Monthly Archives: December 2009

Condensed Milk Cookies

I’ve posted this recipe before calling it American Cookies but I’m British so all my cookie recipes are ‘American’ or I call them biscuits.  When people ask me to make these they ask for “the condensed milk ones” and so I have renamed them.  I’ve also discovered since I first made them just how versatile the basic cookie dough can be.  Today I made the final addition to everyone’s christmas hamper:  Individually flavoured cookies. 

My sister has become obsessed with peanut butter and chocolate and so I made her peanut butter and chocolate cookies.  Dad loves ginger and chilli and so that’s what he got.  Mum was harder as she’s a mum and so says she likes whatever I make her but I know she loves marzipan so she got a sort of bakewell cookie… a fakewell if you will.  I also made myself a batch of chocolate and hazelnut cookies for immediate snacking.  There are no photos of that flavour as my family immediately snacked on them!  The joy of this is I made one batch of dough and then simply divided it into 4 and carried on to do all the different flavours I wanted. 

Makes ~36 cookies

255g unsalted butter, softened
225g golden caster sugar
170g condensed milk
350g self raising flour

For the toppings: (no amounts as it depends how many you make of each flavour)
natural coloured glace cherries
marzipan
flaked almonds
stem ginger in syrup, chopped into eighths
ginger and chilli sauce (I used Tesco’s Finest ice cream sauce but it’s totallyoptional.) 
cocoa powder
peanut butter
chocolate chips
chopped hazelnuts

– First line 5 baking sheets with baking paper and heat the oven to gas mark 4.  (If you don’t have 5 then just prep the paper and then reuse trays as they come free.)
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until soft and fluffy. 
– Mix in the condensed milk. 
– Add the flour and mix until it is all combined in a soft dough. 
– Divide the dough into 4 if making 4 flavours. 

For Chocolate and Peanut Cookies:
– Take 1/4 of the dough and put it into a smaller bowl. 
– Add a few spoons of cocoa powder and knead in until it forms a nice even chocolate colour. 
– Pinch off a walnut sized (and I really mean walnut sized, it’s smaller than you’d think!) bit of dough and roll it into a ball. 
– Flatten into a disc between your hands.
– Add a spoon of peanut butter to the centre. 
– Fold and pinch over the edges so that the peanut butter is completely enclosed in the dough. 
– Place on the baking tray leaving at least 1″ between cookies and flatten slightly and tidy up any really wonky ones. 
– Repeat with the rest of that dough. 

For Ginger Chilli Cookies:
– With the next 1/4 pinch off walnut sized bits and make into balls. 
– Flatten into a disc between your hands.
– Place 4 chunks of ginger in the centre of the disc and fold up the edges of the dough to make a sort of bowl around it. 
– Place on the baking tray leaving at least 1″ between cookies and then pour over a little of the syrup from the jar or some of the chilli ginger sauce. 

For the ‘Bakewell’ Cookies:
– With the next 1/4 pinch off walnut sized bits and make into balls. 
– Flatten into a disc between your hands.
– Pinch off a ball of marzipan about the size of a Malteaser and flatten into a disc. 
– Place the disc in the centre of the dough and fold over the very edges. 
– Place a glace cherry in the centre and then flaked almonds aroung that. 
– Place on the baking tray leaving at least 1″ between cookies. 

For the Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies:
– With the final 1/4 flatten the dough out and sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts. 
– Knead these in until well distributed throughout the dough. 
– Pinch off walnut sized bits and make into balls. 
– Flatten into a disc between your hands.
– Place on the baking tray leaving at least 1″ between cookies. 

– Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  (I switch over the top and bottom trays after 10 minutes then give them both 5 minutes more.)
– Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes. 
– Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 NB. These cookies do spread a lot, almost double, so be very careful not to place them too closely together:

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Easy

Cranberry Loaf

I found this recipe over on Joy of Baking and knew it was just perfect for what I wanted.  It was very simple to prepare as it’s essentially a muffin mixture and it would keep very well for a week, in fact getting better over the week, so perfect for posting for Christmas presents.  It also looks so very Christmassy! 

