Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

Hello! Apologies for not blogging since early October! How many slack of me. Truth is, it’s been an extremely busy last few months and the last thing I’ve felt like doing is blogging my evenings away. Excuses, excuses..I. know. I do wonder, sometimes, how all you other bloggers carry on with such momentum…it’s truly awesome.

I’m back though, with some festive treats over the next couple of weeks. First up is a delightful recipe, and something that truly reminds me of my childhood, and also rather fitting for this time of year. They make a perfect treat for your workmates, or just wrap in cellophane for a cheap, and easy gift.

This recipe is so unbelievably easy to prepare, using the food processor. The smell of gingerbread will be wafting through your kitchen within minutes!

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Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2-3 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 150 grams butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • Lollies to decorate (pebbles are great)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

This is the easy part! Sift flour, baking soda and ground ginger together and place in a bowl or food processor. Add butter and rub in with fingertips or pulse in food processor until resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and stir or pulse to mix. Ta da!

If the dough is too sticky, you can add a little more flour to the mix and wrap in cling wrap. Likewise if a little too dry, add 1 tbsp of warm water. Refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.

Roll out on lightly floured surface until 5mm thick. Using cookie cutters, cut shapes and place on tray. Form leftover dough into a ball and re-roll and repeat cutting out until all the dough is used up.

Bake the gingerbread cookies for about 8-10 minutes or until cooked and golden. Remove from oven and cool on baking rack.

Of course these cookies taste superb on their own, but if you’d like to get a little creative, make the icing by adding 11⁄2 tsp water to the icing sugar. Drop a small amount under each spot where you wish to place a lolly.

When you’re done, store the cookies in an airtight container. Enjoy.

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Coconut Whispers

A month or so ago I bought what has become one of my all-time favourite recipe books, Ladies, a Plate. This book, written by New Zealand author Alexa Johnston, is jam-packed full of traditional home baking. It gives a fantastic insight into New Zealand baking classics (some of which I did not know) over the years.

Alexa’s interest in old-fashioned recipes began with her mothers copies of the New Zealand Women’s Institutes Home Cookery Book and the League of Mothers Cookery Book, as well as a number of church fundraising cookbooks. She also collects a large number of community recipe books.

The thing I love most is that each recipe comes with a tale, along with a wonderful full-page photograph. At the back of the book is a list of all the places these recipes were sourced from and I’d love to get a hold of some of the originals. Some of the cookbook titles just make you smile..

These biscuits are small and simple. They don’t require expensive ingredients and they don’t take long to make. They are extremely easy, light, and moorish. You can use dessicated coconut, as stated in the recipe, but the only coconut I had on hand was coconut thread and it worked just as well. This is coming from someone who loves the texture of cocunut, so perhaps stick with the dessicated stuff if you’re not so keen.

Her book is full of words of wisdom and helpful hints for successful home baking. Alexa also states and I have to agree:

A cup of tea without a biscuit is a missed opportunity.

On that note…

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Coconut Whispers

  • 55 grams butter, softened
  • 115 grams white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 150 grams dessicated coconut

Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Mix in the egg and the vanilla. Using a spoon, stir through the coconut.

Place teaspoonfuls of dough onto trays lined with baking paper, leaving space for spreading, and flatten slightly with a wet fork. Bake in a pre-heated 160 degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden, and cool the biscuits on the paper on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

Yo-Yo’s with Lemon Filling

I made these the other night…and they’re delicious. I don’t think I know anyone that doesn’t love a yo-yo! Or do you call them a melting moment? Maybe even a custard cream…

I can never tell the difference or rather, never really *thought* about the difference between the two. It wasn’t until someone said to me:

“Ah, you made melting moments!”

“Err, well, no, they’re yo-yo’s”…

I’ve heard many things since.

The truth is there is very little difference between the two, except apparently for a yo-yo to be a true yo-yo, it needs to have custard powder in the biscuit mixture. Others say that melting moments are just much softer in texture.

I also think it might be another case of what household you grew up in, or what side of the world you dwell on, like plenty of other things in life!

What I do know for sure is that they are both nearly shortbread-like biscuits with lemony icing sandwiched between.

Whether you call them a yo-yo or a melting moment, this recipe is sure to please! Enjoy.

Thanks to The New Zealand Herald for the recipe.

Yo-Yo’s with Lemon Filling
Makes 18

  • 170g butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup custard powder

Lemon filling

  • 50g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 Tbs custard powder
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease or line an oven tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla together until pale.

Sift the flour and custard powder together then gently fold into the creamed mixture. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls, flatten slightly then place on the tray. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool.

To make the filling; beat all the ingredients together until smooth then use to sandwich the biscuits together. If you like, you can dust with icing sugar before serving. Enjoy!

New Zealand Lolly Log Cake

Lolly cake or lolly log (as some might know it) in New Zealand is a national institution. It is such a kiwi favourite.

It is found absolutely everywhere here and I would go as far as saying it even makes the  list of my favourite sweet treats. This is the type of food item you’d probably expect to see in every New Zealand bakery, corner dairy, or even your local service station, nationwide. I almost think it is unique to New Zealand as  I have yet to find any reference to its existence that can’t be traced back to a New Zealander’s blog.

