Archive for the ‘Biscuit’ Category


Home Made Muesli bars

January 20, 2011

I have been on a bit of a baking sabbatical. Well perhaps I should rephrase, a bit of a blogging about baking sabbatical. I’ve been churning out biscotti still, and muffins for the Husband to munch on. And, made some lemon meringue (which I will blog about eventually) with some leftover whites from the icecream I made. But, I guess what I’m saying is that I haven’t been photographing and noting it. I’ve been baking to supply food, not to try things, or assess them. But, to give someone (usually the Husband) something to eat.

Last night, I wanted to do something though. I made caramel icecream, muesli bars and brownies. I thought I’d start with the bars – the icecream likely will never make an apperance (consumed very quickly by the Husband) but the brownies will.

This is probably the best recipe I’ve come across for Muesli bars. The Husband quite likes to take Muesli bars to work and I’ve tried many different recipes over the months trying to find the one I think is most suitable. I don’t want to give in and buy him pre-made ones out of an aisle in the shopping centre. Meh!

So with some tweeking and some changing from a variety of recipes I’ve used. I came up with the following.

Home-made muesli bars

125g butter
75g firmly packed brown sugar
135g rolled oats
75g self-raising flour
135g trail mix (or fruit & nut mix, or a nut & seed mix)

Preheat oven to 180°C and greace a slice pan and line with one piece of baking paper.
Stir butter and sugar in saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and add in the remaining ingredients.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden.
Cool in the pan. Cut into bars (I usually cut them whilst they’re still warm to touch so that they’re not crunchy and breakable then)



April 26, 2010

I have been neglecting my blog and my cooking since I got back. It’s terrible of me. Mostly because I needed to avoid baking after all the eating I did whilst I was away. But I can’t really stay out of my kitchen forever, it calls me. Especially when you have stressful moments at work, not stressful I hate my job moments, but stressful sad moments that require moments of self-care when you return home.

Whilst in Florence we were conned into buying some biscotti in the market place, we were given some Vin Santo to go with it as we were told this was the traditional way of eating the biscotti. We did not mind being conned because it was delicious and we couldn’t stop eating it! Once we headed down to Rome, we thought we’d be able to easily replace it. We found a great bakery just around the corner from where we were staying and got our hands on some biscotti.

Only of course it wasn’t the same! It was different! We were reminded that biscotti is just biscuit and can be anything really! We enjoyed the biscuits we got but they weren’t what we were looking for. So we got our hands on some Cantuccio! And there we go. We got it right! It wasn’t as sweet as the biscotti we got, and not as moist – must drier, and great to go with cups of coffee or hot chocolate.
It was all over when we got back to Australia, there is “biscotti” around the place, but I’d never liked it prior to going to Italy. We held out for awhile, before my husband started to ask about it again, missing it and wanting it again. So I had to go and find a recipe, I couldn’t resist it, I had to have it as well. Soon enough I found a recipe and it was perfect!

I’ve made 4 batches since finding this recipe, with a couple of adaptations (such as replacing almonds with macadamia and introducing almond meal) and whilst we have enjoyed them all the pure remains our favourite!


• 2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 t baking powder
• 1/2 t cinnamon
• 1/4 t salt
• 1-1/2 cup whole, blanched almonds
• 3 large eggs
• 1 T vanilla extract
• 1.2 t almond extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir. Add the almonds and mix well.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be dry.
5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and begin gathering it together. Knead it for a few minutes and you will see that it will slowly come together into a firm dough. Keep some flour handy in case it sticks.
6. Divide the dough in half and shape it into two 12-inch logs. Transfer the logs to a baking sheet lined with parchment.
7. Bake for 30 minutes. The logs will rise a bit and will be golden and lightly brown on the bottom.
8. Transfer the logs to a wire rack and let cool completely.
9. Once cool, slice the logs, on the diagonal, into quarter-inch slices. Lay the slices, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
10. Bake for an additional 10 or 15 minutes, or until the cantuccini are dry and lightly golden.
11. Let cool completely. Cantuccini can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
12. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cream Puffs in Venice.


Nanaimo Bars

January 27, 2010

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

Daring Kitchen instalment!

I have been wanting to make these since I originally heard of them, but knowing that they sounded exactly like something I would have very limited will power or control over whether or not I ate them, had given me pause. For a number of months actually, however when I saw this challenge I knew it was time!

