Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

French Martini

I hope you've all had a lovely holiday season and have some fun plans for New Year's Eve. We usually have a pretty quiet night.

If you need some last minute drinks ideas, here is a round up of cocktails from the blog. Some are out of the ordinary, and the Nanna's Knickers does require that you've got some Musk Vodka all ready to drink. Just click on the picture to be taken to the recipe.

As always, drink responsibly and I'll be back with lots of good things in 2013!

Balalika The Bee's Knees
Balalika Bee's Knees

Blue Kamikaze

French Martini
Blue Kamikaze French Martini

Nanna's Knickers

Peach Sangria
Peach Sangria

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!




Ho, Ho, Ho...Merry Christmas! The table is set and ready to go and I'm looking forward to the impending feast. 

I hope you enjoyed the Christmas Craft on the blog during November and the delicious cookies from Laura and I this month as part of 'A Very Cookie Christmas'. We had lots of fun baking (and eating) them!

I hope you are all having a lovely Christmas and holiday and have a safe and happy New Year. Thank you all for reading the blog and leaving me comments. I hope you keep stopping by. I will be back in the New Year with lots of new 'things for boys'!

- Love Abby

Monday, 24 December 2012

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich



For Laura's last cookie recipe, she has these fantastic loooking Chocolate Christmas Pudding Ice Cream Sandwiches. Quite a mouthful hey?! I could go one now, it's still very hot in our house!

Head on over to Laura's blog to see her recipe here.

I hope you've enjoyed all these Cookies...leave one out for Santa!



Saturday, 22 December 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles

Well this is my last recipe for 'A Very Cookie Christmas'. I've had lots of fun baking and testing all the different cookies and I hope you've enjoyed them too. If you've made up a batch, please leave a comment or post a message on the Facebook page and let me know. I'd love to know what you've made.

I love these cookies! They're crunchy on the outside, but chewy and fudgy in the middle. The Peppermint Extract can be left out to make regular Chocolate Crinkle cookies, but it adds a nice Christmas flavour, so if you're a fan of the choc-mint combo, give it a go!


Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies
makes 24 - 30

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
60g butter, chopped coarsely
1 tsp Peppermint Extract
1 cup (150g) plain flour (all-purpose flour)
2 tbsp cocoa cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking (bi-carb) soda
3/4 cup (170g) caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/3 cup (60 g) icing sugar


Place chocolate, butter and Peppermint extract in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring until the butter and chocolate melt. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the caster sugar. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the chocolate mixture. Stir together. Crack the egg into the mix and then incorporate the egg.

The dough should be sticky and hold together well. If your dough is not firm enough to roll into balls, chill in the fridge, checking every 15mins until it is firm enough to use.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Sift icing sugar into a small bowl.

To form each cookie, roll a level tablespoon of dough in your hands to form a ball. Roll each ball in the icing sugar, giving it a nice thick coating. I don't think mine was thick enough. They should look more dusted when baked. Place cookies 8 cm (3") apart on the prepared trays. If it's a really hot day, chill the cookies in the fridge for about 20 mins before baking. This helps them to 'crinkle'.

Bake the cookies for about 15 mins. The tops will be puffed and crinkled, but the dough in the cracks will still look a little under-done. They will firm up as they cool. When done, cool on trays.


Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Cookies with Hidden Presents



I think Laura's cookies are getting more impressive with each post. These cookies are just too awesome! Cookies are delicious enough on their own, but putting secret candy and goodies inside just takes them to a whole new level!

If you want to make your own, take a look at Laura's recipe and tutorial. I love the idea of having these instead of the traditional crackers.


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Cookie Puzzle

Cookie Puzzle

I've been so inspired by Laura's amazing decorated cookies (here and here) during this series, that I thought I would give it a go myself. I've never decorated cookies before, (I know?! I think I'm the only one) but in the middle of the night I got the idea for a Cookie Puzzle and had to give it a go!

