Tag Archives: biscuits

Milktart

Dairy… It’s a love hate relationship for me. I love it, it hates me. In fact, I think it love-hates me, and can’t actually make up its mind. Either way, I am of the moderately informed opinion that dairy isn’t really ideal for human consumption at all, but chances are, unless you are hugely intolerant/allergic to the stuff, you won’t really care about a little bit of discomfort for the sake of the dairy!

Mini milk tart
Take, for example, the classic South African Milktart: 71% milk (excluding the crust, which can be omitted for the grain/gluten-free). I could honestly eat the whole thing. And yes, I would over-dramatically hate my life afterwards, and yes, I will possibly go into some form of hyperglycemic shock (from the 12 teaspoons of sugar), and yes, I would insist on running 10km every day for the next month, to try work it off and make myself feel less guilty for the gluttony, but this little local tart can be so worth it… (I say this as if I haven’t eaten a whole milk tart by myself before… This is a judgment free space people!)
I’ve been on a quest to find a recipe that doesn’t involve either condensed milk or custard powder. This one fails in that quest, but succeeds in every other tasty way. Of course, my search will continue, and many milktarts will be quality tested on the way, so it can’t be all that bad.
Melk tert

Milktart

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 10ml flour
  • 10ml custard powder
  • 20ml cornflour
  • 60ml sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 565ml milk
  • 30g butter
  • 1 baked pastry case or biscuit crust
  • A little cinnamon

Method:

  1. Beat the eggs, then add the dry ingredients (flour, custard powder, cornflour, sugar and salt) and vanilla, and beat well
  2. Heat milk and butter until just boiling, then turn down to a slight simmer and gradually add the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Make sure not to let anything stick to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Cook, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens
  4. Pour mixture it a pie shell (biscuit crust or pre-baked), and sprinkle with cinnamon
  5. Leave to cool (or scald your tongue on the better version of warm homemade custard)
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Peanut Butter Oat Cookies

I know it may sound like a cliche, but peanut butter is my life. Especially these days. I almost feel guilty because we now have the wonders of cashew nut and almond butter, but I just don’t think you can beat a good ol’ table spoon of peanut butter (or three). Granted, peanuts aren’t really touted as being as cool as the rest of the super foods, and they are nut-posers which means we shouldn’t really trust them. However, these legumes are so versatile and so affordable, that you can pretend they are as healthy as their bourgeois counterparts.
Peanut butter oatmeal cookies
I feel bad, as well, when I pack my boyfriend’s lunch for him each day (no judging – if I didn’t do this, he would live on 2-minute noodles and tinned tuna, his idea of a balanced meal), because I feel like there is no variety in his lunch, and basically every snack/meal contains peanut butter. Peanut butter smoothie, peanut butter sandwich, peanut butter-chocolate protein oats… Add these cookies to the mix, and I’m pretty sure he would turn into peanut butter. As if he wasn’t tasty enough…
Oatmeal peanut butter cookies
These soft yet crunchy cookies unfortunately don’t do much for encouraging a healthy diet, even though they have peanut butter as their base (mostly because of the sugar). Peanut butter, I believe, is a pretty controversial snack/ingredient. On the one hand, they are a natural source of healthy fats and protein, which helps keep you full, and helps to keep your bones and muscles healthy. On the other hand, eating a whole jar of deliciousness doesn’t really count as moderation. Most unfortunate.
Oatmeal peanut butter cookies
If you can manage the moderation, or if you at least have enough people to share these with that your portion is limited by default, then you should definitely give these a bake. If not, then just enjoy them because they peanut butter in its cookie form – as if you needed another way to enjoy peanut butter.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Ingredients
  • 200g wholewheat flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 125g butter
  • 200g brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 100g rolled oats
  • 175g chunky peanut butter
  • 2 eggs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC and line your baking trays
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and cinnamon together until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and oats
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into the wet mixture and mix well
  4. Portion out the cookie dough onto your prepared pans, and flatten the dough balls
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until desired consistency. Slightly longer for a crispy cookie, slightly shorter for a more chewy cookie. Note that they will harden a bit once removed from the oven too
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack

Viennese Whirls

I am having such uncharacteristically strong cravings lately. Not in a weird way (I’m not pregnant), but my body is definitely telling me which nutrients I am lacking. Like salty or spicy potato chips (which I normally only each about 4 times a year). And chocolate too, which is normal for me, but not normally such an insatiable desire…

There’s also the inability to stop once I’ve started. I guess this is what happens when you attempt to be healthy! (Though being healthy is definitely paying off – six pack, here I come!)

