07 May 2009

Smartie cookies

I think everyone has a soft spot, and recipe, for Smarties cookies. I adore them and so do my children. After all these years they still get excited when they see these cookies in the biscuit tin and they always disappear quickly.

I can't remember exactly where I got this recipe from, I think it it was 'Good Food' magazine but I can't be sure, it was scribbled down in my hand written recipe book years ago and has been used many times.

Smarties cookies

100g/ 4oz butter
100g/ 40z soft dark sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
150g/ 6oz s/r flour
85g/ 30z Smarties

Pre-heat oven to 180c/ gas mark 4.
Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy.
Beat in the syrup.
Work in half the flour, stir in the Smarties, add remaining flour and bring the dough together with your fingers. Divide into 14 balls.
Place well apart on a baking sheet, do not flatten them.
Bake for 12 minutes until pale golden on the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

This recipe makes a soft, chewy cookie. I get 14 good sized ones from this amount of dough but you can divide the dough further to make thinner, chewier cookies from the dough if you wish.
I think the reason I love this recipe is it reminds me so much of my Mam's gingersnaps. No-one ever made gingersnaps like my Mam, soft, chewy not crisp like my Granny's, I realised today that if I get rid of the Smarties and add ginger they would be my Mams biscuits. I love 'food nostalgia', hopefully my kids will one day look back at this recipe and feel the same about these cookies.

20 April 2009

Hello stranger!

Long time no see! It's been quite a while since my last post, why?, I'm not sure really.
I lost my mojo, wasn't really inspired to cook at all, let alone think of blogging, and as always, life has a way of creeping up on you and taking over. I still haven't got that spark back but as I felt a little inspiration to stir up some treats in the kitchen I thought I'd share them with you.

Lunchbox treats

50g milk chocolate
150g rice malt syrup (I used a less healthier golden syrup)
55g butter
60g rice crispies
30g cornflakes (I crushed them a little)
40g quick cook oats
75g sesame seeds

Melt the chocolate, syrup and butter gently in a heavy-based saucepan.

Add all the other ingredients, turning to coat everything well.

Using your hands (encased in CSI gloves), shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls. You should get about 25; you could also make this using a 12-bun muffin tin lined with muffin papers to get 12 larger cupcakes.

Let them set in the fridge for an hour or so, and they will keep quite happily in there for a week of treats.

I spent the day pottering about and decided I wanted to bake but without the mess, some light weighing and stirring, these lunchbox treats from Nigella Express sounded perfect. Nigella says these are a ideal wholesome snack, including rice malt syrup, seeds and cereal. I can see how that is a healthy snack option, I had no rice malt syrup, so I substituted for good old unhealthy golden syrup. I imagine this substitution made quite a difference to the flavour of these treats and dare I say, for the better. These moreish bites were a cross between a Toffee crisp bar and a Lion bar (remember them?) delicious. Nigella does say that they will last up to a week in the fridge, this batch lasted a few hours, they disappeared in a blink of a eye.

21 February 2009

Jammy coconut mallows

It's no secret that I love baking and one of my favourite parts of baking is taking something old fashioned and easily bought in any shop and recreating it at home. For example I am always baking biscuits and lets be honest, unlike cakes and puddings, it is very easy to buy in good quality biscuits very cheaply, especially here in Britain, we love our biscuits here.
Custard creams, digestives and shortbread are firm family favourites and you can buy them in any corner shop but nothing compares to the real deal.

Flicking through this months Good food magazine I came across these mallow biscuits, a reworking on a old fashioned favourite. The original versions were a square shortbread biscuit covered in two rows of coconut dusted mini mallows with a row of raspberry jam running down the centre.
This recipe makes coconut biscuits sandwich together with jam and melted marshmallows, the biscuits are then rolled in jam and coconut, a new twist on a old favourite....a taste of my childhood.

Jammy coconut mallows

For the biscuits:
250g butter, softened
140g golden caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour
100g desiccated coconut
For the middles and coating:
about 175g raspberry jam
18 large pink and white marshmallows, cut in half across the middle
25g desiccated coconut

Heat oven to 190c/ gas 5.
Beat butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together with a pinch of salt until smooth. Fold in the flour and coconut to form a dough.

On a floured surface, shape the dough into a round, then roll to the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut into rounds using a 6cm cutter. Lift onto baking sheets, then bake for 14 minutes until light golden. Cool for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

To sandwich the biscuits, lay half out on a baking sheet, under-side up. Put half a teaspoon of jam on each one, and top with a piece of marshmallow, then bake for 2 1/2 minutes or until just melted. Remove from oven, then quickly top with the other biscuits, pressing down so that the marshmallow sticks them together and just oozes out.
Cool for 10 minutes. Put the coconut and remaining jam onto plates, dip the edges in the jam, them roll in the coconut.

These really took me back and boy, were they popular, more so with the adults than the children. These biscuits will be a regular in my biscuit tin

17 February 2009

Raisin and cinnamon milk loaf

I came to bake this bread by chance really, I set out to make the Cornish saffron bread from Rachel Allen's Bake.
This recipe intrigued me as it uses warm milk infused with saffron to give a lovely colour to the loaf. The only problem was that on eating this loaf I discovered that I have a intolerance (I don't like to use the term allergy here) to saffron.
Weeks ago I developed a ever so slight rash on my face (after eating paella) it faded quickly and I thought nothing of it, until now. As soon as the loaf was cooked and had cooled enough to eat I took a slice, withing minutes the same rash again developed on my face. Trying to convince myself that I do not have a saffron intolerance I later ate another slice, as you do, and the rash worsened. It covered my whole face, so saffron is now off the menu at my house.
However, apart from giving me a nasty rash we all thought the bread was very good, it had a different texture to regular bread, I put this down to the milk and my daughter commented that the crust was delicious, she hates homemade bread crusts. My only gripe with the recipe was it needed a extra something....cinnamon.
So, the following day I made the loaf again, I omitted the saffron, and instead infused the milk with a cinnamon stick, and added ground cinnamon to the flour. I also used a smaller tin than the one Rachel recommends. The loaf was perfect.

Raisin and cinnamon milk loaf

350g strong white flour, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g caster sugar
100g butter, softened
75g raisins
1/2 cinnamon stick
200ml cold milk
1 x 7g sachet of fast acting yeast

1 lb loaf tin.

Grease and line the loaf tin.
Place flour, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl, mix well. Rub in the butter, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the rasins.
In a small saucepan, bring the cinnamon stick and milk to the boil over a low heat. Remove from the heat, cool to body temperature, remove the cinnamon stick, then add the fast acting yeast.
Pour liquid into the dry ingredients, mix well then knead for 10 minutes.
Place in a large bowl, cover, and leave to rise until it had doubled in size.
Knock back the dough, knead again and place in the prepared tin. Cover again and leave to rise for another hour.
Preheat oven to 180c/ gas mark 4, when the dough has doubled in size bake it in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

I must admit I did prefer the second version of this bread and will make it again. I love the idea of using warm milk in the dough, the dough was fabulous to knead, in fact to look at, it reminded me of choux pastry, it had a lovely feel. The cooked bread had the texture, almost, of brioche, so, so light and fluffy. A perfect fruity loaf.