Friday, January 14, 2022

Malteser Biscuits

Malteser Biscuits

I have a couple of recipes planned for this month. One of the recipes that I am planning to make had a couple of ingredients that I still need to purchase, so I looked at the alternatives. We had recently visited our local British shop and had picked up a couple of items that I would use for baking. One of the potential recipes used the Maltesers that I had picked up and I had all of the other ingredients, so that was my choice for this week.

This is an Australian recipe, which is an interesting combination of weight measurements and volumetric measurements and also used self-rising flour. Since this used a combination of plain and self-rising flour, I just translated it to plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. The original recipe called for 250 grams of butter, which is more than two sticks of butter. Two sticks seemed like a lot, so I used one cup and the recipe turned out fine.

If you are unfamiliar with Maltesers, they are chocolate covered malt balls, similar to Whoppers sold in the states. Since the Maltesers are round, they are very hard to chop! Instead, I crushed them with the side of my chef’s knife and that was very easy. The addition of sweetened condensed milk is unusual, but the cookies aren’t too sweet, which is typical of recipes from the UK and Australia. I really like these cookies, crunchy but not too sweet, perfect with a cup of tea.

Malteser Biscuits
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
165 grams Maltesers, chopped

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on medium until light. Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla and beat again on medium to incorporate. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in the crushed Maltesers with a spatula.

Shape the dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. With the tines of a fork, press the biscuits down slightly, also making a decorative pattern.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden. If baking more than one sheet of cookies at a time, rotate the baking sheets half-way through the bake. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from (Australia)

Friday, January 7, 2022

Pain D’Amande (Almond Thins)

Pain D'Amande, thin sliced cookies flavored with almonds

Happy New Year! This year is starting off strangely, but I suppose that’s normal now. I don’t follow any new year traditions of eating healthy or anything like that, since it seems to be problematic more than anything. That being said, I don’t think the time is right to make over-the-top recipes either. I came across the almond cookie and it looked nice and simple.

In making this recipe, it’s quite unusual. I knew that the cookies needed to chill for a long time, so I made the dough early one day with the plan to bake the next day. You make the dough for these cookies in a saucepan, which is so unusual. If you have ever made choux pastry, this recipe feels very similar. I guess I should be happy as there were fewer dishes to wash! It came together well, and I got it in the pan to chill until the next day.

My biggest challenge with these cookies was getting the chilled dough out of the loaf pan! I had thought about lining the pan with plastic wrap and that would have been a good idea. I finally got it out of the pan and cut it into four pieces. I chilled them some more and then sliced the cookies. The original recipe suggested 1/8” slices but mine are closer to ¼” and that worked for me. My cookies didn’t get as golden as I would have liked, but they are crunchy and have a wonderful almond flavor.

Pain D’Amande
½ cup butter, cut in cubes
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon water
2 ½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup skinned, blanched almonds

In a large saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and water. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Once the butter mixture has cooled, add the flour mixture into the saucepan and stir with a spatula until a thick dough forms. Fold in the almonds.

Spray a 9”x 5” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and press the dough into the prepared pan. Press plastic wrap over the top of the dough. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

Remove the dough from the pan and cut in half crosswise, then lengthwise, to form four pieces. Slice each piece into cookies as thin as possible (1/4”) and place them on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 14-16 minutes until the cookies are golden. Allow the cookies to cool briefly on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon

Friday, December 31, 2021

Highlights from 2021

At the end of the year, it’s fun to look back and see what I have made during the previous year. When you have been blogging as long as I have, the recipes sometimes meld into each other. I have chosen five of my favorites from the past year.

While I hope that next year will be better, I also know that I don’t have control over that many things. We’re both happy and working, and hopefully that will continue! It has been nice working with students in person the past few months, and I look forward to more.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
Looking back, I have made my fair share of peanut butter and jelly cookies and bars. You can’t go wrong with such a classic flavor combination. This recipe only makes a small amount, but they can’t be beat!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies
I’ve come across other orange creamsicle cookies, but the flavor isn’t always great. When I made these, I was astounded by the fantastic flavors. The combination of orange zest and white chocolate chips made these a big winner.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Pineapple Coconut Tassies
Tassies are probably my favorite form of cookie. These are filled with a summery combination of pineapple and coconut. I left out the nuts, but they would work just as well with them. They crumble a little, but I can live with that.

Pineapple Coconut Tassies

Hermit Bars
Hermit cookies have been around forever, and this bar version turned out so well! I made mine dairy free by using vegan butter, which was very easy. Raisins, spices, and molasses make for a winning cookie.

