35 Before 35: Progress report 2

Now that we’re approaching the fourth month of the year (eeeek!!), I thought it was time for another update on how I’m doing with my 35 before 35 list. My last update was in August 2013, just after my 30th birthday. Now, with 4 years and 4 months left to go, here’s how far I’ve got…

Number 3: Learn Spanish

After doing nothing for months and months and months, I recently started using Duolingo again. So far, all I’ve done is repeat the lessons I’d done previously to refresh my memory, but new words have been added since last time I logged on so it wasn’t all just refreshing. Better than nothing, anyway.

Number 13:  Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books

I’m really not good at reading non-fiction. No matter which book I choose to read, it takes me so much longer than reading a novel… I even read German fiction faster than non-fiction in my native language! Last time I updated, I had read 2 non-fiction books… now I’m up to three! I finally finished reading Crimea by Orlando Figes, a book about the events leading up to the Crimean War, the war itself and the aftermath. It ended up being quite relevant to current events… but I had started reading it some time last summer! Very interesting, but I’m so glad I’ve finished! Oh, and if anyone can recommend any books on Ukrainian history I’d be very grateful! The Crimea was the closest I found…

Number 15: Read 30 books in German

Last time I updated, the task was only to read 20 books in German, but I’ve been doing so well I decided to increase the number. I had read three German books in August 2013, and now I’m up to ten having recently finished Bis in den Tod hinein by Vincent Kliesch – a crime/thriller set in Berlin. You can see which other books I’ve read in German here.

Number 16: Spend New Year in Madeira and see the fireworks display

If you haven’t read about my trip to Madeira yet, you’re obviously very new to this blog 😉 For those who don’t know, the boyfriend and I spent New Year 2013/14 in Madeira… and yes, we saw the fireworks!

The famous Funchal fireworks
The famous Funchal fireworks

Number 18: Bake 10 different kinds of biscuits

Last time I’d baked one, now I’m up to three. Since August 2013, I’ve baked Honey Gingerbread Biscuits and Chocolate Brownie Biscuits. The latter went down very well with my colleagues!

Number 20: Attend a world cup rugby match

Not done yet, but the rugby union world cup is taking place in England next year, and I’ve already asked my dad to try and get us tickets once they go on sale.

Number 21: Read all the books from the BBC Big Read that I hadn’t before starting this challenge

In August 2013, I’d read six books. Now I’m up to 7… or technically six and two thirds. I’ve read 2 out of 3 books from the His Dark Materials trilogy! Currently I’m reading Middlemarch by George Eliot (also on the list) and not enjoying it at all! I’ve barely started though, so hopefully it will improve…

Number 31: Watch 15 films I haven’t seen before

I hadn’t even started this last time I did an update and now I’m up to a whole 5 films. Woo hoo! Two of them are thanks to my little brother (age 7), who forced me to watch Planes at Christmas and Thunderbirds when I went over in February. You can see what else I’ve watched here.

Aaaand that’s all I’ve done since my last update. I do have an idea about which biscuits to bake next, though. Stay tuned….

 

A taste of home: Sausage rolls

I’d been living in Germany about 5 years, buying sausage rolls every time I went home, before it finally occurred to me that I could make them myself! I’ve made them a few times since (Jan loves sausage rolls!) so when I was trying to think of something to bring to a party on Saturday, sausage rolls seemed like the obvious answer… easy, fairly quick and I knew nobody else would be making them! I thought other ex-pats who are craving sausage rolls might like to know how to make their own, too, so I decided to share mine. There are loads of recipes all over the Internet, of course, but mine comes with instructions on what to do if you live in Germany 😉

Vegetarians and others who are disturbed by the sight of raw meat might want to look away now…

You will need the following:

  • These are the sausages you need
    These are the sausages you need

    1 packet of pre-made puff pastry – Blätterteig in German (yes, I’m that lazy!)

