Category Archives: Biscuits & Cookies

Dairy Free Digestive Biscuits

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Delicious dairy free imitations of the British classic – the chocolate digestive biscuit! Crumbly, sweet biscuit, generously topped with chocolate makes it the perfect dunker in a  cup of tea.

I will admit that although I generally don’t struggle with being dairy free anymore, I do miss the ease of being able to pick up a packet of something in a shop, and devouring it without giving consideration to the ingredients. I have several things I really miss like this, with Twixs topping the list, and milk chocolate digestives following in a close second. I ate an unreasonable amount of digestives whilst at uni…. they used to be my treat for studying (1 biscuit every time I turned the page… it was an excellent encouragement!).

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I can’t swear that these are an exact replica of the elusive chocolate digestive, but what I can promise is that these are a delicious substitute. Unfortunately, they do require you spend some time baking them as even McVities dark chocolate digestives contain milk (McVities, if you’re reading this – we would all appreciate if that changed!!), but they are worth the effort if you’re looking for a great, dunk-able, chocolate biscuit recipe.

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The other great thing about making these yourself is that you can control the sugar in them. This is not about a health kick! Simply making the biscuits fit to different tastes… although I’m a great lover of dark chocolate, and (despite starting up a baking business!) don’t have a huge sweet-tooth myself, I do acknowledge that some people do. So, if this sounds like you, don’t be afraid to add another 15g of sugar.

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Top these however you like; personally, I loved them plain, just topped with dark chocolate. However, go as fussy as you like! I also topped some with finely chopped hazelnuts, but you could try dried fruit, other nuts, or a mix of different types of dairy free chocolate if you preferred.

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Passionfruit Bars

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Delicious passionfruit curd topped shortbread bites, perfect for a posh afternoon tea or after dinner bite with coffee. Deceptively simple to make, I can’t wait to try these with a variety of flavours!

 I saw a version of these somewhere in a magazine, and thought they looked so pretty and dainty. I definitely wouldn’t describe my style of baking as dainty… as much as I’d love to try and conquer the grand macaron, I’m just not sure I have the patience.

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And that was how I went into making these… let’s try and succeed something dainty. And it seemed that actually, the only thing that’s dainty about these is the size you cut them into! It really is nothing more tricky than a tray bake, cut into delicious teeny-tiny pieces.

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And what a treat is contained in these little bites… sweet, crumbly shortbread, topped with a sweet and sour passionfruit curd, then dusted generously with icing sugar. The passionfruit curd makes a delicious change from lemon; it’s subtly sweeter, and this curd recipe gives it a good strong passionfruit flavour. This recipe uses fresh passionfruit which allows you to decide how many of the seeds to keep in – by keeping half, it gave a lovely crunch to these otherwise quite soft bites.

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Gingernuts

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Crisp and crunchy ginger biscuits, based on the infamous ‘Gingernut’. These are simple, quick, hard to get wrong, and pack a wonderfully strong ginger punch.

These biscuits came around when I was in need of a quick fix… I really fancied a biscuit, but had very little lying around the house. After a quick, rushed look through the cupboards, I found I still had half a packet of crystallised ginger, and decided I would give ginger biscuits a try.

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Now, I have to admit that I never ate a Gingernut biscuit before I cut out dairy – but many people since have sampled these and tell me they’re even better than the original. The amount of ginger here is not for the faint hearted. By using crystallised ginger and ground ginger, the flavour is unmistakeable, and almost a little on the warm side. I also, controversially, use demerara sugar in my Gingernuts. I love the caramel flavour it adds to any baking dish, and here, it really ramps up the crunchiness.

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Often, I complain that I rarely go back to my good bakes and do them again. I’m always on the hunt for a new recipe to write, and as there are only two of us in our household, we already have a lot of sweet things to eat just from one recipe a week! However, these I can truly say have been the exception to the rule. I have so far made them 5 times since the first trial… and am making them again as we speak! If that’s not testament enough to their greatness, then I just don’t know what is!

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Oreo Cupcakes

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Rich chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream, stuffed with Oreo cookies throughout. From a hidden cookie at the bottom of the cake, right through to crushed Oreos in the buttercream, it seems that the only thing to make a chocolate cake even better is a cookie!

Yes… I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and continued this trend. I was too intrigued not to try! What’s not to like about the idea of combining cookies and cake?!

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I still remember when I found out Oreos were dairy free. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel smacked me in the face! Because not only did it mean I could actually eat Oreos… but I also started checking other biscuit types to see what they were made of. And lo and behold, quite a lot of surprising biscuits are dairy free! Take the classic, chocolate bourbon biscuit. Most of them are dairy free! So if you ever want to butter me up (not literally of course), a sneaky dairy free Oreo or bourbon biscuit is the way to do it.

