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Category Archives: Biscuits

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread, a pimped up version of a classic.

My friend Tora and I have been making salted caramel millionaire’s shortbread for years – both of us are obsessed with salted caramel. But then I thought, there’s not many things in life that aren’t improved by a little peanut butter. So I did this. And it was good.

You can easily omit the salt from the caramel if you want as the peanut butter will most likely be a bit salty anyway. But if you are using it, always add your salt last and in tiny amounts, tasting as you go. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away if you add too much!

This is pretty rich, so I definitely suggest cutting it into small portions.

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread

For the peanut butter shortbread:

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 30g smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a tin (approximately 25x20cm) with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, vanilla and sugar. You can use an electric whisk for this but if your butter is nice and soft then it won’t take much work with a wooden spoon. Once well mixed, add the flour and rub it in with your finger tips until it’s the consistency of bread crumbs. Tip the mixture into your lined tin and squash and press it down and into the edges of the pan until you have an even layer – use your knuckles or the bag of a large spoon. Prick it all over with a fork and put it in the oven. Bake at 180C for 5 minutes, then turn down to 150C and bake for a further 30-35 minutes until evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool a little before you’re ready to apply the caramel.

For the peanut butter salted caramel:

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 397g condensed milk (that’s the standard size in the UK. It wont matter if it’s a few grams more or less)
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • up to 1 tsp sea salt

You can make the caramel whilst the shortbread is in the oven. In a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Once the butter is melted add the condensed milk and golden syrup and continue to heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Seriously, don’t be tempted to leave this and do something else – the high sugar content means that it can easily catch and burn – I’ve made that mistake in the past and it’s frustrating and a waste when you have to chuck a batch of burnt caramel away, not to mention the mess it makes of the pan. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, hot enough to boil but not vigorously, and be careful as you don’t want to get splashed with it as it’s super hot. The caramel is ready when it’s, well, caramel coloured. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Before adding any salt, taste a little bit (blow on it first and be very careful not to burn your tongue). Add the salt a pinch at a time, tasting after each addition. Once you’re happy with it, pour it over the cooked and slightly cooled shortbread. Spread it out with a spatula until it’s reached the edges and you have an even layer. Leave it to cool, or even put it in the fridge to set up a bit before you add the final layer of chocolate.

For the chocolate:

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate

(To be honest, it won’t matter if you just use milk chocolate, but I prefer a mix of milk and dark) Melt the chocolate, either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in short, 20 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between zaps.

Once melted, pour over the shortbread and spread it to the edges. Give it a shake and a sharp rap on the kitchen counter to get a nice even finish. Leave to set in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. Remove from the pan, peel off the greaseproof paper and use a big sharp knife to cut into portions (I got 32 pieces out of this). This should keep well for 3-5 days in an airtight container, but I doubt it’ll last that long once anybody tries it!

If you’re as big a fan of salted caramel as I am, check out my other recipes here. Or if it’s peanut butter that floats your boat, have a peek at these.

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Fully Loaded Favourite Cookies

Fully Loaded Favourite Cookies

Cookies, stuffed full of raisins, milk and white chocolate and toasted hazelnuts

Inspiration for new bakes can come from all kinds of places, but I never thought the One Show (don’t judge me, my landlord watches it) would lead me to bake such a cracking cookie. They did one of their scintillating features on biscuits – the science of dunking, the nation’s favourite biscuit – all that need-to-know stuff. Anyway, they made some biscuits with the nation’s favourite ingredients – chocolate, raisins and hazelnuts – and apparently they were really rather good. So I decided I’d have a bash at something like it myself and here’s the result.

The hazelnuts keep the cookies from being overly sweet, what with all the chocolate and raisins in there. If you can’t get hold of toasted hazelnuts, put them on a baking tray in a hot oven for about 5 minutes. You can then get the papery skins off quite easily by rubbing them with a clean tea towel or some kitchen paper, but it doesn’t matter too much if you don’t remove the skins.

Fully Loaded Favourite Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 120g butter, softened
  • 100g soft, light brown sugar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190g plain flour
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • small pinch salt
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g milk chocolate (drops, or chopped into smallish chunks)
  • 50g white chocolate (drops or chopped)
  • 50 toasted hazelnuts, chopped a little

Heat the oven to 190C. In a bowl, or in a freestanding mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy and light. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well until well incorporated.  Add the flour, bicarb and salt and give another good beating so that you have a thick, sticky cookie dough with no lumps of flour. Chuck in the raisins, both types of chocolate and the nuts and give a good stir so that everything is well distributed in the dough.

