Category: Biscuits & Cookies

Tahini caramel millionaire shortbread

Now, I should probably tell you abit more about these sweet sweet tahini flavoured babies. Last week Lindt sent me over some of their dark chocolate bars. In it was their new flavour dark chocolate with roasted sesame which was so good. It got me thinking and I thought why not mix tahini in with caramel? Why not make the best flavour millionaire shortbread ever? Read More

Caramelised white chocolate and pecan cookies

Sometimes I just absolutely have to bake cookies. There’s no negotiation. Luckily 9 times out of 10 I have all the ingredients in ready to whip of a bowl of dough. After reading Michelle’s post last week about slice and bake chocolate chip cookies I had to give them a go. So Friday afternoon Matilda and I played in the kitchen and made cookies. I didn’t freeze them but just left them in the fridge overnight. The recipe is from Tara O’Brady at Seven Spoon’s book and is my new favourite cookie recipe. So so easy and tastes amazing.

It’s been a while since I revisited caramelised white chocolate and I forgot that it’s actually a doddle to make. I had a couple of bars of Lindt white chocolate lying around from Christmas – how these didn’t get eaten I don’t know, White chocolate is like crack to me. I heated my oven to the lowest heat – 130 C/266 F – and spread chopped white chocolate over a clean oven tray. At ten minute intervals I stirred the chocolate around the tray with a spatula until it was smooth and golden. I transferred the melted chocolate to a small tray and let it re-set in the fridge before I chopped it into caramelised white chocolate chips. Just try not to eat them all before they go into the dough. It’s basically a homemade Caramac bar.

I had Matilda’s wonderful assistance the second time as well and whilst I was taking the photos she brazenly walked up and helped herself to a cookie. I said if she was going to pinch the cookies she could at least be cute and hold a plate of them as well >.<

These cookies are crisp and buttery on the edges and soft in the middle. The caramelised white chocolate works perfectly with the pecans and a hint of sea salt on top balances everything out. Just as in Michelle’s post you can of course freeze the dough in balls if you only want a few at a time. If you want to make a full batch then leave them in the fridge overnight. Letting the dough rest is like magic and the difference between baking straight away and waiting overnight is very noticeable. They are definitely worth the wait.

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Pecan paprenjaci

Pecan paprenjaci // The Dinner Bell

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while, since my enthusiasm for festive food got the best of me far before it was acceptable, but the tightness of my jeans indicates it is time.

These little darlings are based on traditional Croatian Christmas biscuits –  the inclusion of black pepper sounds a little odd but it gives a subtle warmth to the biscuits, which are similar to gingerbread and have a comforting softness to them.

As I inherited a slight walnut allergy from my mother, along with sturdy thighs and a love of food, I switched out the traditional walnuts in favour of pecans. I also used a tiny squirrel cutter instead of the wooden moulds they’d be made with in Croatia, because the tiny squirrel was too cute to resist.

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Lemon shortbread

Well, this is quite a ride, isn’t it? Waking up to political chaos, walking into work while it rains and taking a lunchbreak in the sunshine. I mean, it would be quite a ride, if turmoil and multi-season days hadn’t become the new normal for a British summer over the past few years. I’m excited to see what we’re going to vote on next June.

Another classic reaction to stressful situations in the UK is biscuits, and so today we return to shortbread, via fingers plunged into butter, bits of dough snuck into mouths before it can hit the oven, and the scent of freshly zested lemon.

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Honey & dark chocolate macaroons

There are very few things about modern cookery that actually make me sad. For my dad, the great tragedy is chilli being added to everything – chilli ketchup, chilli chocolate…other things. Some might be disappointed by the rise of burgers, or perhaps by how their native or favourite cuisine has been bastardised as its slipped into the mainstream, like Mexican food expert Diane Kennedy is.

I’m just sad that if you google macaroon, you get pages and pages of macarons, with not a shred of coconut in sight. Instead of golden, moist treats, it’s all smooth domed meringue, glued together with ganache or curd. The humble coconut macaroon has been usurped by the finicky French macaron. Read More

Malteser shortbread

F

inally, finally, it’s Feeding Month. For 31-ish days, it seems perfectly reasonable to bounce from caffeine high to sugar high to booze.

