Tahini, a thick sesame paste commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking, is my go to ingredient for when I want to add a deep, nutty and slightly bitter flavour to a dish. I don’t usually think of incorporating tahini into my baking (for some unknown reason), and more often than not I’ll just pop it into baba ganoush, add it into a yoghurt dressing or drizzle it neat over slow cooked lamb and roasted roots to balance out a sweet date syrup glaze. This being said, yesterday I fancied making some cookies (someone put a stop to my wild and spontaneous lifestyle please…) and decided to bring tahini into the mix alongside sea salt and rich dark chocolate- the major players in my cookie game. The resulting cookies are absolutely delicious with a good balance of sweet, savoury, nutty and salty flavours; one hundred percent give the recipe a go, it’s a real winner.
110g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
150g dark brown soft sugar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp sea salt
300g plain flour
300g coarsely chopped dark chocolate, plus 50g extra for decoration (optional)
2tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180c. Line 3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Place the butter, tahini and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. If the mix curdles or you’re worried about curdling, add 2tbsp of the flour with each egg.
Once the eggs are well incorporated add the bicarbonate of soda, salt and flour then mix to combine. Finally, add in the coarsely chopped chocolate and very briefly mix once more just to distribute through the dough.
Pop the dough in the fridge for half an hour to firm up a little, then line even balls onto the prepared trays leaving room for spreading (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are turning a light golden colour but the middles are still very soft (they will firm up during cooling).
To finish the cookies melt the additional dark chocolate and drizzle over the tops, then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
This recipe takes the classic chewy chocolate cookie and turns it into something altogether more grown up with a little help from crushed pistachios, orange zest, dark chocolate chunks and ground cardamom. Stash them away from kids (and other adults- let’s be honest) and enjoy when you’ve got a quiet moment to yourself, preferably with a strong coffee.
Place the butter, sugars, zest and ground cardamom in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream together until light and fluffy using electric beaters (or a wooden spoon if you’re slightly mad/ less lazy than me).
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Once the eggs are fully incorporated, tip in the pistachios and stir. Now sift the bicarbonate of soda, flour and salt into the batter and beat briefly to form a soft dough.
Finally, add the chocolate chunks and stir with a spoon to evenly distribute. The dough won’t be firm and to make cooking easier I like to freeze it before baking. To do this simply lay a long rectangle of cling film across your work surface, spoon on the dough in a long line and roll up, shaping into a log. Chill for half an hour and at this stage preheat the oven to 180c and line some baking trays.
Once your cookie dough logs have firmed up a bit, unwrap them and cut into slices (about 1.5 cm thick). Place the slices on the prepared baking trays with generous spaces between them for spreading (I usually put about 4 on each tray).
Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden but still soft and chewy in the middle. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
These bars are the perfect grab and go treat to keep you going on a hectic day- I love my rhubarb and ginger jam sandwiched between the peanut butter flapjack and nutty topping, but you could choose any marmalade or jam in your version.
75g coconut oil
175g peanut butter (or another nut butter ie. almond, cashew)
150g dark brown soft sugar
4tbsp golden syrup
300g porridge oats
Filling and topping:
200g rhubarb and ginger jam (or your favourite jam- fig or raspberry would work well)
200g flaked almonds
75g brazil nuts
100g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a brownie tray.
For the base place the coconut oil, peanut butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan. Melt together over a medium heat. Tip the oats into a large bowl and add the melted liquid. Stir together until well combined then pack down into the prepared baking tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
For the topping, heat the caster sugar and water together over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve then pour into a bowl along with all the nuts. Stir together to coat.
Now you can assemble the next layers. Spread the jam all over the flapjack base and spoon on the nuts in an even layer. Press down the top then bake for 15-20 minutes, until the nuts are golden brown.
These cookies are big, chewy and packed full of dark chocolate chunks and stem ginger pieces; better still, they’re so easy to make and you can make the dough ahead of time and freeze it for future use!
Ingredients (makes 15-20):
200g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g caster sugar
150g dark brown soft sugar
2tbsp ginger syrup
175g butter, melted
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
300g dark chocolate chunks
100g chopped stem ginger
Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. In a jug, mix together the dark brown soft sugar, melted butter, ginger syrup, egg and egg yolk.
