Tag Archives: biscuits

Is it a biscuit or a cookie?

I for one, never really know.  I would like to think a biscuit is flatter, and crisp, to me a digestive “biscuit” is the typical biscuit for me.
Biscuits

Whereas a cookie can be slightly more cracked, un-uniform and soft.  A chocolate chip cookie in this case is my example.

The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie

The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie

Often when I get the urge to make either a cookie or a biscuit I cannot make up my mind, so end up making more than one.

Sometimes when the mood REALLY takes me I might go one step further and make some “millionaire” shortbread.  I had been doing my shopping after my run recently (NEVER is this a good idea BTW), and spied my guilty pleasure in the aisle while waiting to pay. My virtuous daughter said not to give into my Twix temptation.  But I just couldn’t get the caramel/ chocolate/ Shortbread combination out of my head. So the biscuit on that occasion was, of course the millionaire.

Of course once you pair chocolate with either one, it instantly becomes a treat.

Biscuits

My husbands family come from a rather well known biscuit brand.  Jacob’s biscuits. As it happened the origin of the brand was Waterford,  founded in 1851 in Bridge Street, by William Beale Jacob and his brother Robert. It later moved to the better known location of Bishop Street in Dublin, with a factory in Peter’s Row. The factory in Liverpool was opened in 1914.

Mind you, when you think of Jacob’s biscuits you often imagine the iconic orange wrapping of the famous cream cracker, that, to me, isn’t really a biscuit at all! And no, I’m afraid I CANNOT tell you how they put the figs into the figrolls…..

So, as you can see I’ve quite the obsession with the whole cookie, biscuit, cracker thing.  And thankfully always have lots of volunteers helping me in my quest to find a favourite.  So, what’s yours?

Valentines Day Treats

I’ve been asked to make some Valentine treats for customers and I thought I would share some ideas. Many people don’t want to go out Valentine’s night, and this year, being a Tuesday, it might suit you better to spend the evening.

“Take 6 Small Kisses

         Throw in 2 mahoosive hugs

                 A heaped cup of kindness

                              And a whole lot of love

                                          Mix together with happiness

                                                         And share between two hearts”

 

I’ll be putting the recipe for these in this months newsletter- but biscuits are always a nice gift.  Either munch on them with a cup of tea, or serve with a light chocolate mousse as a dessert.

Valentines Gifts

Valentines Gifts

Of course, with a chocolate theme comes, for me, one of my secret pleasures- Brownies.  Here I’ve made them in the shape of hearts, but they taste the same in slabs!
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And if all comes to all, you can just go all out and have a heart shaped cake…

Valentines Cake

Valentines Cake

Let me know if you want to order any of the above, or are looking for ideas to cook yourself for a special dinner-

Gluten Free Gingerbread Men

My sister in law is Finnish, as you know. And quite frankly she makes the best gingerbread in the world. But for those who wish to have a gluten free treat- here’s my gluten free version.  And even though we manage to make and consume a gargantuan amount of gingerbread in our house- apparently Nuremberg, Germany is the official Gingerbread Capital of the world!

Gingerbread Biscuits

Ingredients

350g Gluten Free Plain Flour plus extra for rolling out

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

125g soft butter

175g light soft brown sugar

1 large egg

4 tablespoons of golden syrup

Method

Mixtogether the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of your food processor.  Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar.

Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together.  Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 1800C.  Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Roll the dough out to approx 3 mm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.  Stick the trays into the freezer for ten minutes before baking for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Decorate as wished!  Gingerbread upside down double as reindeer!
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Give this biscuit recipe a whirl….

I’ve taken to trying a different biscuit recipe each week. It’s tea and biscuit weather let’s be honest.  Well that’s my excuse.  My grandmother was very fond of Viennese Whirl biscuits, especially when she had people around for coffee.  I’ve tried various recipes over the years, and the biggest challenge is piping the mixture.  I think I’ve finally cracked the proportions of dry to wet.  At last!

Viennese Whirls

You can leave them undipped, but they are just lush dipped in chocolate.  The darker the better.  You can also make round ones, and fill them with jam and vanilla buttercream if you are going !all out!.

 

Viennese Whirls

Viennese Whirls

Ingredients:

100g Butter, VERY soft

40g Icing Sugar

100g Strong Flour

1 heaped teaspoon of cornflour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon Vanilla paste

1 tablespoon of full fat milk

100g chocolate for melting

Method:

Preheat the oven to 140oC.  Line a baking tray with parchment or non stick reusable paper.

Cream the butter and the icing sugar very well in your mixer.  As this is a small amount you need to keep scraping down the sides until you get an even and consistency and a light colour.

Add the dry ingredients and the vanilla.  Mix again thoroughly, again scraping down the sides.  Add enough milk until you feel you can pipe it.  This is a tricky part. Too soft if won’t hold it’s ridges, too stiff it won’t pipe.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle.

Pipe 10cm lengths, and maybe a few rosettes.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Cool on the tray.

While the biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate in a smallish bowl (helps to keep the depth of the chocolate, therefore easier to dip).

Biscuits
Gently dip one end of each cooked biscuit into the chocolate and then leave to set on a parchment lined tray.

Biscuits

Divine!