This makes a fun little gift, just make sure that if your cookies feel fragile you pack the pieces very carefully. You can also serve this as part of a Christmas dessert buffet. Set the Cookie Puzzle out all put together and guests can take a piece of the puzzle to eat!

I iced my pieces in 2 sessions, first doing the green of the tree and then doing the decorations on top.

I used this recipe for my cookie base, using up the leftover dough I had in the freezer from making the Stained Glass Cookies. You can use your favourite sugar cookie recipe for the base.


Christmas Tree Cookie Puzzle

Cookie dough
Royal icing - I used the powder mix
Food colouring (I used gels)
Piping bags and tips
Cachous (dragees)


Start off by making a Christmas Tree template. Fold a piece of paper in half along the length and then draw a tree outline on one side. Cut it out. Play around until you're happy with the shape.

Roll out your cookie dough to about 6mm (1/4"). I made mine fairly thick so that the pieces will hold strong.

Lay your template on top and then cut around it. Remove the scrap pieces of dough. I did the puzzle pieces free hand on the dough, but you could also draw them on your template and cut the template up into pieces.

Cookie Puzzle Cookie Puzzle

Carefully separate the pieces on the tray and bake according to your recipe.

I found this great tip from University of Cookie. As soon as you take your cookies from the oven, trim the edges of the cookies carefully with a knife. I had to tidy up some of my pieces so that the puzzle would fit together. While the cookies are hot, they're still soft so you can trim them without breaking the cookies up. Great tip!

Allow to cool completely.

Make up royal icing and tint green. Do the borders along each cookie and then thin the icing just enough for flooding. Fill in the icing on each piece. Allow to dry and set. See how my cookies looked at this stage in the photo above left.

Make up more royal icing as needed to decorate the top of the cookie. I used a leaf tip to do the tinsel first. While the icing was still wet I sprinkled it with edible glitter.

I was feeling lazy and did the yellow 'tree lights' first then the red baubles. I was trying to only use one batch of royal icing and tint it darker as needed. I think the Cookie Puzzle would have looked more balanced at the end if I had done the baubles first and then the lights.

Once the icing has set hard, package up your pieces.

Cookie Puzzle

Monday, 17 December 2012

Gingerbread House Tree Ornaments



I love Laura's idea of making mini Gingerbread houses to hang on your Christmas Tree. I think it's a great way to use up any dough scraps you have left over from making a larger house or other Gingerbread construction.

The smell would be very inviting every time you walked past the tree.

Laura has got the directions and templates here on her blog.



Friday, 14 December 2012

Savoury Seedy Snaps

Seedy Savoury Snaps

I thought you might be getting overloaded with sugar from all these cookies, so today I've got a recipe for some Savoury Crackers for you.

I loved watching the latest season of The Great British Bake Off and that is where this recipe is adapted from. Hubby and I have to watch it with snacks on hand because we get very hungry watching it.

The original recipe uses 3/4tsp of salt in the dough, which I forgot to add. Instead, I sprinkled salt on top of the crackers. I love crackers with salt on top, so it was a happy mistake! These crackers are delicious served with cheese. They are crispy, but strong, making them great to have with dip as they don't break mid-scoop!


Savoury Seedy Snaps
makes about 60

230g (8oz) wholemeal flour (whole wheat flour)
115g (4oz) semolina*
55g (2oz) sesame seeds
55g (2oz) flax seeds/linseeds
55g (2oz) pumpkin seeds/pepitas
210ml (7¼fl oz) water
1 tbsp honey
3½ tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
3 tsp sea salt

Put the pumpkin seeds in a mortar and pestle and grind up roughly. Some will end up powdered and some will still be whole, you want a nice even mix.

In a large bowl, mix the wholemeal flour, semolina, sesame seeds, flax seeds and ground pumpkins seeds.

In a jug, stir together the water, honey and oil. Stir in to the dry ingredients and mix to a medium-firm dough.

Knead on your work surface for five minutes. You may need to add a little extra wholemeal flour if the dough is a bit sticky. Return dough to the bowl, cover and set aside for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Line 2-3 baking trays with baking paper.

