Tag Archives: biscuits

PINK PEPPERCORN PETTICOAT TAILS

Pink peppercorn shortiebread

Try saying that five times fast! Shortbread petticoat tails always make me think of Christmas. Someone always gets one of those tartan boxes filled with them, hopefully the ones coated in dark chocolate. Yum!
These have a little spicy twist to them in the form of pink peppercorns, which actually aren’t spicy in the sense of heat, but have a more floral fragrant quality. They go very well with the rich, crumbly, buttery shortbread.

Ingredients
115g butter
50g sugar
pinch of salt
120g plain flour
20g cornflour
30g fine ground semolina
1/2 tsp pink peppercorn (lightly crushed but not ground)
1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Lightly grease an 8″ fluted edge loose bottomed tin.
Cream together the butter, sugar and salt and then mix in the rest of the ingredients. You might find it easiest to do this with your fingers, like making pastry.
Bring the mixture together lightly to form a crumbly dough and transfer this to the prepared tin. Press it out to fill the tin in an even layer. Smooth off the top with the back of a spoon and then put it in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 150°c whilst the dough is in the fridge.
Bake the shortbread for 30 minutes. It shouldn’t really colour too much. Take it out of the oven and whilst it’s still warm score markings for your petticoat tails and prick the surface with a fork before lightly dusting the surface with a little sugar. Leave the shortbread to cool in the tin before lifting it off the base and cutting through completely.

pink peppercorn shortbread

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CHRISTMAS BISCOTTI

Christmas biscotti

I generally find that tackling wrapping a particularly daunting pile of Christmas presents is easier with something close by to keep your energy levels up.
Yes, coffee alone could do it but a piece of gingerbread biscotti on the side doesn’t hurt. And your reward after the final bow is tied and gift tag signed? A wee drop of your favourite festive tipple with a piece of Christmassy mincemeat biscotti to dunk in it of course!

Gingerbread biscotti
Biscotti in America tends to have a slightly softer texture to the stuff I’m used to in Europe so that’s what I’ve aimed for with these but it’s just down to the length of the first bake really. If you want these to be very crunchy (which is better for dunking) then give them an extra five minutes or so the first time the dough goes into the oven. This will also make them a bit easier to slice.
I like to use dark chocolate to decorate the gingerbread ones and white for the mincemeat but use whatever you like. Or even leave them plain (although it is Christmas…)

Mincemeat biscotti

Ingredients
makes 20 slices

75g butter
50g white sugar
50g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
pinch of salt
300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

100g of mincemeat
OR
75g golden syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
big pinch of allspice
40g crystalized ginger, finely chopped

chocolate to decorate

Christmas biscotti

Pre-heat the oven to 180°c and lightly grease a large baking sheet.
Cream together the butter, sugars and salt until they are pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and follow each addition with a spoonful of flour to stop it from curdling.
Next add either the golden syrup, if you’re making the gingerbread biscotti, OR the mincemeat and mix this in. Finally tip in the flour and baking powder (and spices and crystalized ginger for the gingerbread flavour) and beat the mixture to leave you with a soft sticky dough.

Mincemeat biscotti
Coat your hands in flour and then roll the dough into a sausage shape on the baking sheet. Flatten it a bit and then bake it for about 20 minutes. It should be starting to crack on the surface a little but not yet browned when it’s ready.
Take it out of the oven and leave it to cool for at least 20 minutes, until it is cool enough to handle and feels fairly firm. Cut the biscotti dough into 1.5cm thick slices and lay them out flat on the baking sheet.
Return these to the oven for 10 minutes then flip them over and cook them on the other side for another 10 minutes. They should be quite golden and crisp when they are done. Leave them to cool on a rack.
Melt some chocolate, any type you like, and use this to dip or drizzle over the biscotti. Allow the chocolate to set before munching away!

Gingerbread biscotti

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BENNE WAFERS

benne wafers

My love affair with Southern food continues with these little treats, something which I have only ever seen in Charleston S.C. These are crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle with lots of rich sesame flavour. They’re like sesame snaps without the annoying way that they always get stuck in your teeth. Appropriately enough benne wafers date back to colonial times and they seem to be pretty unique to the Low Country area of South Carolina, so if you’ve never had the chance to try them you really need to go and bake a batch.