  • 500g sausage meat or pork sausages that you can easily remove the filling from (in Germany, you need to buy the fresh “grobe Bratwurst” type… Nürnberger and things like that won’t work!)
  • About a teaspoon of dried parsley (or chopped fresh parsley if you have that stuff around. I never do, unless I buy it specially)
  • About a teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. If using sausages, remove their skins then place your skinned sausages or sausage meat in a large bowl. My bowl contains a lot of sausages because I tripled the above ingredients to make sure there would be enough…

Skinned sausages
Skinned sausages

2. Add the crushed garlic and mash/stir it into the sausage meat until it seems evenly spread.

3. Add parsley, thyme, a small dash of cayenne pepper (seriously… just a small dash, unless you want spicy sausage rolls, in which case feel free to add more) and as much freshly ground black pepper as you like and combine everything together well.

The sausage meat mixture
The sausage meat mixture

4. Unroll your pastry and place a thick line of sausage meat close-ish to the edge, leaving a gap slightly larger than the width of your sausage strip for rolling.

sausage meat and pastry
sausage meat and pastry

5. Fold the edge of the pastry over the sausage meat and cut the pastry just past where it comes to, then roll the pastry around the sausage meat. If the end doesn’t stick by itself, use a tiny bit of water. Repeat this step until you run out of pastry (hopefully you will also run out of sausage meat at the same time).

Rolled

6. Cut the rolled-up, sausage-filled pastry into whatever sized pieces you would like. I tend to make mine fairly small because I’m paranoid about poisoning people and think if they’re small they’re more likely to cook through properly.

All ready for the oven
All ready for the oven

8. Brush the top of the sausage rolls with a little milk, if you want (I didn’t because I knew at least one person attending the party is lactose intolerant) and bake them at the temperature shown on your pastry packaging for about 15-20 minutes.

The finished article...
The finished article…

9. Leave the sausage rolls to cool for a bit before enjoying. I’m serious… they may look tempting, but those things are hot when they come out of the oven!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

cupcakeSaturday was Jan’s birthday, and on Sunday I felt like baking… perfect timing for Jan to be able to take something in for his colleagues today. I didn’t want to make a full on cake, so I decided on chocolate cupcakes using a recipe that I’ve had for ages and is really easy to follow. I found the original recipe on BBC Food years ago, but I can’t provide you with a link because it doesn’t seem to be on there any more. Buuut I’ve adapted the recipe to suit my own purposes over the years, which means it’s mine now and posting it here without a link won’t be breaking any copyright laws, right? Right? Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
220g butter
220 g caster sugar
220g self-raising flour OR 220g plain flour plus 1.5 teaspoons baking powder (plus half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda, if you have it)
4 eggs, beaten (mine were medium, but I’ve used large before)
15g cocoa powder
30g chocolate chips
A few drops of vanilla extract

For the frosting:
125g soft butter
210g icing sugar, sifted (the sifting is important or the frosting will have lumps of icing sugar in)
125g plain chocolate
1 tsp cocoa powder

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the cocoa powder and blend it into the other ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract.

3. Add the eggs and stir well (don’t worry if it looks a bit lumpy at this stage).

4. Gradually fold in the flour until you’re left with a thick paste that looks a bit like chocolate mousse.

5. Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture into cupcake cases in a bun tray and bake for around 15 minutes until risen and bouncy when touched. The mixture makes around 24-26 cupcakes, depending on how much of the mixture you eat before it makes it to the oven (what? I know I’m not the only one that does that…). Once the cupcakes are baked, leave then to cool while you make your frosting.

Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it's the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)
Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it’s the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)

6. Melt the plain chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water (or in the microwave if you have such a thing…)

7. While the chocolate is melting, cream together the butter and icing sugar.

8. Add the melted chocolate the sugar and butter and stir everything together well.

9. Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and stir until all the powder is properly blended in.

10. Place a teaspoon of the frosting on each cupcake and spread it with a knife (or pipe it on if you want your icing to end up looking better than mine… I preferred the less washing up option!).

Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting
Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting

11. You can either leave the cupcakes as they are now or decorate them as you see fit. Apparantly, I saw fit to sprinkle stars on mine in an incredibly haphazard manner. I could claim it’s supposed to be artistic but we all know it was sheer laziness…

Seeing stars...
Seeing stars…

12. Leave the frosting to cool/set for a bit then enjoy your cupcakes!

35 Before 35: Baking – Chocolate Brownie Biscuits

Number 18 on my 35 Before 35 list is to bake 10 different types of biscuits, so when I felt a sudden urge to bake on Sunday, I knew what it was going to have to be. I chose to make the Chocolate Brownie Biscuits from the BBC Food website, adapting them a little to fit the ingredients I have. I won’t give you the recipe becaue you can get that by clicking the link, so the rest of this post will mostly consist of pictures.

