.  Sieve over the flour and baking powder and stir until the mixture comes together into a stiff dough.  You may need a splash of milk to help it come together.

Roll teaspoonfuls into balls and flatten into discs and place onto greased baking trays (you will need two).  Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for 8-12 minutes until they look dry and feel firm.  Leave to cool on the tin for a couple of minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sandwich two of the biscuits together using the Earl Grey chocolate ganache.

 

Flapjacks

I have several recipes for flapjacks, when I am feeling fruity I make the ones I posted back in September 2009, if I want something unadulterated I make these.  They are sweet little beasties, so you can’t call them health food, but they hit the spot if you are looking for a good flapjack.  A bit chewy, a bit soft, oaty and sweet.  They are good for picnics and bike rides.

You can use 150g of demerara sugar or of granulated instead of half each.  I just like the crunchy texture of the demerara in my flapjacks and I like the way the granulated melts into the butter.

Makes about 15 squares

150g (6oz) butter
75g (3oz) golden granulated sugar
75g (3oz) demerara sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
300g (12 oz) oats

Method

Place the butter, sugar and syrup in a large pan and place over a gentle heat until the butter has melted.  Mix well together and then stir in the oats.

Butter a 30cm x 20 cm dish and then pour in the mixture.  Press down well with the back of a metal spoon.

Place in the centre of a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or in the Baking Oven of the Aga for 20-25 minutes until golden brown all over.  Whilst the mixture is still warm run a knife around the edge of the dish and cut the flapjack into squares. Leave to cool completely in the tim before removing.

Peanut Butter Cookies

I have a thing for peanut butter, there are times when I eat it a lot.  It’s one of those things that I just have to have.  It has to be crunchy and it has to be just peanuts and oil in a jar, no added sugar or anything else.  It has to be good. I have it on toast, on its own or with Marmite, with jam, even with marmalade.  Then there are times when I fancy dunking it into a cup of tea.  In which case these cookies have to be made.  Most of you know I also have a similar thing for chocolate and so when I made some last week I add 50g chopped dark chocolate at the end of mixing and they were good.  But in a way I think the unadorned version is better.

They are crumbly, light and deliciously peanutty.

50g butter, softened
25g caster sugar
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 egg yolk
100g plain (all purpose) flour

Method
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add the peanut butter and mix again.  Add the egg yolk and beat well.  Stir in the flour.  It should form a soft dough.

Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls, place on a lightly greased baking tray and flatten using the tines of a fork.  Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden.  Leave to rest on the tray for a few minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool.

Rocky Road Slice

It is Cake Sale Day at the little one’s nursery today to raise money for the nursery. So my contribution is this Rocky Road Slice and an awful admission, which I will tell you about at the end of this post.

I have completely made this recipe up this morning so I don’t know if it should really be called Rocky Road at all.  To be honest it’s not something I would choose to eat myself, it is overly sweet for my tastes, but I think the children will like it.

I have used what I have in my cupboards so feel free to use whatever you have in yours.  Replace the cranberries with sultanas or raisins if you like, use another biscuit rather than digestives – you get the idea.

50g dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
25g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
25g mini marshmallows
50g dried cranberries
4 digestive biscuits (Graham Crackers), crumbled
25g Rice Crispies (puffed rice cereal)

30g milk chocolate for drizzling over the top (optional)

Method

Melt the dark and milk chocolate, butter and syrup together in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir well to combine  and add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well.

Line a 20cm square tin with clingfilm and pour the mixture in.  Level the top, pressing down well.  Melt the milk chocolate, if you are using it, and drizzle over the top. Place in the fridge to set.  Mine took about 1½ hours this morning.

Cut into squares.

Now for my awful admission.  My other contribution will be Double Chocolate Cookies made from a box mix – I know, shock horror.  Believe me, I am struggling with this myself.  I was given a box of it and I was in a quandary as to what I should do.  I have promised myself that I will try not to waste any food, so putting it in the bin was out of the question.  Then I worried that I may be becoming an awful food snob. I looked at the ingredients – flour, light brown sugar, sugar,(yes, sugar is listed twice), fat reduced cocoa powder, natural flavouring and raising agent.  I was reassured by this list, this is what I would normally put into cookies, so they can’t be too bad.  I just had to contribute the butter and egg yolk.

Anyway, I made them and they are OK, they don’t taste as good as if I had got out the flour, sugar and cocoa out of the cupboard.   There seems to be a lot more sugar in these than I would have put in and I think the cocoa is poor quality.  So, there you have it, my verdict is that these ready to bake kits might be OK if it gets someone baking that wouldn’t otherwise touch it with a barge pole.  But, you can definitely make tastier biscuits if you select the best ingredients and the right ratio of sugar.

