Category Archives: Cookies

Rhubarb Triangles

Rhubarb Triangles (7496)I have long been an admirer of Deb Perelman, a.k.a. Smitten Kitchen. What a name ha? Smitten Kitchen…That’s such a great name for a food blog. Let me tell you, I have long been smitten, but to be honest I also have been procrastinating on buying the cookbook, until earlier this year. I tried some of the recipes during the warmest of weeks, which on one hand was a huge mistake (I become a mess when trying new recipes and reviewing books) but on the other I just couldn’t wait for it to arrive. I was skipping for joy. Really.

For the first recipe I went all out for strawberries. I love the stuff so there was no doubt whatsoever about this one, and those fools were good. They took too much time to prepare, and spending a hot afternoon in the kitchen is always going to be a faff, at least for me, but they were worth the time and effort. *That* I will definitely say. The second recipe you will find here is Deb’s Rhubarb Triangles. It also intrigued me because these are on the cover, and you know me and book covers. We have a thing. They look like and are in fact, mini jam tarts, the dough being her take on shortcrust pastry, but with almonds. (There are lots of photos in this post, so be aware!)

Rhubarb Triangles (7532)I know that rhubarb is not in season right now, but there photos have been in my files begging me to publish them, and it’s a special one for me too – here’s my first attempt at baking with rhubarb. I used to pass by the rack every time I visited the market, but this recipe has helped me to overcome the fear! Sounds a little dramatic, and it is, but that’s how edgy I get with new ingredients! On to the recipe, which will give a yield of about 25 mini cookies. Before you start, please be aware that you will have way too much filling, but I used whatever remained poured over vanilla ice-cream. A real treat.

Rhubarb Triangles (7502)Rhubarb Triangles (7508)For the filling:

  • 900g rhubarb stalks
  • 130g caster sugar

Rhubarb Triangles (7507)For the dough:

  • 50g ground almonds
  • 250g plain flour
  • 65g caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 115g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract

To prepare the rhubarb for the filling, wash the lot and trim the ends, and cut into 1cm cubes. Tip these into a large saucepan with the sugar and cook for around 15 minutes, covered on low heat. Now, on medium heat, remove the cover from the pan and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring once in a while, until the fruit begins to break down. Remove the mixture from the heat, pour it into a shallow and let it cool well.

In a large bowl, add the ground almonds, flour, caster sugar and salt, and mix. Using your thumb and forefingers, lightly work the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like small breadcrumbs. Add the egg and almond extract. Combine the lot with your hands till you have a dough. Wrap this in clingfilm and place in the fridge for a good 30 minutes.

Rhubarb Triangles Dough (7513)When the rhubarb compote and dough are cold, flour your workspace, place the dough onto it, flour the top of the dough, and gently roll it out to a rough 3mm thickness. Cut out 7cm circles. Fold the edges and pinch them together to get three sides, and pinch the ends to get corners. The dough remains very crumbly, even cold, so be careful.

Rhubarb Triangles Dough (7517)Rhubarb Triangles (7518)Using a teaspoon measure, pour the fruit compote into the middle of the pastry triangle. Repeat this step until you use all the dough. As you go along, place each one on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Rhubarb Triangles (7524)Rhubarb Triangles (7522)Before baking you could place each tray with the little tarts in the freezer, to help them keep the shape. Unfortunately my freezer is the size of a drawer so I couldn’t afford doing this. Don’t worry too much though. Just preheat the oven to 190ºC/170ºC fan. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges turn golden. Some will open, but I didn’t mind at all! When they are done, put them on a wire rack to cool.

Rhubarb Triangles (7529)Rhubarb Triangles from Smitten Kitchen (7533)They will keep for 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature and a bit longer if stored in the fridge, which is where I kept them. Enjoy!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman, Square Peg, 2012.)

Chocolate Chip Cookies once again…

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Last week I got a very kind message from a friend about a large batch of cookies he made for 40 people. I never made such a big quantity all at once because thank goodness I never had to feed such a large group. (I admire anyone who is able to cook in this way without hitting the panic button.) I cannot believe that I wrote about this recipe almost two years ago today, on the 27th May to be exact! Nigella’s book Kitchen was only a few months old then. Must be a weird coincidence. Since then I made these chocolate chip beauties countless times and they are loved.

