Category Archives: Cookies, biscuits

ANZAC Biscuits with Dried Blueberries

anzac_bluepFirst of all, I I would like to apologise my dear visitors and blogging friends for such a long absence due to wonderful holidays I have spent once more in Japan. As always, the stay in Tokyo was highly inspiring, filled with unforgettable culinary moments and I hope I’ll be able to share with you some of my discoveries in future posts. The only thing I strongly regretted about my trip was having naively hoped once more the plane food would be at least edible. Leaving more than half of the meals intact I kept on dreaming how happy I would have been if I had an onigiri, a simple sandwich or some ANZAC biscuits in my bag… Next time I take a long flight these treats will definitely travel with me!

If you have never heard about these biscuits, ANZAC stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”, created during the World War I. The biscuits bearing this name were created at the same time by women desperate to send nutritious home-made food to their husbands, sons and boyfriends. This is apparently how the eggless, nutritious recipe ensuring long preservation was born. I first prepared ANZAC biscuits thanks to Mr. Three-Cookies and will always be grateful for this amazing discovery.

ANZAC biscuits might not look very attractive, but with their buttery aroma, slight chewiness and nutty flavours for me they are no more no less but the best thing in the world of crunchy sweet treats. They are also easy and quick to prepare, so I make them quite regularly.  The basic recipe is flexible and every version I have made proved delicious. Apart from the basic recipe, until now I have only posted a dried cranberry version, which I love particularly because of its tanginess and an even higher degree of chewiness.

One day I was given a big bag of luscious dried blueberries and, afraid of spoiling them in baked dishes, I kept on treating them as exceptional snacks. The friend who has kindly offered these blueberries has lived for many years in Australia, so somehow adding them to ANZAC biscuits seemed suddenly obvious. The result was absolutely luscious and much superior to the addition of boring raisins I have tested once.

TIPS: Unless you have a health problem, do not use margarine or any other vegetable shortening. The butter taste and  aroma is so strong, you will lose a big part of the pleasure.

As I have mentioned above, they keep fresh in a tightly closed container for several days (and maybe even more, but I wasn’t able to test more than five days). The biscuits stay crunchy and slightly chewy.

WARNING: do not taste the raw dough! You will end up eating it straight from the pan while you wait for your previous batch to bake.

Preparation: 1 hour (or 30 minutes if you manage to bake everything in one batch)

Ingredients (I have obtained about 35 biscuits, you will obtain a bit less if you skip blueberries):

70 grams/1 cup rolled oats

90 grams/1 cup desiccated coconut

120 g/1 cup flour

125 g/about 4,5 oz butter

160 g/3/4 cup brown cane sugar

1 tablespoon dark syrup (I used 2 tablespoons molasses)

1 teaspoon baking soda (bi-carbonate of soda, in countries where it is not widely available, for example in France, it can be easily bought in pharmacies)

2 tablespoons boiling water

pinch of salt

6 heaped tablespoons dried blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Melt the butter and syrup or molasses in a big pan.

Combine the flour, the oats, the coconut, the blueberries, the salt and the sugar. Add slowly to the melted butter.

At the end combine the boiling water and soda. Pour the mixture into the dough and stir well with a spoon.

Don’t worry if the dough seems crumbly. It is normal. Just squeeze well the dough when forming balls in your hands and don’t flatten them too much.

Roll small balls, making them as tight as possible (I usually make walnut-sized balls, but this time I wanted smaller biscuits, so I made the balls 1/3 smaller) and put them on a baking sheet (leaving at least 3 cm spaces between each ball since they will spread).

Flatten them slightly (they will flatten even more during the baking process) and bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Keep them in a tightly closed container. Apparently they keep for ages. All I know is they keep for at least five days, well closed.

Palets bretons (Sweet and Salty Brittany Cookies)

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This was one of the first recipes I have posted. I hardly had any visitors at the time, so I have decided to dig it up and write about these French biscuits (or cookies). They may look ordinary, but their delicate crumbly texture, buttery taste and a delicate touch of saltiness make them very special.

