Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread.

Excuse the dire photography in this post.  Taking photos isn’t my strong point.  The photos didn’t do these tasty morsels justice.

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I baked these shortbread pieces for my family to eat at home while I was away staying away in Canada visiting my brother and his family.  I don’t think they remembered they were there as they were still in the plastic box I’d put them in over a week later when I got back home!

They’re adapted from a recipe in Mary Berry’s “Cooks The Perfect…Step By Step” which I’m really enjoying cooking from at the moment. The original recipe is for individual shortbread round biscuits but I chose to put all the dough together in a square loose bottomed tin and cut it into pieces instead.  I had some Sugar and Crumbs Natural Flavour Chocolate Orange Cocoa powder which I love using so instead of using plain cocoa powder, I used that instead.  Absolutely delicious and the smell of chocolate and orange was heavenly.

The recipe introduction says: ” Buttery and very moreish, few can resist these delicious cookies.”  Mary’s original recipe also contains semolina of which she states “brings a lovely crunch,”  I didn’t have any semolina so I added cornflour instead which I use in my normal shortbread recipe.

Here’s my adaptation of the recipe.  The original recipe can be found in Mary Berry’s book.

Makes 12-16 pieces depending on how big or small you like your pieces of shortbread.  Use an 8″ square loose bottomed tin and pre-grease it with either butter or Cake Release.

Ingredients:

75g cornflour

140g plain flour

75g caster sugar

25g Sugar and Crumbs Natural Flavoured Chocolate Orange Cocoa Powder

175g butter

100g plain, dark chocolate chips/ dark chocolate chunks or alternatively chop up your own bar of chocolate.

First, pre-heat your oven to 1600C/fan 140oC/235oF/Gas 3.

Put all the cornflour, flour, sugar and cocoa powder together in a bowl.  Mix well so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

When this is done, add the butter in and rub it in with your fingers.  I find it easier to cut the butter up into small cubes first so it takes less rubbing in and handling. It needs to be at room temperature too, so take it out of the fridge in good time!

Make your mixture up into a ball of dough.  Press into the square baking tin and make sure it is evenly covering the bottom of the tin. It helps to press down with the back of a spoon.  Prick the surface of the shortbread with a fork.

Bake in the oven for approximately 40-45 minutes until firm to the touch.  Transfer the shortbread to a wire cooling rack and cut into squares or pieces as soon as you can.

 

Hilton Doubletree Cookies

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My version of Hilton Doubletree Cookies. Soft and chewy and deliciously moreish.

A couple of weeks ago I was in one of those I want to bake moods.  This happens quite a lot as baking takes my mind off everyday worries and is pure escapism from my busy job.  When I have times like these I love to bake cookies. They are quick and simple to make and taste fab too. Not that I’m allowed at the moment. I’m doing Slimming World and I can’t even begin to think about how many Syns are in some of my baking creations.

I was in one of those moods where I wanted to try out something new so I went online and came across these stunners.  Hilton Doubletree Cookies.  Now, if you have ever stayed in a Hilton Doubletree Hotel they give you a fresh and warm cookie when you check in.  I stayed at one in London near Tower Bridge about five years ago with my family and my son for one thought this was amazing to get a cookie.  We had set off early down to London from Yorkshire and were just checking in late in the morning so the cookie staved off the hunger pangs until we could stop for lunch later.

From what I remember of my Hilton Doubletree Cookie, it was soft and chewy inside, just how I like a cookie.  So when I saw the recipe online, I wrote it down and attempted to have a go at making some.  The recipe was in American measurements so I got out my set of baking cups.  I’m always nervous of adapting American recipes as I’m worried they won’t be as accurate because I’m not used to them.  Especially as this recipe called for a cup of butter.  I had to scoop up the butter and put it into the cup which was quite messy.  Usually when I bake cookies you just weigh out the butter!

The cookies also asked for chopped walnuts in the mixture. I added pecans to mine as I didn’t have any walnuts in at home. Of course due to nut allergies, etc. you can omit the nuts.  I used chopped chocolate chunks as well.

