Archives for posts with tag: Shortbread

Since we are still in the Christmas spirit time of year, I reckon it’s not too late to write a little about some of the festive feats that I attempted in the build up to Christmas day. I can also introduce you to George, the latest addition to our family and the finest tortoise in all of Tooting, South London!

George

More cards

Taking inspiration from a couple of my favourite chefs I made some “edible Christmas cards” for friends and family. I love to give and receive home-made gifts and these are all straight forward to make. Positive feedback all round, and the biscuits and chocs looked pretty when packaged up in some Orla Kiely gift boxes.

Edible Christmas card Boxes

I needed recipes for biscuits that wouldn’t go stale within a day or two. Requiring a recipe for guaranteed success, I used Delia Smith’s shortbread recipe (http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/baking/all-about-shortbread.html) which I then spiced up with orange zest, dried cranberries and drizzled with white chocolate. See the heart and teapot shaped biscuits below.

Platter

Frances Quinn’s amazing Christmas creation for the Telegraph, which featured owls, pinecones, stars, and was simply beautiful. I used her gingerbread leaf recipe to create a much simpler, Christmas tree-shaped biscuit. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/10526360/Bake-Off-Frances-Quinns-12-Days-of-Christmas-recipes.html

Christmas tree

The little round cups are Millionaire’s Shortbread (https://lydiatoson.com/2013/12/08/millionaires-shortbread-for-mum/), making them in little cases makes them easier to pack up and prevents crumbly bottoms.

Packing up

The Carnation website also has a fail-proof coconut ice recipe (http://www.carnation.co.uk/Recipes/70/Coconut-Ice). I like to use the coarsely grated desiccated coconut (who knew it came in three grain sizes!?) from the Sri Lankan mini market around the corner from our flat. You have to leave the coconut ice to set for at least a few hours after assembly, so this is one to make in advance. I made mini bounty bars by double dipping the coconut ice pieces in good quality dark chocolate, melted over a bain-marie.

In addition to foodie bits, I crafted together some non-edible Christmas cards for those I wanted to correspond with via Royal Mail. I happened to lose my list of “cards to be sent”, resulting in some friends and family receiving no cards whilst others received two. Oops! I will send out New Year’s cards once I have worked out who received what!

Tree cards  cards Tree card

Each little envelope on this card contained a message on a tiny piece of paper, or some glitter and Christmas sparkle.

IMG00023-20121129-1746

Running out of time to make a card for everyone, I found these Tooting salutations at the Broadway market.

Tooting cards

I made a gingerbread house to take round to my lovely friend Lucy’s house over the festive season, which was good fun although some structural improvisation was required to get the roof to fit.

Gingerbread house

I also missed the opportunity to photograph George the tortoise with any edible treats, however I did lend my Christmas present to my friends at www.moorechampagne.com as they launched their online media campaign the week before Christmas. Check them out for unique and distinctive grand cru grower champagnes, perfect for celebrations and enjoyment at any time of year.

Moore Champagne

I think that’s probably all for now, although my next blog may well feature some Moore Champagne in the form of celebratory New Year cakes, and possibly George too.

Due to the “storm” that was about to hit London (even Barry the Thames Barrier has gone down) on Thursday, my train to the gym was severely delayed, therefore I abandoned exercise and was able to come home from work at a decent time.

My Mum and Dad were coming late last Sunday night, determined that we would fit in a Lebanese at a newly opened local establishment down the road upon arrival. The purpose of their visit was some minor DIY, and I needed to give them energy whilst tiling my kitchen windowsill the following morning.

So I recreated one of Mum’s favourite biscuits, if that is indeed the culinary category in which this treat falls. Millionaire’s shortbread. What better tea time (or any time) treat?

Sparkly shortbread

Crunchy shortbread biscuit, a large amount of soft, sweet, caramel, and a definitive dense chocolate topping, The chocolate and biscuit are working together to hold in that caramel, and the ratio of biscuit to caramel in this recipe is far more generous than most shop bought equivalents (and of course contains no nasty preservatives).

As has been a feature of several recent(ish) posts, I have borrowed someone else’s recipe (in this case Carnation’s, of condensed milk fame) and adapted it a little.

http://www.carnation.co.uk/recipes/60/Millionaires-Shortbread

This is a rather simple recipe, and you don’t even need a sugar thermometer to get the caramel right (see reference to disastrous macarons in previous post I am still holding out for one for Christmas).

I have made this recipe several times, and feel that I am close to perfecting it. I find the base works best when you blitz the shortbread in the food processor, finer crumbs = sturdier biscuit base. This is the cheat’s shortbread base, you can also make your own from scratch which is straight forwards but more time-consuming.

Stirring up shortbread

Next, you make the caramel. Gently stir together the butter and sugar until fully melted, and then drizzle in the condensed milk, stirring continuously as you don’t want it to burn. I don’t know why but I find a wooden spoon helps this process. And you can smack away any fingers trying to get an early dip of the sweet nectar!

Keep stirring even though you don’t want to, for fear of burning. I also have a fear of the caramel not setting, so I do stir it until notably thicker. Then pour on to the cooled shortbread and leave to chill out for a while.

Caramel

Leave the caramel to cool in the fridge and melt two bars of chocolate (200g in total) over a bain-marie, which is easier to control the temperature than melting in a saucepan directly. Dark, milk and white chocolate toppings are all delicious, or even a combination of them together.

To get a celebration-like finish to the shortbread, I then melted white chocolate and flicked it across the top, then scattered tiny edible gold stars over the tray.

Mini shortbreads

I am experimenting with finger-sized treats that I can parcel up as presents, and so made some tiny shortbreads in silicone petit-four cases.

Petit fours

My biggest tip for making shortbread is to score the chocolate topping before it has entirely set, otherwise it is a nightmare to cut in to straight lines.

Scoring the chocolate topping

There are loads of sweet (terrible pun – sorry!) recipes on this site. I want to try the fudge recipe next time, but not until I have my sugar thermometer…

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