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However, getting back to the point of these cakes – I really was intrigued by the idea of combining biscuits and cakes. Like a good mash-up song, it seemed like something that should really work, and great news – it did! The cakes are typically moreish, and with a soft, vanilla flavoured buttercream, it would have been hard to go wrong. But then add in a crunchy, surprise oreo hidden at the bottom of the cupcake. And add some crushed oreos to the cake and buttercream for little, crispy nuggets of flavour and you are on to an absolute winner!

 

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I can by no means claim to be the genius who first came up with this idea… however, it has left me with a lot of thoughts of what else could we make a hybrid out of…. watch this space!

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Cranberry & Pistachio Biscotti

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A delicious, Christmas-y bake! Of course these would be appropriate at any time of year, but adorned with red and green jewels, it is hard not to associate these with Christmas! These would make an ideal last minute gift or treat for unexpected visitors!

So Christmas is very almost here, and I’m breaking with tradition of a Sunday post to give you an early present! These Cranberry and Pistachio biscotti are the perfect thing if you are still in need of a present for someone. I promise they’re fool proof, and the great thing is if you don’t have cranberries or pistachios, then you can easily substitute them for another fruit and nut combination.

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December always flies by, and this year has been no exception. I’m therefore really quite pleased with myself for having made the plethora of home baked gifts this year. That was what inspired this post – I wanted to make a Christmas worthy biscotti. Biscotti in Italian literally means twice baked, and in Italy, there is no association with Christmas at all. However, here in the UK, biscotti have become a sort of ‘only at Christmas time treat’, and to be honest, I can see why! Versatile in the sense you can use lots of different flavourings (read – whatever you have lying around the house!) and they last really well. They can easily go a week in an air tight tin with no issues at all, which is also partly what makes them such a great gift to give.

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I decided to use cranberries and pistachios for flavours here – there I was thinking “how original” until I googled it and found everyone has already done it! But, original idea or not, this is a great flavour combination. The slightly sweet and soft pistachios contrast with the sharp cranberries; the small amount of orange zest just lifts the whole biscuit and makes it perfect to go alongside a black tea or coffee (or do like the Italians and dip them in wine!!).

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So, if you find yourself in need of a simple bake with household ingredients, or worse still, need a quick present you can rustle up for an unexpected visitor, look no further! I can promise these will be ever so gratefully received.

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Merry Christmas!

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Health(ier) Maple & Pecan Flapjacks

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A healthier flapjack recipe – just as tasty, but with no dairy, wheat, gluten or refined sugar! Although not as nutritious as a piece of fruit, there are worse things you could eat!

Flapjacks; although kind in appearance and reminiscent of school lunch boxes and picnics, they are generally not a healthy treat with so much butter and sugar. Yes, they may be oat-y, but trust me, normally, the bad definitely outweighs the good!

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This version contains no dairy (would you expect anything else?!), wheat, gluten, or refined sugars. But I’m not going to pretend that these are ‘healthy’… they do still contain good amounts of fats and sugars, but here it is about recognising that you can make a bad or a better choice in those categories. This is a great recipe when you feel you want a treat; but particularly at this time of the year when our diets tend to go out of the window slightly with the copious amounts of sweet treats and drinks, it’s good to have a choice.

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I’m a big maple syrup fan – and combined with pecan nuts, it’s flavour is intense enough not to need help from a long list of ingredients. I like to use quite a strong maple syrup – a 2 or 3 on the strength scale – which does help the flavour pack a punch, but you can of course use a lighter flavour version.

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By using just maple syrup in the recipe, we’ve avoided having any refined sugar in the recipe. Of course maple syrup is still sugar – you can’t get away from that fact – but as it contains more than just sugars in it’s make up, you eat less true sugars per gram. That doesn’t give you free reign to eat as much as you want, but again it’s about understanding how to make the better choice.

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I’m praising myself slightly too much here for making these gluten and wheat free. As most flapjacks are oat based – and oats are not wheat – most will be gluten and wheat free, technically. The important thing is if you are making this for someone with a gluten intolerance, make sure you buy gluten free oats. Most oats are produced in wheat factories, so there is a very high level of contamination. So you have been warned!

 

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Double Chocolate Cookies

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Chewy, all-American double chocolate cookies. The perfect texture with a very chocolatey flavour, these are my new go-to cookies when I fancy a quick treat. The perfect accompaniment for lazy afternoons pouring over recipes and cookery books!

So these cookies came about in a bit of a funny way. I really wasn’t looking for a blogging recipe at all – but turns out these were just too good not to post! After a baking fail (yes, they do happen!) I just really fancied a cookie, and as I stumbled across this recipe and had all the ingredients in the cupboard, it was a bit of an ‘oh why not’ situation. And they were perfect. And dangerously quick to make…

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These are very chocolatey. And even though they are a chocolate biscuit, with lots of chocolate in, they are the perfect balance of sweet and bitter, which makes them dangerously moreish. They also have just the right texture; you know how some cookies can be a tad cake-y, and others can be too hard and crunchy? Well these are neither; they are the classic American cookie texture – slightly soft in the middle, crisp and sweet at the edges and chewy all over.

