Christmas Baking – Shortbread

Is there anything better than shortbread at Christmas time?  This is the only time of the year I ever make this (all bar last year when I made interesting shaped shortbreads for my sister’s hens night), and i just LOVE the stuff.

This recipe is from my Mum, going waaaay back to when we were kids and she was stuck with us in a Doctor’s waiting room watching crappy morning tv shows (this was the early 90s – some things haven’t changed though), and she saw this on a cooking show called ‘What’s Cooking’. She was so impressed with it, that she wrote down the number at the end of the show, and called up to get the recipe posted to her – that is a hard copy typed out and sent through the post – yes kids, this really used to happen!  Since then it’s been her trusted recipe, which over the past few years since I’ve been making it I’ve called my own.

My biggest tip is that you need to make this in a cool room – living in Brisbane this can be hard during the Summer, so I always try to make it first thing in the morning.

Shortbread

250g softened butter

125g caster sugar

25g rice flour

5 drops of vanilla essence

375g plain flour

* Preheat oven to 190 degrees.

* Beat together the butter, sugar and rice flour until they turn white. Add a few drops of vanilla essence and continue to beat.

* Gradually add the flour to the mixture, whilst continuing to mix on a low speed until a paste forms.

* Turn mixture onto a cool bench dusted with flour and work until a smooth ball forms.

* I split my ball into two and place one in the fridge, covered in glad wrap.

* Roll the other ball until apron 1cm thick and use cookie cutter to make desired shapes.

* Bake in oven for approx 12 minutes until edges start to turn a golden brown.

Throwback Thursday – Apricot Biscuits

Growing up we had a huge apricot tree in our backyard.  Every summer it would be laden with fruit, which as kids we took for granted and would turn our nose up the fresh fruit -instead we found it more fun to try and hit the unripened fruit over the road with our tennis rackets… that’s another story though! When we were really young it provided shade for our cubby house, this was then replaced by a treehouse when we became older, and we used to spend hours amongst the leaves having all sorts of adventures.  A few years ago Mum told me the sad news that they were going to have to pull down the tree, whilst she had tried her best to save it through many years of drought, it had taken it’s toll.  A new one was planted in it’s place and has since started to provide us with fruit (in much smaller quantities).

Mum would spend hours in the hot kitchen making huge batches of apricot jam that we would then devour throughout the year.  I know that I am biased, but Mum’s jam is the BEST, I won’t ever buy apricot jam from the supermarket as it’s just not the same.  She even blends it for me as I don’t like it to be too lumpy!  Any time a family member is making the trip up to Brisbane, she will always check if I need any jam or sauce (her homemade sauce is awesome too).

So when I saw a recipe in my McAlpins book for Apricot biscuits, it was a no brainer that I was going to give them a go. I was quite generous with the jam, going with three tablespoons instead of the 2 teaspoons indicated.  This made my biscuits very sweet, but no too overpowering.  You could certainly taste the apricot in them – which can never be a bad thing.  They were quite flat, maybe this was because of my changes to the recipe, but they still tasted nice.  For half of the batch, I added 1/4 cup of coconut which I thought really went well with the apricot flavour.  Overall they did taste good, I probably wouldn’t make them again, but I did enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Sweet sugary goodness

Sweet sugary goodness

4 oz caster sugar

3 oz butter

1 egg

2 teaspoons apricot jam

4 oz self raising flour – sifted

* Cream butter and sugar together, add egg and then jam and mix well

* Add flour and beat well

* Drop onto a greased tray using a teaspoon, allowing room to spread

* Bake in a moderate oven for 7 minutes, or until golden.

* Allow to cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Caramel Chip Cookies

While I was at the local Woolies the other day (replacing the ingredients I have been using from Mum’s cupboard!), I came across ‘Caramel Bits’ by Nestle.  I have seen them a couple of times before, but usually when I’m doing the grocery shopping I don’t have the luxury of spending time looking different products.

