Monday, 5 December 2011

Cookies: Chocolate Chip & Walnut, Oatmeal & Raisin, Matcha Shortbread

Remember yesterday's post where I mentioned that I had cookie dough resting in the fridge overnight? 4 kinds of cookie dough, to be exact. They are all baked into nice crunchy, chewy little cookies (some not so little) now and put into little bags to be given away tomorrow (I hope none of the recipients will read before I give these). But first things first.

We're only a few weeks before Christmas and things that need to be done/shopped are accumulating. This morning I had to run some errands and do some light Christmas shopping so we took the opportunity to pass by Lantana before and have some breakfast before braving the insane crowd of Oxford Street.
I love going there and it's so handily located near all the shops but at the same time off the noise and insanity. The only thing that bothers me is that it's becoming increasingly popular and the waiting queues are becoming longer every time. Anywho we couldn't wait too long so compromised and said "yes" when the waiter asked us if we minded sitting outside. BIG MISTAKE. The food was delicious as always but I ended up frozen and not feeling my extremities.
Things eaten:
Corn Fritters (aka corn fritters, bacon, roasted tomatoes, rocket, chili tomato chutney, creme fraiche)

The Brat (aka sourdough bread, bacon, rocket, aioli and tomato chutney)

A few hours later I was home and ready to bake all the cookies I was chilling since last night.
I finished off the Coconut ones which I had started the night before and left them to cool while doing the others. The other three where:

Salted butter chocolate chip & walnut cookies: always a winner. I've tried many chocolate chip cookie recipes, some chewier, some crunchier, some sweeter, some nuttier, but this one is my favourite so far. It has the right texture (not too chewy but not to crispy either), the right amount of sugar, the right amount of butter so it will not overshadow the other flavours and lastly but most important of all: salted butter (just to make things even healthier, huh?). 

Oatmeal & Raisin cookies: I love these dipped in coffee. A bit on the healthier side but still incredibly tasty.

Matcha Shortbread cookies: These were my favourites. Perhaps due to the fact that they have a nice green colour which is pretty unusual for a biscuit, or maybe because it was my first-time experiment and they turned out to be quite yummy. I'm sure you know it but just in case you don't, Matcha is green tea powder and can be found in Japanese shops (for those who live in London: try Japan Centre on Regent street, as per my friend Kiyeun's advice.)

Shall we pass on to the recipes?

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip & Walnut cookies (makes about 24 but you can halve the recipe and make a dozen)


110g dark or light brown sugar
100g granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
180g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
200g coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
1 cup toasted nuts, coarsely chopped. I like walnuts with my chocolate chip.

115g salted butter, at room temperature. I used the one with sea crystals 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar just until smooth and creamy.

Beat in the egg and the vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Stir the flour mixture into the beaten butter until combined, then mix in the chopped chocolate (including any chocolate dust) and the chopped nuts.
Cover and chill the batter until firm. (It’s preferable to let it rest overnight.)
To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 160ºC. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Form the cookie dough into rounds about the size of a large unshelled walnut. Place the mounds evenly spaced apart on the baking sheets, and press down the tops to flatten them so they are no longer domed and the dough is even.
Bake the cookies for ten minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies look about set, but are not browned.
Remove from the oven and quickly tap the top of each with a spatula, then return to the oven for two to five more minutes, until the tops of the cookies are light golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cookies cool.

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies (makes about 24 but you can halve the recipe)


225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150 g granulated sugar
200 g packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
245 g flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
175 g rolled oats
240 g raisins

-In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until very light and fluffy.

-Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps of baking soda. Stir in the oats and raisins.

-Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until thoroughly combined. On low speed, or by hand, gradually add the flour and oat mixture to the creamed butter, mixing until completely incorporated.
-Chill the batter a few hours or overnight, covered. (This step is optional, although recommended by the author of the recipe.)
-To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to160ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
-Drop the dough in 50 g balls evenly spaced on the baking sheet and flatten the tops slightly with your hand.
-Midway during baking, rotate the baking sheet and tap the tops of the cookies down somewhat firmly with a spatula to flatten the domes.

-Bake the cookies for 20 to 22 minutes, until they just start to turn brown across the top, but do not overbake.
Remove from oven and cool completely.

Matcha Shortbread Cookies

100 grams good-quality butter, softened (I use semi-salted butter; if you use unsalted, add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt)
50 grams confectioner's (or icing) sugar
1 egg yolk
90 grams flour
40 grams finely ground almonds(a.k.a. almond meal)
2 teaspoons matcha (green tea powder)
2 tablespoons sugar, preferably an unrefined cane sugar in coarse crystals, such as turbinado or demerara


In a medium mixing-bowl, cream together the butter and confectioner's sugar with a spatula. Add the egg yolk and mix it in thoroughly.

In another bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds, and matcha, and stir with a whisk to remove any lump. 

Add to the first bowl and stir it in until the mixture comes together to form a ball; don't overwork the dough. 

Roll it into a log with a circular or square section, about 4-cm in width. Wrap in cling film and place in the freezer to firm up for 40 minutes (or in the fridge for 2 hours).

Preheat the oven to 160° C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle the sugar on a plate and roll the log in it to coat on all sides, pressing it down a bit into the sugar if necessary. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1-cm slices and arrange on the prepared baking sheet; the cookies will spread just a touch.

