Nearly Sugar Free Cookies


I am officially back to school, no more lazy days or dossing I am into the full swing of 5th year work and study.  Home work has been a foreign word to me for over a year. Somebody described the transition from 4th year to 5th as “stepping out into bright light after spending the last year in a dark room. Last year I didn’t even have a pencil or pen in my pencil case but as I have been reminded by teachers and relatives I now begin a two year course that ends with the big LC- Leaving Certificate. I shudder at the thought. I have two years of left in my little school where teachers know my name and people look out for me then it is out into the big bad world. This time next year I will be filling out my CAO form and deciding what path to take, it all seems so scary.  I have no idea what I want to do or be, the options are limitless but yet I seem constrained in the choices can make. I can wait one more year before I really have to worry about all of that.

I am only two days into school and it seems just like I never left. My evening are now packed with homework but I still have tim e to make these cookies which are not really sugar free at all because as one of my teachers used to say “what do you call nearly right? …. wrong”, they contain maple syrup and chocolate chip, but you don’t have to litterly but sugar into them so I like to think they are that little bit healthier.

 

“Kinda” Sugar Free Cookies- adapted from Leon: Baking and Puddings

  • 280g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 200g chocolate chips or chunks ( I used half dark and half milk)
  • 50ml honey
  • 200ml maple syrup
  • 75g unsalted butter, melted
  • 75ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Heat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (including the chocolate chips or chunks).
3. Mix together all the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until they are well combined, but do not over-mix.
5. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie dough on to the prepared baking tray.
6. Bake in the oven for only 11 minutes ( I tried 10 and they just need that extra one), and allow the biscuits to cool on the tray for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

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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.

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.

It all started with a cookie ….

I began this blog back in March with a cookie recipe since then it has grown and expanded. Like this blog, this recipe for Chocolate Chip Oat Bars began with or as a cookie recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks. I changed the recipe around and was delighted to take out of the oven the most delicious wholesome oaty cookies. I love that feeling you get when you stumble upon a new recipe to add to your collection.  I decided to make these cookies again as they are so easy, just mix all ingredient together, but I was feeling extremely lazy at the time and didn’t want to roll out each cookie individually. Instead I divided the mixture in three and pressed it into three lined loaf tins. When they came out of the oven I cut them into bars. The result was more than amazing, they were like flapjacks only they didn’t have that sickeningly sweet golden syrup taste.

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

250g of rolled oats

125g of wholewheat flour

45g of wheat bran

2 eggs

200ml of rapeseed oil

130 of golden brown sugar

1 tsp of baking soda

1.5 tsp of baking powder

200g of dark chocolate chopped

1tsp of vanilla essence

50g of dessicated coconut (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Then add in the chocolate chips and mix again. Stir in the wet ingredients. Stir well with a wooden spoon to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Divide the mixture into three and press into three lined loaf tins. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cut the loafs each into 5 bars to give you a total of 15 bars.

Variation

Instead of cooking them in the loaf tins you could spoon them out onto a tray (it makes about 20) flatten them and cook them at 180C for 15-20 minutes

For the love of Cookbooks

I love Cookbooks. I read them like novels, each recipe is a new chapter . Usually I am not a fan of cookbooks that don’t have pictures but there is one exception – “The New Baisics Cookbook” by Sheila Lukins and Julee Russo, former owners of the Silver Palate Deli. This cookbook was given to Mammy by a close friend about 30 years ago in America. The spine has fallen off and it the book has divided into about four different sections. Pages that have fallen out are stapled back on other loved recipes are stained from eggs and cake batter. To make matters worse it smells of old, damp paper but despite all its faults Mammy refuses to replace it. I recently went to visit the giver of the book  in the States I discovered her book had, had a similar fate. I was delighted to discover that she had the third book by the “Silver Palate Girls” “The Good Times Cookbook”. Shelia Lukins and Julee Russo, who co-owned the small deli in  Upper West Side New York, were my heroes when I was little. The Whenever we had  a dinner party there book was referred to for the famous “Chicken Marbella ” which has become Mammy’s signature company dinner. At Christmas it was there “Old Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies” that Santa enjoyed and there brownie was served on our table long before it became popular this side of the Atlantic. In this new book I stumbled upon a recipe for biscotti or more correctly known as biscotti de Prato. I was never a huge fan of the very hard twice baked biscuit I found it almost impossible to eat but decided to give it a try .  This recipe the biscuit is a little bit softer than the traditional biscuit but the flavour is really good what can go wrong with hazelnuts and chocolate

Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti

makes 20

Adapted from “The Good Times Cookbook” by Sheila Lukins and Julee Russo

2 eggs

50g of dark chocolate chips

50 g of hazelnuts toasted, skinned  and bashed with a rolling pin

50g of sugar

20ml of vegtable oil

1 tsp of vanilla extract

150g of white flour

60g of wheat bran/wheat germ or a combination

1 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp of salt

Preheat the oven to 190C

Beat eggs and sugars in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add oil and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Whisk flour and wheat bran/germ, baking powder and salt together in another bowl; add to sugar mixture. Mix until blended; stir in nuts and chocolate.

Briefly knead the dough. Firmly shape into a log 3 inches wide ( be sure to make the loaf compact. Pat it solidly, so when you cut it into slices, the cookies won’t crumble). Place log on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut log into slices about 1/2 an inch thick. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes on each side (longer if you want them crunchier). Leave to cool before serving they last up to a week in an airtight container but can be frozen for as long as three months.