Clean your work surface and pour a little oil onto it (about 2 tsp). Spread it out with your hands to evenly oil the bench. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 2mm (just thicker than 1/16").

Seedy Savoury Snaps

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into rectangles or diamonds, of approximately 5x8cm (2x3"). Place on to the prepared trays. The pieces should be almost touching.

Spray the crackers with water and sprinkle over the sea salt. Re-combine the scraps to re-roll or bake the scraps for snacking (my preferred option).

Bake the crackers for 15-20 minutes, until evenly golden. Turn the oven off, open the door for 30 seconds and close again. Leave the trays in the residual heat of the oven for 10-15 minutes for extra crispness. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*Semolina flour is a durum wheat flour often used for making pasta. It has a fine sandy texture. In this recipe, you can substitute it with spelt flour or regular white flour.

Seedy Savoury Snaps

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Sea Salted Double Choc Marzipan Chunk Cookies



Laura made these amazing cookies as part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

I love chunky cookies and I think it's always handy to have such an adaptable recipe in your stash. If you aren't a fan of chocolate and marzipan, leave them out and simply change the ingredients to suit. Nuts, dried fruit, cocoa nibs or even m&ms. I love that you can leave out the cocoa too if you want. I would love to try these with some dried cherries, dark chocolate and a little coconut for a Cherry Ripe flavour.

Take a look at Laura's recipe for Sea Salted Double Chocolate Marzipan Chunk Cookies over on her blog.


Monday, 10 December 2012

Pfeffernüsse

Pfeffernusse

Hubby loves these German biscuits, but I must confess, I'm not a huge fan. A bit too much cinnamon for me! Anyway, I was looking forward to baking them to see if I liked them better if I'd made them myself.*

This recipe is based on this one from London Eats. I've changed the ingredients slightly, but they're still packed with spice. The Spice Mix will make more mix than needed, so store the remainder in an air-tight jar. You can use the mix when flavouring gingerbread, or making Ice Cream. Just substitute the spices in the recipe for an equal amount of your Spice Mix.


Pfeffernüsse
makes 20-25

125g honey
50g brown sugar
25g butter
225g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 level tsp Spice Mix
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 egg

Spice Mix
1/4 cup + 2 tsp ground cinnamon (yes, that's a 1/4 CUP)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground star anise
1/4 tsp ground cardamom


First, combine all the spices to make the spice mix. Pass through a sieve to remove any lumps and to make sure the spices are evenly combined.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Put the honey, sugar and butter in a small saucepan and stir over gentle heat until the sugar has melted. Leave for a couple of minutes to cool slightly.

In a large bowl sift to combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, spice mix and pepper. Stir in the honey mixture and mix well. Add the egg and combine to give a smooth but sticky dough.

Using damp hands, roll heaped teaspoons of mixture into balls. Place on baking sheet about 5cm (2") apart. Keep moistening the palms of your hands between rolling each cookie. This will stop the mixture sticking to your palms.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until puffed and just starting to brown. Remove from oven and cool on tray.


Icing

200g icing sugar
1/4 cup rum - I used Barcardi. Use water if you don't want to use the rum.

This makes about double the amount of icing you need, but I find it easier to dip the cookies into the icing when there is plenty.

Put the sifted icing sugar and 3/4 of the rum into a bowl. Mix well until you have a thick paste without any lumps. The icing should just flow. Add remaining rum a little at a time if your mixture is too stiff. Dip each cookie in the icing, then transfer to a wire rack to dry.

*I did like them a lot better when I'd made them myself. Is anyone else like this? I'm not sure if my brain thinks I've gone to the trouble to bake so I should enjoy it. I have a total dislike of shop-bought hot cross buns, but if I make them myself, then they're fantastic! Maybe my Hot Cross Bun recipe is just better than the one the shop uses? Probably more to do with the added choc chips.

Pfeffernusse

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Stollen Inspired Spiral Cookies



Today Laura has this fantastic sounding recipe for Stollen Inspired Spiral Cookies. I'm a huge fan of dried fruits and more so marzipan, I love the super sweet almond flavour. I love it so much, I even had a pet rabbit named Marzipan!

