After nearly two years in Switzerland I still hadn’t baked anything for Jan’s colleagues, so this weekend I decided that needed to change! With Easter coming up, something relating to that seemed appropriate, so I found this recipe, bought Cadbury’s Mini Eggs and got to work.
The dough looked pretty with all the colourful bits of shell:
I didn’t have brown sugar so I used ordinary granulated sugar. It seemed to work okay. Here are some cookies waiting to go in the oven:
And here they all are, cooling on a rack:
There weren’t enough for me to try one and for most of Jan’s colleagues to get 2 each, so I couldn’t tell you how they taste. They looked good though and my entire flat still smells yummy even as I type this (after the cookies have already left the building). At least there were a few Mini Eggs left over for me to munch on 😉
And that makes biscuit number 8 for my 35 before 35 challenge!
The first Sunday in advent is coming up, which for me – not being at all religious – is an excuse to drink tea and indulge in the first round of Christmas goodies. I decided to bake biscuits rather than buying stuff as an excuse to try out the cutters I bought last year and had only used a few of. I used a combination of this recipe, which somehow has something to do with Pippa Middleton, and one I already had. Unfortunately, it seems I should have replaced the egg in my other recipe with the maple syrup from the linked one – that way, I might have ended up with a more biscuity type dough rather than a soft, cookie one (yes, American readers. The word cookie exists in British English, but it refers to a specific kind of biscuit, not all of them!). If you want to use this recipe, make your dough into little balls before baking so you end up with nice round cookies. If you try cutting shapes like I did, you’ll end up with shapeless masses…
Maple Pecan Nut Cookies
225g unsalted butter or margarine
225g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
4 dessert spoons maple syrup
50g pecan nuts
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (1 tsp if using German Backpulver)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1. Cream, the butter, caster sugar and brown sugar together in a large bowl.
2. Add the egg and maple syrup and mix to form a creamy batter. Break up and stir in the pecan nuts. (If you’re lucky enough to have a food processor, you can use that to do the breaking, but don’t make the nuts too small – you want nice chunks of pecan nut, not ground pecans!).
3. Sieve in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix into a thick dough (you’ll probably need to get your hands in at some point to bring it all together properly).
4. Roll the mixture into 2 balls, wrap them in clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour.
5. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 160° C/fan 150°C/gas mark 3 and line a baking tray.
6. Form the dough into smallish balls, place on the baking tray(s) and bake for about 8 minutes or until the edges start turning brown (bigger cookies may take longer).
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CUT THESES BISCUITS INTO SHAPES! If you do, this:
Will turn into this:
Oh well, they may not look very pretty, but they’re incredibly tasty. In fact, I’m not sure they’re going to survive until Sunday…
I mentioned in my latest photo an hour post that I had been baking healthy biscuits (cookies), partly because I was intrigued by the idea of making biscuits with apple sauce to replace the sugar and partly because I’ve only baked 4 out of 10 types of biscuits for my 35 before 35 challenge so far! The recipe in question was a BBC Food one by Anthony Worrall Thompson, which you can currently find here (until the BBC takes it down…)
Supposedly each biscuit has 82 calories, although I used butter rather than his “baking spread” (which is later referred to as plain old “margarine” in the actual method!), so I’m not sure whether that makes a difference. Plus I used wholemeal spelt flour rather than normal wholemeal flour because that’s all Aldi had. Also, I doubled the recipe because 12 didn’t seem like very many biscuits. This was my first batch:
As you can see, there are 15 on that tray. The second tray then contained 20 (I placed them closer together because I couldn’t be bothered with a third batch – turns out that wasn’t a problem as they barely spread anyway!).
I flattened them “slightly” just like Anthony said (the photo above is pre-flattening) and the end result came out like this:
(Yeah, my food photography skills are non-existent.) NOT very biscuit/cookie like! Next time I’ll just squish ’em properly flat before putting them in the oven!
The end result was not as spicy as they smelled – although after a few days in an air-tight container the spice has come out much more – and more savoury than sweet. You don’t notice the apple sauce at all! Also, they’re not particularly hard/crunchy. The texture is actually almost cake like (think Yorkshire Parkin without the stickiness). They’re still surprisingly moreish though – I had to put them away on Saturday to stop us eating them all before dinner!
I probably will make them again, but next time I plan to add some nuts, seeds and dried fruit and call them “muesli biscuits”. Then count that as one more towards the challenge because that will be a totally different biscuit, right?
Also, in the process of making these, I discovered that mixed spice is not a thing in Switzerland, then when I tried to make my own I discovered that Allspice is not a thing either (or rather the only kind I could get was some gourmet version that cost about 15 francs… for Allspice! What the hell?!)
So, that’s half of my types of biscuits baked. Woo hoo! Next up will presumably be something Christmassy unless I try out my muesli biscuit idea before then… watch this space.
One of the snacks I made for my friends on Saturday night was Pistachio and Cranberry cookies. You can find the recipe on the BBC Good Food website, so I won’t plagerize it here.
Unfortunately, I made these biscuits on Photo an Hour day, and I was so focussed on taking a photo on each hour that I was halfway through the dough-making process before I realised I should probably take photos of the biscuit-making process too. I had dirty hands by that time though, so I wasn’t able to pick up my camera until the dough was almost ready.
By the way, when you get to the part of the recipe where it says “you may not to get your hands in at this stage”, replace the word may with will! Without using hands, there is no way of making the mixture into a dough.
