biscuits

Orange, Dark Chocolate, Pistachio and Cardamom Cookies

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.

Ingredients (makes 20-24 large cookies)

  • 225g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 150g dark brown soft sugar
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1tsp ground cardamom (or 8-10 cardamom pods, crushed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 300g plain flour
  • pinch sea salt
  • 300g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden but still soft and chewy in the middle. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Melting Moments

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.

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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

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Once your biscuits have chilled and are firm, bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on the trays.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

 

Enjoy!

Decorative Gingerbread Biscuits

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!).

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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
  • 40ml water
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp ginger
  • pinch mixed spice
  • 190g butter, cubed
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 450g plain flour
  • Optional: white icing for decorating, silver balls, edible glitter, ribbon

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Once cooked, cool the biscuits on a wire rack and decorate as you wish.

Snickers Cookie Sandwiches

These Snickers cookies sandwiched together with peanut buttercream and caramel sauce are the ultimate indulgence- you must try them!

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Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 225g soft butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 300g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 4 chopped Snickers bars
  • 100g dark chocolate chips

For the caramel filling: 40g butter, 40g dark brown sugar, 40g golden syrup, 50ml double cream

For the peanut butter filling: 300g icing sugar, 50g butter, 50g peanut butter, few drops of milk

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar with an electric whisk or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and some of the flour then whisk again to incorporate them into the mix. Add the remaining flour and bicarbonate of soda. Mix again.
  3. Add the chopped snickers bars and chocolate chips then fold in with a wooden spoon.
  4. Roll the cookie dough into small even balls (slightly smaller than a ping pong ball) and line onto the baking trays (allowing space for spreading).
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Once cooked allow to cool on the trays while you make the fillings.
  6. For the caramel, melt together the butter, sugar and syrup. Once melted, bring to the boil then add the cream off the heat. Stir and allow to cool and thicken.
  7. To make the peanut butter buttercream, whisk the butter until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and briefly whisk together, then add the icing sugar gradually, whisking constantly until you have a light buttercream. Add some milk if the frosting is too stiff to achieve the desired pipe-able consistency.
  8. Now it’s time to assemble your cookie sandwiches! Just take a cookie, pipe a ring of peanut buttercream around the edge, fill it with caramel and pair up with another cookie to form a sandwich.

Willie’s Cacao: Orange Blossom and Chocolate Melting Moments

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you may well have noticed that my recipes tend to be a little chocolate heavy (it is my vice- I can’t help it). With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to team up with quality chocolate makers Willie’s Cacao to create a few recipes using different ‘single estate’ bars. By doing this I want to show how different beans create different flavours in chocolate, which in turn taste best when paired with specific ingredients and foods- as with grapes in fine wines.

Willie Harcourt Cooze, founder of Willie’s Cacao, focuses on ‘single estate’ cacao; what this means is that each bar is made from beans grown in one very carefully selected location (whether that be Peru, Venezuela or Cuba etc), instead of beans of various origins going into the same chocolate. The company work in this way to highlight how growing beans in varying climates and soils result in contrasting flavoured bars.

Having experimented with three of their chocolates, I have created three recipes in which the taste of the specific cacao is (hopefully)  highlighted by my choice of flavour pairings. This experimentation has made me realise how important it is to do your research when it comes to chocolate (and any ingredients really), as these bakes have a great depth of flavour I have never achieved before with chocolate based baking.

BISCUIT 3 USE

My first recipe is for these orange blossom and chocolate melting moments. For these I used the Colombian Los Llanos single estate bar- it has fruity and floral notes so really works with the orange centre. They are made up of two buttery chocolate biscuits, a delicious chocolate ganache and an orange blossom and fresh zest buttercream.

INGREDIENTS (makes 8-10 sandwich biscuits)

For the biscuits: 175g soft butter, 60g icing sugar, 60g corn flour, 20g cocoa, 150g plain flour

For the ganache: 50g 70% Colombian Los Llanos chocolate (or another good quality dark chocolate), 50g double cream

For the orange blossom centre: zest 1 orange, 1tsp orange blossom extract, 65g soft butter, 150g icing sugar

BISCUIT 1 USE

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 160c (fan) and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.

For the biscuits, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the cornflour, cocoa and plain flour then very briefly mix until smooth and combined. The less handling the biscuits have, the more buttery and crumbly they will be.

