Category Archives: biscuits

Recipe: Almond biscuits with Davidson Plum Powder and Ruby Ganache

I know.  I know.  This is a completely ridiculous recipe to share because it’s basically all obscure ingredients.  And do you want to know how it came about?  It came about because we had a bake sale to fundraise for my Relay for Life team, and I’d made vegan cupcakes, and blueberry-lemon cupcakes with berry mousse (leftover from the Tentacle Cake), but I didn’t have anything gluten free in the mix.  And I have a lot of people at work who need gluten-free goodies.  So I decided to make one of my many trusty almond biscuit recipes, and thought, what do I have in my pantry?

And the answer was Davidson plum powder and Ruby chocolate.  Among other things.  So… this is technically a Pantry Special – but only if your pantry is full of *really* random things that you bought at farmers markets and specialty shops and then forgot to use.

On the other hand, if your pantry *is* full of such things, this is actually a pretty good recipe.  It’s not too sweet, it’s nicely acidic, and it’s gluten-free (and the only dairy is in the ganache, so if you are someone who can handle a little bit of dairy but not much, you can probably cope with this).  And it’s super fast to make!

Also, you get to feel like a super pretentious version of Arabella Weir and Richard E Grant on Posh Nosh when people ask you what flavour your biscuits are.  ‘We took a gracious handful Ruby chocolate from the very first shipment to reach Australia, and gently seduced it into a menage-à-deux with the cream.  Then we added some Davidson plum powder.  It’s acidic and a little bit demanding, and but it condoles perfectly with the almonds in the biscuits…’

Apologies again for the lack of pictures.  I was baking a lot of things in a hurry and forgot to pay attention to the photography side of things.  To make up for it, if you scroll down, I’ll tell you how to make a ‘lava lamp’ from kitchen ingredients.  Accompanied by a terrible photo, if I do say so myself.

Your shopping list

200g almond meal
50 g sugar
10 g Davidson plum powder
1 egg
40 ml cream
120 g ruby chocolate

Now what will you do with it?

Preheat your oven to 170°C, and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Combine the almond meal, sugar and Davidson plum powder in a bowl, then mix in the egg until you have a nice dough.

Roll into small balls – walnut sized, or thereabouts – and place on the tray, then flatten slightly.

Bake for 15 minutes or so, or until just getting golden brown underneath.

Now chop the ruby chocolate (or if you have it in tiny pellets, it will be fine as is), and put into a heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream to the boil, and pour over the chocolate.  Cover the bowl for 30 seconds to speed the meltiness, then stir until you have a smooth mixture.

Dollop the ganache onto each biscuit, and top with a few little purple edible glitter stars, if you have them.  Because why not?

Variations

Well, freeze-dried raspberry powder would work in a pinch.  You want something acidic but dry, so that the biscuit keeps the same texture.  Passionfruit powder might also work, but I’m not quite sure how that would mix with the ruby ganache.

As for dietary requirements, this biscuit is gluten-free and low-fructose, but full of nuts and rather dependent on the egg.  The dairy is only in the ganache – you could replace the cream with soy milk, but the only variety of Ruby chocolate currently available on the market contains milk powder, so if you are strictly non-dairy, you are going to be out of luck.

Random Science Experiment – Lava Lamp edition!

So, this made a lot of us happy at about 2 in the morning when we were trying to stay awake.  It was me, and one of the animal techs, and her non-scientist friend, and then we started demonstrating this for the Cancer Council volunteers and the teams next door to us.

So what I’m saying is, the picture may be crappy, and the experiment may sound really basic, but it’s more spectacular than you might think.  Especially at 2 am.

Your shopping list

Vegetable oil
Water
Food colouring
Alka seltzer

Extremely Scientific Method

Put a little water in the bottom of a glass jar and mix it with the food colouring.  Pour in vegetable oil to nearly the top.

Crumble an alka seltzer tablet into the jar.

It will start off just fizzing, but after 30 seconds or so, big, coloured bubbles will start floating down from the top.  It’s pretty awesome.

Also, when it stops, you can add more alka seltzer to get it started again.  After four or five times, it stops working so well, probably because the concentrations are off.  But it was great while it lasted!

