Button Cookies

Oh, it’s been a long time since the last post! Not due to lack of baking, but rather due to lack of technology. My computer is on it’s last legs and prefers to sit on a shelf rather than being used. Having rearranged some of our rooms and created a zone for a family computer I now have better access – that is when the kids aren’t using it!

The other week my daughter’s class was having a leaving party for their teacher who was going on maternity leave. They had all been asked to bring in some treats and we made these little cute button cookies for her to bring in.

Button cookies

Button cookies

Ingredients
100g Icing sugar
200g Butter
300g Plain flour
0.5 tsp Vanilla extract

Other Equipment
2 small cookie cutters of different size, or one cookie cutter and one bottle lid (such as a milk bottle lid)
Plastic straws

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 150C
2. Cream butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract.
3. Fold in the flour until the dough holds together, taking care not to over-mix it
4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until about half a centimeter thick.
5. Cut out rounds using the larger of the cookie cutters, place on a lined baking tray.
6. Press the smaller cookie cutter/bottle lid to make an indentation on the cookie, use equal pressure to get an even circle and take care not to press too hard so it cuts through.
7. Using the straw, make 2 or 4 holes in the centre of the cookie. Twist the straw when pressing down to ensure the dough in the hole comes out clean. Use a skewer to clean out the straw from time to time or cut the straw to remove any dough stuck in it.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges turn lightly golden.
9. Cool on a rack and store in an air tight tin.

Button cookies

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Swedish chocolate truffles

I usually do a lot of baking for the kids birthday parties and take a lot of photos of the bakes but I’m then pretty bad at getting it up on the blog, despite my good intentions.

So, without further ado (as I’ve delayed it long enough) here are the Swedish chocolate truffles that went down a treat with both kids and adults at our last birthday party.
Swedish chocolate truffles in different coatings

Don’t be put off by the coffee in them if making them for kids – the coffee enhances the chocolate flavour rather than tasting of coffee, however it can be substituted with milk or water instead.
Swedish chocolate truffles on tray

Traditionally these little truffles are coated in nib sugar {also called pearl sugar} or desiccated coconut, but for kids parties it’s fun to roll them in multicoloured sugar sprinkles {because kids don’t get enough sugar as it is at parties!!}
Swedish chocolate truffle coated in nib sugar

Swedish chocolate truffles   

Ingredients
100 g butter, at room temperature
100 ml sugar
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 tbs coffee
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
300 ml oats
nib sugar, desiccated coconut or sugar sprinkles

Method
1) Mix the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee, vanilla extract and oats together until thoroughly mixed and a little bit sticky.
2) Take a small amount and roll into a round little ball. I usually make them about the size of a small cherry tomato but they can be pretty much any size you like.
3) Once all the mixture has been rolled into neat little balls, pour your chosen coating onto a plate and roll the balls individually in them until fully coated. Keep chilled until serving.

Swedish chocolate truffle being coated

Tea bag cookies

It’s not long until the summer holidays start now! Last year I made these cute little tea bag cookies for the teachers as a leaving present. I had originally seen just a picture of them in a friend’s Facebook feed, and had to do a bit of googling to find a recipe for them. It turned out it’s just a shortbread biscuit dipped in chocolate.

Tea bag cookies on baking sheet

These ones are flavoured with lemon zest, but they could just as well be flavoured with orange zest, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon or left plain – whatever takes your fancy. There are loads of different recipes available for them – I ended up following the recipe on a French blog called Le Pétrin, which have some of the prettiest versions of them, having utilised the Google Translate services to read it {my French is a bit rusty}.

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To cut out the cookies, make a template. You can make one out of cardboard but I felt it would take too long to cut one out at the time, and instead cut long strips initially which I then cut to size and trimmed the corners to give it the tea bag shape.

Making tea bag cookies
I bought ready made blank tags which we decorated ourselves, but there are lots of templates available with pretty tea pots and other things to print out yourself.

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Tea bag cookies

Ingredients
180g butter or margarine, softened
70g icing sugar
lemon zest, about quarter to half a lemon
1 egg yolk
20ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 pinch of salt
280g flour
100g dark chocolate (or more… can’t remember how much I actually used)

Method
1) Beat the butter until soft and creamy, add the icing sugar and continue beating until smooth.
2) Add the lemon zest, egg yolk and lemon juice and mix thoroughly until everything is well incorporated.
3) Gradually sift in the flour and salt and stir until everything is well incorporated and you have a stiff dough.
4) Form the dough into a ball, flatten it to a thick disc, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for a minimum half an hour.
5) Preheat the oven to 180C.
6) Lightly flour the work surface. Roll out the dough to about 5 mm thickness.
7) Cut out cookies using a template. Make a whole at the top of each with a straw or piping tip/nozzle – the hole should be about 4mm wide.
8) Place the cookies on a baking tray covered with baking parchment. If possible, refridgerate the cookies for twenty minutes before baking, to allow them to rest and better keep their shape.
9) Bake for about 15-18 minutes until still quite pale with a gold trim. Let cool 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
10) Melt the chocolate and dip the cookies about half way up in chocolate and leave to set for several hours, preferably over night.
11) Tie the lables onto the cookies and voila! – your tea bag cookies are done!

