lemon, rosemary & pine nut shortbread

I bet you’re thinking that’s a slightly weird flavour combination right there, especially for a sweet bakery item. I know that was my first reaction when I came across this recipe years ago. And then I thought about it for just a little bit longer. And then I made the shortbread, and I was hooked. Actually I can’t believe I’ve never written about this recipe before! It’s delicious, smells amazing, and also isn’t overpoweringly sugary – something about those flavours make this biscuit sweetly savoury, and when you use salted butter instead of unsalted it’s even better.

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It was so long ago that I first made these that I can’t even remember where the recipe first came from. I have written about my go-to shortbread recipe before, and this is where it started although the flavour combination can change, but I’ve made a few tweaks over the years. It’s an easy one (I like easy) and you can make the dough ahead of time to bake it when you need it (also useful if you’ve got a lot of things going on at once).

When you roll and cut the biscuit dough you can make it whatever size or thickness that you like, but you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly to suit. A minute or two either way is all it will need.

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250g soft butter
2/3 cup icing sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
2 cups plain flour (you may need a little extra depending on the dough consistency)

Cream the butter and sugar, add the lemon zest and rosemary and beat well. Add the sifted flour and the nuts, and mix until the dough clumps together. Turn out onto a clean benchtop and knead briefly until the dough comes together and is smooth – you will need to work fairly quickly otherwise the dough gets too soft. 

Roll the dough into logs, wrap in glad wrap and refrigerate until firm (an hour or two should do it, but you could make this dough a day or two ahead if you wanted). 

Slice the logs into biscuits, about 7-8mm thick, and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 10 minutes. They should be just starting to go golden around the edges, and they will burn quickly so keep an eye on them. They do spread slightly on the tray, but not a lot.

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Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.

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Oaty choc-chip cookies of goodness

Amongst the many things I’ve learned over the last 12 months is that being a new mum can be tough and hungry work sometimes, and having decent snacks on hand is an excellent plan. So, I came up with these. These are choc-chip cookies. But they are not your average choc-chip cookies! Apart from being soft, chewy and delicious, these guys are packed with extra goodies that make them perfect for breastfeeding mamas. They are a great snack to grab when you haven’t got much time or free hands, they’re wholesome and milk-boosting, and you can freeze them for later. What more could you want?

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Now, some people find that the brewers yeast really helps boost their milk supply, but some don’t – I know there are differing opinions out there. My theory: if it works for you then keep it in, if not then leave it out. If you haven’t tried it then give it a go – you never know what might work for you. Either way the rolled oats, flaxseed and chia still make these a wholesome and delicious snack for everyone, and will help keep you going after a sleepless night.

On the off chance that you’re one of those strange people who doesn’t like chocolate, then you can substitute sultanas or raisins instead. I use a kitchenmaid mixer for the whole thing, which makes an easy recipe even easier, but if you don’t have one then regular beaters and a mixing spoon will work just fine. The dough needs to rest in the fridge for a while before being baked, otherwise they will spread out too much in the oven. It also makes the dough easier to roll.

115g butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups rolled oats 
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tsp chia seeds
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp baking powder
15g brewers yeast
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or sultanas

Cream the butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. Add all the dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and stir until just combined.

Cover the mix and put in the fridge for about 2 hours. Roll into balls (put your thumb and forefinger together to make a circle, about that big) and place onto trays lined with baking paper. Press down each ball with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for about 12 minutes, they should be slightly golden brown around the edges. Cool on trays.

They will last a few days in an airtight container, or you can wrap them individually (or 2-3 together) and freeze them.

Pistachio white chocolate chip cookies

Saturday afternoon. A hankering for chocolate chip cookies. Severe lack of recent grocery shopping. It’s experiment time!

For these cookies I used my regular chocolate chip recipe but with some major flavour alterations. Dark chocolate chips, walnuts, and a dash of vanilla became white chocolate chips, pistachios, a pinch of cardamom and some rosewater essence. I ate 4 in a row straight out of the oven so I’m calling these a success!

white chocolate chip cookies

125g soft butter
2/3  cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 teaspoon rosewater essence
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Cream the butter and the sugar, add the egg and rosewater essence and beat until just combined. Stir in all the remaining ingredients. Drop spoonfuls onto trays lined with baking paper, and bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 180C. Cool on trays about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

This made about 30 cookies.

Nanna’s Cinnamon Snaps

My strongest memories of my Nanna are of her in the kitchen baking something. She was the kind of nanna who always had home-baked biscuits, scones, or cakes in the house, ready for any unexpected visitors. She never used a written recipe, nor did she own any electrical appliances other than a very well loved kettle – all the creaming of butter and sugar was done by hand with a wooden spoon (she had forearms of steel!). She was old-school.

Nanna would write down a recipe if anyone ever asked her for it though. In amongst some boxes of her old stuff that are still sitting in my father’s garage, we recently found her recipe for cinnamon snaps. I remember making these with her, the sultanas going chewy after being baked, and using all different shaped cookie cutters.

cinnamon snap recipe

Here’s my version – just some slight changes/clarifications and also I figured out how long and how hot to bake them!

1 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 cup sultanas or raisins
3 1/2 cups plain flour*
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and golden syrup and beat well. Stir in the remaining ingredients to form a sticky dough. Turn out onto a well floured surface, roll out to about 5mm thick. Cut out biscuits, re-roll the remaining dough and cut again until you have used as much of the dough as you can. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 15-18 minutes, depending on how soft/crunchy you like your biscuits. Cool on a wire rack.

