Tag Archives: Biscuits

Show Some Love This Valentine’s – If You Must

melting moents with grapefruit cream

Melting Moments – When Your Work’s Worth Sharing

I come from a fairly stoical family, who are not big on physical affection. We prefer friendly pats on the back to full-blown hugs.  When I got my A Level results, my Mum had to tell my Dad to give me a hug to show he was proud of me. I knew anyway, and he knew that I knew; but we hugged for my Mum’s sake, and it was awkward. That hug has stuck with me for 20 years, so it just goes to show that it was a Momentous Occasion. We show love through our merciless mickey-taking – and long may it continue!

It will come as no surprise whatsoever to you then, when I confess that I do not have a romantic bone in my body (and whenever I have spare bones hanging about, I tend to make stock from them, so even if I had, it wouldn’t have lasted that long). Cut flowers and chocolates will not woo me (although edible seeds and chocolate as an ingredient would win my heart  in a flash). George, from the Famous Five, was more my style than Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty. I have never dreamed of fairytale weddings, or handsome princes. My dreams were more likely to feature horses and hansom cabs! The Big Guy and I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day. I think he would love to be a bit more romantic on a more consistent basis, but I don’t like all that soppy stuff.

So, in light of this information, you may surprised to find a Valentine’s post on Edible Things. Not to worry, I am not being inconsistent. We have an organisation-wide meeting on today, and the HR department thought it would be a good excuse to have a bit of a celebration, so they asked us all to show our colleagues some love for Valentine’s, by making each other some fair food.

This set me off in a bit of a panic; if I can’t see what is romantic about a meal for the Big Guy, how was I ever going to come up with something original and interesting for my workmates? So, I turned to Facebook (whilst love may make me queasy, I’m always happy for people to show their likes…) to ask folks over there what they thought. I got some great suggestions but when Emma mentioned melting moments, with a passion fruit filling, I knew this was the perfect thing to serve up. And that I was going to make and blog about passion fruit curd. To me, this is the king of the fruit curds, tart and sweet. Unfortunately, no passion fruits were to be found, so I settled for the next best thing; ruby grapefruit. Once citrus is well cooked, most of it will go orange, so don’t be disappointed to find that you haven’t got a ruby coloured curd.

Ruby Grapefruit Curd

You Ain’t in Kansas Anymore

The curd needs to have time to cool before you use it in the filling, so you should make it the day before you bake the biscuits.

These easy and delicious treats look, and taste impressive. When all’s said and done, what better way to show your colleagues that you are fond of them?

Recipe: Melting Moments With Grapefruit Curd Filling

Ingredients

For the Curd (makes 2 jars):

Zest of one, unwaxed grapefruit

200 ml grapefruit juice

125 g butter

450 g sugar

200 ml beaten egg (about 4)

For the Melting Moments:

125 g softened butter

115 g plain flour

45 g icing sugar

50 g custard powder (or cornflour and a tsp of vanilla extract)

For the Filling:

200 ml double cream

Method

Making the curd isn’t hard, but does require patience. Firstly, sterilise your jars, by washing in hot water and placing in a low oven, or by running them and the lids through a hot cycle on the dishwasher. You can seal curd with cellophane,  but if you use lids, these will need to be boiled as the curd is approaching doneness.

There are two methods for cooking curd – direct and indirect heat. The direct method is quicker, but there is a greater risk of the egg scrambling. Sometimes, with very vigorous whisking off the heat, you can save it, as long as you notice as soon as it starts to curdle. The indirect method runs much lower risk of splitting, but it does take a lot more time. If you want to use indirect heat, you will need to cook the mixture in a double boiler, making sure the water at the bottom does not touch the bottom of the bowl, and check it occasionally to make sure the water has not evaporated.

Whichever method you choose, combine the grapefruit zest and juice, butter and sugar, and heat gently, until all of the butter has melted.

Making the curd - after the egg is added

Curd Away

Over a low heat, slowly add the egg to the buttery mixture, whisking vigourously as you go. When all of the egg is combined, increase the heat to medium, and stir until the mixture is thick and creamy. This could take a while, so settle in with a good book, but make sure you don’t allow the curd to catch on the bottom, and remember to scrape down the sides too.

Once the pouring consistency reaches thick ribbons, put it in the hot jars, and fill to 3 mm from the top. Cover with a wax disc, and seal immediately. The curd will last up to 4 weeks. Once opened, store in the fridge.