On a little side note, it amused me that the reveal date for something that is “quintessentially” Canadian was the day after we Australian’s celebrate being Australian. Australia Day! Where I might add, I spent the day in the company of 11 South Africans, and the closest thing to “aussie” food I had was some beetroot (which yes I was looked at oddly when I added this too my salad – the only thing that would’ve made it better was if it was in a burger!)

Anyway, after that little side note – I made these in batches. I started with the Graham Cookies, which were interesting to make to say the least. The dough was incredibly sticky and like some others have said, I used two layers of floured parchment paper to roll them out. I however could not get them too slice into appropriate square/rectangular shapes (or perhaps I just did not persevere enough) and ended up popping them in my Avanti Cookie Press and making delightful round crackers. I could not have been happier with the taste! I was nibbling away happily on them once baked, and I immediately bagged some up to take to work for my GF colleague, provided her with the recipe, whilst emailing on the recipe to my grandmother and a dear friend who are also GF. I then quickly ground up the amount I needed for the bars and sealed away the rest of them before I could eat anymore!

I then started the rest of the process a few days later, I was looking for a cooler day. Alas, Brisbane was not forthcoming in this and I had to rely on a few hours of chilling between each step as well as air-conditioning at full blast (ok…24 degrees, but that’s full!) I was taking this with me to the aforementioned Australia Day gathering of the Clan. In light of this I could not use coconut in the base (though for me this would’ve just made the bar that little bit more divine) as coconut and my SIL do not mix and whilst I was making another dessert to take as well, I wanted the option to eat this to be there for her. So, like a few others I used Rice Bubbles as a substitute – having read some other entries, I think my SIL would’ve been in eating heaven if I’d made the middle layer PB! Though I did happily have some Birds Custard on hand which I used instead and since this is her favourite (and I think actually the only custard she’ll eat) I still did ok I think. Also, because I had gone all out with the base and middle catering to my SIL, I figured I had to go the whole hog, and the chocolate that I used was Fair Trade Dark Chocolate, it actually is one of my favourite chocolates to melts so that worked out well.

I had some leftovers that I shared with some friends, who enjoyed it and the Clan were quite receptive (starting out with just one little piece before having just another little piece) so all in all I think it was a great challenge. It did melt rather quickly when left out to its own devices but I think that just encouraged us all to get into it that bit quicker! I think next time I would make it all a bit thicker though, so smaller size, fatter bar perhaps? And I also need to thank the Husband who was my avid photographer for the day (excuse the cling wrap) my knee was pushed to its limits doing this and I had to sit down and rest after!

Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.
Nanaimo Bars
For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar
For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.


Gingerbread house

December 24, 2009

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Due to the fact that I believed (pre-injury) that this month was going to be a crazy one full of baking different things, and well because I’d always wanted to make a gingerbread house I jumped on this challenge immediately. I was in the kitchen almost as soon as I read what the challenge was.

We had two choices for the dough and I followed the Great Scandinavian Baking Book’s recipe just because the ingredients required were those I had on hand (seriously, I jumped on the challenge as soon as I read it, going to the shop was not an option) I also made the simply syrup and royal icing for my decoration.
Now, I should quickly add that icing is a bit of a problem for me. I can make it fine, it tastes great, but the actual art of decorating?

Well……I’m abysmal (ergo recent purchase of: Essential Cake Decorating Cookbook) which fits in nicely with my Flavour of the Month Essential Christmas Cookbook ok side track done.

I had a lot of fun with this all the same, even if when I look at everyone else’s wonderful decorating I feel inferior! I did get my house to stand though so I feel that was an accomplishment for me and oh my word did it taste good! Oh it was so good, I was so glad of the left over dough because I just kept nibbling and nibbling as I was going. If I could pick at it some more (and you always can) it could have probably done with being rolled out a little thinner, but having said that I do prefer my gingerbread men fat, so it was just a default thing for me I think. And I made plenty little ginger bread men to give away as well, so many people benefited from this challenge.

Thank you very much! And I will start working on those decorating skills for next year!

Daring Kitchen


Reindeer Shortbread (and Speculaas)

December 24, 2009

This no movement (and ergo no baking business) is really not cutting it. Especially not this close to Christmas, not when I’ve been planning on making cookie goodness for giveaways this week for the last few months. I like to do it last minute, as close to Christmas as I can. And alas….I can’t. However, I can post about two lots of biscuits I made earlier in December before injury for a work Christmas function we had to bring something too.

Of course, seeing as this month’s Flavour of the Month is Essential Christmas Cookbook the biscuits are from there.

