Double Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

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IMG_20151128_151233[1] 28/11/2015

I felt like making cookies today but wanted something more than a standard chocolate chip mix and pistachios and dark chocolate is what I had in the cupboards. It’s a combination that goes really nicely together. The rich dark chocolate and salty roasted nuts are great together in a buttery, chocolate shortbread round. An impressive, tasty bake with minimal effort required – Result!

Makes 12-15 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ¼ cup coarsely ground pistachios
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup 60% dark chocolate chips
  • Coarsely ground pistachios, for garnish

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Instructions:

  1. In a large food processor, process the butter and brown sugar.
  2. Add the egg and egg yolk, processing until combined.
  3. Add the flour, pistachios, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and process once more. Scrape the sides of the processor.
  4. Place dough mixture into a medium bowl, and add the chocolate chips. Gently combine until evenly distributed.
  5. With a sufficient piece of parchment paper, wrap the dough into a round log, about 2.5″ in diameter.
  6. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 170C.
  8. Cut the cookie dough off the log in even pieces, about .8″ or so apart, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly browned. They will firm up once taken out of the oven.
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Pinwheel Cookies

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IMG_20150930_085150[1] 30/09/2015

A really simple but impressive looking biscuit recipe here for shortbread biscuits. One is flavoured with vanilla, the other with chocolate. Can’t decide which one to have? Roll them up into funky looking wheels and have both!

Makes about 20

Ingredients:
Vanilla biscuit dough:

  • 50g softened butter
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 25g cornflour
  • 50g plain flour
  • ½ large egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate biscuit dough:

  • 50g softened butter
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 25g cornflour
  • 40g plain flour
  • ½ large egg
  • 15g cocoa powder

Method:

1. Firstly, make each of the doughs by creaming the butter and sugar together, mixing in the egg, sifting the dry ingredients over the top and mixing until the dough comes together.

2. Wrap each dough separately in glad wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

3. Flour your work surface lightly and roll each dough out (separately) to a piece 25 x 18cm . Place the vanilla dough on top of the chocolate dough and roll up tightly. Re-wrap the roll in glad wrap and place back in the fridge to chill for a further 30 minutes.

4. Pre-heat your oven now to 180°C and remove the dough from the fridge, cutting 20 slices and placing them on a lined baking tray. Make sure the dough is very firm before you start cutting the biscuits or else, again, they may become misshaped.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the vanilla biscuit is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and serve, warm or cool, with a cuppa.

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Rustic Jam Shortbread Tart

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IMG_20150312_141427[1] 14/03/2015

Cut into buttery little pieces, this cross between a tart and a cookie crumbles and then melts away as you eat it.

  • ¼ cup ground almonds
  • ¾ cup plain flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3oz cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ to ¾ cup jam (I used seeded raspberry jam)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Butter a 9-inch dark-coloured tart tin.
  2. Add the almonds, flour, sugar and salt to a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mix until small crumbs form then add the egg yolk and almond extract. Mix with a metal spoon until the mixture starts to come together in small clumps.
  3. Turn the pastry into the prepared tin. It may look crumbly but this is fine. With your hands pat it out to evenly cover the bottom of the tin. Give the tart a standing rim by nudging the dough up the sides of the pan by 1/2 inch. Don’t worry if it looks a little ragged.
  4. Bake the crust in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes, or until its edges are golden and the centre is starting to colour. The rim will sink down a little which is fine.
  5. Remove the tin from the oven and turn the heat up to 240ºC. Carefully spread the jam over the tart and return it to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the jam is bubbly.
  6. Cool the tart on a wire rack, slice it into wedges and serve.

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Orange Shortbread

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IMG_20141222_230117[1] 24/12/2014

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And that means time for biscuits! These shortbread biscuits are great any time of year but the orange adds a festive spin to a classic. Use real butter in this recipe. I often sub it for baking margarine but butter is the only option for that crisp and well… buttery taste. Add a pinch of salt or use slightly salted butter as an extra little flavour enhancer.

This recipe makes 8-12 biscuit wedges.

Ingredients:

  • 4oz plain flour
  • 2oz cornflour
  • 4oz butter
  • 2oz caster sugar, plus extra for topping
  • Zest of 1 orange

Method:

  1. Sieve the flour and cornflour together. In a separate bowl, cream the butter until soft then add the caster sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the orange zest then work in the flour a tablespoon at a time.
  2. Roll out the shortbread to an 8 inch circle. Transfer to a large baking tray. Pinch the edges and prick the shortbread well with a fork. Cut through into 12 sections with a knife then sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
  3. Leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes then bake in an oven preheated to 165C for 25-35 minutes or until pale golden brown. Re-cut down the lines you originally scored. Cool on the baking tray for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tip: If you like a coarser textured shortbread use 2 oz rice flour or semolina instead of cornflour. As a change, soft brown sugar makes a caramel coloured shortbread and this goes well with the orange flavour.