Tea bag cookie

Tea bag cookies on plate

 

Gingerbread biscuits

Mention Christmas baking and every country has their own specialities; Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, mince pies, Stollen, lebkuchen, Buche de Noel… the list goes on. To me Christmas is saffron buns and gingerbread biscuits.
Baked gingerbread biscuits

When I first moved to the UK I used to buy gingerbread dough from IKEA. One year they were sold out, and I decided to have a go at making my own.
I found a recipe that was nice enough, but I felt something was missing from it, so in the end I asked my mum for hers – it was pretty similar to the one I had used, but with the addition of cardamom. Using her recipe instead brought me straight back to childhood!
Cutting out gingerbread biscuits

I haven’t been able to find ground cardamom in any supermarket here, so I get whole cardamom pods instead, take the seeds out and ground them in a pestle and mortar. I haven’t figured out how many cardamom pods you need to get the amount in the recipe, I usually just estimate and add a few more than the ground amount {last I made them I used about 1½-2 tsp of whole cardamom pods which gave them quite a kick}. Don’t be tempted to leave it out due to the extra step of grounding them up {unless you are making them for decoration and not eating, in which case it won’t matter} as it’s what gives them a bit of heat. In fact, the literal translation of the Swedish word ‘pepparkakor’ is ‘peppercakes’, so they should have a bit of heat, which the other spices doesn’t manage to provide on their own.
Gingerbread biscuits with star cut out

Baking tips
– If making these for eating, make them as thin as possible – 2mm is ideal for thin and crispy biscuits, and the flavour somehow ends up different than to thicker ones. If they are for decorating and hanging in the tree for example on the other hand, they should be thicker, and some of the spices could be left out
– There is a darker ‘baking syrup’ available in Sweden that’s usually used in these. In order to get some of the darker colour, and a bit of richness, I add a tablespoon of treacle to the dough, and usually reduce the amount of golden syrup with about the same amount.
– Only roll out a small amount of dough each time instead of the whole dough – it’s much easier to get them thin that way.
– Use a timer when baking them! You’ll be able to tell by the smell when the first batch is ready, but after four or five batches your whole kitchen will be filled with heavenly gingerbread scents and you won’t be able to tell when the batch in the oven is done. If you make them very thin they go from just right to burnt in no time. Set the timer for the shorter time initially and adjust it after a few batches.
– The recipe makes about 175 biscuits, which may sound a lot, but you don’t have to make them all at once – the dough keeps well covered in the fridge for a few days, ready to be baked off when needed. It’s also worth remembering it’s hard to have just one at the time, having two, three or four is more like it, and not considered greedy if you make them small! Plus they are a great gift for friends and family, kids love making them and it doesn’t matter if they {and you!} have a bit of the dough while making them 🙂
Gingerbread biscuits and cutters

Gingerbread biscuits

Ingredients
150 g butter
250 ml sugar
50 ml golden syrup
1 tbsp treacle (optional – reduce the golden syrup by same amount if using)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tbsp ground ginger
½ tbsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom (about 1½ tsp whole cardamom pods, seeds ground in a pestle &  mortar)
½ tsp bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
100 ml water
750 ml plain flour

NOTE: Swedish recipes tend to use volume for measurement instead of weight, and I keep forgetting to check the weights when making them…

Method
1) Stir the butter, sugar and golden syrup (+ treacle if using) until smooth. Add the spices and bicarbonate, stir until incorporated, then add water, stir again, and finally the flour – stirring it all together until a smooth dough.
2) Cover the dough and leave in the fridge for at least a day to allow the dough to rest and the spices to develop and marry. {Though it would probably be fine just to leave over night}
3) When ready to bake, take a piece of dough out at a time – leaving the rest in the the fridge. Knead the dough a bit, dust your work surface with some flour and roll it out until very thin – about 2mm.
4) Use cookie cutters to cut out different shapes, or {if you don’t have any} use a measuring cup or a glass. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
5) Preheat the oven to 200-225C and bake in center of oven for 4-5 minutes until golden brown – taking care not to leave them in for too long as they catch very easily.
6) 
Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack to leave to cool completely. Store the biscuits in an airtight tin.

Baked gingerbread biscuits

Brownie cookies

Today {19th May} is World Baking Day. The World Baking Day website encourages you to “step out of your comfort zone and bake something you have never baked before”. However, I decided to skip the stepping out of my comfort zone part and just go for something I have never baked before, as I had stumbled across a recipe I wanted to try out.

I found a recipe called Better-than-Brownies Chocolate Cookies over at Brown Eyed Baker, and being very partial to brownies, I figured I’d give them a go.