Pre-baked whirls

So the other day I had a craving for those little melting moments shortbread cookies. I really just wanted the sweet buttery-ness to melt and dissolve on my tongue. With a nice dusting of icing sugar of course.

I Pinterested recipes for the little gems and I came across recipes for Viennese whirls, which are just a slightly different consistency, making them pipable. Result: the most professional-looking home-baked cookies I have ever made! And even better when dipped in the rare perfection that is Bournville (seriously, though, why have they stopped selling that in my local shops? Where did it go?!)

Tea and whirls

Make sure when you’re making these that the dough/batter is extremely soft – pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds or cream it extra well; you may end up with a split piping bag if you don’t.

Whirl batter

I am also considering adding a dash of vanilla next time I make these, just to add a subtle sweet depth to them.

Tea and biccies

Viennese Whirls

Makes about 16-20

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 55g icing sugar
  • 225g cake flour
  • 75g cornflour
  • About 200g dark chocolate for dipping (I keep the quantity low so I don’t end up eating all the leftovers!)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C
  2. Cream the butter and icing sugar together really well
  3. Sift the cake flour and cornflour together, and add to the butter mixture. Mix very well
  4. Place in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe onto a prepared baking sheet
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, just before they start to change colour
  6. Remove and let cool before dipping in melted chocolate. Leave for the chocolate to harden

Achievement Unlocked – Level Macarons!

achievement

Macarons have been my biggest challenge to date. Generally I am quite satisfied with my ability to follow a recipe and get my expected result. With macarons, however, this was not the case.

Christmas Macarons

[Let me just clarify something quickly: macaroon vs. macaron. Think: coconut vs. almond flour.

Quick recipe for a macaroon: condensed milk and desiccated coconut, mixed in a ratio that lets you form little balls and place on a baking tray to bake at 180º until the edges start to brown and the biscuit is pretty firm]

My first attempt at macarons used a recipe from Dan Lepard‘s cookbook, Short and Sweet, which has proven delicious and basically perfect every time… until now. Then I tried Mary Berry and Great British Bake Off‘s chocolate macarons. I followed the instructions to a T, and they ended up burning anyway.

I figured it was time for a troubleshooting guide, when I stumbled upon this absolute gem. She even linked to her step by step guide to making macarons, which I tried after re-attempting Dan’s recipe using some of her advice. This was my result:

Her recipe was the first to start coming out right. But surely I didn’t have to follow all of her steps? Who has time to wait overnight for egg whites to mature? As it turns out, it is important, and it makes a substantial difference.

What also helped, was this guy. I absolutely love his work! His tutorials on macarons showed me that I might have been over-beating my eggs, and maybe I was “not overmixing” too carefully. Fully incorporated, people!

Red Christmas macarons

Eventually, I ended up with these bad boys, which I made for our Christmas party. Aren’t they beautiful! And added bonus was that they were gluten free, so everyone, even the fussies (though not the Banting folk), could enjoy dessert.

They were accompanied by vanilla cupcakes with green cream cheese frosting, and cute little marshmallow reindeer that my little cousin thoroughly enjoyed.