To make the melting moments, preheat the oven to 160°C, and line two cookie sheets with baking paper.

Beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the flour, icing sugar and custard powder, and mix well. This is a pretty dry mix, but it should all come together. There is no need to bother with seiving the dry ingredients.

Formed melting moments

Not as Flat as a Pancake!

Roll small lumps of the dough into balls. This amount of dough should give you about 26 biscuits. Place them on the cookie sheets, then flatten them with the back of a fork, which you should dust occasionally with icing sugar.

Bake them for 15-20 minutes, until crisp. Be aware that these biscuits should come out of the oven pale, as they will continue to cook, and colour more while cooling. Allow to cool.

Whip up the cream until it is pretty stiff, and stir through 3 tbsp of the curd. You can leave it as swirls through the cream, if you want. Place a little curd on the base of a biscuit, add a tiny dollop of the cream (or you will lose it out of the sides) and sandwich it together with a second. Sit back, and enjoy a melting moment.

In theory, these should last a couple of days in an airtight container, but I’ve not yet been able to test this theory.

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A Box Where Sweets Compacted Lie

Foodie Penpal August

Choc Full

“Sweet spring, full of sweet dayes and roses,

A box, where sweets compacted lie”

From Vertue by George Herbert

I thought that the title this month was appropriate for both the parcel that I sent, and the one that I received, as you can see from the photo above, which was jam-packed with goodies, and a recipe for a sweet treat!

This month, I was matched with Emma, and was to receive a parcel from Abbie, neither of whom have a blog (…yet, I believe at least one of them will be joining us soon :) ), but you can go and check out Emma’s gorgeous cakey Facebook page, and you can see what amazing things Abbie has found on Twitter.

Contents of August Foodie Parcel

A Box of Sweets, Unconsolidated

Abbie was very clever with her box, as well as stuffing it to the gills. And it arrived in 3 days between her tweeting to say she’d sent it, and me receiving it. This is an absolute record.

Swedish Biscuits, Manuka Honey, Butterscothch Chocolate

Some Compacted Sweets

For ages, I was thinking that the chocolate was a new brand called M. I am an idiot, and have just realised that it comes from that famous supermarket. Salted butterscotch chocolate, it is delicious, and you would be right in thinking that I have started this one already.

There is a small pot of manuka honey, which I am dying to try. Abbie also thought of the Big Guy, giving him some Swedish ginger thins. This is the first time we have had something that he can reminisce over, and I think I may not see many of these.

Smoked Maldon Salts, Rice Crackers, Ras El Hanout

Compacted Savouries

This wasn’t just a sweet box, though. I also got savoury goodies. I rubbed the Ras el Hanout on a lamb cutlet, and ate it as part of a meal filled with temptations. The rice crackers will make a great snack, but I have an idea that they will also make a really tasty crust for fish, so I think that will be an experiment that I will be making soon. I have heard of smoked salt, but never tried it. It is actually great, bringing a subtle smokiness to dishes. I am not usually a fan of salting things, but have been getting more into it, as I have had quite a few gifts of salt lately.

Tinkerbell Peppers

A Fairy Plate

It was Abbie who sent me the Tinkerbell peppers. She wrote a little card, to say that she had these every day in Ibiza. This was also the first of two recipes she sent me, along with the ingredients. This is genius, and I wish I’d thought of it myself! Abbie suggested that I grill the peppers, and serve them with a sprinkling of the salt. I took most of her advice, but this is what I did with them in the end.

Rocky Road

Can you Tell What it is Yet?

She also sent me the recipe and ingredients to make up her Guilty Pleasure. She has given me permission to reproduce the recipe on ediblethings, so I will let you know about this next week.

Thank you so much for this parcel Abbie, not only has it been an inspiration for future boxes, and fantastic recipes, but I dread to think how much it must have cost you to post this little treasure trove. I am amazed!

Thanks also to the lovely Carol Anne of This is Rock Salt, who hosts and organises us European penpals. This is no mean feat, I can tell you.

