Coconut and Chocolate Oaties


The recipe for these cookies is from an old book Mammy got years ago as a Christmas Present – Maida Heatter’s (rhymes with eaters) Book of Great Cookies first published in 1977. I never paid much attention to the book or Maida herself but there was one recipe that got a lot of attention in our house – Chocolate Oatmeal Cripsies.  Mammy used to make these cookies so often, we all loved them. Not only because they tasted good when they were cooked but because the raw mixture was delicious we used to fight over who got to lick the spoons.  I had been to busy making new recipes from blogs or new cookbook I hadn’t made the cookies in ages. They are really easy and the best part is licking the bowl clean at the end ( I have been making a lot of bread recently where you don’t get to do this). As the cooked an amazing aroma of chocolate and coconut filled the house, a smell I will forever associate with Mammy. I love how smell can evoke memories of people. These cookies are so delicious on their own but twice as nice sandwiched with vanilla ice cream enjoy.

Coconut and Chocolaty Oaties

  • 170g of semi-sweet chocolate (I used ½ semisweet and ½ bittersweet), cut into pieces
  • 60g  sifted all-purpose flour
  • 60g of wholemeal flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 150g of granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 90g old-fashioned or quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
  • 100g of dessicated coconut

Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 170C. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats or dus with flour.

Melt the chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, sift together the plain flour, baking soda, and salt, add the wholemeal flour and set aside. In the small bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter. Add the vanilla and the almond extracts and the sugar, and beat until blended. Beat in the egg and the melted chocolate. On low speed gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating only until incorporated. Mix in the oatmeal and the coconut.

To divide the dough evenly: On a long piece of wax paper, place the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls in 15- equal mounds. Roll each mound between your hands to form a ball and place the balls on the cookie sheets at least 2 to 2½ inches apart, no closer.

Press the tops of the cookies with the back of the tines of a fork to flatten them to ½-inch thickness. First press all in one direction, and then press in the opposite direction.

Bake for about 15 minutes, reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back once to ensure even browning. When done, the cookies will feel crusty on the tops, but semisoft in the centers— they will harden as they cool.

With a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to racks to cool.

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Raspberry and Pine Nut Muffins

As I have already told you Mammy has instilled in me the importance of being a good host. She also has taught us that it’s not enough to be a good host but also a good guest. “Don’t leave wet towels on the floor”,  she would warn us before we stayed in anybody else’s house. “Offer to help around the house” “Be polite and don’t fight with each other” she would warn my sisters and I . Whenever we were packed off to stay with Aunties or friends our behavior was impeccable. We obeyed Mammy’s rules as we knew the significance of being a good guest. One other rule that Mammy had was bring something to the hostess. I have learned that the best sort of gifts for this occasion are the edible ones and brownie points if its is homemade and if it is homemade and contains a combination of butter and sugar, well then your just sucking up. Recently I spent two nights at a friends house while my family went to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Kerry. I obeyed all of Mammy’s guest rules, no towels were left on floors and I brought a homemade loaf of bread and these yummy raspberry pine nut muffins (I replaced the butter with oil so I am not quiet sucking up).

Rasberry and Pine Nut Muffins adapted from the BBC Good Food 
100ml of canola oil
25g lightly toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp milk
400g self-raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 large eggs
284ml carton buttermilk
225g fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180C

Line a 12 whole muffin tin with muffin cases. Mix the flour, toasted pine nuts, sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in the buttermilk and oil. Stir this into the flour mixture until almost combined – it will need only a few stirs and the mix will feel light and airy. Tip in the raspberries, give a few more stirs to finish the mixing, but don’t overbeat or the mix will toughen. Spoon the mix into the muffin tins using an ice cream scoop – they will be very full.bake for about 25 mins until risen and golden. Let them cool in the tin a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack best eaten on the day buat within 2 days.

Baguettes

I have being going through a bread making phase lately. I recently bought Paul Hollywood’s “How to Bake” and have been making a different bread everyday. No low carb diets in my house anyway. Before I had always found that when I made yeast bread it never turned out right so I decided to start at the very beginning and make  a plain white Cobb, I followed the recipe and steps exactly – the result a delicious white loaf of bread. Next day I advanced on to brown bread. Again the result was  good well texture wise anyway, it was a little salty to taste but that’s easily corrected. I now felt I was ready to advance to a seed bread which contained a combination of rye, wholewheat and strong white flour. This time my loaf was not a success it was heavy and stodgy. I reviewed what I did wrong and I think I came up with my problem, you NEED to knead. For the previous two breads I had kneaded them for 5-10 minutes for the third loaf I had become more relaxed an kneaded for about 3 minutes. So it was back to basics I made the white Cobb again just to prove I still had my bread making mojo. Then I advanced to a spelt bread which was really tasty despite sticking to the parchment case used to line the tin. Then today I stepped a little outside my comfort zone and made baguettes. I was a little nervous about this their is something daunting about the long thin loaf. I was wrong though the hardest part making these was not eating all 6 as soon as they came out of the oven they smell so good. 

