Tag Archives: ginger

Nutty biscuits

20 Nov

Ginger nutty goodness

When I was wee my two favourite things to bake were peanut butter cookies and tollhouse cookies.  One of these days I’ll dig out the old recipes, if I can find them – the tollhouse cookies recipe I’m pretty sure was from my Aunt Joyce, a brilliant cook and a seriously good baker.  One of my happiest childhood memories is sitting on the bench at her enormous kitchen table while she made pancakes (drop scones to non-Scots) on the rayburn beside us.  It seemed to take her only minutes from having independent ingredients to  these perfect warm pillows of baked goodness, spread with homemade raspberry jam.  Yum.

Yesterday I saw a Jamie Oliver recipe for Nutty Ginger Biscuits, and realised it was a pimped up version of my old peanut butter cookies.  So, I made them this morning.  They are indeed a more sophisticated biscuit than mine ever were, but then it was the 70s when I was baking them, less sophisticated times, especially for rural 12 year olds.

This recipe makes a light crumbly biscuit, not a chewy cookie.  The clementine zest definitely adds a touch of class, and next time I make them I will add some ginger to the dough as well as the nubbin of the crystallised ginger on top.

The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s magazine and I’ll be making his Jerky Hocks later, with two enormous ham hocks.  If it works, I’ll share.  I’ve slightly adapted the cookie recipe here, so if you want the original you need to buy his lovely magazine.

Nutty Ginger Biscuits

250g unsalted butter, softened.

140g sugar (I used a mixture of half and half caster and light muscovado)

1 egg yolk (I’ll make meringues later with the white)

2 TBsp crunchy peanut butter (I added 3)

Grated zest of 2 clementines

300g plain flour

2-3 balls of stem ginger from a jar

A few TBsp of desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 180C / GM4. Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

  1. If the room temperature of your kitchen is as cold a mine, soften your butter.  My mum will do this by leaving it near the rayburn for a while.  But she doesn’t bake any more, so it’s unlikely to happen.  I cut mine into big chunks, put it in the large bowl and zizzed it in the microwave for 40s at half power.  Don’t even attempt this recipe with hard butter
  2. Add the sugar to the butter and beat until light and creamy
  3. Add the egg yolk, clementine zest and peanut butter.  Jamie added some vanilla essence here too, but I forgot and they still tasted yummy
  4. Beat again till combined
  5. Sift in the flour, and mix all together with a large metal spoon.  or wooden would do I suppose.  But don’t use electric beaters – you are just combining at this stage, not attempting to beat more air into it (which I suspect would be self-defeating).
  6. Now, take dessertspoonful size nubbins of dough and evenly space them on the baking sheets.  Squish them down a little, so they are sort of cookie shaped.
  7. Put a wee bit of ginger into the top of each biscuit, and sprinkle with desiccated coconut.
  8. Bake for 9-12 minutes, till golden brown
  9. Let sit on the baking tray for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Freezing biscuit dough.  Have you ever done it? I can’t say I have.  But Jamie says that these freeze well – just freeze them once they are on sheets of greaseproof paper in their rough cookie shapes.  Once frozen, they could probably be stored in a bag, or tub.  To cook from frozen, bake at 180C / GM4 for 10-15 mins till golden. Now, how brilliant would that be?  Must try harder not to bake them all at once next time.

Triple chocolate ginger brownies

6 Jun

This recipe is a bit of an amalgam of several other recipes.  I had decided it was a chocolate brownie weekend.  That was after it had already been a garlic bread, asparagus & parma ham pizza, carrot soup and granary bread weekend.  More on the savoury stuff later, this is all about the chocolate.

So, the amalgam.  I looked at a few recipe books, and the recipe in Leon is the only one which stood out.  It was very particular about the order in which things were added, and also that the melted chocolate and butter should be allowed to cool slightly before mixing with other ingredients, to prevent it seizing up – this makes perfect sense to me now that it’s been mentioned.  They also whipped together the eggs and sugar to make a frothy loveliness before combining with flour/chocolate/butter/whatever else (I seem to recall a lot of orangey stuff, but I’m not a great fan of orange and chocolate).