It was torture not being able to eat a cookie. Why do I do this to myself? I don’t like cooking Slimming World friendly cookies.  The one time I did this I was not impressed at having to use artificial sweetener and low fat spread in my baking. All those chemicals and the bake felt wrong. So it’s better to abstain and give the baking to someone else who can indulge. And this is exactly what happened here…. until the following day when I’d been so busy I’d not had time for lunch and got home from work. Who wanted a banana or an apple then? Oh no, not me! I ate one and very gorgeous it was too. Now a few months back I would have eaten another and another but guilt stopped me. So I stuck at one!

Now if you want to try baking the DoubleTree Hilton Cookies yourself,  then this is where I found the recipe. Head over to  fabulous The Little Kitchen blog and you will find it there:

http://www.thelittlekitchen.net/doubletree-hotel-copycat-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/

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With the addition of chocolate chunks and pecan nuts, these cookies are heaven on a plate.
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These cookies didn’t last long in our house.

 

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

 

Double Chocolate Fudge Shortbread

Last week was a very busy one and I found myself going forwards meeting myself going backwards. I’d been away in London for the weekend with my friends watching Wet Wet Wet play at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea and then it was a busy week at work.

 On Wednesday though, I had been in a school an hour away from me and when I got home I just wanted to switch off. Baking is one way I do switch off and forget about the stresses of everyday life. Once I’m in baking mode I’m in my own little world where I feel comfortable. When I feel like baking it’s difficult to decide what to make but I love baking biscuits. They’re quick to prepare and don’t take long to bake.

Though there are some times when you think great. I can do this. Then there are other times when life gets busy and you think why did I bother? This last Wednesday was one of those occasions. I’d decided on something chocolatey and started to get the ingredients together only to find my husband and daughter had eaten scrambled eggs at breakfast and used the last of the eggs up. So it had to be a cookie dough without eggs in it as there was no way I was getting in the car and going out to buy eggs especially. I knew my usual shortbread recipe didn’t have eggs in it so I thought that was the way to go. Then I realised it was a crumbly dough so would need chilling. After a bit of experimentation I came up with a double chocolate cookie shortbread dough with chocolate chips in the mixture.

I softened butter and rubbed it together with plain flour and some Cocoa powder. When this was turned into breadcrumbs I then added some caster sugar. The mixture was then worked together into a ball and then I mixed in a bag of plain chocolate chips. The ball of dough was then wrapped in cling film and was meant to be left in the fridge for an hour or so. 

Only it didn’t happen! I put the dough in the fridge and soon forgot about it as I ended up taking my son and his friend to York and didn’t get back home until much later. By that time it was too late to bake the cookies and for the next two days I would be teaching. Baking would be the last thing I would have time for.  

It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that I had the time to do something with the chilled dough.  My son saw it in the fridge and wondered what it was. I rolled it into a long sausage shape which unfortunately looked like a gigantic poo and sliced about 20 equal pieces off it to form identical cookies. 

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Dough, don’t laugh about its appearance!
The cookies were then put on three baking trays which I lined with baking parchment. They went into the oven for about 10-15 minutes. 

The unbaked cookies on the baking sheet ready to be put in the oven.
When the cookies came out of the oven I had to leave them to harden slightly before I tried to move them onto a cooling rack. If I’d done it straightaway the cookies would have broken. While they were cooling down I found a bar of plain chocolate in my baking cupboard and I melted this in the microwave. The cooled cookies were dipped in melted chocolate and left to set. As they were setting the melted chocolate dripped down the sides and through the gaps in the rack. I found a plastic mat to stick underneath to catch the drips.  

The cookies were topped with a melted chocolate icing and some chocolate covered fudge pieces.
As a finishing touch I sprinkled on some chocolate fudge covered pieces I’d found in Marks and Spencer’s the other week. They were in a little tub in the food hall baking section and I thought they might be nice on some cupcakes. I found out that the little piggies in my house had opened the tub and a few were missing. I thought I’d better get them used up before the rest ended up being troughed. Though I tasted one and they were so yummy I was tempted to have another.. And another! 