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Recently I went ahead and bought a small ice-cream scoop which turns out to be very convenient for all kinds of cookies and muffins. Sometimes the right tools make the job easier, and an extra ice-cream scoop hasn’t done anyone any harm yet! (It was also a good excuse to run to the catering shop which is only a ten minute walk away from here. Happy days!) This quantity yielded me 24 smallish cookies.

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold from the fridge
  • 300g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 300g dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C (fan) and line a couple of baking trays with baking greaseproof paper.

Melt the butter. The easier method is in the microwave using short blasts. Set aside to cool a little.

Put both sugars in a large bowl. Pour in the melted butter and whisk vigorously.

Then beat in the vanilla extract and the eggs until the mixture is light and creamy. Slowly mix in the plain flour and the baking powder and gently mix again.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a small ice-cream scoop, drop the cookie mixture down onto your lined baking trays. Make sure to keep them around 6 cm apart because they will expand while baking. Keep the cookie dough bown in the fridge to keep it cool in between the batches.

Bake for approximately 17 minutes, while keeping an eye on them. Take them out of the oven as soon as their edges turn a little golden. Leave them to cool for a while on the trays before turning them out on a wire rack. Remember you want a soft cookie on the inside so don’t overbake them.

At the risk of sounding boring, I do love making these. And there’s always some in my bag when I have a day full of errands! Enjoy! R xx

(Adapted from Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2010.)

Easy Almond Biscotti

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Kwareżimal is a Maltese traditional biscuit made and eaten during Lent. Even though many have abandoned the idea of fasting during the forty days (quaresima) leading up to Easter, these simple bakes are still widely found throughout the island on shops and in homes. My friend M makes wonderful kwareżimal which I cannot get enough of. However what I will give you now is something a little different…

What I have for you here is less of a kwareżimal, and more of a biscotti. It wouldn’t be fair to call them otherwise, mostly because these babies contain eggs and butter; it is more a matter of convenience than anything else. I have taken the liberty of naming them “Cheat’s Kwareżimal” though, hoping not to offend anyone here! I have no idea why I tend to eat almonds (and/or bake with almonds) after the Christmas period. They may be rich but in my mind they are still healthy and good for you.

J came up with this recipe while we were still in MI, and since it always works well for us I decided to leave the measurements in cups rather than grams, as they are in my notebook. To be honest I prefer this way of measuring. For me, it’s quicker and more convenient (and I have an affinity for it because that’s the way I learnt) especially when you use large glass containers for storing baking ingredients. I cannot do this anymore due to the lack of storage space in my kitchen, but I know that one day I will find a way to do this again…eventually that is.

OK, enough talk and let’s get down to the really fun stuff…For 4 large rectangular-shaped portions you will need:

  • 2 cups soft light brown sugar
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups flaked almonds
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten as egg wash
  1. Preheat the oven to 175 ºC/350 ºF and line two large baking trays with parchment or baking paper.
  2. Place the sugar into a large mixing bowl together with the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and almonds and lightly mix these before adding the softened butter. I would recommend using your hands for this (clean, of course!). You risk breaking the flaked almonds if you use a mixer on high speed and I like to see the almonds clearly when cutting into the biscuits.
  3. This mixture will turn into a dough, and when it does place it on a floured surface. Cut this in four approximately equal pieces and roll each one into a log shape.
  4. Place the dough onto the lined baking trays and flatten them into around 1cm thick rectangles. Brush the tops with the egg wash and bake for around 25 to 30 minutes, till they turn golden brown.

Store them in an airtight container and cut as many pieces as you like, as you go. Do not attempt to cut them up before serving since they will almost certainly dry out.To make this even more traditional, you can add lemon peel and a few drops of orange flower water, something found in the Maltese version.

Happy Baking!

Rob x

Cookies with Cranberries and White Chocolate

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So during the last few weeks I have had one main aim in life you might say, i.e. to use up all the food in my fridge and pantry. It’s the classic situation really, I’m always tempted to purchase one or two ingredients for a particular recipe. Then I end up with a gazillion packets of dried fruit and nuts. Now one thing which I absolutely hate is to throw away food. When it’s bad there’s no other option of course, but when it’s good then the possibilities are endless…well, that’s what I keep telling myself…and it’s true.

