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!

Mini Baked Chocolate Cheesecakes

Well, Happy New Year! I hope you’ve all had yourself a nice indulgent, and refreshing break. I admit I had intended to blog about this a little sooner but, you know…holidays happened. Hasn’t that sun been great?! Well, recently anyway 🙂

I found this recipe, by Donna Hay, in the New Zealand Herald last year.  Despite regularly browsing the lifestyle (namely food) pages of our online newspapers, I was instantly drawn to the rest of her equally indulgent and mouth-watering recipes. You can check them out here

The dessert itself is not heavy at all, and melted in my mouth with a slight moussy texture. I found the sliced fruit (berries, mainly) helped complete the richness and also made it perfect for someone who doesn’t have quite a sweet tooth.

I enjoyed the smaller individual-sized portions which are great if you are making them for a small group of people. There wasn’t any leftovers laying around in the fridge to taunt me in the days following!

So, welcome back to After Taste for 2013 – you can expect all sorts of exciting and tasty recipes to surface in the coming months and in the year ahead.

See you all again soon!

Mini Baked Chocolate Cheesecakes
Serves 4
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  • 100 grams chocolate biscuits
  • 30 grams butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 400 grams cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 grams milk chocolate, melted
  • Small amount of extra chocolate, for flaking on top
  • Berries, to serve

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Place the biscuits, butter and ground almonds in the bowl of a small food processor and process until roughly chopped. Spoon the mixture into the base of 4 x 1 cup-capacity ovenproof dishes and press down using the back of a spoon.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth and thick. Fold through the chocolate and spoon over the biscuit bases.

Place the dishes on a baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm to touch. Allow to cool completely at room temperature before placing in the fridge for 2 hours.

Dust with roughly chopped chocolate flakes and top with berries of your choice. Enjoy.

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This recipe is my entry in Sweet New Zealand for February 2013! Check out all the great recipes at Greedybread at the end of the month!

sweetnz

 

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.

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. 

Crunchy Caramel Cookies

Well, I’m lost for words. I can’t really think what to write about this recipe for Caramel Oat Biscuits. They simply could not be easier to make let alone pretty super duper healthy. A good idea of something to make after that pre-Christmas binge that goes on with junk food and other sweet treats!

The recipe makes about 50 small biscuits or about 20-ish regular sized ones. Something I like about them is that they’re not overly sweet! Made from a combination of plain and wholemeal flour…one small biscuit certainly fills that hunger gap. They follow a slightly different process (quite American I believe!) which actually makes it really easy to make in smaller batches, if needed. Definitely recommend!

These biscuits can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Try adding a little ground cinnamon to the biscuit dough if you like a bit of spice. I was thinking after these had been cooked, adding a few currants, raisins or sultanas…any dried fruit for that matter, would be a really nice addition! Enjoy.

Crunchy Caramel Cookies

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 a teaspoon baking soda
  • 76 grams of butter

Preheat oven to 200°C. Set aside 2 non-stick baking trays. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla using an electric mixer. Add remaining ingredients and beat thoroughly. You may need to add 1-2 tbs iced water if mixture is too dry.

Scrape dough out of bowl and onto a large piece of plastic. Roll dough into a log, approximately 4cm wide. Completely wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, for at least 60 minutes, or overnight.

Cut dough into 3mm thin slices and arrange on baking trays well apart. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until lightly browned around edges and biscuits are firm to the touch.

Allow cookies to cool on trays then remove using a spatula to a cake rack to cool completely.