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.

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.

Feel Good Chocolate Cake

I am leaving this rainy country for sunnier climate, I am off to Spain tomorrow. One week of Sunshine and beach… hopefully. Beach and sunshine also means bikini and my body hasn’t been so forgiving to the scones, cookies and cakes I have been filling it with. Before I go I would like to share this feel good chocolate cake. I spent a while coming up for a name for this cake, I didn’t want the word healthy in the title as that suggests some tasteless, dry chocolate cake, which this is not. It is decadent and fudgy cake almost like a brownie. The wholemeal flour adds a nutty flavour and the honey creates a light sticky sweetness. It is not a low fat, weightloss cake but more of a whole food cake you eat to feel good. Its decadent but you feel happy after eating it plus their is no sugar or white flour. Enjoy and adios por ahora!!

Feel Good Chocolate Cake

I created a new way for adding chocolate to the chocolate cake. I finely ground the chocolate in a food processor until it resembled powder almost like cocoa powder. It adds to the fudgyness of the cake. I also use wholemeal flour but feel free to subsitute it with all purpose flour,

45og of wholemeal flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

3/4 tsp of salt

1/2 cup of oil

2 eggs

1 cup of honey

1 cup of yogurt/buttermilk

200g of chocolate powder (see above) or cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 170C degrees with a rack in the middle. Butter and flour an 20×20 square cake pan (I used a le crueset square stone dish 23cmx23).

Put the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Mix the egg, honey and oil in a jug. Add the yogurt and mix. Then pour the wet ingredients into the flour. Then add the chocolate powder and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and place in the oven for 40-50 minutes. The cake will be fudgy and slightly sticky so the skewer test wont work .Leave to cool and make the chocolate cream to frost.

Chocolate Cream

1 cup of cream

150g of dark chocolate

80g of icing sugar (omit if not using very dark chocolate)

Melt the chocolate. Whip the cream to stiff peaks (but be careful you want it thick and creamy but you don’t want butter) Pour the chocolate over the cream and stir it in until all the chocolate is incorporated. Then fold in the sugar.Top the cooled cake with the chocolate frosting and spread evenly over top. Use a n offset spatula to create little swirls on the top.

Summer Solstice Cake

It’s summer solstice today from this day forward, we’ll start losing just a bit of that precious sunlight day by day, until we reach the shortest day of the year,  Dec. 21.It’s hard to be in that summery mood since it’s  been raining non stop since five o’clock. Despite that I decided to make a summer to do list ( I didn’t get very far).

  1. Run more
  2. Eat less
  3. Bake more ……..

With the third To Do on my To Do List I got distracted and the list transformed into a To Bake list. I spent hours scrolling through Smitten Kitchen  marking the recipes I want to make this summer. I ended up wanting to make almost everything in the blog – how I am going to fit 6 years of baking into two months beats me. The other problem is my To Bake list didn’t stop with Smitten Kitchen I explored other blogs and soon my list spilled off the internet and into my many cookbooks. This research also began to question my ability to keep To Do number 2. Maybe if I just run more then I can allow myself that extra indulgence after… it is summer after all.

I began my summer baking with fruit and and nut bread which rose unlike last time

Then I moved on to a sort of Swiss roll or Roulade with a summer inspired cream and raspberry filling.

Rolly chocolate cake with raspberry and cream 

3free-range egg whites

15g/1oz granulated sugar

11g/8oz ground almonds

115g/8oz icing sugar, sifted

3free-range eggs

20g/1½oz plain flour

20g/1½oz cocoa powder, sifted

40g/3oz butter, melted

Filling

75ml of cream

two handfuls of raspberries

topping

80g of dark melted chocolate

30ml of cream

Preheat the oven to 200C. Whisk the egg whits until stiff then mix in the caster sugar. Mix the almonds, icing sugar, whole eggs in another bowl for about three minutes until it is thick and has increased in volume. Sift in the flour and cocoa and fold in. Fold in the butter and then the egg whites. Grease and line a 46cm x 33cm/18in x 13in baking tray. Pour the mixture in to the tray and spread to the corners. Bake for 5-7 minutes, firm to touch and cooked through. Remove the cakes from the oven, cover with a large piece of greaseproof paper and carefully turn out the cakes. Peel off the greaseproof paper from the bottom of the tin. leave to cool while you make the filling. Whip the cream until it is thick then spread on cool cake. Scatter the raspberries over the cake and roll up.

Roll up like a Swiss roll, starting with one of the short edges, roll tightly to start with and use the paper to help. Don’t worry if it cracks – that’s quite normal and part of its charm! to make the topping mix the melted chocolate with the cream and pour on top. I garnished the cake with chopped hazelnuts

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.