You’ll need a couple of baking trays. Use your fingers to pinch off a lump of dough and roll roughly into a ball shape, about the size of a gold ball. Place the balls on the baking sheet, well apart as they will spread as they cook. I only got 4 to a baking sheet – you can always cook them in batches. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. They’re done when golden, but should still be soft to the touch as they’ll firm up as they cool and it’s better to under-bake a cookie so you get that soft, chewy middle. Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (eat one while they’re warm – lush!).

I made 8 cookies with just over half the dough. Cookie dough freezes brilliantly, so just put any that you don’t use in a freezer bag, sling it in the freezer and then the next time you want a quick batch of cookies take the bag out and leave it on the kitchen counter – it’ll be ready to use in about 30-40 minutes!

For more of my cookie and biscuit recipes, take a look here.

Amaretti Biscuits

If you follow my Facebook page you may have seen that I’ve been a bit obsessed with baking bread this week (currently on my fourth bake in a week from James Morton’s Brilliant Bread book). As I’ve been baking other people’s recipes, my lovely friend and fellow Brighton Baking Bunch member, Hannah, has done a guest blog post for me on her recent adventures in biscuit making. Enjoy!

Amaretti Biscuits

Amaretti Biscuits – fancy dunkers!

With a visit to the in-laws in the diary, I thought I would score some brownie points by baking amaretti biscuits. I don’t have a good track record with small bakes. However, with only four ingredients and a recipe by Mr Gino D’Acampo himself, what could possibly go wrong?

Well first off, instead of baking approximately 20 biscuits like the recipe stated, I ended up with 33. They were also quite chewy when I expected them to be hard. Thankfully, most people who tried them liked the texture. If you want a crunchier biscuit, take them out the oven to cool for a bit then put them back in on a low temperature until they’ve dried out.

Amaretti Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 340g / 12 oz ground almonds
  • 340g / 12 oz caster sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 30ml / 1 fl oz amaretto liquor
  • Butter for greasing

Heat the oven to 170C and grease a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Separate the egg and plop the whites into  a large bowl. Now, if you’re sensible, you’ll own an electric whisk. If you’re a glutton for punishment like myself, you have to beat the egg whites by hand, which takes forever. Beat them until peaks form.

Gently fold in the caster sugar and ground almonds before adding the amaretto. The recipe says mix this to form a smooth paste – I’d argue it forms a sticky mashed potato-like substance but it tasted good (yes, I eat raw biscuit mix).

If you want rustic splats, scoop little piles of the mixture onto the baking tray, allowing enough space for the biscuits to expand.  For a proper biscuit shape, roll the dough into small balls – approximately 2cm in diameter. Place the tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the amaretti biscuits are golden brown.

                                                       

Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Deliciously chewy Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Another cookie recipe for you here, this time with the classic flavour pairing of chocolate and orange. As I’ve mentioned before, the key to a chewy centre in your cookie is to slightly under-bake them; take them out of the oven when the top is domed and cracked. I’ve used an ice cream scoop to portion these cookies as you get a very regular size and shape that way, but if you don’t have one then simply use your hands to roll the dough into balls about the size of golf ball. With a batch this size, I freeze half the raw mixture and then when I have a craving for something chocolaty it’s just a case of thawing for half an hour or so and baking – cookie craving quickly fixed!

Easy Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 orange
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 200g chocolate chopped into chunks (I used milk, but plain would go just as well)

Heat the oven to 175C and lightly grease a couple of baking trays. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, finely grated rind of the orange and juice of half of it; beat again until well combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and cocoa and stir until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and give a final stir so the chunks are evenly distributed.

Using an ice cream scoop, put 4 or 5 scoops of mixture onto each baking tray, making sure they’re spaced well apart as they will spread. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes; remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes while they set, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely (although eating one while it’s still warm wouldn’t be such a bad thing).