I wanted to use rectangular foil ‘takeout’ containers so as to ship and transport it easily and these were smaller than the 9″x5″x3″ tin the recipe called for so I doubled the recipe thinking may be I’d get 3 out of it, nope, got 4!  Yum, one spare!  It’s a really interesting flavour too, you have the sharpness of the cranberries with hints of fruity and nuttiness.  The crust also forms this delicious sugary crunch.  A surefire winner this one.  My test subjects of my mum’s office were begging for the recipe!

 

Makes 2 8″ x4″x3″ ‘loaf tins’

460g plain flour
700g golden caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
1 large egg
56g butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla essence
360ml milk
100g fresh cranberries (Dried if fresh not available)
90g mixed peel (I used whole preserved orange peels chopped up)
60g chopped mixed nuts

– Heat your oven to gas mark 4 and grease your tins. 
– In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest. 
– In a large jug mix together the butter, vanilla and milk. 
– Mix the two together and stir well to combine.  (Doesn’t matter if there are some lumps in there.)
– Add the fruits and nuts and stir through. 
– Pour into the tins and bake at the top of the oven for 1 hour.  Cover the top with foil if it gets too brown. 
– Test with a skewer to see if it’s done then remove from the oven and cool completely. 
– Wrap in foil to store for up to a week.

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Filed under Cakes, Christmas, Easy

Fudge

I’ve been putting off making fudge for a while now but it’s only a few days until christmas and it could wait no longer.  I made 2 types, White Chocolate and Bailey’s Fudge and regular Chocolate Fudge The basic recipe is the same you just add different stuff at the end.  The possibilities are endless! 

I didn’t think I liked fudge for some reason but this stuff is delicious!  Especially warm scraps out of the pan at the very end.  The Bailey’s flavour develops really well as it cools and the regular chocolate is very very tempting.  So tempting in fact that when I went out leaving the very last slice I’d kept back for myself on the table the dog jumped up and ate it!  So I had a sugar high puppy and no fudge.  😦

I admit I burnt the first batch (White Chocolate and Baileys, below) I made as I didn’t know what I was doing.  Well, it wasn’t actually burnt, that’s the odd thing.  It just developed brown caramel pieces in it as I had it on too high a temperature.  It tasted absolutely fine, in fact I rather liked the texture, and the pan had nothing stuck to it at all so I’m not quite sure what happened.  So “caramel bits” they shall be!

Makes 1 8x8x8 cake tin

405g tin condensed milk
150ml milk
450g demerara sugar
115g unsalted butter
Flavourings of your choice:
200g white/plain/milk chocolate (break into small chunks first)
50ml alcohol (Bailey’s, Cointreau, etc.)
dried fruits
etc.

– Line your cake tin with foil. 
– Put everything in a large, deep pan and gently heat until the sugar is dissolved.  (It will no longer feel grainy on the bottom.)
– Raise the heat and bring to a boil. 
– Lower the heat again and very gently simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring constantly.  The liquid will bubble up (watch it doesn’t boil over) and then die back down again.  Keep stirring constantly and briskly.  Once it starts to thicken, or if you see any hint of brown flecks forming, remove from the heat. 
– To test the fudge drop a small spoonful into a jug of cold water.  It should form a soft ball, not ribbons.  (I was using a sugar thermometer but my fudge didn’t get to soft ball on the thermometer but still formed a soft ball in practice so best to do it the old-fashioned way here.)
– Here is where you add any flavourings and stir until thoroughly melted/combined. 
– Pour the hot fudge into the prepared tin, smooth down a little if necessary, and then leave to cool completely. 
– Turn out and lightly score where you want to cut then cut the fudge into chunks.

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Filed under Moderately easy, Sweets

Christmas Sweets

LAST WARNING DO NOT READ THIS POST IF YOU ARE ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST!!!  (Alex, that means you too.)

Are you gone?

Ok, on with the recipes!

Sorry about that anyone who’s still around but I know that my friends and family read this so I don’t want to spoil any surprises for them but I do want to share these ideas with anyone still searching for inspiration.  This year I’ve decided to do a mixture of token bought prezzies and homemade gifts.  Theoretically this will save some money but the initial outlay for jars and baskets and other things has been a bit steep but I really enjoy making things for people.  I hope that the fact that I’ve spent hours and hours of my life finding things I think they’ll like and then making them myself will be appreciated.  And failing the “made with love” reason everyone likes gifts you can eat, right? 

