I do love shortbread, I think it’s mainly because I grew up with it, we would visit my Gran’s house and get shortbread for a snack but more so every New Year as this is the tradition in Scotland.
Through the ‘Taste of Scotland’ scheme that promotes authentic and innovative Scottish cooking, Scottish cuisine has enjoying a renaissance and now many believe that the best food in Britain is to be found north of the Border. The story of shortbread begins with the medieval “biscuit bread”. Any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk: the word “biscuit” means “twice cooked”. Gradually the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.
Shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, shortbread was a special treat reserved just for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. In Shetland it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. The custom of eating shortbread at New Year has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule Cakes which symbolised the sun. In Scotland it is still traditionally offered to “first footers” at New Year.
Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle divided into segments (“Petticoat Tails”); individual round biscuits (“Shortbread Rounds”), or a thick rectangular slab cut into “fingers.” However, these days as we see some amazing cookie cutter shapes, they can be cut into whatever you like. As it is the Winter Season here just now, I decided to go for some lovely Snowflake Designs.
From memory when my Gran’s used to make Shortbread, the rule of thumb is always 3,2,1, 3 parts Flour to 2 parts Butter to 1 part sugar. Stick with this and you can’t go wrong.
Makes about 10-12 Shortbreads
115g Plain Flour
55g Rice Flour
55g Sugar (Caster or Icing) – (Extra Sugar to finish)
Pre heat your oven to 150 deg C Fan.
In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, sift in the flours.
Mix until it resembles bread crumbs, then tip onto a floured surface and work by hand to bring the dough together.
Gently roll out to about 1/2 inch thickness, if using a cutter, cut into your designs and lay onto a greaseproof baking tray. If creating petticoats, press into a round baking tin, or fingers, press into a rectangle baking tin. Now refrigerate for about 20 minutes, this helps the biscuits to stop spreading when being baked. Prick the shortbread with a fork and bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven and while still hot sprinkle with some sugar to finish. Allow to cool.
Oh yum…..these were so tasty. I do love experimenting with flavours and using up what I have in my cupboards, sometimes my best recipes come from emptying my cupboards and using whatever is in there and trying things out…lol!
As it is coming up to the festive season I wanted to try some festive flavours and of course gingerbread is almost one of the all time favourites. With the coconut I wanted to create a snowy feel/look. I call them kisses because of the Jam, when you bite in you get the lovely gingerbread flavour and then the Jam gently kisses the back of your throat….yum! Baked in under 15 minutes these are a perfect quick snack with a cuppa. Will be best up to 3 days stored in an air tight container.
Makes about 20-24
200g Self Raising Flour
100g Rice Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
40g Softened Butter
100g Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Honey
Finely Grated Zest of 1 Orange
For the Spice: 1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon, 1 1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger, 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
100g Desiccated Coconut
Rasperberry (or any flavour) Jam
2 Tbsp Icing Sugar for decoration.
Preheat oven to 175 deg C Fan. Line Baking Trays with Greaseproof paper
In a bowl beat together the butter, dark sugar, honey, oil, egg and citrus zest until blended.
In a separate bowl mix together flours, salt, spice mix and baking powder. Spoon half of the flour into the wet mixture and bring together, add in the remaining flour mixture and mix until you have a soft dough. It will be slightly sticky, this is o.k., but if too sticky just add a little more flour. Let stand for a few minutes.
Take about 1 Tbsp of the dough and roll into small balls. Place coconut into a bowl and roll each ball into the coconut to cover. Place onto the baking tray and press down with your thumb or finger to make a well in the centre.
Place about 1/2 – 1 Tsp of Jam into the well and bake in the oven for approx 12 – 15 minutes until set. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
Finish off with a light dusting of Icing Sugar. Serve. Yum!
OMG! Well what can I say, if you love Peanut Butter like me these are delicious. They are also very light and cut up into small squares they are only about 70 calories per square, so in my book that’s a guilt free treat with my cup of coffee.
We always have a little treat on a Sunday, it’s something to look forward to while we relax and chill after our working week. Peanut butter is a good source of protein, fiber, folate, phosphorus, potassium & magnesium. And yes, peanut butter does have fat, but the fat is monounsaturated, which is more cholesterol-friendly.
I first saw this recipe from a Diabetic Website https://diabeticgourmet.com/ when my mum was a Diabetic, unfortunately I never got round to making them for her. This recipe I change a little to suit our sweet tastes….lol!
Makes 16 small squares
120g Caster Sugar (Splenda if diabetic)
40g Light Brown Sugar
100ml skimmed or semi skimmed milk
60g Peanut Butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
120g Self Raising Flour
90g Rolled Oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
120g Chocolate Chips
1. Beat the butter, caster Sugar and brown sugar until well combined.
2. Stir in milk, peanut butter, egg and vanilla until blended. Gradually mix in combined flour, oats, baking powder and salt until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Spread mixture evenly into a 9 x 9-inch baking pan covered with greaseproof paper. Bake in preheated 170 deg oven for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Leave to cool on wire rack. Cut into squares.