Buckwheat Chocolate Biscuit Recipe

When I was in LitFest, I helped out with the Claire Ptak demo, her of The Violet Cakes Fame.  She bakes will real fiinesse.  One of the recipes I had to cook of hers was for a chocolate covered digestive biscuit made from dark rye flour.  I decided to make these for guests as a treat with a cuppa, and gluten free was the order of the day.

As I mentioned the original recipe uses rye flour, and I simply swapped this for buckwheat flour. Buckwheat isn’t actually wheat based at all. It is not commonly used in Ireland, but very common on the continent. With baking, the gluten is the key to light and fluffy textured end product, but you don’t essentially want that texture in a biscuit.  So we were already on a winner.

It’s high in fibre, and as it is not very processed also retains it’s mineral and vitamin content. It’s not a grass but related to sorrel and rhubarb! First cultivated in Asia in 6000BC, it does not do well in nitrogen rich soil, which is possibly why it’s cultivation died out. As more and more farmers added fertilizers to their ground.

Buckwheat Biscuits

Buckwheat Biscuits

Once the dough is made, it gets rolled straight away, cut into digestive sized biscuits. I used the thin end of a chopstick to get the obligatory holes.  Claire had been very specific about this, and it really finishes the biscuits off properly.

The next essential stage is to chill the biscuits, for a minimum of 30 minutes in the fridge. And longer if you can.  I was under a little bit of time pressure so they puffed up a little while cooking but not enough to affect the flavour!

When they’ve cooled on the tray for 10 minutes, remove to a wire rack and melt some chocolate.  I dipped the cooled biscuits in this, by tilting the bowl and dipping half the biscuit in.  I thought at this stage to put them back on the prepared tin, as I didn’t want the drying chocolate to meld onto the wire rack.  A little sea salt on some finished them off nicely. And if you can wait around long enough for the chocolate to dry- be my guest.  We couldn’t. 

Buckwheat Biscuits

Afternoon Tea Part 1- the non posh kind

It’s a given thing in our house, that anyone around the farm at approximately 4 o’clock in the afternoon, heads to Alan’s house for “tea”.  This has been happening for as long as we are in Waterford (15+ years), and I’m sure it happened before then too.  And the tea consists of tea, with a maximum of 2 biscuits.  In fact that was my first foray into speaking Finnish.  My nieces and nephews would ask Liisa (my Finnish sis in law) how many biscuits they could have.  And to this day, she still will say “kaksi keksejä”, which means two biscuits!  But sometimes it involves cake…

Some rather untidy pear tart for afternoon tea

Some rather untidy pear tart for tea

The key ingredient of course, of any afternoon is the tea. I try to use looseleaf when making a pot.  And I’ve lots of teapots. Lots. But sometimes only a bag in a cup will do.  My favourite is Breakfast tea blend, but try to have Darjeeling later through the day. And I know it sounds ridiculously snobby to have a a favourite tea.  But people have favourite coffee don’t they???

Afternoon tea can be fun- but also glamorous, and is a very relaxing way to spend time with friends and family. Afternoon tea, is in the fact the new cocktail hour in many hotels.  At some stage I want to try the one served in the Ritz Hotel in London.  They have served this meal since 1906!! But at £52 per person it’s a bit steep.  The more up to date version in Claridge’s (who have only been serving it for 150 years)  is a more informal setting focuses more on the food.

 Making the Perfect cup of Afternoon tea:

Using fresh water (very important because of aeration) bring the kettle to the boil.

Immediately “scald” the pot, leaving the water in it for around 5 minutes.  

Empty this water out.

Add one teaspoon of loose leaf tea per person into the warmed pot. Reboil the kettle and add onto the tea. Leave for about 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Perfect!

  Time for tea

Darjeeling, as it happens, is a perfect flavour to have with a creamy pastry, so says the king of pastry, Eric Lanlard.  So who am I to disagree? Course now that he’s said that, I’ll have to try it.  Won’t I??

 

The old favourites are the best- iced Christmas cookies

I always use this recipe when making batches of biscuits for icing; it’s my twist on a Nigella Lawson Classic

A cup of treats

A cup of treats

for the biscuits

  • 300g plain flour (plus more for dusting)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 4 tablespoons runny honey

for the icing and trimmings

  • 300 g instant royal icing (from packet)
  • decorations

Method

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/350ºF.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a food processor and, with the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the beaten eggs and runny honey, though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up.
  3. Form 2 fat discs and put one, covered in clingfilm or in a freezer bag, in the fridge while you get started on the other.
  4. Then dust a work surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about 5mm / ¼ inch and cut out your Christmas decorations with cutters of your choice.
  5. Re-roll and cut out some more, setting aside the residue from this first disc, well covered, while you get on with rolling out the second. When you’ve got both sets of leftover clumps of dough, roll out and cut out again, and keep doing so till all the dough’s used up.
  6. Arrange the pastry shapes on the lined baking sheets and cook for about 20 minutes: it’s hard to see when they’re cooked, but you can feel; if the underside is no longer doughy, they’re ready. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  7. Make up the instant royal icing, beating it until it’s thick enough to be able to cover the biscuits with a just-dripping blanket of white.
  8. Carefully ice the cold decorations, using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing), and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like.