I tripled the recipe so there would be enough for both Jan and me to take some to work. A slight misjudgement of how much plain chocolate I had left in the house left me topping up with left-over Galaxy Bubbles…

chocolate and butter
chocolate and butter

Never mind, it all loooks the same once it’s melted…

Yum yum!
Yum yum!

Pieces of white chocolate, all chopped up.

white chocolate pieces
white chocolate pieces

The chocolate has been stirred into the egg and sugar mixture and I’ve folded in the flour, so now it’s time to add the white chocolate pieces.

Adding the white chocolate pieces
Adding the white chocolate pieces

I didn’t have any Macadamia nuts and the shop at the train station doesn’t sell such things (nothing else is open on Sundays), so I added chocolate chips instead… those do belong to the things I almost always have in.

Even more chocolate? Don't mind if I do!
Even more chocolate? Don’t mind if I do!

The recipe told me to place “dollops” of the mixture on a baking tray. Exactly how big should a dollop be?!

Dollops
Dollops

The finished article…

Brownie biscuits

After a while, I realised the mixture was going down fast and I should probably make my dollops smaller if there were going to be enough biscuits for both sets of colleagues…

Smaller dollops...
Smaller dollops…

The finished biscuits (or cookies, if you prefer) were crunchy on top with a soft, almost cake-like texture underneath, and the lumps of white chocolate made a nice contrast to the darker chocolate of the biscuits themselves. Despite the lack of nuts, they were some gooood biscuits! My colleagues certainly thought so… their tub is already gone! And I expect Jan will say the same of his colleagues once he gets home… They were really easy to make as well. Just a bit of whisking, a bit of melting, stir everything together and stick each batch in the oven for 10 minutes. My kind of biscuit! I’ll definitely be making these ones again. Maybe next time I’ll even plan ahead and give the Macadamia nuts a go.

Ready and waiting to brighten up a dull Monday
Ready and waiting to brighten up a dull Monday

That’s three types of biscuits down, seven more to go! Any suggestions for the remainder?

Afternoon tea for two

When I spotted clotted cream being sold in Karstadt last week, I instantly decided that it was a sign from the universe that I needed to make scones at the weekend, so that’s just what I did. And what’s the obvious thing to do wih scones (well, yes, eat them of course… slightly less obvious than that, though)?
Answer: Afternoon tea:

The scones could have been just a little more risen (my self-raising flour was technically out of date), but inside they were as light and fluffy as they’re supposed to be. With clotted cream and jam, they made a delicous afternoon treat!

Jam first or cream first, which do you prefer?

Before moving to Germany, I don’t think I had ever purchased clotted cream in a supermarket… afternoon tea was an occasional treat reserved for cafés. On the rare occasions that we had scones at home (usually purchased from Greggs), they were fruit ones and we tended to toast them then smother them with butter. But I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to inject a little piece of “home” into my every day life.  I love Germany and its food very much… but I can have Maultaschen for dinner any time. An afternoon tea is something special!

Do you like to inject little pieces of your old home into your life abroad, or have you embraced your new culture wholeheartedly? And for those of you who don’t live abroad, do you ever try to recreate meals from your travels into your every day life? Just curious. (You can call it nosy, if you like ;-))

In which I make blue cake…

As some of you wioll know, the British TV series Dr Who celebrated its 50th birthday on Saturday. That day also just happened to be the birthday of one of my friends, and in the invitation to the party he suggested that people might want to wear “a bow tie or something blue that’s bigger on the inside than the outside…”. I’m not sure most people got the reference, but I did. I may not have seen a single episode of Dr Who, ever, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know some things about it. It is embedded in my culture, after all. And I spent half my childhood being afraid I might accidently catch an episode and see the Daleks. Those things are terrifying when you’re six! But I digress…

Some of us started talking about what things we could do for the occasion, and in a moment of what I can only assume was temporary insanity, I volunteered to make a cake… a blue cake! (The cake part alone wouldn’t be insane. I like making cake, but blue cake was a new one!). After a couple of experiments, I finally hit upon a recipe that I liked and that resulted in a reasonably decent shade of blue, so on Saturday morning, the baking commenced…

blue cake

I admit the outside doesn’t look very blue… but it had after all been baked, so what do you expect? And you can see some blue shimmering through the brown.
For the topping and filling, I used vanilla cream cheese frosting, because there is no better icing! If there is a heaven, I’m pretty sure it’s a place where you can eat vanilla cream cheese frosting by the bowlful and not end up feeling sick!

