Category: Biscuits & Cookies

Chilli-infused double chocolate chip cookies

This is a post about cookies, an astounding cookbook, and a teensy bit about boys. Skip to the bottom if you just want the cookies. I understand. The real issue here is infusing browned butter with chilli and then mixing it with big shards of dark chocolate.

Chilli-infused double chocolate chip cookies | The Littlest Bakehouse

Anyway. The sun is finally shining, and the spring cleaning is underway, but today I’m taking a brief trip back to December. It was Christmas morning – too early for everyone else, because I’d been awake for hours with excitement – and the seven of us, all long legs folded and squished into various corners of the living room, were diving into the frankly ridiculous pile of presents.

My mum was frowning, watching me tear open the wrapping paper on a gift she’d bought. Pulling it off like a 5-year-old, I revealed the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book. I’d not requested it; she’d gone a little off piste, based on a love for the Cook’s Illustrated magazine. “Is it okay? It’s not in colour! It came and I panicked because…it’s not in colour. And it’s full of drawings!”

Of course it was okay. It was perfect – old school drawings are half the point of Cook’s Illustrated, along with rigorous testing and gloriously geeky scientific explanations. I put it to one side, carried on unwrapping other gifts, every now and then just resting my hand on its cover or flicking to the contents to see what awaited. Read More

White chocolate & ginger cheesecake bites

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of days, trying to find something to say up here in the gap between pictures. Truth is, I’m in hibernation mode, so I’m just gonna make another batch of these truffley delights and curl up under my duvet for a bit, mmkay? Sometimes you’ve just gotta play The Sims for 6 hours straight and forget about standing on a cold kitchen floor, painstakingly creaming butter and sugar. Sometimes you need to smash up some biscuits, melt some chocolate, and be done with it. Read More

Autumn spiced shortbread

Autumn spiced shortbread | The Littlest Bakehouse

It’s baking season and I’ve lost my baking mojo.

I’ve had a number of flops in recent weeks, which is why it’s been quiet around here – I’d rather not post than post a recipe that I didn’t feel was quite right. I’ve tried sifting my flour, and I’ve thrown out anything on the baking shelf that was out of date. The next thing to try is using an oven thermometer, to see if the temperature knob is lying to me.

In the meantime, shortbread. As one of the first things I ever learned to bake, it’s my reset button at times like this. Its familiar measurements and hands-on nature bring me back to a place where I can’t mess up. With added autumnal spices, I’m well and truly in my happy place.

It’s also my first bake inspired the Great British Bake Off. Quite often, I tend to overlook biscuits when planning what to bake – this isn’t totally unrelated to the fact that I have a bad habit of eating biscuit dough before it makes it into the oven.

But it’s about time I got back to it, having avoided pies, cakes, and bread because of the aforementioned loss of mojo. With these little mouthfuls of autumn I am, as my mother would say, back on the horse.

Makes 35 biscuits

Ingredients

225g plain flour
25g polenta
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
15g light brown sugar
60g caster sugar
175g butter

20g icing sugar
1/2tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp water
1tsp milk

Method

1) Preheat oven to 180C and line 3 baking trays with baking parchment (or just use one and do it in batches).

2) Mix together the flour, polenta, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl until the spices and polenta are evenly distributed. Add the sugars and butter and rub together until a loose dough comes together. Press it all into a ball.

3) Flour a clean surface and roll the dough out to about 5mm thick. Use a cutter about 2 inches in diameter to cut out your biscuits. Bake for about 13 minutes, until the top has just lost its sheen, and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

4) While the biscuits cool, prepare the topping (almost a glaze!)  by mixing together the icing sugar, spices, water, and milk. Use a pastry brush to glaze the tops of the biscuits – once the first layer is dry, there should be enough for a second layer. For a more subtle taste, stick to one layer.

Lightly lemon polenta biscuits

A few days ago, my (food) world fell apart a little bit, with a friendly nurse in a cardigan and a swooshy skirt gently uttering six little words.

“You need to cut out carbs.”