So far I’ve made:

Peppermint Puddings:

Hot Chocolate On A Stick:

Fruit and Chocolate Drops:

And finally Sweet Chilli Jam:

I’ll be adding more things as I do them over the next few days.

Fudge:

Cranberry Loaf:

Next  there’s Condensed Milk Cookies made to individual preferences:

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Peppermint Creams

A good old-fashioned staple this one.  We used to make these a lot as kids.  I’ve made these a little more complicated by dipping them in chocolate and decorating them to look like little Christmas Puddings.  They’re a little sticky but all sweets are and they’re great fun to make.  Better yet the basic peppermint creams are really quick to make. 

Makes ~30

300g icing sugar (plus up to 50g more)
2 tbsp double cream
1 egg white
peppermint essence

– Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl.
– Dependent on how big an egg you’ve used you may need more icing sugar to get a thick enough paste.
– Once the mixture is not longer sticky but soft and mouldable dust your hands with icing sugar and pinch off small amounts of the mixture and roll it into balls. 
– Place on a tray or chopping board covered in cling film and if you’re making flat discs press down gently with the heel of your hand. 
– Continue until all of the mixture is used up.   
– Leave to dry overnight. 
– The next day if you want chocolate dipped ones melt down 100g of chocolate and allow to cool until just warm to the touch.  If it’s still hot it will melt the peppermint creams. 
– Then dip them in it.  If you want to cover the whole thing then gently drop the peppermint cream into the chocolate, fish out with a fork, making sure it’s totally coated, and then tap firmly on the side of the bowl to get rid of any drippy chocolate.  Replace the peppermint on the tray or chopping board to dry.

To make Peppermint Puddings keep the peppermint cream as a round ball and dip in melted chocolate.  Then once that’s dried put a small spoon of melted white chocolate on the top and then mix food colouring and white chocolate together.  This will make the chocolate go weird but you can pick it up with your fingers and carefully shape the leaves and berries.  Simply press on to the white chocolate while it’s still tacky.

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Filed under Easy, Sweets

Hot Chocolate On A Stick

I’ve bought these as gifts before but when I saw a recipe for making them myself I couldn’t resist!  So cheap, so easy, so fun!  Stuff on a stick is great, I love almost any food that comes on a stick.  Hot Chocolate, even better!  You will need an icecube tray and some sticks to make these.  I went out and bought sticks from a cookware shop but if I weren’t giving them as gifts I’d have just gone into Starbucks and nicked a handful of the stirry things.  As for icecube trays the world is your oyster.  Use whatever shape you like, the big rectangular ones are great because you get a perfect amount for a standard cup of chocolate. 

Makes 10

225g chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
100g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
tiny pinch salt

– Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Don’t let the water touch the bowl. 
– Remove from the pan when it’s still got a few chunks in it and stir until they melt. 
– Add the cocoa powder, icing sugar and salt and stir until combined.  It should be very thick.
– Then pipe into your icecube tray or spoon very very carefully. 
– Add the sticks and leave to cool. 
– Turn out and package as you like. 
– To use simply put in a mug of hot milk and stir!
– Will keep for a good 6 months or longer in an airtight container.

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Filed under Drinks, Easy

Fruit and Chocolate Drops

These simply could not be easier.  I’ve been doing a lot with melted chocolate lately and after doing whatever I needed to with it I always had leftover chocolate.  I always like these when I get them in Belgium so I thought why not make them myself?  That way you can dictate what goes on the top too.   The ‘recipe’, such as it is, goes as far as however much chocolate you have. 

Makes however many you want.

melted chocolate (white, milk, dark, whatever you like)
dried fruit (I’ve used cranberries, raisins, sultanas and glace cherries.)
nuts (I like blanched almonds but walnuts, pecans or any other nut works well too.)

– Cover a chopping board or baking tray with baking paper. 
– Pour a spoonful of melted chocolate onto the paper and swirl round a little with the back of the spoon to make a flat disc. 
– Place your chosen fruit and nuts on the top. 
– Leave to set.  Done!

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Filed under Easy, Sweets