Here’s the rough outline of how it works:

  • All interested parties in the UK and Europe – bloggers and blog readers alike – sign up by the form available at the bottom of this post
  • Participants are matched on the 5th of the month
  • Penpals send thoughtful, food related parcels, on or before the 20th of the month. The parcel must include something hand written – a note explaining the box’s contents, a recipe card, whatever you like. The price limit for the boxes is £10 – this is a limit, the point is not the cost, but the thought (no, really!)
  • Penpals open their boxes and rejoice!
  • At the end of the month, everyone blogs about their box, or writes a guest blog post if they are usually a blog reader and not writer. Everyone reads one another’s posts and rejoices some more. Posts are made available on Lindsay’s blog so we can all find each other easily

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Taking the Biscuit

Speculoos Refrigerator Biscuits

Speculoos Refrigerator Biscuits – Meant for Taking

Yesterday I hosted a meeting for a group of proto-freelancers that I have joined. As is customary, I was going to serve biscuits and tea. Since I prefer to make things from scratch (a tendency that has only got worse since it also gives me something to blog about!) I decided that I was going to make the biscuits. I have not actually attempted to make biscuits for a number of years, since they aren’t really something that I have around the house. In fact, the only time that I really ever think to buy them is if I am going to make a cheesecake, or another dessert with the requisite buttery biscuit base.

The last time I was really into making biscuits was as a fairly young kid (maybe 8ish?). Once the Sunday Dinner had been cleared away, and the washing up done, I would bake things, some sponges cakes and the like, but mostly biscuits, while my parents were either out on the garden, or dozing in front of the Eastenders Omnibus. These baking sessions were always using recipes from the tried and trusted Dairy Book of Home Cookery.

I had been given some Lotus speculoos paste by a good friend who was returning to Australia, and had one too many items from Europe in her case. I have always known that I will make biscuits with it, since these are traditionally served with coffee and tea in every cafe in Holland. And what better opportunity to have a go than for a meeting? So it was to these things that I turned when looking for inspiration.

The Dairy Book has a basic recipe for refrigerator biscuits, which seemed easy enough to adapt, so I used this as a starting point for my treats. They are called refrigerator biscuits because you wrap them up like a sausage, then let them rest in the fridge for at least an hour. I actually made these a while ago, when we were originally going to have the meeting, but we had to postpone due to a particularly nasty flu that several of our people had. You can keep the dough in the fridge for a week. The mixture also freezes well, and the amounts given here will make a lot of biscuits (up to 60 depending on how wide you roll the sausage), so I divided it in two and still have a sausage of dough in my freezer. You can defrost them on the counter, or (if you can cut them) cook them from frozen, allowing a minute or two longer cooking time, but you will need to watch them.

Recipe: Speculoos Refrigerator Biscuits

Ingredients

200 g plain flour

100 g butter

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp speculaas spice

2 tbsp Lotus speculoos paste

150 g caster Sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

vanilla sugar for sprinkling

Method

Rub together the flour, baking powder, butter and speculoos paste, like you would for making pastry. Once you have the breadcrumb texture, mix in the sugar.

Add the egg, and bring together to form a dough. I did all of this with my hands, but you can do it with a spoon if you prefer.

At this point, I tasted the dough, and decided that the speculoos didn’t give quite the spicy punch I wanted, so I decided to add some speculaas spice that I still had from making Kruidnoten. I also gave the recipe for the spice mix on that post, if you want to have a go at making these, and you are not in the Low Countries, where it is readily available.

At this juncture I should point out that raw cookie dough has been linked to outbreaks of e. coli infections, and should not be eaten if you are in a vulnerable group, or if you are worried about this sort of thing. In this case, I took the risk for you, so if you choose to make these biscuits, you can also skip the testing, and simply add the spice when you mix in the flour, as I suggest above. If you can’t find any speculoos paste, then you can also just use the spices.

Once the dough has formed, it should be pretty dry, and workable. I found I needed to use a tiny bit of water, to help the dough form, because the only egg I had was on the small side, but I added it splash by splash, because I wanted to get the texture right.

Roll the dough into a sausage. You may need to cut it into two here. I did. Once the sausage is the sort of width you imagine your biscuits to be, wrap it tightly in foil or cling film, making sure the ends are sealed well. It is worth noting that these biscuits will spread a little, during cooking, so you will need to roll the sausage a bit thinner than you want.

Once wrapped, bung the dough in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight if you can. Or you can freeze it immediately.

When you are ready to bake, heat your oven to 190°C.