Marshmallow reindeer

Marshmallow reindeer

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Macarons

Makes about 30 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp creme of tartar
  • 210g powdered (icing) sugar
  • 125g ground almonds/almond meal/almond flour
  • 30g caster (granulated) sugar

Method

  1. Separate the egg whites. Leave overnight to mature in the fridge, and remove from fridge well ahead of time to allow to come to room temperature
  2. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds together. Place this into a food processor and blend together until very fine and resembles a flour. Do this in stages, and make sure you’ve scraped down the sides of the food processor to break everything up. Also don’t go for so long that the mixture starts to heat up (we are making macarons, not over-sweetened almond butter)
  3. Sift the icing sugar-almond mix back into the bowl. If there are any remaining chunks of almond, remove them, they will make the mixture lumpy – DO NOT PUSH THEM THROUGH
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and creme of tartar until very soft peaks form – peaks should hold their shape for long. Add the granulated sugar here in two stages, beating until stiff peaks form (but not hard peaks – they should have some movement to them still). Colour your meringue mixture now, using powder or gel food colourings – don’t use liquid colouring
  5. Add one third of the almond mix and fold in gently. Once it has started to combine, add the second third, and repeat with the final third. Ensure mixture is of the same consistency and there are no dry patches
  6. Place mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle about 0.5-0.8cm in diameter. Pipe this onto a stencilled mat or template, taking care not to put too much mixture for each biscuit as they spread quite a bit. Tap the baking tray firmly onto your working surface to remove any air bubbles. If there are remaining bubbles on the surface, give these a pop with a tooth pick
  7. Leave to form a shell at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Just before that time is up, preheat oven to 160ºC
  8. Place baking tray in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 140ºC and continue to bake for another 5-7 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before sandwiching together with filling. I filled mine with canned caramel (boiled condensed milk trick) sprinkled with some salt (salted caramel), a coffee buttercream, and some leftover green cream cheese frosting from the cupcakes

Condensed milk biscuits

One more day of exams left and I am still baking up a storm. There were 60 scones in my kitchen today! There are only 3 people that live in my house, and no, I am not planning a party… They are actually for a fundraiser at my old primary school.

Surprisingly, my food has all gone to fairly good causes this week. And when I say “good cause”, I mean that it didn’t get eaten by only me, my mother and my brother. I baked “healthy” choc chip banana bread which I took to a fabulous games evening. I also shared these cookies with them.

Condensed milk cookies with milk and condensed milk

Condensed milk is one of my guilty pleasures. We hardly ever have any in the house unless we actually have a recipe that requires it, and generally then the recipe will require all of it (though we don’t scrape the tin out into the recipe, we reserve that for teaspoons of sneaky deliciousness). These biscuits are incredibly delicious as they are, but they also serve as a great base for other biscuits, such as chocolate chip, or macadamia and cranberry cookies. I also made some chocolatey choc chip cookies that were amazing, and they didn’t want to be left out of the photoshoot, so you can get a sneak peak at those as well.

 

Condensed milk cookies with choc chips, macadamia nuts and cranberries, and plain goodness

Condensed milk cookies with choc chips, macadamia nuts and cranberries, and plain goodness

Condensed milk biscuits

Ingredients

  • 340g cake flour
  • 225g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 200g sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Cream the butter and sugar
  3. Add the condensed milk, flour, vanilla and baking powder and mix thoroughly. Add extras at this stage
  4. Roll cookie dough into 4cm balls and place on a prepared baking tray
  5. Flatten the balls slightly with a fork
  6. Bake for 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the baking sheet
These chocolate bad boys come from the recipe book I used for my bread. I had a hankering for chocolate cookies, so I went a bit wild and made all the cookies

These chocolate bad boys come from the recipe book I used for my bread. I had a hankering for chocolate cookies, so I went a bit wild and made all the cookies

3 Ingredient ratio cookies

In school we found ourselves asking: “why do we need maths? We are never going to use the gradient of a hyperbole anywhere in our lives! Who even cares what x equals, I want to be an artist/lawyer/journalist/psychologist/fireman.”

Pam's jar

I am pleased to let you know, that I have found a use for maths that goes beyond simple addition and subtraction – we all knew that was important, how else would we be able to count our pieces of cake or get sad as people eat all your chocolates, one by one? Maths is beyond useful in these Ratio Butter Cookies, where all you have to remember is 3 little numbers. It’s so easy, you’ll quickly forget that it’s based on mathematical principles.