Impulse buy

Impulse buy

On an impulse I grabbed a bag, thinking I could substitute them for chocolate chips in another recipe – admittedly I was thinking of adding them to brownies since they are my latest obsession.  Normally I don’t pay attention to the recipes on the back of bags/containers etc, for some reason I am a snob and think they will be rubbish – this time I thought I would give it a go.

It’s a very straightforward recipe and method, trying a couple of the caramel chips on their own, I found them to be very sweet and was concerned how the cookies were going to turn out.  In the end the cookies were pretty good. Quite plain, and if I was to make them again I would add some nuts to them – maybe pecans or walnuts? Even coconut would be a good addition.  The family thought they were good, and as always my little helper Liam tried one and liked it.

Overall, I was happy with them and will try not to be such a recipe snob in the future!

125g butter softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 3/4 cups self raising flour – sifted

250g caramel bits

  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees and grease and line 2 baking trays with baking paper
  • Place butter, brown sugar, and egg in bowl of an electric mixer, beat until mixture is pale and creamy
  • Stir in flour, add caramel bits and mix until well combined
  • Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls, place on prepared trays about 4cm apart and flatten slightly.
  • Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until golden.
  • Set aside on trays for 5 minutes to cool and then transfer onto wire rack to cool completely

caramel chip cookies

Malted Oat, Coconut and Raisin Cookies

This recipe is from one of my favourite cook books – Donna Hay Modern Classics 2.  This is an awesome cookbook, as well as having a lot of old favourites, there are also some great new recipes too.

The original recipe is Malted Oat and Raisin biscuits, I’ve added the coconut as I think it makes everything taste better.  Feel free to leave it out if you prefer.  These are really yummy & you can also freeze the dough.

 

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup castor sugar

125g butter – softened

1 egg

1/2 cup malted milk powder

1 1/4 cups plain flour

1/4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1/2 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup desicated coconut

 

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees
  • Place the sugars, butter and egg into a mixer bowl and beat until pale and creamy
  • Add the milk powder, flour, bicarb soda, rolled oats, raisins and coconut and beat on low speed to combine
  • Roll large dessert spoons of mixture into balls and place on baking trays lined with non stick paper, gently flatten balls (I made around 36).
  • Bake for 18 -20 minutes or until golden
  • Allow to cool on wire racks
Malted Oat, Coconut & Raisin Cookies

Malted Oat, Coconut & Raisin Cookies

Nana Doug’s Chocolate Cake

One of the first things I can remember helping mum make is her Nan’s chocolate cake in her trusty old sunbeam mixer (circa early 70s).  The job allocated to my sister and I was the sifting – something I have tried to carry on with my 19 month old with limited success!

30 years later this is still my one of my favourite recipes when I need to make a quick cake.  Nowadays I try to make it a bit healthier – swapping butter for light spread and using skinny milk. Whilst this is still a winner, there is nothing like the original recipe ingredients. All  ingredient amounts are in imperial measurements (I’ve added conversions in brackets).

3oz (85g) butter

2 tablespoons of cocoa

6oz (175g) castor sugar

6oz (175g) self raising Ffour

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1/2 cup of milk

  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees (fan forced oven)
  • Melt Butter and leave to cool slightly
  • Sift Flour and Cocoa into large mixing bowl
  • Add all other ingredients and beat together in mixer (Approx 5 minutes)
  • Grease tin (can use slice tin, loaf tin, 20cm round tin or ring tin)
  • Bake for 25 – 40 minutes, depending on tin used (I baked the cake pictured for 35 minutes in a 20cm round tin).

Chocolate Icing

2 Tablespoons of Cocoa

1/2 Cup of Icing Mixture

1 Teaspoon of Butter/marg

3 – 4 Table spoons of boiling water

  • Place Cocoa, Icing Mixture and Butter/Marg into a small bowl
  • Start by adding 2 tablespoons of boiling water to bowl and mixing together using a spoon
  • Continue to add water until desired consistency is achieved – icing should still be thick enough to easily spread over cake without running everywhere

** This cake can be frozen, I’ve even frozen it before when iced and it has defrosted well.

Yummy Chocolate Cake

Yummy Chocolate Cake