Some edible glitter to add the finishing touches.
With the chocolate covered fudge pieces on top of my cookies there was just one more finishing touch- some edible glitter! 

I’m ashamed to say I had a real diet fail of epic proportions with these cookies. I took one look at them and grabbed one to eat there and then! I was lucky some managed to come off the wire rack and into the biscuit tin!

Though they went down well with my family, I think the cookies would be great plain or with the dipped melted chocolate on top. Decorating is entirely up to you!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies.

 

 It’s been half term for me and for my kids this week.  I love my job but I really needed a few days to catch up on things.  My son has been working on a film project and had a few friends over to help him out with it.  When there’s a houseful of hungry teenagers there’s always a need to have cookies about.  Especially chocolate chip ones.

On Tuesday three of my son’s friends were round at our house and I was at home doing jobs. I don’t mind doing this but very soon the mind starts to wander and the boredom sets in.  This is also when my baking addiction starts and I think of things I can create.  It was a great opportunity to test out a recipe from my giant Great British Bake Off Calendar which is hanging up in my kitchen.  February’s recipe was for chocolate chip cookies which on the picture were sandwiched together with vanilla ice cream.  Though I didn’t have any vanilla ice cream left, the kids had troughed it all.

I’m a huge fan of Sugar and Crumbs’ natural flavour cocoa powders and icing sugars and was keen to use some flavoured cocoa powder in my cookies. I had a choice of lime, orange, coconut or black cherry flavour.  Knowing that all varieties were a great choice it was a difficult decision but in the end I  went along with chocolate orange.  A winning combination.

The cookies took minutes to prepare.  Butter and brown sugar was creamed together in a bowl then a beaten egg and some vanilla extract was added to the mixture.  In another bowl baking powder, plain flour and the cocoa powder was sifted together and folded into the wet ingredients.  Finally I put in a packet of chocolate chips which I had found in my baking cupboard.

Once the dough was combined I chilled it for about half an hour in the fridge. This made it easier to handle. I always use an ice cream scoop to measure out cookie dough so I get even portions.  They are always put well spaced on lined baking sheets as cookies of this type spread out. About halfway through the cooking time I always take the tray out of the oven and bang it down on top of the cooker. This flattens the cookies down and then they return to the oven to finish off. I don’t cook them for as long as they should be cooked as I like my cookies chewy.

  

 When my son and his friends had finished filming the cookies were a welcome treat. I put a couple aside for my daughter to try when she came in from work but they vanished. I tried one myself and the cookies were gooey and chewy with the chocolate pieces melting into the whole cookies. The orange flavour in the cocoa powder worked really well. Judging by the response I got from the cookies I will definitely be baking these again.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies

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Peanut and Chocolate Blondies- meant to have white chocolate in but thanks to someone helping themselves they became dark chocolate ones instead!

Last Monday afternoon I got in from work and finished my jobs.  It was one of those afternoons where I had an urge to bake something.  It had to be something quick that I could sling together and chuck in the oven before disappearing off to collect my kids from school.

Brownies or blondies work well for me as I make them such a lot, you get it down to a fine art and they don’t take long to whip up and in the oven.  So, for this month’s Cooking The Books Challenge where I am baking a recipe from every chapter of Rachel Allen’s Bake, her recipe for White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies would be just the ticket.  In the recipe introduction Rachel says “Fed up of brownies? Try blondies! These little squares are great on their own, eaten with ice cream they are simply sinful!”  Well we all need a pick me up or a little treat to help us get through life don’t we?

I looked in my baking cupboard knowing that I’d bought a packet of white chocolate chips a couple of weeks back and would have enough to go in the blondies.  But when I opened the cupboard.. they just weren’t there!  I can only put it down to my kids helping themselves! So frustrating, but I couldn’t prove who had took them! Luckily though I had a packet of dark chocolate chips and they would have to do instead!

