Tag Archives: Baking

This Weekend: Some Photos

Bread rising

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

White Chocolate, Cranberry and Walnut Balls

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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.

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Every year I make an enormous, elaborate dessert. Often something I’ve never made before. Something that Involves me spending a large portion of Christmas day freaking out in front of the stove. It dawned on me that, while in part I love this, it’s a less than ideal situation. So this year I’m keeping it super simple. I love these Chocolate Nut Balls and they’re a cinch to make so I thought I’d mix things up and make another variety. I’ll make the two on Christmas. Wee! These ones are especially festive and pretty. I hope you like them.

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White Chocolate, Cranberry and Walnut Balls

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.

Makes about 25 balls.

Line a tray with baking paper.

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the chocolate. I usually start with a big wooden spoon and once the butter has been spread out, use my hands. You want the butter to be fully incorporated with the other ingredients.

Roll the mixture into small balls, the size of walnut. The mixture may be slightly crumbly but should hold together. Place balls onto the lined tray. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a ceramic bowl resting on a small pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completed melted. Remove from the heat and stir well.

Drop a ball into the chocolate and use two forks to carefully transfer it back to the tray. Repeat with all balls. For the last few where the chocolate is coming to an end you may need to stir the balls around in the chocolate. Refrigerate. The chocolate will have set after 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry to gobble them down, but if you can, wait for at least an hour so the chocolate is firm.

Petite Kitchen’s Zesty Apricot Balls

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It’s no secret that I (and I’m guessing a lot of you) have those days (every day) where all you want in life is an enormous piece of cake. Like as big as your head. Preferably with chocolate involved somewhere in the process. I have a big sweet tooth. Last week Row brought home a 2 kilo bag of Fruit Bursts to send out with his orders (he sells mountain bike parts if that’s of interest to you). 2 kilos of Fruit Bursts just casually chillin’ in our living room. So. Much. Self. Control. Required. Anyway, this has a point. As much as I love (and need) cake I also know that I can’t have cake frequently (sorry to break it to you). This year I have enjoyed so much finding new recipes to satisfy the chronic-snacker and sweet tooth in me,

In the weekend I made Petite Kitchen’s Zesty Apricot, Pumpkin Seed and Lemon Fudge Balls. These balls didn’t last for too long because despite them being refined sugar free, they were delicious and made for excellent snackage. I would even go as far as saying they are healthy on account of the nuts and seeds. So that’s cool right? Almost as good as cake. No sugar high. No guilt. I’m still going to have my cake on occasion (it’s a coping mechanism) but its great to be able to replace some of the cake indulgences with healthier snacks (that are yum too). DSC_2551

In case you aren’t acquainted with Petite Kitchen here is a lowdown: Petite Kitchen was born out of the need to create a better diet for Eleanor’s very ill daughter. Eleanor’s daughter was diagnosed with Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) by a Naturopath, an imbalance of bad gut bacteria causing toxins. This was causing terrible eczema and extreme mood fluctuations. Eleanor eliminated grains, sugar, additives and preservatives from their diets and her daughter returned to full health. Now Eleanor focuses on creating simple recipes and sharing them on the blog and in her cookbook (which is the best!). I really recommend checking out Petite Kitchen if you’re gluten free or just looking for a fresh way of cooking and eating.

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.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuits

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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.

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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!

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Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuits

125 grams of butter, softened
12 cup of brown sugar
1 egg
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.

Five Favourite Biscuit Recipes

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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.

The chocolate chip cookie (scroll down). You need a fail-proof, speedy, ever-delicious choc chip recipe in your possession. This is mine. Its a Simon Holst recipe. When I first left home I got this book for Christmas and I thought it was boring (sorry mum). Boring! I was wrong. This book has played a pivotal role in my learning to cook. It has basic recipes that are delicious and less basic recipes that are even more delicious. And it has this choc chip recipe which I’ve now made hundreds of times. I know it by heart.

The peanut brownie. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that these might be my favourite biscuits. This recipe is from the Edmonds cookbook, which everyone should own (even if its an old, battered, sticky copy like mine).

The dark chocolate and hazelnut cookie. Sometimes you need something ridiculously fancy and indulgent. If you ever need to impress the socks off someone, make these. Also, just make them if you’re feeling blue. I won’t hold it against you if you eat them all.

The chewy almond orange biscuit. These are gluten free and yummy. And I highly recommend dunking half of each bikkie in chocolate. Because life is short.

The white chocolate and cranberry oat cookie. Well, this is my recipe. But I’ll be nice and share it with you. I love baking with oats. And chocolate. You can’t go wrong.

And I just realised that all of the above include some form of chocolate. I’m  totally cool with that. I hope we can still be friends. What’s your favourite biscuit or cookie recipe?

On Making Dough

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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?

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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!

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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?).

accutane cost counsel Soda bread

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!

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