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Cover: Loco for cocoa

Recipes with biscuits

20Jul 12

Chocolate Gingerbread Animals

 

Chocolate Gingerbread AnimalsChocolate is my passion, and my niece loves it too, so we often find ourselves playing with it together when she comes round for the day, even when she visits with her mum and dad. We girls get busy in the kitchen, leaving mum and dad to relax together a while – a much welcome break for them; and loads of fun for us! Here’s one of our favourites; chocolate gingerbread animals. We make animals because they are the shapes we happened to find on a shopping trip together. But we also have heart, circle and square cutters – and you can make this recipe into gingerbread people too and decorate them with icing, chocolate and smarties if you like. (Also try this sugar-free gingerbread recipe.)

We had a family gathering recently with my parents, brothers, sisters and of course my little niece, and we rustled these up. My dad, with his Canadian roots, particularly enjoyed munching his way through the moose.

Chocolate Gingerbread Animals
Author: 
Recipe type: Desserts
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
A classic gingerbread biscuit with the added delight of chocolate…
Ingredients
  • 30g unsweetened good quality cocoa powder and a little for dusting
  • 310g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 190ml golden syrup
Instructions
  1. Grease a baking sheet with a little butter and preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Measure out and sift the cocoa powder, flour, ginger powder and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl and combine.
  3. Chop the butter into small cubes and then work it into the powder with your fingertips, creating a fine crumble-like texture.
  4. Now add the sugar, the golden syrup and the egg. Combine the mixture together with your hands to create a firm dough.
  5. Cut the dough ball in half and roll it out on a lightly cocoa powder dusted surface, then cut out the shapes of your choice.
  6. Bake the biscuits on the tray in the oven for between 10 and 15 minutes, until you see them just beginning to darken around the edges. Let them sit on the tray for a couple of minutes cooling before transferring them to a cooling rack. Once cool, you can decorate as you wish.
  7. Repeat the rolling, cutting and cooking processes with the other half of the dough, or wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge if you prefer to make another fresh batch the next day.

 

 

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15Jul 12

Little Chocolate Macaroons

Little Chocolate MacaroonsMelty and crispy… what a combination!

These little chocolate macaroons get baked in our house every so often.  Sometimes we devour the lot in one go, and sometimes I manage to save some in an airtight container to share with friends on coffee mornings – which is usually the motive for making them in the first place.  They are a perfect coffee compliment, and they contain a chocolate-coated coffee bean in the centre.

These chocolate macaroons are crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.  Your friends will be delighted to share them with you.  If you can’t find the coated coffee beans, use a whole blanched almond as a substitute.

For an evening variation for the grown-ups, serve a couple of macaroons in a pretty bowl, drizzled over with almond liqueur or the Italian liqueur Disaronno; or spoon a little liqueur cream onto the side.  Here’s another idea; simply serve with a liqueur coffee after a special meal. (Another fantastic cookie to go with coffee is this Italian biscotti di prato.)

Ingredients:

  • 50g good quality dark chocolate, grated
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 130g ground almonds
  • Small bag of chocolate-coated coffee beans

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line a baking tray with grease-proof baking paper.
  2. Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they are stiff, and then gradually whisk in the sugar.  You are aiming for a thick and glossy consistency.  Work in the ground almonds nice and gently, along with the grated chocolate.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag, and using a large, plain nozzle, pipe the mix onto the prepared baking tray in small circles of 4 cm diameter.  If you don’t have piping equipment, you can use a teaspoon to create the macaroon shapes.
  4. Insert 1 chocolate-coated coffee bean into the middle of each macaroon, just below the surface.  Place the tray into the oven and bake for around 15 minutes, when the biscuits should be just firm and slightly risen.  Let the macaroons cool down on the baking paper before tucking in.

Time: 15 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes to cook

Cocoa Treats: 24

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13Jun 12

Almond and Chocolate Orange Biscotti

Almond and Chocolate Orange BiscottiAlmond and Chocolate Orange Biscotti – Italian style biscuits that are wonderful accompanied by a rich roast cappuccino. It’s the perfect complement to round off your Italian meal. (Try this pancetta and pea gemelli recipe.)

Ingredients:

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 25g unsalted butter, softened
  • 110g light muscavado sugar
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 55g polenta, or ground semolina
  • The zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp orange liqueur (or swap for 1 tsp vanilla essence)
  • 1 egg
  • 110g almonds
  • A little icing sugar to dust

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC, and grease a baking tray with a little butter.
  2. Put the almonds in a plastic sandwich bag, or wrap them loosely in clingfilm, and place them on a wooden board.  Using a rolling pin, bash them gently to break them into rough pieces.
  3. Melt the chocolate and the butter slowly in a saucepan, stirring them together.
  4. Take a large mixing bowl and sift in the flour and baking powder.  Mix in the sugar, polenta, egg, orange zest, orange liqueur, and finally the almonds.  Work in the butter and chocolate mixture and form a biscuit dough.  The dough should be a good consistency, but if it is a little moist, sift over an extra little bit of flour; and if it is a little dry, add another splash of orange liqueur, or a tiny bit of water.
  5. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and divide the dough into 2 halves.  Create a log shape out of each half, about 25cm long.  Lay out each sausage of dough on the baking tray, flattening them with your palms to about 1.2cm high.  Bake for 25 mins in the oven, or until the dough rises and feels firm to the touch.
  6. Set the partly baked biscotti to one side to cool.  On a wooden board, slice each log diagonally into 10 biscuits (about 1.5cm thick) and place them back onto the tray, leaving a little space between each one.  Return the tray to the oven for about 10 more mins, crisping up the biscotti.  Remove them and once cool, dust over with the icing sugar.