There’s no doubt that these cookies are delicious, if you like cranberries and white chocolate that is. I know that not everyone likes white chocolate, but I guess it would be easy to use milk or dark chocolate instead. This recipe comes from Nigella’s Christmas. I have thought about waiting until the holidays to include these lovely little bites here, but I couldn’t wait that long and really you can make them any time you want. (White chocolate and cranberries remind me of Christmas though.) I made these three times and when it comes to any kind of cookie it’s always a party especially for J (and if you know him then that goes without saying)!

Some notes before you start: the mixture yields around 30 small cookies or 15 large ones, depending what you prefer. I made the latter. No news there I’m sure! Also you could use less chocolate if you like, as I did the first time I made them. However it’s tricky to mess about with an already good recipe. You could leave out the salt though, which I did the third time round.

You’ll need:

  • 150g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 75g rolled oats (not instant)
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 75g dried cranberries
  • 50g pecans, roughly chopped (works also with walnuts)
  • 150g white chocolate chips or chunks
  1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the flour, baking powder, salt and oats in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl place the soft butter and sugar and beat until light and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix well.
  4. To the above mixture add all the ingredients in the large bowl, then fold in the dried cranberries, nuts and chocolate chunks.
  5. Using your hands roll the dough into roughly golf ball size and place them on the baking sheet. (You will need more than one tray to make the cookies in two or more batches). Push them down with a fork if you prefer.
  6. Bake the cookie dough for 15 minutes, and when done they will be too soft to lift from the tray so let them cool for around 5-10 minutes after taking them out of the oven. Then leave them to cool on a wire rack.

As in the previous cookie recipe, you can freeze the dough for up to three months so if you’re serving these at a party you can prepare them way ahead of time and bake them two days before. They are super easy to make so why don’t you give them a go?

Enjoy!

Rob x

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Cookies are not very difficult to make. It’s easy to bake a good quality batch at home, but I guess they can turn out bad if not made with care. As with almost all sweet things that need chocolate, it’s important to have a cool environment. I make these cookies regularly throughout the year but in the summer I just freeze the chocolate chunks or chips beforehand just to make sure that they won’t melt while I handle them. That did happen once and although they were good, the chocolate just melted in the mixture. Another thing which helps is to use chunks instead of chips. I can’t find decent sized chocolate chips here so I make my own. I place one or two 100g bars of the stuff into a plastic bag and bash it with a rolling pin until I get small chocolate cubes. I must admit they still end up being large-ish but the larger the chunk, the larger the cookie, so who’s in?

I tried and liked many chocolate chip cookie recipes, so what I will give you is the most recent one I came across and made. This is taken from Nigella’s Kitchen with minor changes. They are a treat. I managed to make a batch of 18 large cookies out of this. You’ll need:

  • 150g soft unsalted butter
  • 125g soft brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold from the fridge
  • 300g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 300g chocolate chunks
  1. Preheat your oven to 170ºC/Gas Mark 3 and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper or silicone sheets.
  2. Melt the butter either on the stove or in the microwave in short blasts. Be careful not to burn it. Put both sugars in a bowl with the cooled melted butter and whisk.
  3. Beat in the vanilla extract and the eggs till the mixture is creamy. Slowly mix in the flour and the baking powder and gently mix everything again. Now is the time to fold in the chocolate chunks.
  4. Using a small ice-cream scoop or a US ¼ cup measure (or your hands if you like and if they’re not too warm), drop the cookie mixture down onto your lined baking trays. Make sure you place them around 6-8cm apart because they will expand in the oven. Try to keep the cookie dough bowl in the fridge to keep it cool in between batches.
  5. Bake for around 17-18 minutes. Keep an eye on them and take them out as soon as their edges turn a little golden. Leave to cool for a while before turning them on a wire rack. Do not over-bake.

Note: Uncooked cookie dough will keep for 3 months in the freezer in an airtight container or sandwich bags. What I do is this: set aside a small batch of formed cookies on a tray and insert these in the freezer. When set, take them out and transfer them into a large sandwich bag. When needed put them back on a lined baking tray and bake into a preheated oven for around 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Rob x