I warn you though, this recipe is super-quick and easy to make, produces a ton of the little suckers and they’re crazy-addictive. I mean seriously, try to eat just one. I bet you can’t.
In case your were wondering benne is just another name for sesame. It’s said that eating them will bring good luck, so I should probably go and buy myself a lottery ticket with the number that I’ve eaten whilst writing this post alone.

I’ve resisted the urge to play around with the recipe on this one although I have made a chocolate version too, which are also really, really good and just as addictive.

benne wafers

Toast the sesame seeds before you start in a dry pan over a moderate heat. Keep them moving as they can burn very easily.

Ingredients
makes about 40, depending on size

100g butter
150g soft light brown sugar
big pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
150g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
50g toasted sesame seeds

Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and line a couple of very large baking sheets with baking parchment or silicon sheets.
Cream together the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a mixing bowl and then beat in the egg.
Add the flour and baking powder and then beat again until well combined. Finally mix through the sesame seeds.
Drop teaspoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure that they are spaced well apart as they do spread.
Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes, until they spread out and become crisp and golden around the edges. Leave them to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes and then use a pallet knife to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

benne wafers

Chocolate benne wafers

Use the same ingredients and method as above but lose the vanilla and add 20g extra butter, 20g of cocoa along with the flour and 1 scant tbsp of water at the end. The chocolate version only needs a little tweeking, just to add a bit of extra moisture to compensate for the cocoa.

benne wafers

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RED, WHITE & BLUE CHEESECAKE TRIFLES

Cheesecake trifle

Obviously we don’t really have a celebration like Independence day in the UK. Probably because we are just that, a United Kingdom, each of our little parts has celebratory Saints days of sorts (St Piran’s day for me!) but we don’t have one specific holiday for all of us. I’m not even really sure what we would celebrate if we did have one, the signing of the Magna Carta maybe? I suppose we have fireworks on Bonfire Night and we have public holidays for the Queens Jubilee (thanks your Maj!) but that’s probably as close as we come.
Being Brits over here means that we do get a little bit of good-hearted ‘Brit-baiting’ around the 4th of July but I have to say that it’s not a date that really means anything on my usual side of the pond. I missed out on last years celebrations (I went back home for the Glastonbury festival and stuck around for a week or so) but I have high hopes for seeing this years festivities in D.C.
So anyway, in the spirit of embracing Independence Day, which is actually a whole lot of fun (I love a good firework display!) I’ve come up with this UK-USA cross-over pudding. Something that we Brits over here can enjoy along with our American cousins. American cheesecake disguised as British trifle in the colours of both our nations flags. It’s like edible diplomacy!

Once these have been in the fridge for a while they’re pretty stable so you could even build them up in little jars to make portable picnic treats.

Cheesecake trifle

Ingredients
serves 6

Crumble layer
75g plain flour
15g Demerara sugar
45g salted butter, cut into small pieces

Blueberry compote layer
250g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp sugar

Macerated strawberry layer
250g fresh ripe strawberries
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp gin/Pimms/lemon juice

Cheesecake layer
270g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla paste
50g icing sugar
150ml double cream

Cheesecake trifle

Start by making the shortbread crumble and the compote so that they are cool when you assemble the trifle.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c. Combine the sugar and the flour in a bowl and rub the butter into it. Once it looks likes a sort of rubble-y mixture press it into a baking tin or dish, keeping it quite chunky so that you have decent sized lumps when you break it up. Bake this for around 20 minutes, until it starts to look golden then set it aside to cool.
For the blueberry compote simply combine the sugar and berries in a small pan and allow them to gently bubble together for 5-10 minutes, until the juices become very thick and syrupy. Try not to stir the pan, as you’ll break up the fruit, just give it a swirl or a shake every so often. Leave this to cool once it’s done too.
Chop up the strawberries (quarters is usually fine for the smaller ones) and mix them with the sugar and booze or lemon juice. Put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to macerate together.
The creamy cheesecake layer is really very easy to make. Use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy. Add the cream and beat again until it becomes quite thick and fluffy.
Once you have all of your components you can assemble the trifle, either in one big bowl or separate smaller glasses. It doesn’t really matter which order you put things in but I like the blueberry layer at the bottom so that the juice doesn’t leak through the other layers. I also make sure that I have cheesecake mixture either side of the shortbread crumble so that the fruit juices don’t make it go soft.
Once you’ve layered everything up you can decorate the top and then leave it in the fridge for a good couple of hours to set and become more firm.