This recipe for the classic french loaf coincides with the 100th birthday of the women who made French cooking famous outside France, Julia Child

Baguette Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywoods How to Bake 

This dough is a lot wetter than most other dough so don’t be tempted to add more flour

500g of strong bread flour

7g of salt

7g sachet of instant yeast

370ml of water

olive oil for kneading

Lightly oil a rectangle or square container. (The shape of the tub is important as it plays a role in shaping the baguettes.)

Put the flour in a bowl. Put the yeast to one side and the salt to another side of the bowl (the salt can kill the yeast if it comes in direct contact with it). Add three quarters of the water to begin with and using a wooden spoon mix it vigorously ad the dough comes together add the rest of the water. Now using your hand shaped in a claw position combine all the flour and water. Keeping it in the bowl knead it, pull and mix it. I oiled my hands with the olive oil to prevent to much sticking. Work with the dough for about seven minutes. It is a little tedious but keep at it. Tip the dough into the square container and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise for about 1 hour or until double in size.

Coat the work top with oil and tip the dough out on it. Handle it carefully you want to keep as much air as possible in it.

Divide the dough into 5-6 pieces.  (Shape each into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each into a sausage – the top should be smooth with a joint running along the bottom. Now beginning in the middle roll each sausage out with your hands. Don’t force it out by pressing heavly. Concentrate on a backwards forward movement and gently use the weight of your hands to roll out the dough to the length of the tray. ) I couldn’t do this instead I dipped each piece of dough into flour and gently rolled it out to a baguette shape.

Lightly flour two baking trays  Place 2-3 baguettes on tray. Place each tray inside a clean plastic bag tucking the edges under the tray. Leave for about one hour until the the dough has doubled in size and springs back when likely prodded. Meanwhile heat your oven to 220C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.

When your baguettes have risen and are light dust them with a little flour adn slash them with a very sharp knife. Fill the roasting tray in the oven with water to achieve a steamy oven that creates a crispy crust (essential) bake for 25 minutes or until the baguettes are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and try not to eat straight away. 

Lemon Bars

I always wanted to be in the Olympics. During the Olympics the Cul de Sac where I live became a mini Olympic village as I would have mini Olympics with the neighbours. We had everything from high jump (three bamboo sticks made into a H shape using clothes pegs to support the horizontal bar, it would get higher as the competition went on) to soccer. The lack of essential  equipment, such as horses for dressage, never bothered us. We compromised instead or synchronized swimming we had synchronized swinging and I would challenge  anybody who doubted the competitiveness our mini Olympics. At the  end of each day medals wore awarded to those who deserved them this often resulted in great upset from other competitors.  For the Sydney Olympics I watched and re-watched Sonia take silver, shouting “Go on Sonia, Go on…..”at the re-runs. As I was only five it never dawned on me that it was the same race. I dreamed and still do of being in the Olympics only problem is I am only a month younger than Missy Franklin and I show little talent in any Olympic discipline. So I will have to put my dreams of being the next Katie Taylor (and who doesn’t want to be Katie Taylor) to bed. The main, and all important, reason being I don’t  box.  I can make really good lemon bars though, bet you the four time world champion, oylmpic gold medalist and former International soccer player can’t make a tea time treat as good as these.

I cut them when they were still hot so they crumbled, they still tasted good

Lemon Bars adapted from Leon Baking & Puddings

285g of plain flour plus 35g

80g of icing sugar

t teaspoon of salt

225g of unsalted butter

2 tablespoon of water

4 eggs

300g of sugar

120ml of lemon juice

1/2 tsp of lemon zest

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Heat the oven to 16oC

Method

First make the shortbread base. Put the 280g of flour icing sugar and cold butter in the food processer and mix until crumbly. You could do this with the back of the fork or pastry cutter (or so the Leon book tells me) Mix until it forms a ball. Add the water if necessary. Press the dough into a 30×20 cm baking tin.  Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until lightly golden and set but it will still be soft as it hardens while it cools. Meanwhile beat the eggs add the sugar lemon juice and zest. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Spread on the cool shortbread and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes or until it is just set. Cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares. Take them out of the tin to serve. When taking them out the first one will usually fall apart as it is hard to get to I just use this one as the testing one and eat it.