4. Store in airtight container at room temperature, will be best for up to 3 days.
It was National Cheesecake Day on July 30th, 3 days after my partners birthday & he wanted Cheesecake for his dessert. We must have went through every flavour on the planet until he decided that it was Crunchie he was going to settled for. To be honest I was glad as I do love a Crunchie Bar, it’s just that lovely melt in the mouth honeycomb that I like. This was delicious!
Makes a Deep fill 9″ Cake
300g Cream Cheese (I use Philadelphia & full fat, it dosen’t work with the lighter one)
150ml Double Cream
80g Icing Sugar
3 Cadburys Crunchie Bars – Blitzed in a processor
1 tsp vanilla essence
13 Digestive Biscuits – Blitzed in a processor
50g Melted Butter
Milk Chocolate shavings for the topping
Grease and line the bottom of a springform tin with greaseproof paper, set aside
Mix the melted butter with the crushed Digestives and spoon into the tin, pressing down with the back of a spoon until compact and smooth. Chill in the Fridge for about 1 hour
Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese, crushed crunchie bars and Icing Sugar together in a bowl with a hand mixer.
In a separate bowl whisk the double cream and vanilla essence until soft peaks form.
Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mix, don’t over mix as you want to leave as much air in as possible. Once your biscuit base has set, gently smooth the cream cheese filling on top, return to the fridge and allow to fully set for at least 12 hours or preferably overnight.
Remove from fridge about 10-15 minutes before you are ready to serve and shave some milk chocolate over the top, or you could grate or break up another crunchie bar for extra flavour. Yum! Remove from Cake tin and slice.
This can be kept in the fridge for about 2-3 days.
Sunday for me is a chillout day and normally a baking day, so today I decided to give these a go for our Sunday Brunch picnic at home. Sugar & Spice & all things nice……so yummy!
150g Strong White Bread Flour
1 packet 7g Dried Yeast
15g Caster Sugar (plus 40g for Topping)
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Bicarbonate Soda
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
40g Butter (plus 30g melted for coating)
50g Chocolate (if using a dip)
Melt butter and milk in pan on low heat, do not boil, needs to be lukewarm about 40 deg.
Place strong white flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix. Make a well and pour in the melted butter and milk mixture.
Mix everything together until a soft dough forms and knead either using a stand mixer with dough hook or on a work surface with your hands for about 8-10 minutes. Grease a bowl and place the dough in, leave to rise for about 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
Knock back the dough and cut into 4 equal sections. Roll each section into a long rope approx 50cm long.
To make the Pretzel shape, curve the rope into an upside down U Shape, then twist the ends together twice, each time left over right. Bring the ends of the rope up to the top of the curve (loop) and press down to secure.
Preheat your oven to 200 deg and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Bring a pan of water to the boil. Place 1/2 tsp of Bicarbonate Soda into the pan of water for each Pretzel, 1 at a time using a slotted spoon, slowly lower the pretzel into the water on the slotted spoon, leave for about 10 secs, lift out the spoon & drain the water then place onto the baking tray. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile mix the caster sugar & cinnamon together in a bowl.
As soon as the Pretzels come out of the oven, brush with the melted butter and leave to cool for a few minutes. Once cooled toss in the sugar mix and serve straight away.
Melt chocolate with a little milk to serve. (if desired)
For a while now I have been trying to perfect my Empire Recipe, and finally I have found a ratio of ingredients and cooking times that work perfectly. (please bare in mind that not all ovens are the same, so you timings may vary slightly). The traditional Scottish way is to decorate with a Jube Jube (they are like big jelly tots), although most people tend to put a cherry on top. To be honest it’s whatever you like, there is no right or wrong. I have even experimented with alternative decorated toppings.
As the Covid19 Lockdown is slowly and gently easing, we are now allowed to travel to the mountains again. We have longed to get back outdoors and into the picturesque landscape we call home. The Scottish Mountains are my headspace, a place where I grow, think, be at peace, laugh and get fitter…lol! To read more about the Scottish Munros, Corbetts, Grahams etc, head over to my travel post https://theweecaledoniancook.com/2020/07/08/a-list-of-scotlands-mountains/.
Anyway, back to food, my first passion. To walk or climb the Scottish Mountains you need energy firstly (then waterproofs…lol), so I made these to pack and take with us for a wee boost when needed. Great for a pre workout snack too & also Gluten Free.