Variations: You could change the nuts to pistachio, almonds ect. Dried fruit could replace the chocolate. The original recipe is Apricot and Pistachio which sounds like a really nice combination. The biscuits could be drizzled with melted chocolate after cooking. Or if you are not a fan of whole meal or don’t have wheat bran white flour or ground almonds could replace it. If using the ground almonds replace the vanilla with almond extract for extra flavour.

Shortbread in the morning

I woke up way to early this morning. I was too lazy to go for a run so after stuffing my face with bagels, toast and a little bit of the left over lemon cake(my healthy eating habits go out the window on a morning after a party) I made shortbread, plain simple shortbread. I know shortbread can seem boring. It only has three ingredients butter, sugar, flour but that makes it all the more exciting. Shortbread can be dolled up and made posh simply add lavender, rosemary,mint, ginger, cinnamon, chocolate chips, hazelnuts, almonds, cocoa, the list is endless and to be honest a lot of them don’t sound that appetizing. Of course shortbread can also be used as a base to many bars – millionaire shortbread, lemon squares ect. but with all this changing people have began to overlook the basic recipe for a plain biscuit perfect with a “cuppa”.   There are a few shortbread recipes a want to try I think lemon mascarpone and olive oil shortbread sounds really nice but it was early in the morning and I didn’t have mascaropone or lemons so plain shortbread it was. Next time I might try make a wholemeal version of some kind. This recipe is loved by my 90-year-old Nanny so although It disobeys all diets I still insist on making it every now and then a one of life’s little luxuries when you get to 90 and have been through as much as her you deserve a lot of luxuries.

Shortbread

makes about 20 biscuits

adapted from “The Silver Palate Cookbook”

120z of softened butter

15oz of plain flour

4.5oz of granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 150C and line a prepare a baking tray sprinkling it with a little flour. Cream the sugar and butter. Mix in the flour to form a dough use your hands to form a dough. Roll it out to about 2cm thick and cut into desired shapes. P;ace on prepared baking tray (at this point you are meant to put them in the fridge it stops them from spreading when they cook I never have time to do it.) Cook for about 30 minutes they should still be pale on top but underneath will be golden. They will be soft and not look cooked but take them out as they firm while cooling. Sprinkle with some Caster sugar and leave on tray until cool as they break easily.

Sometimes when I am lazy and don’t want to stamp out 20 biscuits I divide the mixture into two balls and flatten with your hands in a round 25cm greased cake tin. I then make a few piercings in it with a fork and press  and go around the edge pressing down with a fork to get a nice pattern.  Cook for about 50 minutes and then, without moving it from tin, cut it up into wedges (like a pizza) when still hot. So you get triangle shaped shortbread

 

 

 

First Post and The Almighty Cookie

So here I am its a breezy March morning and I am about to post my first post on my blog. . I have taught long and hard about what should be my first recipe as first impressions only happen once. I decided on the last thing I made, which just happens to be Chocolate Chip Cookies (Adapted from the Avoca recipe). I have yet to met somebody who doesn’t love a cookie. There is something about cookies that makes them so appealing to all. The first chocolate chip cookie was make in 1937 when Ruth Graves Wakefield , of Whitman, Massachusetts, was making her favorite biscuit recipe and decided to add chunks of chocolate assuming they would melt into the mixture to form an utterly chocolate biscuit. Instead the chocolate held there shape and the first chocolate chip cookie was created. All I can say is thank God for Ruth Graves Wakefield.

This particular recipe  is a European cookie which is more like shortbread than the traditional soft baked american cookie . They are, or so  I have been told by friends, even better than the Marks and Spencer Cookies. Chewy yet crispy, deliciously buttery and just the perfect sweetness. They are so good that Mammy and Sister number one broke there Lenten promise to eat one, or two. I am sure God will forgive them for they are irresistible. They are in fact heaven in a bite . You use this as a base to any cookie and add what you wish. I used half and half white and milk chocolate but you could use any chocolate chips you wish or create your own combinations omitting the chocolate for dried fruit such as raisins, smarties, toffee chips or nuts. Personally I don’t like nuts in my cookies I always find you bite into them expecting it to be white chocolate and realize to your disappointment its a macadamia nut. I also don’t use chocolate chips instead I chop up a chocolate bar into large chunks so instead of lots of little pieces of chocolate you get large mouthfuls oozing from the cookie. Some people disagree with this method as they fear a bite of a cookie with no chocolate but, I say, that’s okay if you are guaranteed  the next bite will have a large chunk  Also if you want a chewier cookie you substitute the half the sugar for soft brown sugar. The world is your oyster when it comes to cookies enjoy. To make extra scrumptious sandwich two cookies together with vanilla ice cream to make a cookie sandwich mmmmmmmmm……..


My Utterly Irresistible Chocolate Cookies 
This recipe makes about 15 good sized cookies.

225g of butter
200g of granulated sugar
1 egg
1 drop of vanilla essence
250g of plain flour
1/2 tsp of baking soda
250g of chocolate chips of your choice

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla. Sieve in the flour and bread soda, then mix in the chocolate chips. Divide into 15 even sized balls and flatten. Place in lined baking sheet ( warning they spread while cooking). Leave in the fridge for an hour. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees or Gas mark 3. Cook for 20-25 minutes. I put them under the grill for 30 seconds to brown a little BUT WATCH THEM LIKE A HAWK if you do.

They are best served slightly cooled so that the biscuit has firmed but the chocolate is still gooey but either way they disappear fairly fast