I for one am full in the throes of festive eating – the table between my colleague and I is now mostly orange citrus fruits and shortbread.

Four years on since my last Christmas in retail, I’m not sure I can say, “Well, Christmas starts in October for me!” these days, but it can start now. I’ve bought wintery candles, and started writing party food lists, and decided to put the tree up when my flatmates were out, because that is the most boring bit. The moment when you drop the box and scoot back in case of spiders; the trying to work out how the hell the base goes together. The lengthy task of separating out branches.

But with that done, it’s all fairy lights and glitter from here. And a lil too much food, of course. Read More

Gingerbread whirls

T

his weekend, a message popped up on my phone screen that set off a domino run of panic in my mind.

“I was thinking this morning…”, said one of my closest friends, the one I got to know in the school library when we were both chubby little book nerds, “Can we have a Christmassy London weekend?”

A moment’s consideration and a flip through my mental diary later, I realised I only have one weekend free between now and 2015. How did that happen? How can I fit everything in? When did I become a person who says, Sorry, I’m all booked up till next year? Read More

Date & apple slices

Y

ears ago, there was a bakery back home that has since become the stuff of legends for those of us lucky enough to grow up with it in the village. The building is a pizza place now, but during my childhood it was a sugar-laden Aladdin’s cave of cakes and pastry and huge triangle slices of the best caramel shortbread I’ve ever had. I mourn for what used to be whenever I walk past now and the street smells of grease rather than sugar and butter.

DataAppleSliceMPerched beside the pavement, roughly at the halfway point on the walk to school, the village bakery smelt so good it was basically impossible to stroll past without at the very least slowing down to take in the aromas of fresh bread,  cheese straws, and a plethora of biscuits. A tiny room, there was only just enough space for a small round table and two chairs, tucked underneath a pin board that covered all aspects of village life: craft fairs, church services dance classes. It was old-fashioned, without the pretense you get these days in bakeries that declare themselves “artisanal”; all crisp paper bags and motherly staff.

The loaves of bread I used to buy most mornings on the way to high school for about a year – I was chubby for a reason – were still warm at 8am, and perfect on their own. The marshmallow cones were a regular childhood treat, and those caramel shortbreads were out of this world. But for true decadence, it was all about the date slice.

Don’t get me wrong, the dates slices weren’t a sophisticated affair. A hefty slab, they were essentially two hunks of shortbread sandwiched together with a thick, sticky date puree, and sprinkled with sugar. Healthy? No. Delicious? Yes.

Years on, it’s up to us to recreate the treats from our childhoods. Here, the humble date slice is tarted up a bit, making the most of the end of Bramley apple season and taking on a flapjack-y twist with the addition of oats. Read More

Dark chocolate chip cookies with smoked sea salt

It’s my birthday this week, so cookies are back. It’s my party and I’ll gorge myself on browned butter if I want to.

Dark chocolate chip cookies with smoked sea salt // The Dinner BellIt’s probably a symptom of having older siblings, but it’s hard to forget how old twenties always used to sound to me, how much I thought I’d have sorted by now. But then, I thought that at 18 and 21 too, so I suspect my heart and my brain will forever be playing catch up to the passing of timing and the aging of this bundle of cells. I also suspect we all feel the same way.

But these cookies are probably one of the most grown up things I’ve achieved so far. They’re dark and toffee-y and use fancy salt — when did I become a person who gets excited by fancy salt? — in ways that take them a million miles from Maryland’s excuse for cookies.

The making of them completely feels like magic — the process of browning the butter, then whisking it with sugar and leaving it for a bit means that you start out with a gritty mix but end up with a gorgeously thick, glossy mixture. And then! And then you add the flour and the chocolate and it becomes the most gorgeously rich, nutty cookie dough imaginable.

It’s not a cookie to hand out to children — it’s one to be served warm, and savoured, the crisp outside giving way to a soft chewy inside, studded with dark chocolate brought to life by smoked sea salt. It’s an indulgence that, dipped into coffee, makes grey Monday mornings at your office job a lot brighter. It’s most certainly a cookie for grown ups. Read More