Hermit Bars

Mince Pie Bakewell Squares
I love Bakewell Squares and I love mincemeat, so it should be no surprise that putting them together would be a hit. Honestly, these were so good that I was sad when the last one was eaten. I think these will likely become a holiday classic in our household.

Mince Pie Bakewell Squares

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Chocolate Tiffin

Christmas Tiffin: a no-bake bar cookie with brandy, candied cherries, and crushed tea biscuits, topped with chocolate.

What is a tiffin? I have had multiple people ask me what a tiffin is, and the short answer that it is a no-bake bar cookie whose main component is biscuits (or cookies, as we call them in the states). This is a great recipe in that it combines the ease of the tiffin with the flavors of Christmas such as brandy, chocolate, and candied cherries. Now I find all sorts of tiffin recipes that sound good, and I can’t wait to try some once the weather is warmer.

As is often the case with British recipes, I don’t convert grams to ounces or volume measure. In a way, I think this is easier as I have my scale and a single cup to measure. It makes for less washing and right now that is appreciated. I did buy glacĂ© cherries and the Rich Tea biscuits from the UK, and golden syrup is also British in origin. The British cherries looked so much better than the weird, bright red candied cherries that we get here in the states. I also wonder if the topping could be any sort of chocolate, or some sort of semi-sweet chocolate? I’m sure it would work.

I was slightly delayed in making this tiffin as I kept forgetting gallon sized Ziplock bags at the store! After what seemed like the twentieth trip to the store, I finally got them home with me. I had already soaked the candied cherries and raisins in brandy, but I figured that they would be just fine if they were in the brandy a little bit longer. Oh, and as sticky as candied cherries are, don’t forget to cut them in half. That was not fun when they were both sticky and soaked with brandy. This tiffin needs some time to chill in the refrigerator, to make sure it sets properly, so this isn’t the recipe to make at the last minute. These squares are very rich, with chocolate and candied cherries, but I love the bites with little bits of crushed tea biscuits!

Christmas Chocolate Tiffin
200 grams glacé/candied cherries
125 grams raisins
80 ml brandy
300 grams Rich Tea biscuits
150 grams butter
40 grams brown sugar
200 grams golden syrup
25 grams cocoa powder

100 grams dark chocolate
100 grams milk chocolate

Line an 8” square pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut the candied cherries in half and place in a small microwaveable bowl. Add the raisins and the brandy and microwave for 30 seconds. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before proceeding.

Put the biscuits in a large ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin or similar object until the biscuits are a combination of powdery bits and larger pieces. The powdery pieces help the tiffin stick together, so don’t be concerned with pulverizing the biscuits too much.

In a medium saucepan combine the butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup and heat on medium until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the crushed biscuits and the cocoa powder, mixing until the tiffin has an even color. Add the fruit/brandy mixture and mix.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan and refrigerate until set.

Make the topping: remove the tiffin from the pan and remove the foil. In a medium bowl, microwave the dark and milk chocolate, stirring frequently, until smooth. Top the tiffin with melted chocolate, spreading evenly to ensure complete coverage. Allow the chocolate to set before cutting the tiffin into squares.

Recipe from Everyday Cooks

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Mince Pie Bakewell Squares

Mince Pie Bakewell Squares

I love a Bakewell Tart. It was the first recipe that I posted on my blog! Someday, when the time is right to travel again, I hope to visit Bakewell, England where the tart originated. In the meantime, it’s fun to come across different recipes that are inspired by the Bakewell Tart. While I most commonly have the Bakewell as a little tartlet, there are quite a few bar cookie Bakewell recipes. I love that in Australia they are called slices. If I see the word slice in a recipe, I know it’s likely from there.

This is a British recipe, through and through. Some of the ingredients I do buy from British companies, such as the Mincemeat. I use the Rum and Brandy version from Crosse & Blackwell. I know there are other brands, but I stick with what works. Each year my husband and I plan to make our own mincemeat, but that never happens. And if you’re worried, there is no meat in mincemeat. Think of it as a spicy applesauce with raisins.

You top these squares with sliced almonds, which are called flaked almonds in the UK. While this may not sound any different, there is a difference to be aware of. The sliced almonds that you get in the States have the skin on them, where the flaked almonds in the UK do not have skins. I think they look better without the skins, but for a small quantity either will work. I think that this is a wonderfully festive version of the Bakewell Tart, and it really isn’t Christmas unless you have something with mincemeat!