Cheesecake trifle

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BISCUITS WITH BLUEBERRY-BLACK PEPPER COMPOTE

Biscuits with blueberry and black pepper compote

Our most recent road-trip adventure took us in a southerly direction to Tennessee (amongst other places). Now, I’m not going to lie to you, during this road trip I ate A LOT of biscuits (the US sort not the UK sort). I think I must have had one everyday. I’ve been doing double P.E at the gym to make amends ever since! Some were good, some were like stale hockey pucks but hands-down the most delicious ones were at the Tupelo Honey Cafe in Knoxville TN. They were so light and fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious that I had to look up how to make them as soon as I got home. If I become morbidly obese I’m going to blame the internet for allowing me to find out this recipe. Thinking about it maybe Mr Colonial Cravings needs to set up some sort of filter on my laptop.
The reason, I found out, that their biscuits taste so amazing is that they’re made with cream. It seems so obvious now I know! Because, and I know we’re never supposed to mention this, fat makes food taste great.

blueberry & black pepper biscuits
Tupelo Honey Cafe advise using a particular type of self-rising flour but I never have self-raising flour in the pantry so I used plain four with some raising agents. Also I want to be able to make these when I move back to the UK and our self-raising flour works differently to American self-rising flour. Or at least in my experience it does.
So this is my version of those deliciously fluffy biscuits. You say rip-off, I say tribute. Po-tay-to-Po-tah-to.
You obviously don’t have to include the black pepper if the idea scares you at all but I think it adds a nice little bit of warmth to the flavour and perks up the blueberries. I’ve also kept these deliberately small in the interests of portion control but you can of course make them as thick and as big as you like, just adjust the baking time accordingly.

Biscuits with blueberry and black pepper compote

Ingredients
Makes 20 ish

300g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
60g very cold butter
100ml cream
150ml buttermilk
black pepper and extra melted butter

Compote
125g blueberries
juice of 1/2 lemon
scant tbsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Biscuits with blueberry and black pepper compote

Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and brush a cake tin with a little melted butter. Baking these in something with quite deep sides will really help to support the biscuits as they rise.
Sift together the flour and raising agents into a large mixing bowl and then mix through the salt and sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces and lightly rub it through the flour. It doesn’t have to be too uniform.
Add the cream and buttermilk, a bit at a time as you may not need all of it and bring it all together to form a soft dough. Don’t over mix the dough or you’ll get tough biscuits. I use a fork to mix it so that my hands don’t warm up the mixture either.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it out to about 1/2″ thick. Fold it in half and then pat it out again. Fold it one more time and pat it out again so that it’s 1/2″ thick. Stamp out 2″ rounds using a pastry cutter. It’s very important that you don’t twist the cutter though. Put the biscuits in the buttered cake tin, it’s okay for them to touch. Brush the tops with a little extra melted butter, sprinkle with black pepper and bake for 15-20 minutes. Once they are all puffed up and golden you can let them cool a touch before devouring them whilst they’re still a bit warm.

blueberry & black pepper biscuits

For the compote use a small saucepan to combine all of the ingredients. Gently simmer them until the juices begin to thicken and become syrupy. Try not to stir the compote too much, you don’t want to mush up the fruit. Leave the compote to cool completely before serving it with the biscuits so that juices are syrupy when they soak into the tender crumb of the biscuits.

Biscuits with blueberry and black pepper compote

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JAMMIE DODGERS

jammie dodgers

On one of our many road trips we were enjoying breakfast at a B&B when the people who were sharing our table, upon hearing our British accents asked us if we liked Dr Who. (Weirdly this isn’t the first time this has happened, it seems it’s a fairly standard thing to ask us Brits) They proceeded to explain that they were such big fans that when the 50th anniversary episode was screened over here they celebrated by eating fish fingers and custard and even managed to source some jammie dodgers. I asked if they substituted the custard for hollandaise or the fish fingers for cake but apparently they were quite ‘authentic’ in their dedication to Whovianism. Hardcore!
It hadn’t occurred to me that Jammie Dodgers weren’t a thing over here but seeing as it’s Mr Colonial Cravings turn to supply the cookies for cookie club I thought I’d give making homemade ones a bash. Apparently the first rule of cookie club is ‘get your wife to do the baking.’
These are less crunchy than the shop bought version but they are far more buttery and indulgent as the biscuits are essentially a rich shortbread. Think of these as an upgrade to your afternoon cuppa.

jammie dodgers

If making them look like button seems like a bit too much effort then you can just cut one single larger hole out of the top.