“Palet” (pronounced without the final “t”) means a “puck” , and “jeu de palets” is a Brittany regional game with pucks which shape is similar to those used in hockey. Brittany is famous for its rich in butter sweets – usually made with salted butter – and one of those is a crumbly cookie, called “palet” in reference to its puck shape. They have a buttery taste, are slightly salty and sweet at the same time, very crumbly and melt in your mouth too quickly… Palets bretons are quite popular all around the  country and can be found in every supermarket, but they are easy to prepare and obviously taste better baked at home.

Together with Crème brûlée palets are a good way to use up egg yolks (if you have made Coconut Cookies for example…or another dish calling for whites uniquely).

There are French internet recipes galore for these cookies. The one I tried for the first time and have always made with success comes the French blog Miamm…Maman Cuisine, where I also found the trick to keep their shape (see below).

TIPS: Click here to see a few ideas of how to use up the leftover egg whites.

You can sprinkle the cookies with coarse salt for an extra crunch and extra saltiness, but I don’t advise it for the first batch you prepare (you can test on one or two biscuits first).

Special equipment: muffins or similar size forms

Preparation: almost two hours (including 1 hour in the fridge)

Calories (the whole batch): about 1700 kcal

Ingredients for 12-15 pucks:

80g (about 3 oz) salted butter (or unsalted butter+1/2 teaspoon salt, but salty butter is better)

80 g (about 3 oz) confectioner’s sugar

140g (about 5 oz) flour

1/3 small package of baking powder (1 1/2 heaped teaspoon) 

2 yolks

(coarse good quality sea salt)

Mix the yolks and the sugar well in a food processor. Add the softened butter, mix again.

Add the flour and the baking powder.

Knead it for 5 minutes.

Form a thick sausage (diameter=the bottom of one whole in a muffin form), wrap it in plastic film and put into the fridge for 1 hour (or more, until the dough becomes hard enough to be easily sliced).

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap it, cut into 1 cm (about 0,4 in) thick slices.

Put them inside the muffin forms (this way they’ll be more or less of equal size and will only rise instead of spreading around).

If you don’t have muffin forms or other cookie forms, simply put the cut cookies on a baking sheet, but at your own responsibility: they’ll probably spread around and become flatter than the ones “imprisoned” in a mould.

(You can sprinkle them with coarse salt for an extra salty crunch.)

Bake for 15-20 minutes till golden.

ANZAC Biscuits with Dried Cranberry

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Have you ever heard of ANZAC biscuits? Many of you might be put off by the above unequally shaped, unattractive cookies, but in reality these are one of the most delicious and addictive sweet snacks I know. Until now I have been preparing only their standard version and I wish I had thought of cranberries earlier because I liked them this way even more.

ANZAC stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”, created during the World War I and these biscuits were created at the same time by women desperate to send nutritious home-made food to their husbands, sons and boyfriends. According to this website, faced with at least two months’ transportation time, a group of women worked out a recipe based on rather healthy Scottish rolled oats biscuits and added only those ingredients which ensured long preservation. There are several theories on why eggs are not used, but their absence certainly makes biscuits last longer.

The first time I baked these biscuits (see the recipe here), I was inspired and encouraged by Mr. Three-Cookies, the cookie and biscuit specialist from Three-Cookies blog, where I found the recipe (actually at Easily Good Eats by the same author). Before tasting ANZAC biscuits for the first time I expected ordinary, but good crunchy biscuits, with a healthy twist, i.e. oats. What I obtained was well beyond my hopes: slightly crunchy, slightly chewy, addictive sweet snacks with a very pleasant  buttery taste, enhanced by baked nutty oats. In short, the mixture of such simple ingredients has created a complex, surprising result I am still fond of, after dozens of batches.

ANZAC biscuits have always been so satisfactory, I haven’t even bothered to modify the basic recipe. However, a couple of days ago, the beautiful Cranberry Coconut Quinoa Loaves posted by Kelly (from Inspired Edibles) convinced me that dried cranberries are a perfect pairing for coconut and this is how I had the idea to tweak my usual recipe. The experiment was a big success, at least for a big fan of chewy cookies like me (the cranberries’ presence has at least tripled the chewiness!). The flat rounded, more or less equal shape was more difficult to obtain with dried fruit inside, but then I’m not a very meticulous cook… Thank you so much, Kelly for such a wonderful inspiration; cranberries and coconut are an excellent pairing, definitely worth further explorations. Thank you again, Mr. Three-Cookies, for making me discover the world of ANZAC biscuits.