All in all, I don’t know if it is an awful admission or if I have just become a terrible food snob, but a famous brand of cookie mix did not go in the bin and the cookies will be taken to  the cake sale.  I might just anonymise the plate though :).

Chocolate marmalade biscuits

You may know about the masses of marmalade I made, and the cake I made with it. Well, I wondered what it would be like in a biscuit.  It turns out that marmalade is very nice in a biscuit.  It adds a bitter depth that is really quite addictive.  I know, I know, I really shouldn’t eat three with one cup of tea (again!).

You could chop up the pieces of peel if you like, but I didn’t because I wanted to enjoy the chunkiness in the biscuit.  If you really wanted to spoil yourself you could add 50g (2oz) of chopped chocolate into the mix as well.

100g (4oz) softened butter
75g (3oz) light brown sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp marmalade
125g (5oz) spelt flour (or you could use wholemeal or plain)
50g (2oz) ground almonds
25g (1oz) cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder

Method

Beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat again until well combined. Stir in the marmalade. Add the flour, almonds, cocoa and baking powder and stir until it forms a stiff dough.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased or non stick baking sheet (you will probably need two).  Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4, or the Baking Oven of the Aga for 10-12 minutes until they are firm on the top. Leave to cool on the tin for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Easter biscuits

The official name for these tasty morsels is Easter biscuits, but in this house they are called Animal biscuits and they should actually be called Poorly biscuits.  These are the ones that I am asked to make if either of the girls is feeling a bit off colour. This is because I made them once for the little one when nothing else would tempt her to eat but these did the trick.  Ever since at the slightest sign of illness Animal biscuits have to be made. Well, the little one has a cold.  Nothing too serious, but I am sure the other children at pre-school would prefer not to have it, so yesterday there was the usual request to make Animal biscuits.

I have recipes for these biscuits in two of my books; Jill Brand’s The Best Kept Secrets of the Women’s Institute, Cakes and Biscuits and Louise Walker’s The Traditional Aga Party Book. I normally make them from the latter, but yesterday I made them from Jill Brand’s book, in which she suggests removing them from the oven half way through cooking, brushing them with egg white and dusting with caster sugar and then cooking them for the rest of the time.  Feel free to do this, but I can’t really tell the difference between this and Louise Walker’s advice to dust them with caster sugar as soon as they come out of the oven.  As the first way is a faff, I would suggest following Louise Walker on this point.

Louise Walker explains that currants were once a prized possession and so these biscuits were made for special occasions and were often handed out to children after church on Easter Sunday.

This recipe combines both of the above recipes to make them mine.

Makes about 20-24 biscuits depending on the size of your cutter.

100g (4oz) softened butter
75g (3oz) caster sugar
1 egg yolk (feel free to use the egg white as described above)
200g (8oz) plain flour
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
75g (3oz) currants
splash of milk
caster sugar to sprinkle on the cooked biscuits

Method

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolk.  Add the flour, spices and currants and mix with a spoon. You will probably need a splash of milk to get it to a soft dough that will roll out.

Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out until it’s about 5mm thick.  Using any shape cookie cutter that you like (the tradition is for rounds) cut out shapes, re-rolling the dough when you need to, and place onto a baking tray (you will need two baking sheets). Place the trays in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or near the bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga for 10-15 minutes until they are lightly golden.  Sprinkle liberally with caster sugar whilst still warm.  Place onto wire racks to cool.  Eat and feel better.

Chocolate almond cookies

My four year old and I have just made these.  A very good friday afternoon treat.  They are chewy and distinctly almondy and definitely chocolatey.  I think next time I make them I might add a few drops of almond extract instead of the vanilla extract to really draw out the almond taste.

Makes about 10-12, depending on how generous you are with the spoonfuls.

125g butter
50g muscovado sugar
50g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g wholemeal spelt flour
80g ground almonds
20g cocoa
½ tsp baking powder

40g good quality chocolate, melted, to drizzle over the top

Method

Melt the butter in a small pan.  Place the sugars in a bowl.  Pour the melted butter over the sugars and mix well. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and mix again.  Tip in the flour, almonds, cocoa and baking powder and mix again.  It will be quite sloppy.  Place spoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.  These cookies spread a lot so leave plenty of space between them.  Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 for 8-10 minutes.  Leave on the tin for a few minutes to harden and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Drizzle with the melted chocolate.