To begin with I creamed some butter and crunchy peanut butter together in a large mixing bowl. When this was done I sifted some plain flour and bakingpowder in another bowl.  To the peanut butter bowl I added soft brown sugar, egg and some vanilla extract.  Finally in went the bag of chocolate chips.

As for the tin, I used the square one I always use for my brownies.  It’s a either a loose bottomed one I bought a few years back in Lakeland or one I bought at a Jamie At Home party which isn’t loose bottomed but still worked as well. Either tin always makes either 16 small square brownie bites or 12 large ones.  No problem again here, the dough went into the tin fine and 25-30 minutes later out it came after being baked in the oven at 170oC (electric fan oven here).

After about 1/2 hour’s cooling time I attempted to cut up the blondies and quickly hid them in a box in the cupboard away from my family.  They were going into work to share with my work colleagues and I thought if my family knew there were blondies about there wouldn’t be any left the next day.

I thought I’d got away with it as it was an afternoon when I was at home and my kids were still at school.  I had hidden the evidence but when we got in from the school run my daughter started sniffing when she came back in. She said “Have you been baking? I can smell chocolate!” My kids have baking radar but I lied and said she was imagining things!

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The blondies cut up easily into 12 large pieces.
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The blondies were packed up in a box and taken into work to share with my colleagues. They all disappeared by about lunchtime and everyone said they were delicious.

Cookie Dough Brownies- John Whaite Bakes At Home.

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Cookie Dough Brownies- another example of heaven on a plate!

My family are obsessed with brownies and who can blame them?  It’s just heaven to sink your teeth into some chocolatey gooiness.  My fourteen year old son loves any excuse to bake or eat brownies and had he not been at school when I baked them, I’m sure he would have been in the kitchen with me hovering around to lick the bowl out!

So,  last Friday when I planned to bake John Whaite’s Cookie Dough Brownies from his latest book John Whaite Bakes At Home, I knew I would be popular.

  I realised l I couldn’t bake the brownies straightaway as  I’d forgotten to buy plain chocolate!  So off I went to the shop, came back with what they had to offer plain chocolate wise (Bournville) and got ready to start.  It wasn’t a quick recipe to knock up but it was worth it!

So, once I was ready to get down to baking I started on the cookie dough part of the recipe. I then realised this was going to take much longer than I thought as the cookie dough has to be frozen in little balls first before you get round to making the brownie batter.  Thankfully I didn’t have a deadline for baking them or I would have been in trouble.

The cookie dough was quickly made up using a rubbing in and getting the dough together method then I separated the dough out into about 16 walnut sized balls.  These were then put in my freezer (easier said than done, my freezer is tiny!) on a lined baking tray.  I had to move everything about to fit the two small trays in.  I yearn for one of those massive American fridge freezers sometimes that fits more than a bag of peas or a pint of milk in.

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The cookie dough balls put onto the lined baking tray and ready for the freezer.

After a couple of hours in the freezer it was early afternoon and I wanted to get on with the brownies before my son came home from school.  I got on with making up the brownie batter.  Usually my brownies are made with Green and Blacks Organic plain chocolate but I couldn’t find any in the local shop so I had to use Bournville.  I like Bournville, though I know some chocolate snobs would be horrified to hear me say that!

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The chocolate and butter were melted gently in the microwave.
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To this I added in two free range eggs..
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and then some mayonnaise! Yes, you read right, mayonnaise! Well I know it sounds an odd ingredient for a cake but then again it does contain eggs and oil!
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Now for some milk and some vanilla extract along with some sugar.
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Finally, I folded in some plain flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Just look at that, yum, yum!

Out came the cookie dough balls which had frozen well and these were then put in the bottom of my greased square tin. I spaced them well apart, thinking that there would be about 12-16 pieces of brownie, so you would get at least one large cookie dough ball in it!

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Cookie dough balls in the greased tin.
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The brownie batter was then carefully poured all over the top of the cookie dough balls.