If you don’t like or have cranberries, I strongly advise testing the classic recipe first (or simply follow the below recipe eliminating cranberries):

anzac_p

If you are fond of coconut sweets, you might like these too:

kokos_pj

Easiest Chewy Coconut Cookies (aka Macaroons)

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Coconut, Chocolate and Rum Truffles

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Moist Chocolate and Coconut Cake

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or the above Moist Coconut Cake but without chocolate

coffeecoconutcreamp

Coffee and Coconut Cream with Agar

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Light Chocolate and Coconut Cream (also with agar)

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or Matcha and Coconut Cream with Agar

If you want to play with the basic ANZAC recipe, Mr. Three-Cookies has frequently (and successfully) experimented with these amazing biscuits, so check his Three Cookies blog for inspiration.

TIPS: Unless you have a health problem, do not use margarine or any other vegetable shortening. The butter taste and  aroma is so strong, you will lose a big part of the pleasure.

As I have mentioned above, they keep fresh in a tightly closed container for several days (and maybe even more, but I wasn’t able to test more than five days). The biscuits stay crunchy and slightly chewy.

Do not expect vivid red spots on your biscuits: the cranberries will darken during the baking process (the ones you see above are just meant to add a touch of colour to the dark biscuits.)

WARNING: do not taste the raw dough! You will end up eating it straight from the pan while you wait for your previous batch to bake.

Preparation: 1 hour (or 30 minutes if you manage to bake everything in one batch)

Ingredients (I have obtained about 35 biscuits, you will obtain a bit less if you skip cranberries):

70 grams/1 cup rolled oats

90 grams/1 cup desiccated coconut

120 g/1 cup flour

125 g/about 4,5 oz butter

160 g/3/4 cup brown cane sugar

1 tablespoon dark syrup (I used 2 tablespoons molasses)

1 teaspoon baking soda (bi-carbonate of soda, in countries where it is not widely available, for example in France, it can be easily bought in pharmacies)

2 tablespoons boiling water

pinch of salt

6 heaped tablespoons dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Melt the butter and syrup or molasses in a big pan.

Combine the flour, the oats, the coconut, the cranberries, the salt and the sugar. Add slowly to the melted butter.

At the end combine the boiling water and soda. Pour the mixture into the dough and stir well with a spoon.

Roll small balls (I usually make walnut-sized balls, but this time I wanted smaller biscuits, so I made the balls 1/3 smaller) and put them on a baking sheet (leaving at least 3 cm spaces between each ball since they will spread).

Flatten them slightly (they will flatten even more during the baking process) and bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Don’t worry if the dough seems crumbly. It is normal. Just squeeze well the dough when forming balls in your hands and don’t flatten them too much.

Keep them in a tightly closed container. Apparently they keep for ages. All I know is they keep for at least five days, well closed.

Easiest Chewy Coconut Cookies (Macaroons)

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If sometimes you don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen, but are in urgent need of easy sweet snacks, you might be interested in these cookies. I believe they are similar to what is called “coconut macaroons” in the USA, but they are much simpler and quicker to prepare. They require maximum ten minutes of work before being baked, you don’t need any kitchen appliances and, last but not least, they call for only three ingredients, which most of you probably always have in the house (sugar, egg whites and desiccated coconut). This, accidentally, makes them gluten free, if I’m not mistaken. As you will see below, you don’t even need any measuring cups or scales: a tablespoon is all you need. Oh, and I would have forgotten: these cookies are the first thing that comes to my mind when I have leftover egg whites.

I posted them a very very long time ago, but I prepare them so often, I couldn’t resist this quick reminder. I have been making them in the same way for many years and this ridiculously simple recipe is the result of my attempts to copy chewy coconut cookies I used to love as a child. I have however a warning to all those who prefer less sugar in desserts:  these cookies are sweeter than most of the desserts I post here! For once I don’t mind it because this sticky, chewy texture I go crazy for couldn’t be achieved with less sugar. I sometimes bake them in mini-muffin moulds, but most of the time I don’t bother and form “pucks” with moist hands and then bake them directly on baking paper.