Mince Pie Bakewell Squares
150 grams cold butter, cut into cubes
300 grams flour
35 grams sugar
3 tbsp ice water

250 grams butter, room temperature
250 grams sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
125 grams self-rising flour*
125 grams ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
400 grams mincemeat
50 grams flaked/sliced almonds

3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Water to make a thick paste

Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Make the pastry: in a large food processor, combine the butter cubes, flour, and sugar. Pulse to combine. Add the ice water and pulse until the dough comes together. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan and prick all over with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 15 minutes, until beginning to brown. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on.

Make the cake: In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until light. Stir in the eggs and almond extract. With the mixer running on low, gradually stir in the flour, ground almonds, and baking powder.

Spoon the mincemeat evenly over the partially baked pastry. Carefully top the mincemeat with the cake batter, and then sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Once the bars are cool, mix the powdered sugar and water and pipe over the bars in a zig zag pattern. Allow the icing to set before cutting into bars.

*I make my own self-rising flour by combining 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt

Recipe from The Baking Explorer

Monday, December 20, 2021

Eggnog Sugar Cookies


Eggnog Sugar Cookies, topped with a maraschino cherry

When I think about the cookies I want to make and post in December, I do plan quite extensively. I try to vary flavors and cookies versus bar cookies, and I make sure that the recipes right around Christmas day are very Christmassy (and often British). This year, I had planned an eggnog frosted ginger cookie for today, but when it came time to make them, I just wasn’t interested. With not a lot of extra time, I needed to find something else to bake.

I had been looking online, already thinking about how to approach the recipes I’ll make next year. I started by looking at recipes that I had already marked, and first found a sugar cookie topped with a cherry, but then I found this recipe that was virtually the same with the exception of the addition of eggnog. That sounded festive and it was in some ways similar to the original eggnog recipe that I had planned to make.

This recipe is easy to make, which is great this time of the year, when there is so much happening. The cookies call for ingredients that you likely have, and I had already purchased eggnog for some other recipes. I didn’t have maraschino cherries, but I picked some up while I was at the grocery store. The cherries came in a plastic jar which was fantastic as I know I have broken a glass jar of cherries at least once! These cookies are simple but have a good eggnog and cherry flavor, perfect for the holidays.

Eggnog Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup eggnog
1 teaspoon rum
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
24 maraschino cherries

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2-3 tablespoons eggnog

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until light. Add the eggnog and rum and mix again on medium to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together. The dough will be soft.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each cookie. Press a maraschino cherry into the center of each dough ball.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are set and just barely beginning to turn golden around the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze: in a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons eggnog until the mixture is smooth. If required, add additional eggnog to thin the glaze to a drizzling consistency.

Drizzle the glaze over the cookies and allow the glaze to set before serving.

Recipe from Everyday Shortcuts

Friday, December 17, 2021

Pecan Cinnamon Cookies

Pecan Cinnamon Cookies

I have to say that making cookies for today ended up being quite the challenge. I had planned all of my holiday baking a long time ago. While things change and recipes get switched about, I try to keep close to my original schedule. I had planned to make a cookie version of Stollen for today but looking at the recipe it would take two days to complete. The recipe also called for you to roll out dough to a certain sized rectangle. That never works well for me.

I decided to make a traditional German cookie, a cinnamon star or zimtsterne. The recipe was not complex, but it was so sticky, and I added a lot of extra powdered sugar. They looked ok when they went into the oven but came misshapen and strangely puffed. While they looked terrible, they were tasty, but not something to put on the blog. On to another plan…

This recipe is very similar to a Russian Teacake/Mexican Wedding Cake, which is one of my favorite cookies. This version is slightly different, in the addition of cinnamon. I used pecans instead of walnuts as I have those on hand and prefer the flavor. The dough is easy to make, although they had you chop the nuts with the flour and spices in a food processor. I didn’t want to wash the food processor, so I chopped the nuts separately. These cookies taste very similar to my favorite Russian Teacake, but I thought the cinnamon added a good seasonal flavor.

Pecan Cinnamon Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups pecans, finely chopped
Powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium until creamy. Stir in the egg and vanilla on medium to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and finely chopped pecans. Stir on low until the dough comes together.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, forming rounds. Flatten the dough slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until set and barely beginning to brown along the edges. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Once cool, place about 1 cup powdered sugar in a large ziplock bag. Place 3-4 cookies in the bag and shake to fully coat each cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Recipe from belle vie