Mom's dayThese 3:2:1 cookies are my go-to biscuits when I am bored, craving cookies, or when I want to make a gift for someone. As a baker, I think that giving baked goods is like giving a little part of myself to the person, so it’s a personal gift, which is my favourite type of gift. As you can see from the photos, my skills with the biscuits definitely improved the more I made them, but that’s what this blog is about: learning.

Pre and post-bake

I used these fabulous cookie cutters I got from Yuppiechef, which imprint your chosen letters and words onto the cookies. Trouble is, someone has since hidden my pack of letters, so now I have to be creative when choosing my messages, because I only have the letters that were used in past messages. How many different ways can you use the letters: T. H. E. K. E. N. D. Z.? For those of you who are good with anagrams, there’s a challenge for you.

The Kendz cookies

Ratio butter cookies – dark chocolate and orange butter cookies

Ingredients

  • 300g cake/plain flour
  • 200g salted butter (or unsalted, with a pinch of salt added later)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest (or lemon zest, but this doesn’t go as well with the dark chocolate)
  • melted dark chocolate (about 1 slab, depending on how much of the cookie you want to cover in chocolate)

Method

  1. Cream the softened butter and the sugar with the orange zest until smooth, light and creamy, almost fluffy
  2. Add the flour mix together until well-combined. You may want to get your hands in there to make sure it all comes together nicely
  3. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. It can also be frozen in a sausage shape to be cut into discs whenever you want it
  4. Heat the oven to 180ºC, and line a baking tray
  5. Roll out the cookies and cut into the desired shapes. Make sure they are all of even thickness or they will cook at different speeds
  6. Place on the prepared baking tray and place in the oven
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden and they no longer look wet. Depending on how crispy you like your cookies of course…
  8. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely
  9. Melt the dark chocolate (double boiler or in the microwave, but be careful not to let it burn), and dip cookies as desired, placing them on baking parchment to set.

Be mine

Finally made Slutty Brownies

Holidays are a tough (yet wonderful) time for me because I tend to overindulge in all the wonderful things that I don’t generally have access to in the little isolated town of Grahamstown. You may also be aware that I don’t have easy access to a kitchen, which makes baking and cooking pretty difficult. However, I was recently lucky enough to be offered kitchen facilities in my Warden’s flat, and I took the opportunity to make something so wonderful and delicious, that I will most certainly be baking them again within the next two weeks.

The name is interesting, but they’re just so delicious and indulgent, that everyone wants a piece. Slutty brownies have been on my “To-make” list for a while, and I now see that I was not mistaken in choosing this recipe.

The Slutty Brownie is made up of a base layer of chocolate chip cookies, a layer of Oreos, and topped off with a fudgey brownie layer. Those are basically the three most wonderful treats in the world, right?

I chose to stick with simple box mixes, which made it cheaper and fail-proof. I didn’t want to end up with a dud layer of choc chip cookies and a perfect brownie on top, that would have been such a waste!

Just some casual ingredients waiting to become something awesome!

Just some casual ingredients waiting to become something awesome!

The three main components: cookie dough (delicious as is, by the way, who cares about Salmonella...?)

The three main components: cookie dough (delicious as is, by the way, who cares about Salmonella…?)

Place the cookies into neat rows to make sure you get evenly distributed Oreo-goodness

Place the cookies into neat rows to make sure you get evenly distributed Oreo-goodness

Try not to notice the fact that I was 1 Oreo short...

Try not to notice the fact that I was 1 Oreo short…

Add your brownie layer

Add your brownie layer

Pop it into the oven

Pop it into the oven

I would advise that you bake for a few minutes longer than the recommended time to cook the brownies, because they are quite thick, and all that baking heat needs to get deep down through to the cookie layer. Your cookies are not that likely to burn, just beware if you are using a metal cooking dish.

See the lovely layers, so inviting and tempting

See the lovely layers, so inviting and tempting

Ooey gooey delicious finished product

Ooey gooey delicious finished product

They could possibly have stayed in the oven a little longer, but then the ooey gooey-ness of the brownies would have been lost. The softer brownie also offsets a crispier cookie layer, so you really get to enjoy the textures. The Oreo layer is like a small burst of happy in your mouth, a pleasant surprise each time you come across one with that characteristic sweet frosting inside.