These little bars of deliciousness are, like the Norfolk Scone, inspired by Jennie Reekie’s Cakes, Pastries and Bread book. I have altered her recipe though replacing half the flour with ground almonds to make them more almondy, taken out Jennie’s cinnamon addition and changing the method, so they really are only a doff of the hat to Jennie. Mine are more macaroon to Jennie’s shortbread. In fact, if you pinned me down to describing them I would say that they are a hybrid macaroon/shortbread. A bit like the Norfolk Scone being a hybrid scone/eccles cake. There seems to be a pattern forming here…
Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the middle shelf of the Aga baking oven.
I use a food processor and whizz the butter, caster sugar, flour and almonds until the mixture begins to form a ball.
If you don’t have a processor then rub the butter into the flour, almonds and sugar. You will start with a breadcrumb texture and then it should start to bind together to form a ball.
Press the mixture into a 20cm square tin using the palm of your hand to level the surface. Using a pastry brush, brush all over with the beaten egg. Prick all over with the tines of a fork and sprinkle over the almonds and granulated sugar.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cut into fingers whilst still warm, lift the baking paper out of the tin and place onto a cooling tray.
This is another fruity variation on a traditional treat. I didn’t plan this succession of posts in this way. We have a friend who makes the most delicious fruit slice. We have asked her for the recipe but she does that quick change of subject thing that suggests that it is a closely guarded family secret. So, each time she cooks us a batch I try my best to work out how she does it. I haven’t cracked it yet. Both my girls love Mrs C’s fruit slice and devour it as soon as it arrives. So, the experiments will have to continue until I crack it.
I think Mrs C’s is a pastry rather than a shortbread but it’s a pastry quite like no other. I tried my own version with a quick flaky pastry but it wasn’t the same. In fact it was nowhere near. Then I tried this, just in case. I knew it wouldn’t be the same as Mrs C’s but it is pretty good. So, if you don’t have the benchmark of Mrs C’s fruit slice to stand up to you could be very satisfied with these. They take the shortbread just one step further in the decadence stakes. They travel well so make good picnic or fete treats and with the summer holidays just around the corner we are hoping that there will be plenty of opportunities for picnics, and in the open air, rather than in the car.
For the shortbread base and topping
425 g (15 0z) plain flour
150g (5oz) caster sugar
275g (10oz) butter
For the fruit filling
150g (5oz) mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, glace cherries, mixed peel etc)
25g (1oz) soft light brown sugar
juice of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 160°c, gas mark 3, or place a rack on the bottom rung of the baking oven of the Aga. Grease a 26cm square tin.
To make the fruit filling, pour the orange juice into a small saucepan and add the sugar and fruit. Bring to a very gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes, until the fruit has plumped up. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
To make the shortbread, place the flour, sugar and cubed butter into a food processor and pulse until it begins to come together. If you don’t have a food processor then place the flour in a large bowl, stir in the sugar and using your fingertips rub in the cubed butter, until it begins to make pea sized pieces.
Spread half of the shortbread mixture in the bottom of the tin and press down well with the back of a spoon. Spread the fruit evenly over and cover with the remaining shortbread dough. Press down well with the spoon. Prick all over with a fork. Place in the centre of the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden. Sprinkle with caster sugar and cut into squares. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
These are my favourite type of macaroons, wonderfully old fashioned in comparison to the fancy ones available now. They are so easy to make and deliciously almondy with just the right amount of chewiness.
They are perfect for using up any egg whites you may have lurking in the fridge. If you have a food processor then it takes just a few minutes, and even if you haven’t it is not much more work.
They are best made on rice paper but my girls like rice paper so much they eat it before I have chance to use it. If you don’t have rice paper then a silicone lining sheet works really well, but they also don’t stick too much to a non-stick tray as long as you lift them within a minute or two of them coming out of the oven, but be warned they are very fragile at that point.
The only problem with these is that they are completely irresistible and no good for the New Year diet.
If you have a food processor place the almonds, sugar and icing sugar in the bowl of the processor and whizz for a few seconds. Add the egg whites and whizz until combined.