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*I don’t know whether I lost count of the flour I was adding, but my dough ended up WAY too sticky so I had to add another 1/2 cup of flour. So I may have ended up using 4 cups of flour, or maybe just 3 1/2 because I undercounted to start with. Not sure.

cinnamon snaps

This recipe makes a LOT of biscuits. I think there were at least 50 in the end for this batch, so they’re excellent if you have people coming over for morning/afternoon tea, or of you have to ‘bring a plate’ to some kind of gathering.

Valentine’s Day Coconut Cookies

I have so many different shapes of cookie cutter stashed away at home. I have never used any of them. I thought a pre-Valentine’s Day morning tea would be a perfect excuse to test out the heart-shaped cookie cutter!

Now, the last time I tried to make biscuits that involved rolling out dough and trying to cut out shapes was years ago and is referred to as the infamous gingerbread incident. It involved tears, screaming, throwing dough on the ground and locking myself in the bathroom. It wasn’t pretty. So this attempt had the potential to go badly…

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125g butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using an electric mixer/beater. Add the egg and beat in well. Stir in the flour and the coconut in two batches. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead lightly until it all comes together and is smooth. Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 5mm thick, then put that in the fridge for about half an hour.

Cut shapes out of the dough with whatever shape of cutter you like, lay them on paper-lined baking trays, and bake in a preheated 180C oven for about 12 minutes. While they are baking, gather the remaining dough up, re-roll it, put it back in the fridge. Basically just keep repeating the process until you’ve used as much of the dough as you can to cut out and bake the cookies. You can do whatever you like with the last scraps – I like to eat the dough raw at that point 🙂

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What I did to decorate these was to make a super basic icing from icing sugar, water, food colouring and a few drops of rosewater essence. I used a piping bag just with the end cut off to decorate, and my piping skills are far from great, but I think they ended up looking fairly cute anyway.

Valentine's Day cookies

Honey-roasted Macadamia & White Chocolate Chip Biscuits

Well, hello there! Yes, it’s been a while, I’m sorry. I lost my baking mojo there for a while, but I think maybe it might be coming back… Maybe. Hopefully!

So I’m not the biggest fan of white chocolate usually, but somehow when you put it into baked goods and then throw macadamia nuts into the mix as well, you have something a bit delicious. It seemed strange to me that I had never made macadamia & white chocolate chip cookies before – I’ve certainly eaten my fair share – but looking through the archives it would appear that I’ve totally missed making such a standard recipe. Well, I thought it would be a standard recipe, but do you think I could find such a thing in any of my books at home? Not a chance. Here follows an experiment which seems to have worked out reasonably successfully… until the very end.

macadamia white chocolate biscuits

Standard set up for a lot of my baking: workplace morning tea for a farewell, I have an idea of what I want to make, and I have limited ingredients. No regular macadamia nuts in the pantry, just half a packet of honey-roasted ones. No normal, little white chocolate chips, just those big round ‘melts’. No actual recipe. Let’s do this!

I used a standard plain biscuit recipe in the end, one that is usually for jam drops (because how much do I love jam drops?!) which makes quite a short biscuit and suited these flavours well, but it’s also very easy.

125g butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
honey-roasted macadamia nuts, chopped (I think I had nearly 1/2 cup)
white chocolate chips (or the bigger ‘melts’ if you want to try the experimental version)

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla really well, until it’s pale and creamy. Stir in the flour and baking powder, and add the milk to get the right consistency (sticky dough, but not too sticky). Stir in the macadamia nuts. If you’re using regular white choc chips, stir them in too. Shape teaspoonful sized bits of dough into balls, place on trays lined with baking paper, flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 18-20 minutes, until they are slightly golden brown at the edges.

BUT, if you are using the big chocolate melts, DON’T stir them in. Instead, once you’ve mixed in the macadamia nuts just go straight to making balls of dough. Except, shape each ball of dough AROUND a single white chocolate melt. They should go nicely in the middle of each ball of dough. Then put them on lined baking trays, flatten slightly with the palm of your hand, and bake them as above.

Cool the biscuits on the trays for 2-3 minutes, then put them on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Now, when I say that the experiment worked up until the very end, I mean it. These looked great, and I tasted one and it was pretty good. They cooled down, and I packed them into a container. The next morning I left the container on the kitchen bench, walked out the door, and didn’t realise until I walked in the door at work. So instead of being able to contribute actual food to the morning tea, all I could provide was a couple of photos of what might have been and a story about how I’m an idiot.

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My husband is happy though – guess what he’s eating this weekend?

Oatmeal Sultana Biscuits

I’m not going to call these healthy – they do still have a fair bit of sugar in them – but they are definitely wholesome. Wholesome and delicious. And probably a great deal better for you than chocolate chip biscuits, or melting moments, or something like that. So if you feel like a bit of sweet baked goodness, but don’t want to feel too guilty about it, go for these.

oatmeal sultana cookies

They’re also really easy to make, and dairy free! You probably have all the ingredients in the pantry already, and you can chuck in a bit of whatever you feel like – that’s what I did.

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sultanas
handful of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
3 teaspoons chia seeds
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
2/3 cup light vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170C. Whisk together the sugar, honey, eggs, oil and vanilla in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix together all the rest of the ingredients. Add the honey mixture to the dry mixture and stir through well.

Drop large tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto baking trays that have been lined with greaseproof paper, leaving enough room between them for spreading. Bake for about 15 minutes, then take them out of the oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes on the trays. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

oatmeal sultana cookies

You could use any kind of dried fruit that you liked in these, and lose the coconut/sunflower seeds/chia seeds if you wanted to. I think they’d be good with dried cranberries and slivered almonds, or maybe chopped up dried apricots.