Outwardly, I nodded solemnly as she clarified – because we all know that cutting out whole food groups is a bit ridiculous – “Well, maybe have them once a day, definitely not more than that.” But maniacal laughter echoed around my head through all the talk about BMIs and pasta, as I envisioned my life without starchy deliciousness. Stir fry without noodles. Poached eggs without English muffins. No more cake.

But this time, it’ll be more sensible – not like the disaster  month that saw me shed a stone and almost a few friends when I did the Dukan diet (not even allowed fruit) and went a bit mental. It’s a good story, but one that illustrates why carbs are not optional for me.

So here we go. I’ve not really eaten much meat, until now – not because I don’t like it, but because both meat and my rent are expensive, and I am unfortunately contractually obliged to pay for the less delicious of the two.

But for now, let’s focus on biscuits. Obviously the best way to deal with all this is to make biscuits which contain both flour and polenta, as a last supper, if you like. If I was doing it properly, it’d be a last supper of something crazy like mashed potato toasties (I have no idea if that’s a thing people do. But I can’t try it out for the foreseeable future).

With the butter (£££) swapped out for margarine, these biscuits are a little cakey like a Viennese whirl biscuit, and a whole lotta delicious, thanks to the subtle addition of lemon.

Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 20

Ingredients

110g plain flour
1/4tsp salt
75g polenta
110g margarine
70g sugar
Zest of half a lemon
1 medium egg + 1 yolk
1/2tsp vanilla extract

Method

1) Preheat your oven to 180C (170C for fan ovens, 350F, gas mark 4) and line two baking trays with baking parchment. Combine flour, salt, and polenta and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the margarine, sugar, and lemon zest.
2) When light and fluffy, add the egg and then the yolk, beating until just combined after each addition. Add vanilla, and then, gradually, the flour mixture, beating until combined.
3) Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, and pipe onto the baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
4) Bake until just going golden at the edges – about 15 minutes.

Strawberries & cream cookies

I never have been, and never will be, sporty. Not just in terms of partaking in sport, but in terms of watching it. I don’t “get” it. Even when the Olympics were going on just a hundred miles down the road, it was still just a bunch of people jumping about in shorts to me.

At school – the last time sport was compulsory for me – PE lessons meant one of three things: chatting while walking around the circuit for cross country, recycling a selection of sick notes and then…having a chat, or playing ping pong over the top of 6 tables set up in the hall. PE lessons contained very little actual PE. We liked it that way.

Strawberries & cream cookies | The Littlest Bakehouse

So unsurprisingly, the fact that this week heralds the beginning of Wimbledon means just two things, much as I’m sure it does for the majority of the nation: strawberries, and Pimms. Not so much about sport.

In the family home, I am the chief Pimms maker, due, no doubt, to the fact that I make it stronger than anyone else does. That’s the only part I have in it. Just when the tennis starts to get “good” – marked by gasps, shouts, and my dad shifting to the edge of his seat rather than dozing – I retire to take a Pimms-induced nap in a roasting conservatory. For now, I’m without the Pimms and the warmth of sleeping in, essentially, a fancy greenhouse, but I can keep hold of those strawberries.

As I’m not completely weird, I like my cookies soft. Eating a cookie shouldn’t be a jaw workout. These are beautifully soft.

Adapted from Picky Palate
Makes 14
Note: It pays to bake the whole batch at once, as when the mixture is left out for a while before baking it spreads more and the cookies don’t rise so nicely.

Ingredients

100g butter
50g light brown sugar
135g granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp baking soda
100g chopped strawberries (about 1cm cubes)
100g chopped white chocolate

Method

1) Line two baking trays with baking parchment, and preheat the oven to 160C. Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
2) Add the egg and vanilla and mix until just combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add to the wet ingredients, stirring as you go.
3) Add the chocolate and strawberries, and mix until they’re evenly distributed throughout the dough. Space tablespoons of dough about 3 inches apart, and bake for around 10-15 minutes, until a deep golden brown.