Yum yum!
Yum yum!

Icing done, it was time to decorate. Unfortunately, all my blue food colouring was in the cake, so I had to make do with what limited other supplies I had… Germany is mostly disappointing when it comes to cake decorating equipment! But I did what I could with colourful sugar confetti and stars…

Tardis cake

A little wonky, but at least it’s recognisable! Here, have a close up:

Tardis cake decoration

Clearly that photo was taken before I put the stars on, so I’ve inserted the last two in the wrong order but nobody cares about that, do they?
And just so you can see that it really was blue(ish) inside, here is my cake later that evening…

Blue cake

As for the taste… it was pretty darn good, even if I do say so myself!

How to bake in Germany – a guide for foreigners

It’s no secret that I like to bake. Scones, cakes, biscuits… I’ve tried them all. And 90% of the time, I use English recipes for my baking adventures, mostly from the BBC. Unsurprisingly, this can sometimes be a bit of a problem here in Germany… from problems actually finding ingredients to getting all excited about my scones only for them not to rise at all, I’ve had my fair share of baking disasters! But after seven years I’ve finally reached the stage where I can be fairly confident that any recipe I try will actually work out. I know I can’t be the only Brit who wants to bake cakes in Germany, so I decided to put together a list of tips for my fellow bakers. Some tips may work for American/Australian/whatever resipes as well, but I make no guarantees! British ingredients are what I know…

Carrot cake, made using German ingredients
Carrot cake, made using German ingredients
  1. Caster sugar does exist in Germany, but you won’t find it in Aldi! Look for “feinster Backzucker” at REWE, Edeka or REAL.
  2. German “Backpulver” is not the same as baking powder! It looks the same and is used for the same purpose, but it’s not as strong. It took me years to figure this out! If using a British recipe with German baking powder, use about 1.5 to 2 times the amount. Otherwise you too will end up with flat scones. *Sob*. As far as I’m aware, this applies to American baking powder as well. I’ve also found that RUF Backpulver works better than the Dr Oetker one. EDIT 2020: I’ve now actually found out the science behind this, so I thought I would share. Baking powder in the UK/Ireland (and I think also the US, Australia, New Zealand) is double acting, so it starts to react when you add the liquid then reacts again once heat is applied in the oven. German/Austrian/Swiss baking powder is single acting, so it only causes a reaction once you apply heat. Hence the mixture only rises once and therefore not as much. Baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda), on the other hand, is the same everywhere so if the recipe calls for that it should work out fine.
  3. Self-raising flour doesn’t exist in Germany! It really, truly doesn’t… Jan and I even asked a baker once, who looked at us as if we’d just grown extra heads. To make your own self-raising flour, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder for each 150g/6oz/1 cup of plain flour. Again, if using German baking powder, use extra. (Some people have been telling me in the comments that you can get self-raising flour in Germany, and yes that’s sort of true. Some Asian shops stock it and if you’re lucky enough to have a Karstadt food area with a British/American section there may be some there, but ordinary supermarkets don’t have it. And for those living in or near Basel, Switzerland Bider & Tanner bookshop stocks it in the English books section, but they don’t always have it in. It depends how recently they had a delivery. I think some Manor food sections also stock it, although the one at Claraplatz in Basel has got rid of its tiny British section.)
  4. Most butter in Germany is unsalted, so for any recipe that uses butter, you will also want to add a pinch or two of salt or look out for “gesalzen” on the packaging – it will most likely be the more expensive one. This applies for recipes from any country where the normal butter is salted. (On a side note, what’s the point in unsalted butter? It tastes of nothing but fat!)
  5. Dr Oetker food colouring is crap! Also, I personally find it has a weird after taste. The Crazy Colours type works better, and you get more colours in the packet.
  6. Do not substitute vanilla extract with those little bottles of “Vanillearoma“. It’s not even close to the same thing! If you can’t get hold of vanilla extract or don’t want to pay Scheck-In’s extortinate price, your best bet is to use Vanillezucker.
  7. The Karamell version of Grafschafter Goldsaft makes a good substitute for golden syrup. The ordinary one is much less sweet, but can also be used if you don’t mind that.