Recipe: Walnut and Chocolate biscuits and a fundraiser

Every year, I organise a team of colleagues to do the Global Challenge, a pedometer-based challenge where you have to get a certain number of steps per day.  My team of seven has changed every year, but there are three people who have been in it every time, and more who have taken a year or two off and come back.  This year, we have my three regulars, someone who is back from last year, someone who is back from four years ago, and two newbies.

During the Global Challenge, there are certain weekends where we have ‘mini-challenges’, that encourage us to beat our personal best, or reach some arbitrary number of steps as a group, etc.  Traditionally, I try to organise long walks for these challenges – we’ve walked from Black Rock to Saint Kilda, up along Merri Creek to Fawkner for doughnuts, from Parkville to Williamstown to go on a ghost tour, from Brunswick to the CBD to go on a chocolate walk, and all the way from the mouth of the Moonee Ponds river up to Pascoe Vale, where we got caught in a thunderstorm. 

I was looking for some activities for us this year, and after getting a hard no on my belly-dancing plans, and establishing that several of our walkers couldn’t do really long walks this year for health reasons, I started looking around for more sensible options.  Which is when I spotted the ad for the Cancer Council Relay for Life… which just happened to fall on one of our challenge weekends.

This is a 24-hour relay to raise money for the Cancer Council, but it’s also about remembering people lost to cancer, and it has a fair bit of symbolism attached, in that nobody walks for 24 hours straight, but teams try to have someone on the track at all times.  If one person can’t continue, someone else will carry on for them.

I suggested this, only half-seriously to my lot. (Fine.  You don’t want belly-dancing.  How about a 24-hour relay, then?)  They were in.  And I mean, IN.  I was… appalled.  But also the team captain, so I got us signed up, and went recruiting for more team members.  My feeling was that we wanted two people rostered on at all times, in case someone needed a break, and ideally, I wanted the shifts to be offset so that someone was always fresh.  Fortunately, I was able to recruit 13 people, with two more joining us on the day, which meant that we each did two 2-hour shifts, and most people stayed on a bit before or after their shifts to help out.

Teams are encouraged to have costumes, themes, etc.  I was still recovering from the conference I’d just finished organising, so I was pretty much planning to just make sure people showed up and leave it at that, but I organised a bake sale to fundraise, and during the bake sale, our team plan evolved.  We would wear lab coats!  We would Engage With The Community!  We would have a science fair booth, with experiments that people could participate in!  We have a purple and yellow dragon onesie which is the same colours as the Cancer Council’s logo!

And we did.

I have to say, the day was a lot more fun than I had expected (I had not expected it to be any fun at all – I have dodgy knees which were playing up that week, so I knew it was going to be painful, and that’s about all I knew).  Cancer Council was delighted to have medical researchers participating.  The other participants – especially the children! – were delighted by our activities.  There was a silent disco overnight, which was hilarious to watch – between the people singing along and the people dancing to music only they could hear as they went around the track, it was quite something.  The lab coats turned out to be both warm and highly visible.  We realised early that we wouldn’t be winning the 4x100m sprint activity, so we turned it into a onesie costume relay with the costume having to be worn by each successive participant – and lost convincingly, dramatically, hilariously, and to sustained commentary from the organisers, who found the whole thing hysterical. 

Me, pretending to be a scientist. You should see me pipetting!

There were also some serious moments – the carers and survivors lap at the start, and the candlelight ceremony in the evening, which remembered people who were fighting cancer and people who had passed away from cancer recently.  It was very moving.

And I was very proud that, while other teams slowly shrank in size over the course of the event (I felt bad for one team where almost everyone went home at 9pm, leaving three people to carry the subsequent 13 and a half hours alone), my team mates all turned up on time, full of energy and enthusiasm, and walked, ran or danced their shifts, no matter what hour of the day or night. 

You probably didn’t come here for an extended report on Relay for Life, and I promise that the recipe is coming up next.  But while you are here… if you are currently feeling inclined to support a really good cancer charity in Australia, I’d love it if you’d sponsor meOr my team, who really were fantastic.

My awesome team, who totally deserve your sponsorship

And now for the recipe!  Which is linked, tenuously, to this post by the fact that I invented it for our fundraising morning tea.