Time: 20 mins preparation time, 35-40 mins cooking time

Cocoa Treats: 20

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08May 12

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip CookieI love to make these chocolate chip cookies with my niece.  I put on my duck egg blue apron – the one she loves with ice cream and lollipop prints on it – and she puts on the one with zoo animals.  We get covered in flour and plenty ends up on the floor, but that’s all part of the fun.

The best moments are popping the mixture onto the tray, watching together through the oven door (from a safe distance) as the cookies spread, and the crowning moment – eating the cookies together when they are still warm, cosied up together on the sofa with a big glass of milk.

These are the real thing; rich, gooey and melty.  The secret to melt-in-the-mouth cookies is not to overcook them. (Try these yummy chocolate chunk and raspberry cookies.)

Ingredients:

  • 355g flour, unsifted
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 325g dark chocolate chips, or bar, broken into small pieces

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Put the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl and combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, bind together the sugar, butter, brown sugar and the vanilla essence.  Add the eggs and cream them into the mixture, then gradually work in the flour until well mixed.  Finally add the chocolate and stir it in.
  4. Sprinkle a little flour onto your work surface, lift the dough out of the mixing bowl and split it into 2, rolling each piece out into thick sausage shapes each about 6cm in diameter.  Once the shapes are formed, you can store the dough in the fridge wrapped in clingfilm until you want to use it.  This way you can grab a bit of dough each day over a few days to make totally fresh cookies whenever you want to enjoy them.
  5. When you are ready to bake some cookies, take the dough out of the fridge.  (You don’t have to cool the dough; you can bake it straight away after making it).
  6. Cut the dough ‘log’ into 2cm thick slices and space them fairly widely apart on a greased baking tray so that they don’t touch when spreading during cooking.
  7. Pop them in the oven for 9 to 11 mins.

Time: Less than 30 mins preparation time.  9-11 mins cooking time for each batch of cookies

Cocoa Treats: Makes 12 – 20 cookies

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29Mar 12

Grandma’s Chocolate Tiffin

Grandma's TiffinThe word ‘tiffin’ is a 19th century word inherited from the colonial days of the Raj. It’s a loosely Indian term meaning a light snack or lunch, or referring to any light meal. It also has some relation to an old English term, ‘tiffing’, which meant ‘to take a sip’. Tiffin as we now know it today, came about when with the typical light British ‘afternoon tea’, merged with the Indian custom of taking a slightly more filling snack between meals. In some parts of India and Nepal it still means an in-between-meals snack. In Mumbai it means a packed lunch, and there are even dedicated people (sometimes called ‘tiffin wallahs’) whose job it is to deliver tiffin in boxes to workers and schoolchildren during the day.

My favourite kind of tiffin is my Grandma’s recipe – a rich, chocolate, biscuit and fruit crunch.  Grandma’s Chocolate Tiffin is one of those comfort foods that take me back to all those ‘feel-good’, happy childhood memories that I never want to lose. It’s great fun to make with, and for, children, and it’s so simple.

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter or margarine
  • 60g sugar
  • 60g golden syrup
  • 60g shredded or desiccated coconut
  • 60g raisins
  • 60g of white chocolate broken into small pieces
  • 20g drinking chocolate or cocoa powder
  • 150g good quality milk chocolate (or dark chocolate if you prefer)
  • 225g rich tea biscuits

Preparation Guidelines

  1. Grease a shallow tin (medium sized, 8” x 10” approx).
  2. Break biscuits into small pieces.
  3. Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan with the sugar and syrup.
  4. Add the drinking chocolate, coconut and raisins. NB – you could substitute chopped walnuts or other nuts for the coconut if you prefer, or leave out altogether. It’s just the same with the raisins if you find them too sweet.  Whatever you choose, it will be de-licious – the chocolate will make sure of that – so play around!
  5. Bring just to the boil then remove from heat and stir in the biscuit pieces and white chocolate.
  6. Spread the mix in the shallow pre-greased tin and leave to cool.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl. NB – it’s best to melt the chocolate either in a bowl over a pan of hot water, or in a small microwave-proof bowl in the microwave for a just few seconds; it melts very quickly so keep a close eye on it.
  8. Spread the melted chocolate over the biscuit mix and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  9. Cut when cold.

Time:    15-20 mins

Cocoa Treats:    around 20 pieces

 

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