Nothing beats good Friends… except a good Brownie

Due to a spanish exchange I have been separated from some of my friends reducing the amount of allies I have from 11 to 5. It wasn’t up until now that I realize how much I take my friends for granted. Despite how bitchy or irritating we become together we have each others back. We can arrive at parties in intimidating numbers. When someone messes with me I know my friends will have my back and when my friends are angry at someone they let you know. As a group we complement each other there is the friend that you spill you troubles too, who by the way is ginger, there is the funny friend who makes you laugh, who also happens to be ginger. The friend who will be honest with you no matter what, and the friend that will tell you exactly what you want to hear, the one that has amazing style and can pull anything off and the one organizes everything. As a group of girls sometimes things can get a little heated and boil out of control but so far things have always managed to cool down. I love my friends who have been so good to me, so for that reason I dedicate this brownie recipe (which I use to make more friends) to them

Friendship Brownies

90g of plain chocolate

150g unsalted butter

125g of plain flour

15g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp of baking powder

150g of caster sugar

150g of soft light brown sugar

1 pinch of salt

2 eggs


1tsp of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160C

Grease a baking tin (20cm x 15cm) and sprinkle flour over it, tap the tin to evenly spread the flour. Break the chocolate into a bowl and add the butter. Melt over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl the heat and allow the chocolate to cool slightly. Meanwhile sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. In a third bowl beat the sugars and eggs together then add the vanilla. Fold in the melted chocolate then fold in the flour mixture. There should be no flour visable. Spoon the mixture into a tin and smooth the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into 12-16 squares.  Best served a little warm with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Variations: You could add 100g of chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, hazelnuts etc.) or chocolate chips when folding in the flour. You could serve it as a cake and ice it with a chocolate ganache. Although I am not a fan some people love brownies with dried cherries, if you would like this add 75g of cherries in when folding in the flour

Splendiferous Chocolate Muffins

So I finally got a job. At the Garden Center I was doing work experience in. Not so glamorous but a job’s a job well the pay is €6.06 an hour and the bus journey costs me €4 so I am not really making much bu you can’t put a price on the experience can you? I have to admit that I was a little excited the first day to actually get to work with a REAL cash register and not one of the fisher price ones from my younger days. I get to be the person on the other side of the till and ask those questions that all till staff ask. We are given a five steps guideline to treating a customer they are

  1. Greet Customer with appropriate greeting for time of day
  2. Thank them for waiting (don’t apologize for the queue be positive at all times)
  3. Ask them for a reward card if not do they want a reward card
  4. Say something Pleasant ( what a lovely day or complement there baby/purchase)
  5. Tell them the total price and take payment method then say goodbye

Us tillers we have marketing down to a tee. I am being extra pleasant as I want to keep my job to buy a new pair of heels I have my eyes on a few pairs I am not sure why I buy heels at all as instead of making me look sleek and sexy like they should they make me look like a fool as I can’t walk never mind dance in them and they give you the worst blisters. Despite the pain there is something about the stiletto that I can’t resist I think the love of shoes is something in the genes of all girls. It’s in our DNA we are born with the irrational notion to spend lots of money and lovely shoes.

Another weakness that women tend to have is a love for all things chocolate. If you are like the hundreds of women who admit to this you must try these Chocolaty Muffins. And if you are not then you still must try the muffins as the smell will almost defiantly convert you. They are in fact Splendiferous

Splendiferous Chocolate Muffins

I have spent years looking for a rich coloured chocolate muffin all previous attempts have turned out a lightish brown colour. I finally did from Lilly Higgins blog stuff I Make Bake and Love/ who found it from a Dan Leopard recipe from the Guardian website  These are dark and luscious. The method is unusual first you make a custardy substance then add the flour. It also calls for no milk

I adapted the recipe to what I could find in my Kitchen

50g cornflour
3 level tbsp cocoa
80g of caster sugar
225ml cold water
75g unsalted butter, cubed
125g dark chocolate, broken small
75ml olive oil
2 large eggs
125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
2½ tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180C

First make the custard: put the cornflour, cocoa, 80g of caster sugar and water into a saucepan and whisk together over a medium heat until boiling, very thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, beat in the butter and chocolate until melted and absorbed, then add the oil,  and one of the eggs, and beat again until combined. Add the remaining egg and the caster sugar, and beat again until smooth and thick.

Measure the flour and baking powder into a bowl, stir together, then sift directly on to the custard and beat through until combined. Spoon into a dozen paper muffin cases, using a  sitting in the pockets of a muffin tray,; h bake for 25 minutes.

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