This was a bit of a pantry special – I needed something for the people who couldn’t eat lactose or fructose or gluten (of which I have quite a few at work), and I needed something that was quick and wouldn’t require me to go to the shops.  I had half a packed of crushed walnuts and half a packet of cashews.  I had cocoa, and cinnamon.  And I had leftover vegan chocolate ganache from making Sachertorte cupcakes.

So that was easy.  This is basically my almond biscuit recipe in yet another iteration, but I found that without almonds, it made a pretty sticky, sloppy dough, so I added some rice flour to help hold it together.  I did find that I needed slightly damp hands to shape it, even so.  But the results were really delicious, so it was worth the minor hassle.

Very few pictures, I’m afraid – I was too busy trying to make the biscuits in time after a very long day at work – but if you scroll down to the bottom I *will* tell you how to make a rainbow carnation. 

Your shopping list

100 g walnuts (crushed is fine, you will be pulverising them anyway)
100g cashews (ditto)
50 g cocoa
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
75 g caster sugar
1 egg
1-2 tbsp rice flour, if needed
1/4 cup soy milk
125 g Lindt 70% chocolate
30 ml maple syrup Continue reading

Recipe: Shortbread with Buddha’s Hand Citrus

I’ve only seen Buddha’s Hand Citrons once before, and weirdly, only at Coles, but I adore them.  Not only do they look like some sort of unnatural offspring of a lemon tree and a squid (leading to their affectionate nickname in our household of ‘Cthulu-lemons’ or ‘tentacle-fruit’), they smell rather amazing.  It’s a scent I can only describe as perfumed – lemony and floral at the same time. 

citrus

Buddha’s Hand Citron (and I am now feeling rather concerned about the shape of Buddha’s hands, actually) is all zest and pith, with no juicy centre at all.  I’ve been fiddling around with different ways to use it to really bring out the flavour.  My mother’s shortbread recipe, which really only has four ingredients and thus tastes basically like butter and sugar (which, I hasten to add, is not a bad thing in any way) seemed like a good place to start.

The result is… well, it’s a rather nice biscuit, but in the end, I found the flavour rather subtle, and too much like lemon rather than anything else.  But when I tried testing it scientifically on real scientists, they seemed to like it more, and detect a different flavour.  So it’s possible that my tastebuds are just not sophisticated enough for the job.  This is entirely plausible, frankly.  I’ve often suspected that I was a fake foodie in this regard…

See what you think.

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Your shopping list

finely grated zest from one small Buddha’s Hand citron (about 5g)
150 g butter, softened
80 g caster sugar
150 g plain flour
40g rice flour Continue reading

Recipe: Coconut Macaroons (Gluten Free)

OK, these are *marginally* trickier than my other super-easy cookies, but only marginally, and they are awesome, because I think I may have actually reverse-engineered the macaroons my Oma used to make when I was a child.  They are perfectly chewy and delicious, and basically, I just love glacé cherries, so any excuse to use them is a good one for me.

Enjoy!

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Your Shopping list

2 egg whites
100 g sugar
150 g shredded coconut (not the evil desecrated kind, the kind that comes in long strands)
150 g almond meal
glacé cherries

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Recipe: Cherry Ripe Cookies (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Look!  It’s a slightly different (but still dead easy) biscuit recipe!  This time, it’s vegan!

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I love the idea of two ingredient cookies, where you get a sweetened nut butter and some flour – or chocolate tahini and rice flour and make a biscuit and then bake it.  But let’s face it, sometimes two ingredients isn’t enough.   I found myself eyeing off one of those chocolate and coconut butter spreads in the supermarket and thinking, you know, add a glacé cherry and you’re kind of half way to a cherry ripe here.  And then I thought, yeah, but you need a bit more coconut.

And… that was it, really.  So here you have them – cherry ripe cookies that are vegan and gluten-free.  They are a little chewy and only just barely sweet – most of the sweetness comes from the cherries – but they are nicely chocolatey and coconutty.  (There is a definite air of chocolate crackle to these, too.  That whole coconut and chocolate thing will do that.)

Ooh, and I just realised how you could make vegan gluten-free LAMINGTON cookies, by replacing the cherry with jam!  The possibilities are endless…

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Your shopping list

150g chocolate coconut spread (I used Pure Harvest Coco2Almond spread, which purports to be a health food, but don’t worry, there’s nothing healthy about these cookies)
100g almond meal
50 g shredded coconut
12-16 glacé cherries

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Recipe: Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies with Wattleseed

What’s this?  Could it be… another nut based cookie?  Why yes, yes it is! As you may possibly have noticed, I’ve been breaking out the Australian native herbs and spices for this little round of cookie fetishisation, and I decided to play with a brand new ingredient, wattleseed.