And finally, some basic baking ingredients vocabulary (German to British English). No order other than the one I thought of them in. (Updated 2020 as this post continues to be very popular.)

Sugar = Zucker
Raffinade or Kristallzucker is granulated sugar, feinster Backzucker is caster sugar and Puderzucker is icing sugar. Hagelzucker is sugar crystals, small round lumps of sugar that are used for decorating (the German literally translates as hailstone sugar, which is amazing!). Brauner Zucker is a light brown sugar. Rohzucker is unrefined or raw sugar and is brown in colour (this is basically the same as what we call Demerara sugar in the UK). There isn’t really an equivalent of the soft, dark brown American sugar. The places I mentioned above that sell self-raising flour may stock it though.

Flour = Mehl.
The 405 type is the equivalent of plain flour. You can also get special bread baking flours, like Roggenmehl, which is rye flour. Buchweizenmehl is buckwheat flour and Dinkelmehl is spelt flour.

Eggs = Eier
Salt = Salz
Baking powder = Backpulver
Baking soda/bicarbonate of soda = Natron or Backnatron
Yeast = Hefe
Cinnamon = Zimt
Ginger = Ingwer
Hazelnut = Haselnuss
Walnut = Walnuss (or Baumnuss in Switzerland)
Almond = Mandel
Coconut = Kokos or Kokosnuss
Cocoa powder = Kakaopulver
Cream = Sahne or Rahm (or Obers in Austria/Bavaria). Sauerrahm is sour cream. Doppelrahm is double cream, sometimes also labelled with its French name crème double.
Raisins = Rosinen
Sultanas = Sultaninen
Currants = Korinthen
Oats = Haferflocken
Chocolate chips/drops = Schokotropfen
Chocolate flakes = Schokoraspeln
Oil = Öl. There are obviously many, but the ones you’ll most likely need are Olivenöl (olive oil), Sonnenblumenöl (sunflower oil) and Rapsöl (rapeseed/canola oil).

Happy baking!

The cookies I made last Christmas...
The cookies I made last Christmas…

35 Before 35: Baking – Honey Gingerbread Biscuits

I mentioned that one of the bee-themed gifts that I got for my birthday was honey. Combined with what I already had in my kitchen cupboards, that meant I was left with a lot of honey, so yesterday I decided to find a recipe and try to use some of it up. I chose these Honey Gingerbread Biscuits, mainly because I had all the ingredients (there’s no going shopping on a Sunday in Germany!).

Biscuits in the oven
Biscuits in the oven

I had no ground cloves, so instead I used extra cinnamon and nutmeg. I also added quite a bit of extra ginger because I find recipes never use enough for my tastes.

Biscuits 2

While they were baking, my kitchen smelled like Christmas!
I actually left the first batch in for too long… you may notice that some of the biscuits on the above picture are slightly darker looking… but they weren’t actually burnt and they still tasted okay.

Biscuits 3

The biscuits that I hadn’t overcooked had just the right amount of crispiness, but the honey made them slightly chewy in the middle and the spices gave them a nice kick that took the edge off the sweetness. I’ll probably make these again… and try not to get distracted when it’s time to take them out of the oven!

Two biscuit recipes down, eight more to go!

35 Before 35 – An update

Now that my 30th birthday has passed, I thought it was time to take a look at the progress I’ve made so far on my 35 Before 35 challenge .

First of all, a request. I’m up to 32 things on my list (which you can view here), which means I still need three more! Any suggestions? Some of the things on there are probably going to be quite expensive (hot air balloon ride! Stay in a five star hotel!), so maybe something that isn’t going to break the bank…

So, how far have I got with the items that are already on the list? I’ll do this in numerical order, I think…

Number 3: Learn Spanish. Welllll, I joined Memrise, used it for about three days, then completely forgot it existed. And I haven’t been on Duolingo for months. Not the best start…

Number 13: Read (or re-read) 50 non-fiction books. I have read two so far – The Importance of Being Trivial by Mark Mason (scroll right down in the linked post – I wrote about it briefly after my revew of Emma) and What Are the Seven Wonders of the World? And Other Cultural Lists: Fully Described by Peter D’Epiro.