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

These are simple little two-bite morsels – great with a cuppa or pop a few in a pretty bag or box to give as gifts when visiting friends. You can use whatever jam you like – raspberry is always a winner when paired with lemon. I always use a bit of cornflour in shortbread as it makes them tender and crumbly, but you can make these with just plain flour. You can also make them gluten-free by using any plain gluten-free flour you wish.

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

Ingredients:

  • 190g butter, softened
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 70g cornflour
  • 1 lemon
  • half tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp blueberry jam

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the flours, finely grated zest of the lemon and 2 teaspoons of the juice, and the vanilla extract. Stir until well combined. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and put them on an un-greased baking tray then use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a little well in the biscuits. Loosely cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to chill for about an hour.

Heat the oven to 175C. Remove the tray of uncooked biscuits from the fridge. Arrange them so they’re about an inch apart – you’ll probably need two baking trays or to cook in two batches as you need to have the biscuits spaced out as they’ll spread a little on cooking; if you make two batches leave the second batch in the fridge until ready to cook. Use a teaspoon to fill the holes in the biscuits with jam; you may not need all of it so don’t be tempted to overfill them. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until pale golden. Take them out of the oven and allow them to firm up on the tray for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Gluten-Free Coffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Coffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-free coffee and chocolate chip cookies, chewy and delicious

One of the things I love about baking cookies is that you don’t have to cook them all at once. Keep any left over cookie dough in a zip-lock bag – in the fridge for a couple of days, or in the freezer for a few months. I sometimes make big batches of dough and freeze enough for about 4 or 5 cookies per bag; then if you need a cookie fix or have friends coming over for a cuppa you can take a bag out, bring them back to room temp (it doesn’t take long, maybe an hour or so) and bake a fresh batch of cookies whenever you want! I’ve made these cookies gluten-free, but you could easily use normal plain flour if you’re not eliminating gluten from your diet.

Gluten-Free Coffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 4 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 egg
  • 160g gluten-free plain flour (I used rice flour)
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 75g milk chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate

Heat the oven to 190C. In a bowl, beat the butter, sugars and espresso powder until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat again until well mixed. Add to the bowl the flour, bicarb and salt and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until well incorporated and there are no patches of dry ingredients. Stir through the chocolate chips.

Use a dessert spoon to place heaped spoonfuls of the mix on an ungreased baking tray. Make sure they’re well spaced as they will spread a lot – you should get about 6 on a tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes. They’re ready to take out when they’re golden, but still seem a little underdone – as if you’d leave a big dent if you prodded them with a fingertip (my best tip for cookies is to slightly undercook them; they’re a much nicer texture when cooled that way). Leave to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes until they’re set, then use a palette knife to slide them off the tray and leave them to cool completely on a rack.  Make a mug of tea and tuck in!

You could also replace the chocolate chips with a big handful of chopped walnuts for a twist on the classic coffee and walnut cake.

Gluten-Free Shortbread

Gluten-Free Shortbread

Buttery, crumbly gluten-free shortbread

Today, the very lovely Alice came to help me improve my blog (yes, this one you’re reading) as she is a whizz with all things wordy and bloggy. To show my appreciation for generously taking time out of her day off, I made her some shortbread. Alice’s is the queen of gluten-free (she’s editor of The Gluten-Free Dining Guide) so I made GF shortbread, but you could substitute normal plain wheat flour for the rice flour if you’re not bothered about sticking to a gluten-free diet. Keep the corn flour though, as it helps give your biscuits a short, crumbly texture.

Gluten-free shortbread

Ingredients:

  • 125g caster sugar
  • 100g corn flour
  • 160g rice flour
  • 175g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together the sugar and flours. Add the butter and rub together with your fingers tips until you’re beginning to get a breadcrumb texture, then add the vanilla and continue to mix and squeeze the mixture until it all comes together as a ball. Roll your dough into a sausage about 2 inches in diameter, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper. Take your chilled biscuit dough from the fridge and unwrap it. Use a sharp knife to cut into discs about 1cm thick and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Make sure you leave some space in between as they will spread a bit. Chill the biscuits again for about 20 minutes whilst you heat your oven to 150C. Bake for 15-25 minutes (it will depend on the size/thickness of your biscuits how long they take), they should be a pale golden colour when done. Allow to cool on the tray as they’ll be soft when you first take them out of the oven. You can either leave them plain, dust with icing sugar or even drizzle them with melted chocolate!