It is an uncooked recipe and uses two main ingredients: biscuits and lollies – what could be better?! The mixture is usually pressed into a log shape and rolled in coconut, and then refrigerated until set and sliced up. Sadly I can’t credit anything more than the back of a packet of Pascall Fruit Puff’s for this delightful recipe. Enjoy!

New Zealand Lolly Log Cake
Makes 15 slices

  • 1 packet malt biscuits, crumbs
  • 1 packet fruit puffs or eskimos
  • 100 grams butter
  • 1/2 can condensed milk
  • Coconut

Warm the butter and the condensed milk in the microwave.  Add the biscuit crumbs and either a packet of eskimos or fruit puffs (cut into pieces).  Stir mixture well.  Form the mixture into a log shape or into small balls.  Roll in Coconut.  Put into the fridge for approximately 4 hours.  Once set, cut the log into slices and serve.

Whittaker’s White Chocolate Oreo Truffles

Okay, correct me if I’m wrong but is there *anything* better than oreo biscuits and cream cheese? ……………….hello?

Er, no. Didn’t think so.

The following recipe is the stuff that dreams are made of. Oreo cookie crumbs blended with cream cheese and covered with a white chocolate shell. They really are the very best-tasting truffles in the world

The first time I ever tried one of these; my mouth was watering for more.  I can assure you they are one of the yummiest things ever and so simple to make because there is absolutely no baking involved. Better yet, you only need three ingredients.

Happy truffle making!

Whittaker’s White Chocolate Oreo Truffles
Makes approximately 15 truffles

  • 250 grams cream cheese
  • 2 packets Oreo cookies
  • 1 block Whittaker’s White Chocolate
  • Optional – Dark Sante bar to drizzle

Crush the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor and place in medium bowl. If you don’t own a food processor, you can just as easily crush them in a plastic bag. Add the cream cheese and mix until well blended. Roll truffle mixture into approximately 15 balls and place on a baking tray lined with paper. Refrigerate until firm, for about 1 hour.

Remove the balls from the fridge. Break up the block of white chocolate and melt in the microwave until smooth. Dip balls in chocolate and place on  a clean sheet of baking paper. If you like, you can  drizzle with a bit of melted dark chocolate to decorate.

Return truffles to the refrigerator and leave until firm and chocolate has set. Store the truffles, covered, until needed. Believe me they won’t last long – you have been warned.

This is also my entry for Sweet New Zealand. May is hosted by Jemma at Time for a Little Something. Head along to her page and check out all the entries at the end of the month.

Lest We Forget – ANZAC Biscuits

They went with songs to the battle, they were young. 
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

It is April and Anzac Day is nearly upon us.

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance here in New Zealand, and in Australia. Both countries commemorate it on 25th of April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli.

I decided to mark this day by baking some traditional Anzac biscuits, or “crispies” as they used to be known! This recipe has long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps established in World War I. As the story goes, wives, mothers and girlfriends sent the biscuits to soldiers abroad. The ingredients did not spoil easily and kept extremely well during transportation, which was sometimes up to 2 months!

At first the biscuits were called Soldiers’ Biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed ANZAC Biscuits. You may notice the lack of eggs to bind the ANZAC biscuit mixture together. Because of the war, many of the poultry farmers had joined the services; therefore, little wee eggs were very scarce.

I remember Anzac biscuits being one of the first recipes I learnt to cook as a child. They were a firm family favourite in my family and still are. Easy to make and they taste great!

Lest we forget.

ANZAC Biscuits
Makes 15 

  • 1 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup dessicated coconut
  • 125 grams butter
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 4 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in the microwave or on the stovetop. Dissolve the baking soda in hot water, then add to the butter and syrup mixture. Add foaming mixture to dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Mixture should be firm enough to roll into a ball on a teaspoon. If not, you may have to add a little bit more flour! Place balls on tray and press each gently with a fork.

The biscuits like to spread as they bake so be careful not to place them too close together on the tray. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 150 degrees, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven. Allow the Anzac biscuits to cool on the tray for a few minutes.

Kiwi Chocolate Afghan Biscuits

Home-baked chocolate afghans are nothing new, or flash for that matter. However, they are particularly yummy and seem to go perfectly with a hot drink on a cold day (like today, if you’re in Wellington!). To me they really belong in that “comfort food” category, right next to the ANZAC biscuit…

Afghan cookies are chunky, crunchy and slightly crumbly. And just like the kiwi ANZAC biscuit, Afghans require only a handful of ingredients so they are very easy to make.

The biscuits on their own are not very sweet so the icing is definitely needed and unless you have some extreme allergy to nuts..don’t forget to decorate with a wee walnut. Alternatively you could sprinkle with coconut. Delicious.

Kiwi Chocolate Afghan Biscuits

  • 200 grams butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cornflakes, crushed
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsps cocoa
  • 1-2 Tbsp boiling water

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease or line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift in flour and cocoa, stir thoroughly with the butter mixture until combined before stirring in the cornflakes.

Place heaped teaspoonfuls onto baking tray, squeeze mixture together gently if necessary then press lightly with a fork. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before icing.

Mix the icing sugar, butter and 1 Tbsp boiling water at a time until combined, adding more hot water if necessary until icing is a spreadable consistency. Ice biscuits and top with half a walnut.