Once the dough is combined, take 1tbsp pieces and roll into balls, then line onto the prepared trays (with a little space between each). When all the dough has been used, press down on the balls with the back of a fork to create the line pattern. Chill for 10 minutes in the fridge.

Once chilled, bake for 10-12 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the fillings. For the ganache, grate the chocolate into a bowl. Heat the cream until almost bubbling then pour over the chocolate. Leave to melt for a couple of minutes then stir to combine. Set aside to cool.

For the orange buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy then add the zest and extract. Stir to combine.

Fill two piping bags- one with the ganache and the other with the buttercream.

Once the biscuits are cool pipe a ring of ganache around the outer edge then fill the centre with the orange buttercream. Place another biscuit on top to create a sandwich and repeat the process until all the biscuits have been used up.

Enjoy!

BISCUIT 2 USE

I hope you like these biscuits and find cacao as interesting as I do. Look out for two more chocolate recipes this week and do give them a try, I’m really pleased with the results!

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Cookies

These take no time to make and are my personal guilty pleasure; you can’t beat a chewy peanut butter cookie studded with white chocolate chips!

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For these cookies you will need: 260g plain flour, 1tsp bicarbonate soda, pinch salt, 80g butter, 80g peanut butter, 150g dark brown soft sugar, 150g caster sugar, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 250g white chocolate chips (or white chocolate roughly chopped)

Preheat the oven to 180 and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter, peanut butter and dark soft sugar in a saucepan. Allow to cool a little then add the egg yolk and egg. Whisk together until smooth.

Add the egg and butter mix to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to form a soft but firm cookie dough. Mix through the white chocolate evenly.

Roll heaped tbsp amounts of the dough into balls and place onto the prepared trays, ensuring that you leave space for spreading.

Bake for 10-15 minutes for a soft chewy centre. They will be very soft when you remove them from the oven so leave on the tray for a little while to allow them to firm up before eating!

Enjoy!

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Let the Gluttony Commence!

I must start with this post with a quick apology for my lack of recipes over the past month; I have been drowning in essays, dissertation drafts and other equally exciting (?!) tasks at University so cooking has unfortunately been put on the back burner.

Now, however, I am home and more than ready to get stuck into some Festive baking and of course, recipe sharing!

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Not to do things by halves, I decided to kick off the season of good will (and good food) with another of my huge gingerbread constructions. Last Christmas I created a rustic gingerbread replica of my own house (this can be found in the ‘Biscuits’ section of tassybakes), but this time around I wanted to give you something a little more refined.

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With this in mind, I drew up a template for my own gingerbread Chapel, aiming not only for a grand size but for detail and a bit of finesse; I will let you decide if I’ve fulfilled my aim!

If you think I have and fancy freestyling your own gingerbread build this Christmas, here is the recipe I used and some useful tips on how to create those aesthetic details.

For the Gingerbread you will need (this recipe makes loads of the stuff- enough for a big house like mine):

700g unsalted butter, 600g dark brown sugar, 300g golden syrup, 1.9kg plain flour, 2tbsp bicarbonate of soda, 1tsp cinnamon, 2tbsp ground ginger

Simply melt together the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan, then set aside.

Sift the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl then pour the buttery liquid in. Mix vigorously until fully combined, then heavily flour a surface and roll the dough out, a quarter at a time.

Cut into your necessary shapes according to your design template then bake for 8-10 minutes (time varies depending on size of pieces- smaller shapes will take less time).

Some Decorative Tips

1) Make your building special by creating a stained glass window effect. This works brilliantly in the evening if you put some candles into the doorway, as it looks as though the lights are on in your little house!

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To make this glass effect, all you need is a pack of clear mints or boiled sweets. Crush the sweets to a powder, then, when almost cooked, take your gingerbread out of the oven and place the powder into any window gaps you’ve cut , before returning to  the oven for three minutes. When you remove your gingerbread, the sweets will have melted and formed little glass windows- a perfect detail to add to any house.

2) Take the time to tile your gingerbread house once it has been built. I find flaked almonds really effective but chocolate buttons would be great for children, or any other flat sweets you fancy trying.

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3) Use some simple white icing and a piping bag to draw lines and patterns on the sides of your building- they add lots of pretty detail and make the end result even better.

4) Be PATIENT! This is vital if you’re house is going to work- you can’t expect it to stand up straight away, so support the sides whilst it sets in place. Use icing sugar mixed with water as a glue to hold the pieces together and don’t be sparing- the more you use the more secure the construction will be.