The result didn’t disappoint, they really are like brownies in a cookie form – rich, gooey and very yummy! These are going to get baked in my kitchen very often from now on!  Brownie cookies

Here’s my adapted version:-

Brownie cookies

Ingredients
225g good quality dark chocolate
25g butter
2 eggs
175g sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
50g plain flour
1/4 baking powder
a pinch of salt
50g chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Method
1) Melt the chocolate and butter gently in the microwave, or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool until room temperature.
2) Stir together the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract, then add the chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.
3) Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and incorporate gently, being careful not to overmix.
4) Finally, stir in the chocolate chips / chopped chocolate and put the mixture in the fridge for a minimum of 30 mins to rest and firm up.
5) Preheat the oven to 175C
6) Scoop about a tablespoon of the mixture onto a prepared baking tray.
7) Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are firm on the outside. Like brownies, do not overbake!

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Cardamom and lemon cookies

When I was little, I always thought biscuits were pretty boring. They never looked that exciting {apart from possibly my dads chocolate chip ‘dollop’ cookies – need to remember to write a post about them some other time}. I was more into cakes and buns, and probably still is. I use the term biscuits here, as in the UK definition of the word {and not the US bread roll type bake} as the bakes I’m thinking brings to mind shortbread and other brown {golden} baked goods, which at best would be decorated with a scattering of sugar or, more often, chopped nuts or flaked almonds – none of which I was very keen of when little.

I bought a baking book quite a while ago called the Celebrity Bake Book, after having seen it advertised on the Food Network UK. The book aims to raise money for the Ben Kinsella Trust, to raise awareness about knife crime. I have been meaning to bake something from the book a while now, and when flicking through it again I found a recipe for stamped Cardamom and Lemon cookies by the Hairy Bikers, that I discovered also features on the BBC Food website as it was included in their Bakeation tv series.
I got a couple of cookie stampers for Christmas which I hadn’t used yet, so I figured I’d use this recipe to try them out. I must admit I didn’t have high expectations of the biscuits, but figured they would be better than just plain {read ‘tasteless’} ones.

Cardamom lemon stamped cookies

I normally don’t gush like this over recipes in my posts, but there is always a first time for everything!
These cookies are absolutely amazing!!!! They are melt-in-the-mouth tender, have a delicate flavour and are mega cute when stamped!
I made the dough one day but ended up never having time to bake them that day, so I put it in the fridge for a few days until I had more time. This might have lessened the lemon flavour slightly, but they still tasted fantastic! The whole family loved them, as did a few friends who tried them, and I pretty much ended up having to fight hubby for the last one!  

Cardamom lemon stamped cookies up close

I’m now totally hooked on cardamon, I usually only use it in cinnamon buns, but I’m now going to dig out some recipes I have pulled out of magazines but never got around to trying. Watch this space!

Baked cardamom lemon stamped cookies

TIP: If you don’t have a cookie stamp, just flatten the cookies slightly before baking them, and use something else as a stamp, a fork for a simple striped pattern or one of the kids toys for example – be creative!

Eat Me cookie stamp

Cardamom and lemon stamped cookies

Ingredients
225g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
1 lemon, zest only
250g plain flour
100g ground almonds
3 tsp ground cardamom or 1 heaped tsp cardamom seeds, ground in a pestle and mortar

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 190C. Line two large baking trays with baking parchment.
2) Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together until pale and fluffy.
3) Beat in the flour, almonds and cardamom until the mixture is well combined and comes together to form a stiff dough.
4) Roll the dough into a thick roll and chill for at least 30 mins
5) Cut the roll into 1 cm thick slices and stamp with a cookie stamper, if using.
6) Bake for 12–14 minutes, until the cookies are pale golden brown.
7) Leave them to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. They will crisp up as they cool. Store the cookies in an airtight tin and eat within 7 days.

Homemade cookie stamp

Chocolate fudge cookies

I can’t believe I never managed to bake anything chocolatey last week when it was National Chocolate Week! I had every intention to but life got in the way, and I ended up just eating lots of chocolate instead {which surely must have been in the spirit of the occasion – yum!}. I’m determined to make up for it this week instead, as it’s National Baking Week.    {I assume all these food related events have been thought up to make the shorter and colder days a bit more cheerful – not that I’m complaining!}.

Chocolate fudge cookie stack

Munchkin had a friend round to play today, so I made some cookies for them to munch on when they could tear themselves away from the fun and games.Chocolate fudge cookie dough

The cookie dough is a great base recipe that can be easily adapted for different flavour combination by changing an ingredient or two. I use the same recipe for my Moreish Double Chocolate Chip Cookies {which are the best home made cookies I’ve ever had, if I may say so myself – absolutely fantastic!!} and White Chocolate and Cranberry CookiesChocolate fudge cookies - ready for the oven

Chocolate fudge cookies

Ingredients
125 g soft unsalted butter
125 g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp condensed milk
175 g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
50 g fudge, cut into smallish pieces
50 g dark chocolate, cut into smallish pieces

Method
1) Preheat oven to 150C
2) Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
3) Beat in the condensed milk, then add the flour and a pinch of salt
4 ) Stir in the fudge and chocolate pieces
5) Roll into walnut sized balls and place on a baking sheet
6) Flatten them slightly then bake for about 25 mins, or slightly longer if wanting crisper cookies
7) Cool on a rack, then enjoy!

Chocolate fudge cookies

Adapted from Sainsbury’s Magazine