Wattleseed tends to get used in sweets, because it has an allegedly coffee-like taste.  To me, it tasted a bit like burned chocolate, with hints of hazelnut and coffee.  It’s pretty much an Andrew-repellant, because while he likes chocolate, he loathes coffee, and is also fairly firmly against people ruining perfectly good chocolate with hazelnuts.

Good thing he wasn’t going to be eating these biscuits, then, eh?  I decided to expand on this flavour profile with hazelnut meal and cocoa, and would probably have considered garnishing the biscuit with half a coffee bean had I had such a thing to hand (though, on reflection, the flavour would probably be too strong).

Anyway, like the other biscuits in this series, these are very simple and leave you with a nice, slightly chewy little biscuit.  That tastes like hazelnuts and coffee and a little bit like burned chocolate.  Sorry, Andrew.

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Your shopping list

185 g hazelnut meal
15 g cocoa
2 tsp wattleseed, ground (have a good sniff before you use it, so you know what you are dealing with)
1 egg
50 g sugar

Now what will you do with it?

You know the drill by now.  Preheat the oven to 165°C, and line a baking tray with paper.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Taste to see if you like the flavour.  Roll into little walnut-sized balls, flatten, then bake for 15 minutes.

Done!

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Variations

As usual, this recipe is gluten- and dairy-free, also low in fructose, but full of nuts and contains eggs.  There are a lot of ways you could vary it.  I think, were I making this again, I might go half hazelnut meal, and half ground macadamias – the hazelnut flavour was quite strong, and nearly overwhelmed the wattleseed.  You could also add more cocoa – my box was nearly empty – just make sure the nut + cocoa portion of this biscuits adds up to 200g.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Almond Cookies with Lemon Myrtle

I’m on a bit of a gluten-free biscuit roll at the moment.  I pretty much have one super-easy recipe, which I vary by switching out the nuts for different nuts, and adding new flavour ingredients.  Done.  In fact, I spent half of yesterday afternoon making variations on this particular biscuity theme – five batches in total – because I am a little bit silly.

Exhibit A: some of the biscuits I made yesterday.  Some.  Only some.

You could probably do this just as well yourself.  Assuming that you are also silly. But I’m quite pleased with the way the flavour worked for these ones, so I’m recording the recipe here for my use, if not for yours.

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Your Shopping List

200 g almond meal
1 egg
1 tsp lemon myrtle (you want this in a powdered form, not a form which is leafy for tea)
50 g sugar
mixed peel or pine nuts (optional, for garnish)

DSCN0938 Continue reading

Recipe: Quandong and Bush Food Jam Thumbprints (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Still with the biscuits.  I made a lot of biscuits last weekend.  Can you tell?  I’m also still swimming in brownie mix, which is completely awesome, though I’m glad I chose the route of sanity with regard to mixing up all the random bits of chocolate and using them as choc chips, and instead grouped them in ways likely to result in pleasing, rather than alarming, flavour combinations.

But I digress.  I had more macadamia nut crumbs leftover after making my super-awesome strawberry gum biscuits, and this inspired me to go looking in my pantry for other bushfood ingredients to play with.  I couldn’t find the lemon myrtle which I am positive is lurking somewhere, but I did find dried quandongs and also a mixed bush-fruits jam from Outback Spirit (they don’t seem to make it anymore, alas, but you can get Rosella Jam here).  Good enough!

The dried quandongs looked a little unpromising at first, being very hard and dry and woody in texture, so I reconstituted them with water and found them pleasingly tangy.  Also, when blended, they were moist enough to obviate the need for egg in the biscuits, yay, vegan biscuits!