So, I had some technique to think about from Leon.  And I had an old favourite recipe written out in my old cloth-covered Liberty recipe book.  I wrote it out years ago, and didn’t note where the original recipe came from, I suspect a Good Food magazine.

And on the opposite page from my old tried and tested brownie recipe I have scribbled in the ingredients for Triple Chocolate Brownies.  I made these for the first time when I was looking after my nephews about 2 years ago, and the recipe was either in a book (possibly Delia’s latest?) or ripped out and pinned up on the wall next to the rayburn.  Anyway, I made it, loved it and kept the recipe.

So, I wanted ginger chunks, and found an opened bag of crystallised ginger, you know the stuff all covered in granulated sugar that looks like a cross between a mis-shapen sugar lump and a pineapple chunk.  And I wanted deep chocolatey-ness.  And not too much squelch, more lightness than you might normally associate with a brownie.  And I didn’t want too much sweetness – my original recipe has LOTS of sugar and I felt sure I could lose some of the sugary sweetness without losing any of the nomminess.  I think I succeeded.  But you decide.

Triple chocolate ginger brownies

Grease a 20cm square tin and line with greaseproof paper.  Oven: Gas Mark 4 ish.

150g butter

200g dark chocolate

175g light muscovado sugar

3 eggs

75g plain flour (or use wholewheat if you have it in the cupboard, for a pretendie health improvement, with no associated loss of loveliness)

75g white chocolate

75g milk chocolate

75g crystallised ginger – use ginger in syrup if you can’t find the crystallised stuff, but I think the crystallised is less likely to sink.

  1. Melt butter and dark chocolate over a double boiler.  Use a microwave if you have to, but I prefer being able to heat it gently over water.
  2. You can take it off the heat before it is all melted, especially if you chopped it into smallish chunks before you started.  The residual heat will melt the remaining lumps.
  3. Leave to cool for a wee while, while you get all your other ingredients prepped.
  4. In another bowl, beat the eggs and the sugar together (Using electric beaters) until light in colour and creamy.  It won’t fluff up like egg whites, but it will hold quite a good heavy frothiness.
  5. Chop the remaining chocolate and the ginger into chunks about the half the size of your pinky finger nail.
  6. Now, keep the electric beaters running and gradually add about half of the not-quite-so-hot-now chocolate-butter mixture.  Then mix in the flour, and finally the remaining chocolate-butter mixture. You should have a batter thick enough to fall off a spoon, but not so thin that it just runs off in a liquid stream.
  7. Now stir in the chocolate and ginger chunklets.
  8. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for around 45 minutes.
  9. Cut into teeny squares – I can generally get 16 -20 squares out of the tin.  It’s extremely rich and you only need a wee square to get that chocolatey hit.
For further gingeriness, you could replace some of the sugar with some syrup from a jar of ginger, and even add some ground ginger.  Or grate some fresh ginger and add the juice to the mixture.  Although I possibly only suggest that last one as I recently acquired my mother’s old ginger grater (it is a glass implement, slightly reminiscent of a lemon squeezer gone wrong).
And you could adapt this in many other ways such as:
  • omit all ginger and replace with vanilla paste
  • or omit all ginger and replace with the zest of an orange; use a terry’s chocolate orange cut into chunklets for further orangey-ness
  • add chopped nuts – I think pecans would work well
  • or hazelnuts, and you could replace some of the flour with ground hazelnuts – perhaps a couple of TBsps
  • omit the ginger and instead of adding ordinary chocolate, break in some mint chocolate matchsticks, or whatever they are called – you know the chocolate sticks that look a bit like a chocolate twiglet
  • wee nubbins of marzipan instead of ginger – and replace a couple of TBsps of flour with ground almonds, and add a few drops of almond essence
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