If you don’t have a food processor them place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric whisk until well combined.
Line a tray with silicone paper or rice paper and place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the tray. Place a flaked almond on top of each one.
Place in the preheated oven or on the middle shelf of the baking oven of the Aga for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned all over. Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes and then place onto a wire rack to cool completely.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
40g good quality chocolate, melted, to drizzle over the top
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.
These little beauties are not radically different from my Chunky Chocolate Biscuits that I posted about last July. This, I think, goes to show that whilst some say baking is an exact science, you can play around with the ingredients and still produce something good. The important thing is to get the balance of wet ingredients to dry ingredients right. It also has to be said that biscuits are more forgiving than cake. Take the basic recipe and play around with it. If you don’t have spelt flour, use wholemeal flour, or oatmeal, or plain flour. You can replace the almonds with oats. The texture will be different but the biscuits will still be good.
This time instead of adding chopped chocolate to the biscuit mixture I decided to coat the biscuits with melted chocolate as soon as they were cool and it turns out this is a good plan because every bite is guaranteed to have some chocolate in it – always a bonus.
Some more advice is that if you are on a New Year’s diet (although why would you be?) try not to eat three with your coffee like I just have.
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. Add the spelt, almonds, cocoa and baking powder and fold in until the mixture forms a stiff dough.
Shape dessertspoonfuls into walnut-sized balls and place onto a baking tray. Leave plenty of room for each biscuit to spread. Flatten each biscuit slightly with the tines of a fork.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the middle shelf of the baking oven of the four-oven Aga for 12-15 minutes until firm to the touch. Leave to cool on the trays for five minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate and spoon on top of each biscuit.
I have actually got my act together this month and this is my entry into the We Should Cocoa Monthly Challenge that the wonderful Choclette and Chele host. This month’s challenge is to create something that has both caramel and chocolate and Chele is hosting over at The Chocolate Teapot.
My automatic reaction to that is, of course, Millionaire Shortbread, but I thought I needed something a little more imaginative than that. My second musing led me down the Snickers route. Now being a child of the seventies and growing up in the UK the Snickers bar will never really be a Snickers bar, but instead will forever remain a Marathon (if you click on the link you will find that I am not alone). Why exactly do they have to change the name of things? Don’t even get me started on a Starburst! What, may I ask, ever happened that deemed Opal Fruit such a bad name?
Anyway, before something innocent gets kicked, this is my homage to the Marathon bar – long may it live.
It’s very similar to the lovely Millionaire Shortbread, except the for the base I used a peanut butter cookie dough. If I had any unsalted peanuts in the house I would have added them to the caramel layer, but I hadn’t and it was cold so I couldn’t be bothered with going to the shops.
Be warned that this is very sweet and you will probably need to run a marathon afterwards to get rid of all the calories consumed.
Cream the butter, peanut butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add the flour and mix to a sift dough.
Lightly grease a 20cm square cake tin and spoon the dough in, levelling off the top.
Cook in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4, or the baking oven of the Aga for 20- 25 minutes until lightly golden and fairly firm to the touch. Place the tin on a wire rack to cool completely.
(You could use this recipe to make peanut butter cookies instead, just drop spoonfuls onto a tray and bake at the same temperature for about 10-12 minutes.)
For the caramel layer:
150g (5oz) butter
150g (5oz) dark soft brown sugar
400g (14oz) tin of condensed milk
Place the butter and sugar in a pan over a gentle heat and stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Add the condensed milk and stir until the mixture begins to boil. Take it off the heat and allow to cool for a minute and then pour over the biscuit base. Allow to cool completely.
Pour the milk chocolate all over the caramel layer and spread evenly with a palette knife. Drizzle the plain chocolate over the top to create a marbling effect. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Cut into small squares and enjoy with a cup of tea and a happy memory of the Marathon bar.
I love to cook. I spend a lot of my time baking and cooking, or thinking about baking and cooking. I use this little corner of the internet to share my recipes. I hope that they inspire you to cook one or two of them. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or visit my Contact Page to drop me an email. Kath
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