Number 15: Read 20 books in German. I put this one on the list because I almost never pick up books in German when there are English ones to be read! I’ve managed three German books since starting the challenge though: Schattenfreundin by Christine Drews, Schwesterlein, Komm Stirb mit Mir by Karen Sander and Mordsfreunde by Nele Neuhaus. All three are crime novels – it’s difficult to find much else by German authors, and I prefer to read books that were written in English in the original!

Number 18: bake 10 different types of biscuit (cookie for the Americans). I’ve baked one type of biscuit so far, Chocolate Cherry Cookies. You can read all about that here.

Number 21: Read all those books from the BBC Big Read Top 200 list of books that I haven’t before. That makes a total of 132 books, and so far I have read 6: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Emma by Jane Austen, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher and To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.

Number 28: Play blacklight (glow-in-the-dark) minigolf.  I did this in Berlin, and posted about it here.

I think I’ve made a pretty good start to the challenge. Hopefully I can keep it up!

35 Before 35: Baking – Chocolate Cherry Cookies

I know you’ve all been waiting for the biscuits post. Well… some of you have anyway. Oh, ok… maybe three of you. And you would have had it sooner if my train home hadn’t been delayed – thanks for that, Deutsche Bahn! Anyway… on with the post…

Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Chocolate Cherry Cookies

On Saturday we were invited to a WG party (a WG or Wohngemeinschaft is basically a flatshare – Wohngemeinschaft literally translates as living community). One of the items on my – as yet incompete – 35 before 35 list is to bake ten different kinds of biscuit. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone – by baking biscuits I would have something to bring along to the party and make a start on another list item. Perfect!

I chose to make Chocolate Cherry Cookies using a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website (click the name of the cookies for the recipe… but open it in a new tab. You want to stay here after all, don’t you?).

Stupidly right up until the mixture was almost ready I managed to overlook the fact that the dough wanted to be refrigerated for 2 hours before baking. Whaaaat?! I only finished making the dough at 10pm! Now I was going to have to wait til midnight before I could even bake the first batch! Buuut, the recipe did say “2 hours or until firm”. Maybe I would get lucky?

I initially left the dough in the fridge for half an hour. At 10:30, I took the bowl out, discovered the mixture to be nowhere near firm, then decided to try my luck anyway for at least a few cookies. It’s not like I was going to run out of mixture any time soon!

If you're thinking that's a lot of mixture... you'd be right!
If you’re thinking that’s a lot of mixture… you’d be right!

The mixture was still verrrry sticky as I tried to roll balls of it in icing sugar, but I persevered long enough to get eight of them:

Balls of cookie dough
Balls of cookie dough

Into the oven went the eight raw cookies while the remaining mixture went back into the fridge. After 12 minutes (the supposed baking time), I found the cookies still rather sticky, so back into the oven they went.

Nowhere near cooked yet... also, my balls may have been slightly too big
Nowhere near cooked yet… also, my balls may have been slightly too big

At 5 past 11, experimental batch 1 came out of the oven and I decided to try for another batch. The middle of the mixture was still pretty sticky, but around the edges was firm enough, so I used that. It certainly made rolling the balls easier!

Batch one finished... cookies or rocks?
Batch one finished… cookies or rocks?
Batch 2 waiting to go in the oven
Batch 2 waiting to go in the oven

I also discovered the reason some balls had ended up so large was because the cherries inside them were large. Yes, it was a bit of a “well, duh!!” moment…

I carried on like that, putting the mixture back in the fridge as each batch was cooking and using those bits of dough that had managed to get firm in that time before eventually deciding enough was enough and going to bed. It was 1 a.m. by that time! The next morning, I was up bright and early to make a couple more batches before going out for the day. The mixture was certainly firm now… so firm that I had to use a spoon to break bits off for rolling into balls!

Ironically, after all that we ended up not even going to the party. But at least I made a start on another list item… and Jan had some yummy cookies to take to work this morning (he was supposed to take them yesterday… but he forgot). Apparantly his colleagues had been asking when I would be baking again…

Cookies, ready for delivery
Cookies, ready for delivery