Makes about 16
For the Balls:-
4 heaped tbsp of Crunchy Peanut Butter (good quality, I use Whole Earth)
200g chopped mixed nuts & raisins (I used a food processor to chop finely)
2 tbsp Icing sugar
Dark or Milk Chocolate, 1 tbsp Butter – Melted together
I was looking through all my recipes the other day and came across this one from my Gran’s old Cookbooks, one I hadn’t tried before. So with the wet weather to day was that day I was going to try these. Back in the day my gran always used margarine for baking, personally I think butter is a much better flavour so this was the 1 thing that I changed & I added in some pistachios to the base to give it a bit more crunch.
Makes about 16-20 squares (depends on how big a slice you want…lol!)
For the Base:-
200g Digestives, crushed
50g Light Brown Sugar
1 heaped tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 heaped tbsp desiccated coconut
40g Chopped Pistachios
1 egg beaten
For the Peppermint Centre:-
3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
230g Icing Sugar
Green Food Colouring
For the Chocolate:-
140g Milk Chocolate (55% cocoa) I use Lindt, definitely my favourite.
40g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 tbsp butter
Use a 9″ square baking tin and line with baking paper or foil
In a saucepan over a low heat melt the butter, stir in sugar & cocoa powder, bring off the heat and whisk in the beaten egg, return to heat and whisk until thickened, this only take a minute or 2. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla extract, digestives, pistachios and coconut, mix together so everything is coated well. Using a spoon, spread the biscuit base mixture into you baking tin and smooth. Refrigerate for about 1 hour until hardened.
Using a mixer, stand or hand whichever you have, beat the butter until smooth. Add the icing sugar, milk, peppermint essence and food colouring and mix until blended. Smooth this mixture over the top of your biscuit base and return to the fridge to set for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt your chocolate with the butter in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water and allow to cool slightly. (about 5-10 minutes)
Pour chocolate over the buttercream and smooth, return to the fridge to allow chocolate to harden. (about 30 minutes).
Once chocolate has hardened you can now decorate (if you wish), I just drizzled some green icing over the top and returned to fridge to set.
To prevent the chocolate from breaking when cutting into slices, remove from fridge and bring to room temperature. I made that mistake of slicing too soon and my chocolate cracked.
Any doughnuts I’ve made I normally fry but I decided to give the baked kind a go. I bought a doughnut tray ages ago and forgot all about it until I was clearing out my cupboards…lol! Having loads of colours in my baking drawer I went for it and got my creative flare going. I’ve loads more ideas now, so watch this space on my designs coming soon.
Makes 8-10 – Large size doughnuts
90g Butter, Softened
130ml milk at room temperature
1 Dried Yeast Sachet
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
270 plain flour
Melt some butter and glaze the doughnut pan. Preheat oven to 160 deg fan.
Pour milk into a mixing bowl & add the yeast, salt, egg, sugar, vanilla and flour and mix until combined into a smooth dough. Add the butter and mix for 4-5 minutes.
Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
Using a piping bag, pipe the dough evenly into your moulds, smooth down with a little water on your fingertip. Cover the tray and allow to rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes.
Bake in centre of oven for about 15-20 minutes.
Remove doughnuts carefully from tray and allow to cool on a wire tray.
Meanwhile for the toppings:- Mix some icing sugar together and add your choosen food colouring, Not too thin, you want it quite thick. If using chocolate, melt your chocolate accordingly. (In a microwave for 30 secs, then stir, then 30 secs and stir until melted.)
Once doughnuts have cooled, simply pour over the icing and decorate with any sprinkles, nuts etc if you have them. Allow icing and chocolate to harden before devouring.
I hope everyone is doing o.k. in these unusual times. If you are like me, I get bored very easily and need to be doing something productive with my day, so today I was talking to a friend and saying how we miss our coffee & cake dates at our fav coffee shop, then idea to use up whatever was in my cupboards to bake a cake and have a virtual coffee & cake date. I do love pistachio’s and always have some on hand, so this little cake bite was perfect.
Makes about 16 squares
150g shelled pistachios
200g milk chocolate (I used Dairy Milk bar)
200g golden caster sugar or light brown sugar
200g soft butter
200g Self raising flour
50g butter for chocolate
100g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 160 deg and line a square tin (approx 20cm) with baking paper
Mix up 125g of pistachios and 75g of the milk chocolate with 100g sugar in a blender until finely chopped.
Tip into a bowl with the remaining sugar, butter, eggs, flour & milk with a pinch of salt and mix thoroughly.
Empty the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, break up the chocolate and place into a microwave bowl with the 50g of butter, microwave for 1 minute, remove and stir together until fully melted. Next pour the icing sugar into the chocolate and beat together until combined and thick.
Pour over the top of the cake and even, using the remaining chopped pistachios, sprinkle over the top and allow to set. Cut into bite slices. Serve with a yummy cuppa!