Ingredients
makes about 18

220g butter
110g sugar
340g plain flour

seedless raspberry jam (about 1/4 of a jar)

Cream together the butter and sugar and then beat in the flour until you have a cohesive dough.
Roll the dough out until it is 5mm thick. I like to do this on a silicone mat with the dough covered with a piece of greaseproof paper so that I don’t work any extra flour into the mixture. Cover the dough with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Whilst it’s relaxing you can pre-heat the oven and lightly grease several large baking sheets (or just bake them on silicone mats.)

jammie dodgers
Once the dough is ready cut out lots circles using a 5 cm cutter, remember that you need an even number because they get sandwiched together. Keep gently re-rolling the dough until it all used.
Space the circles out on your prepared trays, leave 1-2 cm between them. Use a small glass to make a slight indent around the edge of half of the biscuits and then use a piping nozzle to cut out four little holes.
Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes then remove them from the oven and sprinkle the tops (ie the ones with the holes in) with a little sugar. Let them sit for minute and then place a small blob of jam on each of the biscuits that will become the bottoms. Half a teaspoon is about right, any more and it tends to bubble over. Spread this a little (not too close to the edges) and then carefully sit the tops on the jam covered bottoms. I find it easiest to use palate knife for this. Return the biscuits to the oven to bake for a further five minutes, they should be just starting to turn brown once they are done. Allow to cool on the tray for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before enjoying.

jammie dodgers

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CHOCOLATE AND VANILLA HEARTS

chocolate and vanilla heart cookies

These crisp little biscuits are spot on for Valentines day. They’re the perfect combination of buttery biscuit, sweet vanilla and bitter dark chocolate.
I’m always surprised at how big Valentines day is over here. Valentines cards come in multi-packs, presumably for those who like to keep their options open. Bearing this in mind, a recipe that’s fit for sharing seems to be in order here. So why not make a batch and share the love.

chocolate and vanilla heart cookies
I may, or may not, have turned some of these into ice-cream sandwiches. (Okay, I did. And I don’t regret a single morsel of it!)
FYI: Mr Colonial Cravings tells me that he received some very funny looks when he offered these around the office a couple of weeks ago…apparently heart shaped treats are not what one expects to be given by a 6’2″ bloke with a massive beard.

Ingredients
Makes 30
60g dark chocolate
170g butter
150g sugar
1 egg
285g plain flour
40g cornflour
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla paste

chocolate and vanilla heart cookies

Melt the chocolate (in the microwave or in a double boiler) and then set it aside to cool whilst you make the dough.
Soften the butter and then cream it together with the sugar in a decent sized mixing bowl. You want it to be quite light and fluffy. Beat the egg into this, making sure that it is well blended.
Add the flour and cornflour and beat the mixture again. Add the milk and mix it all together (I find it easiest to use my hands) until it comes together to form a soft dough.
Divide this in two (you can weigh it if you want to be really precise, obviously I just eyeball it!) Mix the vanilla into one half and the melted chocolate into the other. Make sure that each dough is well blended or it’ll look marbled.
Flatten each lump of dough a little, wrap it in cling film and stick it in the freezer to chill for 30 mins so that it is easier to work with.

chocolate and vanilla heart cookies
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c and lightly grease a large baking sheet (or two).
Roll out both balls of dough until they are about 5mm thick. I do this on the cling film that they were wrapped in to avoid incorporating any extra flour into the biscuits, which can make them tough.
Cut out the larger of your heart shapes and place them on the baking tray, spaced a little apart. Once they’re on the tray you can cut the smaller hearts out of the centres. Then it’s simply a case of swapping the middles of the biscuits to create a two-tone effect.
Sprinkle them with a little sugar and bake them for 12 minutes. If you have to bake them in two batches then be sure to keep the raw dough in the fridge whilst the first batch is in the oven.
Pop them on a wire rack to cool and keep the in an air-tight tin (even I would struggle to eat 30 in one day!)

chocolate and vanilla heart cookies

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