Meanwhile, grease your baking sheets with some old butter paper, which should have enough butter on it to cover your trays with a thin layer of butter. If not, rub it over a pat of butter before rubbing the tray. Butter paper is also something that I never throw out, until I have got maximum use from it. You can substitute it for tin foil to wrap food (but not for cooking with), you can using for greasing baking utensils, and you can use it as a cartouche to retain moisture or prevent a skin from forming on a liquid. My mum has always done this, and I have also always done this, it was just a habit really.

I have two baking sheets, so I used both in the oven at the same time, to reduce energy consumption. If you do this, be aware that the top biscuits will be ready slightly earlier than those lower down in the oven. They catch really quickly, so take these out first.

Slicing Biscuits from the Dough Log

Slice ‘em Up. If you use a sharper knife, then you can get thinner biscuits than I did here

Then, thinly slice your biscuit dough along the length of your dough sausage. Probably thinner than I have here, if you like. One tip is that the sharper the knife you use, the less you will compress your roll, and thus will not have to constantly reshape or have odd-shaped biscuits.

Arrange the biscuits onto the trays, allowing space for them to spread out a little as they cook. I sprinkled mine with a little vanilla sugar, because I always have it to hand as a by-product from custard making. Caster sugar will be just as good. You can also dust it lightly or a little heavier if you would like more of a crisp.

Speculoos refrigerator Biscuits Sprinkled with Sugar

A Sprinkle of Sugar

Stick them in the oven, and check them after 10 minutes. Mine were done then, but you can leave them in for up to 12 minutes.

Allow them to cool a little on the tray before removing, and serving. If you do have any left, put them in an airtight container, where they will keep for a day or two.

The actual time you spend on these biscuits is minimal. I probably spent about 10 minutes in total on preparation. But, I can guarantee that your guests will appreciate the effort that they will think that you have gone to. Unless you have hundreds of guests, you will also have enough for a couple of batches, and what could be handier to have on standby in your fridge or freezer, for meetings, drop in guests, or a visit from the WI?

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Kruidnoten – Christmas Cookies

Kruidnoten

Kruidnoten – really tasty christmas treats

Dutch and Flemish children do not have to wait for Christmas to celebrate. On the 5th December, the Netherlands celebrate Sinterklaas, when St Nicholas visits them and fills their shoes with sweets and biscuits.

One of the traditional biscuits that are given out at this time of year are Kruidnoten. These are little aniseed – flavoured biscuits, that are given to children, and also appear on your saucer whenever you order a coffee in December.

I really like them, and wanted to try my hand at doing some myself. the recent Mince Pie Party seemed like the perfect place to start, and my guests wouldn’t have to wait until Christmas either. As a bonus, these biscuits are vegan, as they contain no butter. Much older recipes do use honey, but these days stroop is a great alternative.That link is in Dutch, but stroop is basically a viscous sugar syrup, often the by-product of refining sugars. It is widely available in the Netherlands and often used on pancakes.

If you cannot get stroop where you are, golden syrup is also perfectly acceptable.

I got the recipe that I used from here. I have translated it below, and adapted it very slightly, to make it wholly vegan.

Recipe: Kruidnoten

Ingredients

200 g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

150 g stroop or golden syrup

2 tsp speculaas spice. This is widely available in the Netherlands. If you are not in the Netherlands and fancy trying these, you can mix up your own – I will give the proportions at the end of this recipe.

1 tsp ground aniseed (I grind mine fresh when I need it in a pestle and mortar)

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C

Mix the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt in a bowl. Then make a well in the centre.

Add the stroop to the well, and stir in the flour. It should form a firm dough, but if it doesn’t, add a little more stroop or some water. I found that I needed a little of both, for this amount of flour.

Brush a baking sheet with oil.

Break off small chunks of dough, and roll them into balls. Press them into the baking tray, so that the base is flat. You will need to have well floured hands, and if the mixture gets a little sticky, roll it in a little flour as well.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the biscuits are browned. They should still be a little soft at this point, because they harden as they cool.

Recipe: Speculaas Spice

According to mijnreceptenbook.com speculaas spices can be made up yourself in the following proportions:

50 g ground cinnamon

15 g ground (or finely grated) nutmeg

10 g ground cloves

10 g ground ginger

5 g ground pepper

5 g ground aniseed

This mix will kep well in an airtight jar. If you want to make this up, you could reduce the amount of  each spice proportionately, or make up the lot, and try it in gingerbread, cakes and other recipes that call for either ground ginger or ground cinnamon to ring the changes.

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