If you don’t like coconut, you might find these biscuits interesting:

hazelnutcookiespp

Easy Chewy Hazelnut Cookies

TIPS :  Click here to see a few ideas of how to use up leftover egg yolks if you are left with some (I strongly recommend crème brûlée, maybe even with matcha…)

Since the coconut and sugar dryness vary (not to mention the egg whites size), the given quantities can be only treated as approximate. Check the consistency: you should be able to form balls from the dough, but it should remain very sticky and moist.

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (about 15 cookies):

2 egg whites
7 flat tablespoons caster sugar
12 well-heaped tablespoons desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven at 170°C.

Take a bowl, mix everything with a spoon, adding gradually sugar and coconut. Since the coconut and sugar dryness vary (not to mention the egg whites size), the given quantities can be only treated as approximate. Check the consistency: you should be able to form balls from the dough, but it should remain very sticky and moist.

Form small balls (medium apricot size) with moist hands, put on baking paper or greased baking tray and squash slightly.

You can also use mini-muffin moulds (any moulds you have and like will do).

Bake the biscuits until slightly golden (about 20 minutes in my oven).

They keep for several days if covered with plastic film.

Chocolate Terrine with Speculoos (Unbaked Chocolate Cake with Biscuits)

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Chocoholics: beware! This chocolate terrine is one of the most dangerous home desserts I know. Once you taste it, you will constantly be tempted to prepare it once more and once more and once more… When you realise that the recipe is ridiculously easy and the result guarantees admiring looks from your guests, you will understand why I praise it so highly. Katerina from Culinary Flavours is the person I hold entirely responsible for turning me into an addict to this rich, creamy, decadent chocolate delicacy. Her seducing photos wouldn’t simply get out of my mind and when I took a first bite, I found it hard to believe that such a quick and simple preparation can lead to something so sublime.

Katerina’s recipe was called “marquise”, but it could also be named “terrine” because similar desserts bear both names in French cookery books. She has used chocolate cookies; I have used Speculoos, the famous Belgian spice biscuits, which go so well with the winter season we are approaching. Whether you call it terrine or marquise, whatever biscuits and aromatic alcohol you add, you will certainly receive sincere compliments from your guests and family. Thank you, Katerina, for making me discover one of the easiest and most impressive chocolate treats. I will certainly serve it for Christmas.

I have slightly modified Katerina’s recipe and cut down the amounts by half. Since it’s very filling and rich, this mini-terrine/marquise will suffice for six people. For a bigger group or for second servings, double the amounts. Click here to see Katerina’s original recipe and to have a stroll through her wonderful blog with recipes from Greece (her home country) and all around the world.

TIPS: If you don’t melt chocolate often, this might be the only tricky part of this otherwise easy cake. There are different ways to do it, but my favourite is to melt it, broken into pieces, in a small pan, on very low heat, constantly stirring. The important thing is not to let the chocolate boil. Take the pan off the heat before the chocolate melts completely (I usually wait until 90% of chocolate melts) and keep on stirring. It will melt in the already warm melted remaining chocolate and this way you will avoid bringing chocolate to a boiling point, which makes it impossible to use. I usually melt butter this way together with chocolate.

Preparation: 20 minutes + a night in the fridge

Ingredients (serves ten-twelve, fills a 10 x 20 cm/about 4 x 8 in baking dish; at the photograph above you see a smaller half-portion):

250 g/about 9 oz good quality dark chocolate (do not use the “baking” chocolate, but good quality one, without vegetable fats and with min. 70% cocoa)

150 ml/5 fl oz liquid cream (at least 25% fat)

100 g/about 3,5 oz butter

120 g/4 oz Speculoos or other biscuits of your choice

(1 flat teaspoon instant coffee)

8 flat tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons rum (or any aromatic alcohol that would go well with your biscuits and chocolate)

(crumbled biscuits, cocoa or confectioner’s sugar to sprinkle over the marquise before serving)

Melt the chocolate and the butter (in a pan (see TIPS), in a microwave oven or in a hot water bath).

Add the sugar, the cream, the alcohol and stir well.

Break the biscuits to small pieces (but not to powder!) and incorporate into the chocolate mixture.

Line a baking dish with plastic film (I advise to fold it in two so that it doesn’t break when you take out the cold marquise).

Pour the chocolate mixture into the dish, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Serve very cold, straight from the fridge, sprinkled with crumbled biscuits, cocoa or confectioner’s sugar or the way it is.