After refrigerating, the bottoms of my rolls were a bit flat from where they’d been sitting on the plate, which meant the biscuits I cut from them weren’t exactly round…
Here they are again after baking. I left lots of space between each one in case they decided to spread, but they didn’t much.
The finished article was very tasty. The bicuits themselves taste almost like shortbread and the mixture of cranberry and pistachio is a good one. I especially liked the ones where the pistachio was on top and had been roasted slightly in the oven. Mmmm!
That’s four types of biscuits down, six more to go.
For those who missed them, here are the previous biscuits I’ve baked for the challenge:
I feel like I only just did a photo an hour post, but the September one was, in fact, nearly a month ago and yesterday it was time for the October version.
I actually got up at 10:30, but again I wanted to take my photos at full hours, so my first one is from 11.
11 a.m. Making breakfast
12 noon. Out of the shower and on my way to get dressed.
1 p.m. Off to the supermarket for a few bits.
2 p.m. I woke up with the urge to bake, so now I’m back from shopping that’s what I’m going to do.
3 p.m. The cookie dough is chilling in the fridge, so time for a bit of cross stitch (I should really have been doing the dishes at this point, but whatever).
4 p.m. Just finished hoovering
5 p.m. Making a couple of baked potatoes for Jan and I to eat.
6 p.m. Preparing some snacks for movie night – this will be sausage rolls.
7 p.m. Snacks and a film… now all we need is for our friends to show up. (The sausage rolls were still in the oven at this point).
Aaaand after 7 p.m. I forgot to take any more photos. For the record, our friends showed up and we watched Zombieland followed by Dogma. All the food was devoured (apart from a few cookies that I had for breakfast this morning), everyone left at midnight and then I went to bed.
For more Photo an Hour posts, see Jane’s blog Is That You Darling. Next month’s Photo an Hour will be taking place on 8th November. If you would like to join in, make a note of it now 🙂
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 theChocolate Brownie Biscuitsfrom 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…
Never mind, it all loooks the same once it’s melted…
Pieces of white chocolate, all chopped up.
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.
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.
The recipe told me to place “dollops” of the mixture on a baking tray. Exactly how big should a dollop be?!
The finished article…
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…
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.
That’s three types of biscuits down, seven more to go! Any suggestions for the remainder?
Oh, hi there! Apologies forthe radio silence over the past couple of days… I’ve been given a big translation job at work which will keep me busy right up until we close for Christmas and actually means I need to do overtime for the next two weeks for there to be any chance of meeting the deadline. The result of this is a) I’m notdoing anything worth posting about and b) I have neither the time nor energy to think of other things to post about. I can’t even do a recipe post for you because I’m cooking while doing other things, so it’s just a case of chucking a few ingredients in a pan then running from the room to get on with sorting washing/writing Christmas cards/doing more work. No time to take food photos! Soooo, to tide you over for the time being, here are a few links to things that have caght my interest lately:
This BBC article on“murdering” robotsraises some interesting points. Could you harm a cute toy robot after first spending an hour playing with it and teaching it about the world?
Three Newcastle players made thePremier League Team of the Week– nice to see us getting some credit after the match report seemed to focus almost entirely on the Man U’s struggles while ignoring their opponent’s performance!
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…
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!
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:
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.
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!
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…
So, it’s Friday again. This week has been a bit of a weird one. On one hand, it feels like only a few days since I was getting ready for last weekend (which, of course, went far too fast). But at the same time, I’ve had so many texts to translate that by Wednesday I already felt like I’d done at least a week’s worth of work and the weekend would never come.
Anyway, on to Friday’s letters…
Dear boyfriend. I hope when you return from your week-long dissertation conference you’ll be able to relax a little. Having you come to bed at 4 a.m. has not been fun for me, and I can’t imagine you’ve enjoyed it very much either!
Dear flat. Jan is away for a week from Sunday–Saturday, so it’s just you and me. I’m actually quite looking forward to having you all to myself! Just so you know, I have major spring cleaning plans (and no, I don’t care that spring isn’t even on the horizon yet. You are getting blitzed!).
Dear boyfriend’s dissertation professor. Was it really necessary to schedule this year’s conference thingy so that my boyfriend is away on his birthday? Not impressed!
Dear organic spelt cookies with ginger and chocolate chips. Why must you taste so good? You’re seriously not helping with the healthy eating thing! Treats in moderation are fine… but it’s impossible to eat only a moderate amount of you!
Dear Pride and Prejudice. I promise I am going to start reading you this weekend. I would have got to you sooner if I hadn’t been too tired to read my previous book on my morning commute. I’ve finished that book now though, and will be moving on to you next!
Dear readers. As you may have noticed, my 35 before 35 list now has its very own page (click here). However, I still don’t have 35 items. Please keep your suggestions coming!
Dear February. I know you’re technically one of the winter months, but was it really necessary for the temperature to drop back down to 4°C this morning?
I’ve been so busy the last few days. On Thursday it was my birthday (as you all know by now). The boyfriend and I went for a curry, which was delicious, then to the bar in the student residence where I used to live. Jan left at around 3:30am because he was going away for the weekend, but I was there until 8 o’clock on Friday morning. Then on Friday, once I finally managed to drag myself out of bed, I went and bought the ingredients for cheese scones which I then baked for the leaving party I was invited to that night. It was a night time picnic in the park, which was nice. And finally, last night, I was back in the student residence for a birthday party. This time I made cookies and stayed til around 2am. It was all good fun but now I think I’m partied out… at least until Saturday when I shall be hosting my own birthday party….