The brownies baked in the oven for about 25 minutes and the kitchen smelled wonderful.  I had been so careful eating healthily so far this week but the brownies would soon be my downfall.  I hoped I could hide them so that I wouldn’t be tempted.

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Cut up on a plate to share round the following day. Just how I like brownies, all fudgy and gooey inside with the cookie dough flavour and texture complimenting the brownies.
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It was very difficult to see the cookie dough in the cut pieces in the photo as they were inside the pieces of brownie. But believe me they were there and they were just sublime.

When my son came home he begged to have a brownie there and then.  He wasn’t very happy when I said no but he could have one for tea.  He kept trying to wheedle one out of me but I was having none of it.  Finally we ate one for pudding, I succumbed to the temptation and it was wonderful.  The other pieces went in the freezer for another time.

Well John Whaite, you have created a winning recipe with these brownies and I am sure my family would love me all the more if I made them again and again, thankyou so much!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Orange Biscuits From Delia’s Cakes.

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Even though the title of Delia Smith’s book is called Delia’s Cakes, it also includes recipes for lots of different biscuits and cookies.  I love baking biscuits (and stuffing them down my gob as fast as I bake them too!).  So I had loads of recipes I wanted to choose from to bake for, for the Biscuits chapter as part of my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge.

But, the Chocolate Orange biscuits stood out for me in the end.  It was the recipe introduction that did it for me.  Delia says “If you like chocolate and orange as a combination, then forget Jaffa Cakes. These are in a completely different class,”  How could you forget Jaffa Cakes?  All my family love them, especially my fourteen year old son.  I love Terry’s Chocolate Oranges too, so it’s a win win combination.  I just had to bake these even though they weren’t going to be eaten by us, they were off down to the neighbouring village’s Spring Festival to be served in the cafe with the coffee and teas in the school!  I hoped temptation wouldn’t get the better of me!

A week last  Saturday, the afternoon was beautiful and sunny.  My children had gone off into Leeds with friends and my mum had just arrived for the weekend as it was also my son’s birthday.  My mum offered to help me in the kitchen.  We set to with our baking and enjoyed our relaxing afternoon.

First I had to chop up a 100g bar of plain chocolate into small chunks.  Delia says to use chopped dark chocolate but I suppose chocolate chips would be fine.  After that I grated the zest of two oranges into a small bowl and squeezed one half of one of the oranges as I needed a tablespoonful of orange juice to add to the mixture.

After that I started on the actual biscuits themselves.  I beat spreadable butter and caster sugar together until it became light and creamy, followed by flour and some baking powder.  The mixture didn’t need an egg to combine it together as the fluid came from the orange juice. This gave it a nice smell and I was tempted to stick my finger in the mix and lick some dough.  I had to restrain myself though.

Once the dough had come together it had to be rolled out.  I find this difficult with mixtures containing fruit and chocolate as the cutter edge always seems to be where there’s a giant sultana or chocolate piece that won’t cut.  You end up with jagged lumps.  After managing to get 2 dozen cookies out of the dough I was pleased and they were put on the baking trays ready to be baked.

After the cookies came out the oven they went onto my cooling rack once I’d given them 5 minutes resting time on the oven tray.  The heavenly aroma was just far too tempting.  But I knew they weren’t for us!

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The chocolate orange cookies all ready and packed in a plastic box to take down to the Spring Festival.

Once they were cooled down, my mum put the cookies into a spare box for me.  We left them overnight ready for the Spring Festival the following day.  Unfortunately, my greedy son stole two cookies from the box.  He asked if he could have one on the Sunday morning.  I said no as they were for the Spring Festival but he helped himself anyway when I went upstairs.  He thinks I can’t count and I wouldn’t miss them.  I went ballistic!  Thank heavens they hadn’t been for a special order or anything.

I’m not sure how well the cookies sold at the cafe in the Spring Festival.  When my mum and I popped in for a cup of tea and cake in the afternoon there were still loads of cakes and biscuits left.  I didn’t taste one but they did look fine to me.  I will definitely bake them again.

Happy baking!

Love Sam xx