The biscuits came out a lovely pink colour, but alas, lacking in the expected tang.  Instead, they tasted mostly like a macadamia-based jam thumbprint – which is certainly not a bad thing to taste like, but is nonetheless a little disappointing if quandong was what you were after.  I’d recommend adding some quandong essence if you have it, or maybe some lemon or finger-lime zest to the dough. (Finger lime zest would be better, from a bushfood standpoint, but you’d probably need a few of them to do the job…)

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Your Shopping List

25 g dried quandongs (mine came from Footeside Farm)
1/2 cup water or lemon juice
100g macadamia nuts
zest of 1 lemon
100 g almond meal
30g maple syrup
about 6 tsp rosella jam, or other bushfood jam

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Recipe: Super Nutty Snickerdoodle-doos (Gluten-Free)

What sort of word is Snickerdoodle, anyway?  A silly one, that’s what.  And these are silly biscuits.

No, actually, they aren’t all that silly.  In fact, as biscuits go, they are quite responsible.  They are not too sweet, a little bit chewy, and have a nice, nutty, cinnamon sort of taste that begs to be paired with a nice glass of milk.  I don’t actually like walnuts very much, but these biscuits somehow sneak around that, despite being really rather walnutty, and convince me that I want to eat more.  This is perhaps less responsible biscuit behaviour, but then, it is probably unfair to blame the biscuit for the fact that I want to eat it, don’t you think?

The mix of nuts is based purely on how much was left in a bunch of open packets of nuts that I found on my kitchen bench.  I think walnuts, pecans and cashews make a nice mix, and have the sort of dark nutty taste that pairs well with spices (I think of pistachios or almonds as having a lighter nutty taste.  Cashews are somewhere in the middle and could go with either) but the proportions could easily be varied, as could the nuts themselves.

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Your Shopping List (or leftovers list, as the case may be)

100 g walnuts
60 g pecans
40 g roasted cashews
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
100g caster sugar
1 egg
cinnamon sugar to sprinkle

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Recipe: Strawberry Gum and Macadamia Biscuits (Gluten-Free)

Hello!  I’m back!  The Centenary Games are all over but the shouting (alas, there is quite a bit of shouting still), and I am actually getting to do things like come home from work on time and then SLEEP.  During which time I dream about the Centenary Sports Carnival and its controversies, but hopefully this too shall pass.

One of the more unfortunate side effects of not being at home much for months and months and months and not being in any fit state to think or do anything creative when I was has been the insane buildup of random stuff all over my kitchen.  I am too terrified to tackle the pantry just yet, but today I went through the fridge and started going through the mess on the benchtops and kitchen table.

The result?  The discovery that I had about twelve open packets of nuts of various varieties in numerous degrees of fullness, as well as an inordinate amount of butter and the last little bits of a truly ridiculous range of chocolates (some from Easter, some from Christmas, some from zombie Catherine making ill-advised purchases when there were specials at the supermarket).

Obviously, the only response to this situation was a nut- and chocolate-centric baking frenzy, and so this afternoon, I have made four kinds of biscuits, three batches of my brownie packet mix (each featuring a different collection of chocolate odds and ends), and some rather decadent-looking raw chocolate lava cakes that will be tonight’s dessert.

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(And now I have no desire whatsoever to make dinner, for some reason.  Who would have imagined this?)

Anyway, the good news for this blog is that three of those recipes were brand spanking new ones (where on earth did that saying come from, anyway?  I have a feeling that if I try Googling this, I’m going to see things that I cannot unsee, so I think I’d better leave well alone), which means that you have three gluten-free biscuit recipes coming soon to this blog.  Huzzah!  And one of them is vegan!  Double huzzah!! And two of them are really, really easy, fast ones, too!  Triple huzzah!

Yeah, I’m a little manic right now.  Hi!

These biscuits fall into the super-easy category, once you find the strawberry gum in the first place.  This is an Australian native ingredient – a eucalypt with a strawberry scent to it.  I got mine from Peppermint Ridge Farm, who visit a number of Farmers’ Markets around Melbourne.  Herbie’s Spices also stock it, though I think their herb had a milder flavour than the one I used.  I recommend adjusting the recipe to taste – it tastes pretty much the same uncooked as it will cooked, though the herb fades slightly in the oven.

I’m super happy with this recipe.  It tastes like nothing I’ve ever baked before, and it is both simple and delicious.  Also, the biscuits come out an attractive shade of pale green.  I think I’ll be using these in my Christmas hampers…

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Your Shopping List

100g macadamias
100g almond meal
1-2 tsp powdered strawberry gum leaves (check the taste before adding the second teaspoon)
50 g sugar
1 egg

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