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This recipe didn’t need to be changed at all; only tweaked to use a dairy free butter and dark chocolate. Although the original recipe used a mixture of milk and dark chocolate, I think these worked brilliantly with just dark – it stops them getting too sweet, and it made it a more grown-up flavour, making it feel like a decadent treat. You could of course still use half and half if preferred, using a dairy free ‘milk’ chocolate. Whichever you choose, just try to resist eating them all at once!

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Lemon Shortbreads, Coconut Milk Whipped Cream and Berries

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Crumbly, buttery lemon shortbread cups filled with whipped coconut cream and raspberry curd, and topped with fresh raspberries. A delightfully simple dessert perfect for summertime.

You know those beautifully presented, tiny patisserie-type desserts? The ones that look just so appealing, delicate, and perfect? Yeah? Well, these were an attempt! Perhaps the presentation was slightly amiss, but they definitely delivered on taste. I also loved being able to use my Raspberry Curd in these, as usually it is reserved for cakes and ice cream toppings – but it just worked so perfectly with these flavours.

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These desserts look complicated and fiddly, like you’ve spent a lot of time and effort on them – but as with lots of my baking, I can assure you that is not the case! The only real effort required for these cups are the biscuits themselves, and they are as simple as you can get; they just look more fancy (and, therefore, more effort) than a normal biscuit because of it’s shape, which just comes from baking it in a cupcake tin.

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Once the shortbread cups are baked and cooled, the only other effort is whipping the coconut cream, which one could hardly call any effort at all! They are finished off by dolloping in a teaspoon of curd and the cream, and finally by popping a fresh raspberry on top. If you haven’t already made some raspberry curd (and don’t fancy the effort), a thickened raspberry puree would work just as well. These would make an elegant ending to a dinner party, or a lighter alternative to cake at tea time.

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Chocolate Orange Shortbread Biscuits

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Deliciously like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in biscuit form, these sweet but zesty shortbreads work for just about any occasion. Chocolatey and packed with orange zest whilst being simple to bake, these biscuits will appeal to everyone and can be made in just a few minutes with store cupboard ingredients.

Of all my bakes so far for this blog, these have to be one of my favourites. I just can’t resist the combination of orange and chocolate – it brings back so many childhood memories of waiting on Christmas day to find that Terry’s Chocolate Orange in your stocking from Father Christmas. Chocolate Oranges (along with Twixes) are still, to this day, one of the few foods I wistfully look at, thinking about how bad would it be if I ate a piece….

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As well as hitting that chocolate orange sweet spot, these shortbreads are also really simple to bake. Relying on almost all store cupboard ingredients, it makes them dangerously easy to make at anytime. For all their simplicity, the finishing touch of melted, drizzled chocolate seems to turn them from a simple concept to an almost premium looking biscuit. In the right packaging these could certainly pass for a Marks and Spencer’s biscuit.

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The other great thing about these is that there is always time for a biscuit. AM or PM, it just can’t go wrong – on your own, or with your family round, there’s always a good reason to eat a biscuit. So although these keep extremely well for a few days, it really is quite unlikely you will have any left…

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Chocolate, Almond and Orange Biscotti

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Classic Italian Biscotti recipe flavoured with chocolate, almonds and orange, perfect for a treat anytime of the day. Ideal for dipping in a hot drink or a cold, sweet glass of wine if you prefer! 

Biscotti are something I’ve always been curious about making- and not something I’ve eaten very often. I tend to think of them as something reserved for Christmas, or posh restaurants where they are served alongside your after-dinner coffee. However, I stumbled across a recipe from Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’ on the internet and thought they just sounded too tasty not to give them a try. Paul makes a trio of biscotti, and I just couldn’t resist the sound of chocolate, almond and orange.

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Biscotti come in lots of different flavours, but are very recognisable from their traditional shape and texture – always an elongated half moon shape with a very dry and crunchy texture. They are also surprisingly sweet, and so my favourite way to eat them is dipped in steaming black coffee. The bitter coffee and sweet biscuit compliment each other perfectly, whilst the almond provides more crunch and the orange zest really brings out the flavour of the coffee, chocolate and almond.

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The name ‘biscotti’ originates from Latin and means twice baked. Confusingly, biscotti in Italian simply means biscuit; this could lead to a great disappointment if you were hoping for the twice baked variety (in Italy twice baked biscuits are called ‘cantuccini’)! However, despite their fancy name, they’re very simple to make. By shaping the dough into logs for the first bake, and then cutting them into fingers for the second bake there is no need to be precise or pretty about it – which makes a nice change from the things I usually bake!

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