Slip into the oven and bake for 12 minutes, or until the cookies just begin to turn golden at the edges. Let rest for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

The sugar-coated edges should be golden
Once I had all the cookies cool, I made the small bags

I hope they taste as fresh tomorrow as they did today. Cookie-quest completed!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

How to Make Friands, Coconut cookies and Rhubarb & vanilla jam

It's 22.49 and I have just sat down for the first time since 14.00 this afternoon when I first walked into the kitchen. This feels almost like a full-time job! And even though my back hurts badly I feel quite content with what I managed to do in just one day. Plan one for this weekend was to make Friands. Friands are small, light and almond-y cakes which are originally French, however, they're very popular in Australia and they are served in cafes (a coffee and a Friand after some surfing - that's the life!). They are becoming very popular here too due to the fact that the best London cafes are actually Antipodean. You will always see a rack with Friands (pear, blueberry, banana, you name it) on the counter of hipster cafes.

It's strange how I hadn't made them so far - probably I hadn't realised how easy they are to make.
The only downside is that you need a Friand tray but Muffin trays (or silicone cups) work too although the shape will turn out slightly different than what it's meant to. This is what I did.

In addition to baking those little guys, I cleared, tidied and organised my pantry and now I can actually find things that I look for and get stuff from the back of the shelf without clumsily spilling stuff like flour in the process.

pantry looking neat

BUT, most importantly, today I made four different cookie doughs. I will not expand on this in this post as the three of them are still being chilled in the fridge and will stay there overnight getting ready to be baked tomorrow. After baking them, I will put them in pretty bags and give them away as edible Christmas gifts. More on this very shortly!

I did bake one batch of Coconut cookies though and lastly, as if the above were not enough, I made a jar of Rhubarb and vanilla jam.

First the Friands:

The recipe is Australian - I wanted to use one from the country that actually brought them back in fashion and where they are being done best. The fruit can be anything you like. I used blueberries.


Ingredients for 6:

100 gr butter
4 large egg whites (minimun egg weight 59 gr each)
45 gr plain flour (not self-rising)
140 gr icing sugar, plus some extra for dusting
85 gr almond meal (or almond powder or very finely ground almonds)
about 40 gr blueberries


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan-forced.

Grease the friand tray or muffin tray/cases.

Melt the butter and let aside to cool until lukewarm.

In a bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy (about one minute, no need to overdo it, this is not meringue).

Stir the flour, icing sugar and almond meal into the bowl with the egg whites. Stir until just combined.

Add the melted butter to the bowl and stir until just combined.

Divide the mixture evenly among the friand / muffin holes of the tray (or silicon cases). Add a few (5-6) blueberries in a cluster in the centre of each friand.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the friands are a light golden colour and spring back when lightly pressed. You can always check also by inserting a toothpick into the centre of the cake: if it comes out without any raw-looking batter, then it's ready.

Remove friands and leave to cool in a rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

The friands just out of the oven

The biscuits in the background are crunchy coconut cookies and if you'd like to make them go ahead - they are incredibly easy. You can either toast the coconut under the grill first (about 5-10 minutes until it turns golden and watch out as it can darken very quickly) or skip the toasting which is what I did on this occasion.

Coconut Cookies


1 cup desiccated coconut
140 g plain white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
85 g butter, at room temperature
90 g dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat the oven at 160 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth and fluffy (about 1 minute). Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and mix until just blended. On low speed, add the flour mix and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the coconut.

Scoop a spoonful of dough for each cookie, make it into a ball and place on the baking sheet. With the wet back of a spoon flatten the ball into round cookies. You can also use another method: Put the whole dough between two pieces of wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin. Remove the top piece of wax paper and use a cookie cutter to make the cookies. Lift the cookies off the paper and transfer to the parchment lined baking sheet. If you are having trouble lifting the cookies, place the dough in the fridge for a while until it firms up.

Bake until the edges and bottoms are lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Leave to cool before lifting them from the baking sheet.

Also in the picture: Rhubarb and vanilla jam.
Now, the usual way to make jam is to use fruit and sugar on a 1 to 1 ratio. This is the traditionally sweet, victorian jam. If you prefer it to be fruitier, reduce the sugar according to your taste. I personally feel that with this ratio the fruitiness is overshadowed by the sweetness so after a few experiments I have found that my preferred ratio is 1 (fruit) to just under 3/4 (sugar).

Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam


400 g rhubarb
250 g sugar
juice from one lemon
flesh from either one orange or two-three clementines.
One vanilla pod, split lengthwise.

Stir the first 4 ingredients in a pan under low heat. Scoop the seeds from the vanilla pod and stir in the pan both seeds and the pod.

Once the sugar is dissolved, raise to medium heat and bring to the boil. Once the jam has reached the rolling boiling point (the bubbles are big, staying longer and then bursting) remove from the heat and test. You can test if the jam is ready by scooping a spoonful on a cold plate (it's best to have it in the freezer before) and pushing the jam lightly with your finger. If it leaves a trail, it means it's set. If it's still liquid, boil a further few minutes and test again until it's set.

Remove the vanilla pod (at this point you can add some vanilla extract if you'd like) and pour the jam into sterilised jars.

Music playing in the background while I was making these:

Forrest Gump OST
Crazy Heart OST

many many times over and over

Mmm..tomorrow I'll have freshly-made jam to spread on my toast, not to mention friands for breakfast!

Good night everyone,