I have added some Marzipan to the shopping list so I can make up a batch of these next time I get a Marzipan craving, which can't be far off!


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Stained Glass Cookies

Stained Glass Cookies

These are such pretty cookies. I've made them for Valentine's Day previously using heart cutters and they are always well received. I've stated that the recipe makes about 32, but I actually didn't use my whole batch of dough. It was about 36°C on the day I baked them and my dough was melting so quickly I gave up after cutting out the 6 I used in the photo. I put the rest of the dough in the freezer for another day.

I tested out using a whole lolly in the centre of one of the cookies and it did get filled a little more than the rest but still looked ok. If you don't feel like crushing the lollies up, then test a few using whole lollies first and you may find you don't need to crush them at all.

Stained Glass Cookies
makes about 32

250g (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup (160g) caster sugar*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 1/3 cups (350g) plain flour
100g (about 30) boiled lollies (hard candies)


Beat butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Gently fold in the flour.

Knead on a floured surface until smooth. If your dough is very soft and sticky, work in a little more flour until it is barely sticky. Shape into a disc and cover with cling wrap. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

To break up the lollies, unwrap and put into a ziploc bag and bash with a rolling pin or flat side of a meat mallet. You may want to sort them into colours first and break each one up separately.

Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of baking paper to 4mm (3/16") thick. Cut out cookie shapes. I used a 10cm (4") tree cutter and a 4cm (2") cutter for the middle.  Chill for about 10 mins in the fridge to firm up and then place the cookies on baking trays.

Fill the middle of the cookies with the pieces of crushed lollies. I make a little mound in the centre and it melts and fills the hole evenly.

Bake for about 12 mins or until golden. Cool on trays.


* Caster sugar is a fine granulated sugar. If you can't get a hold of it, you can use regular white sugar instead.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Cookie Snowglobes



Today, Laura from Craftstorming has her first recipe for the 'Very Cookie Christmas' and boy is it a good one. Who would've thought you could put cookies and snowglobes together in such a delicious and gorgeous way?! Laura, that's who!

Head on over to her blog for all the details and Laura's recipe.



Sunday, 2 December 2012

Sugar and Spice Cookies

Sugar and Spice Cookies

These cookies are a nice light version of Gingerbread. The dough is made like pastry, with the food processor doing all the work.


Sugar and Spice Cookies
makes about 32

1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
3/4 cup (165g) brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
150g chilled butter, chopped into small cubes
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup (55g) raw sugar


Put flour, brown sugar and spices into a food processor. Pulse with the blade to combine ingredients evenly. Add butter cubes and process until crumbly. Add the egg yolk and process until it just comes together.

Pour out onto your work surface and bring together into a ball. Wrap in cling wrap, flattening it a bit and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

Roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper to about 4mm (3/16"). The dough might be pretty solid, so let it warm up a little. Cut out shapes using a fluted 7cm cutter or any other cutter. Carefully transfer shapes to a lined baking tray. They don't need much of a gap between them as I found they didn't really spread. Bring the remaining dough together and re-roll to cut out the rest of your cookies.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Refrigerate the cookies for 30 mins. This chills the butter and stops the cookies spreading when they go in the oven.

Take the cookies out of the fridge and sprinkle with raw sugar. Press on the sugar with your hand to stick it into the dough slightly.

Bake for about 12 mins until slightly coloured and remove from the oven, cooling on the trays.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

A Very Cookie Christmas



I hope you enjoyed all the Christmas Craft projects last month as part of A Very Crafty Christmas. Now, get a glass of milk ready and enjoy the cookie onslaught!

My best bloggy friend (that's a thing), Laura from Craftstorming and I will be baking up batches of beautiful Christmas Cookies all through December. We will be taking it in turns putting up recipes every other day, so if you love cookies (and let's face it, who doesn't?) join us for the month.

I'm kicking things off tomorrow with some Sugar and Spice cookies.
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