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Biscotti February 21, 2010

Posted by Helen in cookies.

What good is coffee without biscotti?

This delicious magazine recipe is great! I didn’t have any pistachios, so I used all almonds and the biscotti are still very nice. But I think the pistachios would have pushed them from nice to stupendous. Next time.












50g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
50g whole blanched almonds
115g caster sugar
1 egg
15ml Grand Marnier liqueur
Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
175g plain flour, plus extra for kneading
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground coriander
40g polenta
50g shelled unsalted pistachio nuts

Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan150°C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.

Roast the almonds in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until golden. Cool and chop roughly.

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the egg, Grand Marnier and orange zest. Add the flour, baking powder, coriander and polenta. Mix until it forms a dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the almonds and pistachios throughout. Halve the mix and shape each half into a 2-inch wide, ¾-inch deep sausage.

Place on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, until just firm. Cool for 10 minutes, then cut into slices. Lay the biscotti flat on the baking sheet and bake for a further 5-10 minutes, until crisp. Cool.


The world’s best brownies December 30, 2009

Posted by Helen in cakes, chocolate, cookies, dessert.

Brownie recipes are like men. You go through a lot of them in a lifetime, searching for that perfect one. Along the way, you find some that are quite good and some that are so dreadful you never want to see them again. Most fall somewhere in between – they’re pleasant enough, but you probably wouldn’t bring them home to your mother. No matter how many disasters you come across, you’re still willing to put yourself out there and search for the elusive “one.” You read coookbooks and surf the web in desperation – the cook’s equivalent of online dating. But then … then … all of a sudden one comes along that completely changes your life. That’s how it was for me when I encountered Nigel Slater’s Very Very Good Brownie recipe a few years ago. It was lust at first sight. How could I possibly resist a recipe which fed me such smoothly seductive lines as, “This isn’t just gastroporn, this is positively pay-per-view,” and “What I want is the mother of all brownies – pure, dense and unapologetically raunchy.” Swoon. I know now that I’ll never ever look at another brownie recipe again. I’m a changed woman. A one-recipe woman.











300g golden caster sugar
250g butter
250g chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 large eggs + 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

You will need a baking tin, about 23cm x 23cm, preferably non-stick, or a small roasting tin.

Set the oven at 180°C/Gas 4. Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking parchment. Put the sugar and butter into the bowl of a food mixer and beat for several minutes till white and fluffy.

Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, set 50g of it aside and melt the rest in a bowl suspended over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. As soon as the chocolate has melted remove it from the heat. Chop the remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix in a pinch of salt. With the food mixer running slowly, introduce the beaten egg a little at a time, speeding up in between additions. Remove the bowl from the mixer to the work surface, then mix in the melted and the chopped chocolate with a large metal spoon. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa, gently and firmly, without knocking any of the air out. Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes. The top will have risen slightly and the cake will appear slightly softer in the middle than around the edges.Pierce the centre of the cake with a fork – it should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture attached to it. If it does, then return the brownie to the oven for three more minutes. It is worth remembering that it will solidify a little on cooling, so if it appears a bit wet, don’t worry.

I’m in love.

Bourbon balls December 18, 2009

Posted by Helen in chocolate, confectionary, cookies.
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I’d forgotten all about bourbon balls until I was given a cookbook published by my old school in Louisiana. Then it all came back to me! Back then, you couldn’t go to a Christmas party anywhere (in Shreveport, at least) without seeing a huge platter of bourbon balls on the table. I think there was some sort of a rule about it. So, I give you – the bourbon ball.










1 cup (109 g) vanilla wafer crumbs (I used Marie biscuits)
1 cup pecans (109 g), finely chopped
1 cup (100 g) icing sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp (11 g) cocoa powder
1/8 cup (30 ml) bourbon
7 ½ Tbsp (111 ml) light corn syrup (I used golden syrup)
More icing sugar for rolling the balls in

Mix together the biscuit crumbs, icing sugar and cocoa powder. Blend in the bourbon and golden syrup. Shape into 1″ balls and roll in the icing sugar. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Oat, apple and cinnamon cookies December 3, 2009

Posted by Helen in cookies.
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I get a bit bored with the ubiquitous chocolate chip cookie and I find oatmeal raisin cookies overly sweet, so I loved these spicy, apple-y cookies. They didn’t last long, and I think I’ll have to double this Delicious magazine recipe next time!










100g unsalted butter, softened
70g granulated sugar
50g light muscovado sugar
1 large egg
140g plain flour
50g porridge oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g dried, ready-to-eat apples, roughly chopped
Icing sugar for dusting (I skipped this)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Lightly grease 2-3 nonstick baking sheets. Put the butter and sugars into a large bowl and cream together using an electric hand whisk until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg until mixed together.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, oats, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and a good pinch of salt. Lightly fold this into the butter and egg mixture, along with the dried apples, until just combined into a dough.

Put tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the baking sheets, spaced apart to allow for some spreading. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven. Leave on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and eat immediately. Or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Chocolate crinkle cookies November 11, 2009

Posted by Helen in cookies.
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I got this recipe from the BBC Good Food website. Never having made the cookies before, I made them for a  book club meeting, and the ladies loved them so much that they’ve requested a plate of them for our annual Christmas party next month! Definitely a success! They’ve very chewy cookies – almost like slightly overcooked brownies. The only problems is the quantity – the recipe says it’ll make 20 cookies, but I got more than double that many out of it – and mine weren’t small either.










175g plain chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter
175g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 eggs at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan).

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a small pan of simmering water or in a microwave until smooth. Cool slightly. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and ½ tsp salt.

Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk until pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed and add the chocolate mix and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture until blended together.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1½ hours or even up to 2 days.

Put the icing sugar in a small bowl. Shape the dough into balls about the size of walnuts and roll in the sugar. Put them on baking sheets lined with baking paper and press down lightly with your hand to flatten. Bake for 12-15 minutes for soft centres and set edges. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then put on a rack to cool.

Provided they’re in an airtight container, they’ll keep well for up to five days … but ours didn’t last that long!