Pour the mixed wet ingredients into the dry. Beat with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth cookie dough.
Add the chocolate chunks and chopped stem ginger and knead briefly into the dough.
Take a tablespoon of the cookie dough and roll into a ball. Repeat until you have used it all up then line onto trays and press down with the palm of your hand. Chill for 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 190c.
Once the cookies have firmed up a bit, bake for 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool on the trays (they will be soft when you take them out of the oven but will become chewy after cooling) then display on a platter and serve!
I’ve made a chocolate and orange blossom variation of these biscuits before and they were so popular I thought I’d experiment with another flavour. This time I’ve gone for lightly flavoured lemon biscuits (which are super crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth) sandwiched together with lemon buttercream and a really zingy lemon curd; the end result is (unsurprisingly) zesty and really delicious- give them a try.
Ingredients (makes 8-10 sandwiches):
175g soft butter
60g icing sugar
60g corn flour
185g plain flour
zest 1 lemon
For the lemon curd: 100g caster sugar, 2 lemons (juice and zest), 50g butter, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk
For the lemon buttercream: 65g soft butter, 175g icing sugar, juice and zest 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 160c. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Cream together the butter, icing sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Sift in the corn flour and plain flour then briefly mix until a dough forms (don’t over mix or you won’t achieve that melty texture you’re after in the final biscuit).
Take the dough a tablespoon at a time and roll into balls. Line onto the prepared baking trays and press down with the back of a fork to create a lined texture. Chill for half an hour.
While the biscuits are chilling make the lemon curd. To do this place the sugar, lemon juice, zest and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally, allowing the butter to melt. Once the butter has melted allow to cool slightly then add in the egg and egg yolk. Whisk together.
Set the bowl back over the pan and gently mix for about 10 minutes until the heat thickens the curd. Remove from the heat and cool.
Once your biscuits have chilled and are firm, bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on the trays.
While the biscuits are cooling, make the buttercream. Whisk the butter up to lighten then gradually add the icing sugar and beat until you have a fluffy texture. Add in the lemon juice and zest then briefly whisk to combine.
When the biscuits are cooled, pair them up. Pipe a ring of buttercream on one and spoon some lemon curd into the middle. Sandwich together with the other biscuit.
Each Christmas I make a gingerbread house, so here’s the 2016 effort. My inner perfectionist would say I’ve done better in previous years and that it’s a bit messy, however, I should probably just get over it (big life problems..) and accept that it’s pretty good considering it’s nearly 2ft tall and all edible. Hope you like it, and Merry Christmas!
To give the illusion of someone being home, I built fairy lights into the house and created windows with melted sweets (there were lots more windows at the back… I probably should’ve given their placement a bit more thought). The lights have a strobe setting as well which I enjoy- kind of makes it look like a weird woodland acid rave house (but a festive one).
All the best for the new year everyone, and happy baking!
These gingerbread biscuits are super easy to make and are really fun to shape and decorate with children. Pierce holes in the tops and thread through festive ribbons for great homemade tree decorations (or just eat them straight away, they’re delicious!).
Ingredients (makes about 20 large biscuits depending on the shapes you choose- you can always half it if you only want a few or double it if it’s for a big gingerbread house!):
150g soft light brown sugar
60g golden syrup
30g black treacle
pinch mixed spice
190g butter, cubed
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
450g plain flour
Optional: white icing for decorating, silver balls, edible glitter, ribbon
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Place the sugar, syrup, black treacle, water and spices in a saucepan. Melt together over a medium heat and stir to combine. Take off the heat and add the butter. Allow the butter to melt then stir again. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl. Stir into the liquid until you have a manageable dough. Add a little more flour if it feels too soft. Cover and set aside for half an hour to firm up.
Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Take your dough and roll out to about 3mm on a well floured surface. Cut out shapes with your desired cutters or templates and transfer to the prepped trays. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.
Once cooked, cool the biscuits on a wire rack and decorate as you wish.