Bakewell Bars

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IMG_20141126_203734[1] 26/11/2014

A classic combination of light almond sponge and buttery shortbread sandwiched together with a layer of raspberry jam.

You could try any jam you like or even different curds. I’ve had good results with chunky homemade blackberry & apple jam and lemon curd is really tasty too.

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 3oz butter, softened
  • 1oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 7oz raspberry jam

For the topping:

  • 3 ½oz butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence
  • 4oz ground almonds
  • 3oz semolina
  • 3 ½oz caster sugar
  • Flaked almonds, for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line an 8×8 inch cake tin with greaseproof paper and grease with butter.
  2. First, make the biscuit base. Cream the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mix is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, mix well then sift in the flour and mix to form a dough.
  3. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to the same size as the base of the tin then press it into prepared tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes then remove and allow to cool.
  4. Spread the jam on the cooled base and place in the fridge while you make the topping.
  5. Place the melted butter in a bowl, add the beaten eggs and almond essence and mix well. Stir in the ground almonds, semolina and caster sugar.
  6. Take the tin from the fridge and spread the almond dough over the jam being careful not to mess up the jam. Place the almond dough in blobs then join them up with the back of a metal spoon to make this easier.
  7. Sprinkle the top with flaked almonds and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden and set in the centre. Allow to cool in the tin then cut into bars.

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Sprinkle with icing sugar or brush with apricot jam to glaze for nice presentation or apply to face for a nice taste. Your choice.

Biscoff Gooey Butter Cake

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IMG_20141111_150027[1] 11/11/2014

This recipe came about because I had a load of cream cheese in the fridge and half a jar of Biscoff spread that needed using. I very nearly didn’t bother experimenting with this recipe as I didn’t think it would work but man, I’m glad I did. The base of the cake is like a soft shortbread with subtle comforting flavour from the vanilla and salt. The gooey Biscoff topping is sweet, caramel-ey and creamy and together, the layers remind me of an old-school dinner dessert or those puddings in a tin that you microwave which is certainly no bad thing.

Ingredients:

Cake Layer:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 Tbs. milk
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

Gooey Biscoff Layer:

  • 8 oz full fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter/Biscoff spread
  • 16 oz icing sugar, sifted
  • A pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with aluminium foil and grease with butter or margarine.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix with a whisk until well-combined.  Add the egg, melted butter, milk and vanilla and mix well until a dough is formed. Press the mixture into the prepared pan.
  3. For the topping, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and Biscoff spread and beat well until smooth and creamy.  Slowly add the icing sugar, sieving in batches, and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  4. Pour the Biscoff layer onto the cake layer and spread evenly.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes. The edges will be set, the top will be shiny and the centre will still be a slightly wobbly but will continue to cook while the cake cools.

Cool the cake completely in the pan before cutting. It will have risen in the oven and will sink a little as it cools to create a lovely chewy topping.

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This recipe yields 20 squares of gooey deliciousness. I urge you to try this cake. It is so easy and so so tasty.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

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IMG_20141104_194715[1] 04/11/2014

Crisp, buttery shortbread! Smooth, velvet caramel! Dark, luxurious chocolate! Rock salt that accentuates all of the above!

Ingredients:

For the Crust

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/8 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon ice water
  • 1 large egg yolk

For the Caramel Layer

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3oz unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch of salt

For the Chocolate Layer

  • 6oz dark chocolate, finely chopped, 70% cocoa solids minimum
  • 3 tablespoons double cream
  • Rock salt (optional)

Instructions:

For the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminium foil, pushing the foil neatly into the corners and up the sides of the pan ensuring that the foil overlaps all edges to help removal from the pan later. Grease the foiled pan with butter.

Combine the flour, brown sugars, cornflour and salt and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined and no lumps of brown sugar remain. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until a coarse mix forms. Add the ice water and egg yolk and mix until moist clumps form. Dump the dough into the prepared pan and press with your fingers into an even layer (dust your fingers with flour if the dough is too sticky). Pierce the dough all over with a fork and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

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For Caramel Layer:

Whisk the sweetened condensed milk, brown sugars, butter, golden syrup, vanilla and salt together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, the butter melts and the mixture comes to a boil. Attach a sugar thermometer to the side of the pan and boil gently, whisking constantly, until the caramel is thick and the temperature registers 225F, about 6 minutes. Pour the caramel over the crust and cool for about 15 minutes or until the caramel is set.

Note that the caramel will not set completely. It will still be slightly soft in the finished product but this is definitely a good thing.

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For Chocolate Layer:

Place the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat gently until the chocolate and cream have melted. Spread the chocolate over the caramel layer. Lightly sprinkle some rock salt over the chocolate for extra flavour. Refrigerate the bars until the chocolate is set, at least 1 hour. Using the foil overhang, lift the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into small squares and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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These bars will keep well in the fridge stored in an airtight container if not gobbled up before that.