Hi everyone. Is everyone feeling as depressed as am that it is Sunday evening? I always get a touch of the Sunday blues. On a less grey note, this weekend I did not have to work OR study which is basically a work of God, or just, ya know, timing. I decided at some point that despite the high 20s heat I would not retreat to my bed a la sloth but would in fact Do Nice Things. Here are some of the nice things. Continue reading →
OK, so apparently Christmas is in three weeks so we might as well get this show on the road, yes? I kind of wish you could just whip out a fire hose that squirts out Christmas cheer. That’s a bit sad isn’t? These tasty bites will cheer you up, I promise.
100 grams of butter, cubed and softened
1 cup of oats
12 cup of walnuts, chopped into small pieces
12 cup of dried cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
14 cup brown sugar 12 cup of desiccated coconut
200 grams of white chocolate buttons or similar. I like these ones.
I forgot to mention something else about these balls: they’re a doddle to make and require no cooking! How great is that. Excellent for a take-along or for your afternoon snack. Enjoy! And have a great week.
I imagine that that title conjures up images of rich, gooey, indulgent cookies that you have to eat in secret by the fist-full. Sorry to disappoint but these bikkies, despite their star ingredients, are closer to a digestive than a Toffee Pop. However, I promise you’ll like them and you can eat them publicly, shame-free. I don’t think a biscuit is meant to be ‘healthy’. Its a biscuit. But I set out to make a biscuit that was a bit less heart attacky and a bit more substantial. Something that you could take for your morning tea at work or on a tramp. It had to be delicious and simple and so I turned to some of the most tried and true ingredients: chocolate and peanut butter. They’re brothers from another mother and man do they make good biscuits when they’re in cahoots.
I love biscuits. Who doesn’t? When I make a batch, they tend to last less than two days and I don’t need to be convinced that this a less-than-healthy habit. I think one of the reasons that you can power through biscuits is because they are a lot of sugar and not a lot else. To make this biscuit recipe, I looked at classic biscuit recipes and decided I would try halving the sugar. I have a theory, though I’m not remotely an expert on the matter, that brown sugar is nicer than white and therefore you can use less. So in this recipe, I used only half a cup of sugar. They’re plenty sweet. I decided to use wholemeal flour and coconut in an attempt to make them more filling. This is the result! I hope you try them. They’re a lot good!
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuits
125 grams of butter, softened
12 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
A generous 12 cup of crunchy peanut butter
1 12 cups of wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of cocoa
12 cup of coconut
100 grams of good quality dark chocolate chopped into small chunks
(I use and recommend Whittaker’s Dark Block, 50% cocoa)
Makes about 30 biscuits.
Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Prepare two oven trays.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. (I used electric beaters). Beat in the egg and vanilla essence until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides with a spatula occasionally. Add the peanut butter and beat in to combine.
Sift in the flour and baking powder. Add in the flakes left in the sieve, we’re only sifting to aerate the flour not to remove lumps. Then sift in the cocoa (leaving out the lumps!). Add the coconut and chocolate and fold together until well combined and you have a nice dough.
Roll heaped tablespoons of dough into balls and place on an oven tray. Press down on each biscuit with your fingers or a fork to flatten slightly. I bake my biscuits in two batches, one tray at a time. Bake for about 12 minutes (all ovens are different, they may need a little longer. I always flip one biscuit over and check for a nice brown bottom). Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They’ll keep for up to a week in an airtight container.
Because sometimes you need biscuits. A whole batch. Because sometimes you need something quick and delicious. Because making your own always wins out. And because favourite recipes are always best shared.
Like most things, learning to cook well is all about practice. I love to share recipes on here but I don’t share the disasters, flops and disappointments (of which there are some). My hope is that with time and perseverance these flops will turn into successes that I can later share (some of them just get banished from the kitchen for eternity). Dough makes a good metaphor for learning to cook. Most of the time it just works: its science. Sometimes for no reason its a flop: its science. And a good recipe makes a world of difference. I like making dough and I have a few favourite recipes that are bullet proof (or at least fool proof). I like how very unpretentious dough is. I like how its a series of simple ingredients and actions that create something wonderful, as if by miracle. I think making dough is a great way to learn more about cooking. It teaches you basic skills like patience. If you haven’t made bread before its worth trying, at least for the mere satisfaction of shaping a loaf of bread or a swag of bagels with your own hands. I’ll share three favourite dough recipes that might seem slightly random. You guys are cool with that, right?
Let me explain. Bagels might seem like a bizarre choice for a novice breadie but for some reason it was one of the first doughs I made. “I’m going to try that!” I exclaimed with reckless abandon. And I did. And it worked. And it has worked every single time in the years since. It sounds complex on first glance. Its not. There are a number of steps and its not something you’ll whip up late one evening to go with your reheated soup but it is simple and it will teach you some fundamentals of dough making. Pus, its bagels. Which are just ace. Ace!
Now for some reason that took me much longer to get to. I don’t know why but I never made pizza dough. My father would not be impressed to hear that (he is the KING of pizza). But then I finally plucked up the courage and what do you know? Simple. Like stupidly simple. Next time you have a roast, dedicate the leftovers to make a stand up pizza with your own dough (or make some veg concoction with spinach and feta. Can I come for tea?).
OK, so I made you make bagels and pizza first because that involves making real dough and they’re awesome but lets face it, we don’t always have time to float around in our sun dresses kneading dough. This is where soda bread kindly steps up to the task. This is sort of a cheat’s bread, but you might recall me saying that if you can cheat in the kitchen you definitely should. Soda bread is not made with yeast, you don’t knead the dough and it doesn’t need to rise so it is really fast. Its fast enough to whip up to go with your soup or for lunch or any old time. The recipe calls for buttermilk which you can buy at the supermarket but you can also make buttermilk by adding a squeeze of lemon juice to milk and allowing it to sit for a minute or so. I also recommend using half white flour and half wholemeal flour. Enjoy!