I love Christmas, as I may have mentioned. I have been lucky enough to be blessed with a white Christmas in 2004 (in Scotland) but I’ve always wanted to experience Christmas in mainland Europe. One day I will, along with Hogmanay in Scotland!

What attracted me to these two recipes though were that desire and that memory. The reindeer is care of SIL for my birthday!

To quote the book: in Germany, preparations for Christmas start weeks before the day. Things such as advent wreaths, candles and calendars put everyone in the mood. The enduring tradition of the Christmas tree began in the 16th century but is said to have been popularised much later by the Germans, to whom it symbolised eternal life. In the 19th century they decorated their trees with fruits and biscuits which couldn’t be eaten until after the Twelfth Night when the tree was taken down.

Speculaas (German/Dutch) – a biscuit from the Rhine area in Germany and neighbouring Holland.
405g plain flour
1t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground nutmeg
¼ t ground cloves
¼ t ground cardamom
160g softened butter
310g brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
45g ground almonds

Preheat oven to 200C Cover baking trays with paper.
Sift flour, spices together in a bowl.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Beat in the egg mixing well and then the milk. Fold in the almonds then the sifted flour mix. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 45minutes.
Take from fridge and roll out into 4mm thick – can cut into shapes if you want or bake directly on the baking tray. Bake in the oven for approximately 12 minutes (mine take closer to 10 due to my oven!)
Cool the biscuits on wire racks. When cold, store in airtight container.

Scottish Shortbread
250g butter, softened
160g caster sugar
210g plain flour
90g rice flour
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a tray with baking paper
Beat the sugar and butter until light and creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and add the flours. Mix to a soft dough with a flad-bladed knife. Lift onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Transfer to the tray (the recipe suggested a pizza tray so you can flute and cut into segments….which would be more traditional but I didn’t) Bake in middle shelf for approximately 35minutes or until firm and lightly golden, cool on the tray.


Epic Failure

October 27, 2009

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

My second Daring Kitchen world, but my first ever Daring Bakers, and for me it was an epic Failure…..

My KitchenAid did all the hard work, making perfect stiff peaks, it all look great. I followed the directions step by step I read up on all the suggestions, I tried my best. I was so super excited; I thought maybe this one time I’d get it! But, no….failure! And, as with my Daring Cooks Challenge I left it all too late to try again.

Did I over-fold? I don’t know! But I failed! No feet! No form! Epic failure!

Taste wise? Excellent! Delicious! Gosh I nearly ate them all in one foul swoop off of the baking tray once they were completely cooled. But, they didn’t hold their form, they didn’t form the feet! Maybe next time?


Pineapple Cookies

October 26, 2009

I could hear my KitchenAid calling me. It’s being doing that all weekend, I’ve been trying to ignore it. I’ve been baking too much since it came – like I said I have failed to photograph them, but I’ve made peach & almond muffins, meringue and oatmeal cookies (ok that’s not really heaps, but in the space of 5 days that’s a lot for me) – but for me, it means I’ve been nibbling a lot!

I’m a nibbler, I can’t help it. When I’m making things I can never resist the urge to get a teaspoon and dip it in, or lick the flat beater clean. It’s not good for me on a variety of levels though, it creates pain, it adds to my hips! So I was resisting the siren call of the KitchenAid!

It however, was not working, every moment I was not busy, I was thinking of what I could bake. I thought about some brioche, coffee cake, more cookies, I could not settle on anything. So when I couldn’t decide, I figured I’d just have to leave it. Then, I found out a friend had an accident, he’d had a go-kart land on him – and this friend, loves baked goods. So who was I to deprive him of some cheering up by not baking? (I really need no prompting do I?)

In the end I decided on some pineapple cookies, they make me think of summer & sunshine which makes me smile, so I thought they’d be perfect. They are soft and chewy and really easy to make. I really should’ve done them with crushed pineapple, but I only had pineapple pieces so I had to improvise a little, and so they weren’t as good as usual. However, I think as a cheering up present they’ll do just fine.

Pineapple cookies

227gms butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
560g can crushed pineapple, drained and juice reserved
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder

For the icing:
Reserved pineapple juice
2 cups powdered sugar

In a mixer bowl cream the butter with the sugars. Add the eggs, pineapple and vanilla.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add to the wet ingredients.
Drop by teaspoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.

For the icing: Gradually add pineapple juice to the powdered sugar by the tablespoon. You want the consistency to be a bit thick, but still stream off the spoon. While the cookies are still warm, spread the icing on the tops.
This recipe makes about 8 dozen soft, delicious cookies.