Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

The Great British Bake Off is bake on British TV and, like thousands of others, it has reinvigorated my interest in baking! My sister and her colleagues have decided to each choose a week to bake some goodies and take them along to the office to share. The idea is that they bake something that was on the programme that episode. However I’ve made it easier on myself and just stuck to the theme. The idea is to challenge myself to bake a new recipe or come up with a new idea.

This week was biscuit week (week 2)! There was lots of shortbread being made, so this inspired my first attempt at these ‘Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits’.

You may be wondering why I’m starting with week 2, and what happened to week 1! Well I’ve started late so I’m kind of cheating and counting a previous bake (from 4 months ago!) as my week 1 contribution: Black Forest Cake.

I’m also on Twitter @wangsamsin so feel free to follow my progress!

Shortbread Ingredients: (Original recipe from Tesco website)

  • 125g butter
  • 55g Caster sguar
  • 150g Plain flour
  • 50g Ground almonds
Salted Butterscotch Sauce

Salted Butterscotch Sauce

Salted Butterscotch Ingredients:

  • 125ml double cream
  • 30g butter
  • 4 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Butterscotch Method:

  • In a small pan, bring cream to the boil and stir in butter.
  • Turn down the heat to low then the sugar, stirring until the butterscotch becomes smooth.
  • Add the sea salt and mix thoroughly
  • Allow to cool to room temperature so it becomes spreadable but not too thick (if it thickens too much then re-heat to loosen)
  • Left-overs can be stored in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to a month. Use as a sauce for ice cream or pancakes!
Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Almond Shortbread Method: (I made two batches for these double layered biscuits)

  • Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth with an electric mixer.
  • Stir in the flour and almond to get a smooth paste. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1/2 cm thick. For the second batch, I cut a small hole in the centre of each biscuit to allow the butterscotch filling to show through.
  • Cut into shapes, place onto a baking tray.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack. Make sure you bake the ‘holes’ too as they make really cute mini-shortbreads!

To Assemble:

  • Think of a ‘Jammy Dodger’ and you’ll not go wrong!
  • Using the plain biscuit as the bottom layer, spread a layer of butterscotch filling on it then ‘sandwich’ it with a top layer that has a hole in it. Simple!
  • Decorate with some extra sea salt flakes to give a hint of what’s inside…
Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

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Gluten Free: Coconut and Lime Macaroons

Coconut and Lime Macaroons

Coconut and Lime Macaroons

The ‘German Christmas Markets’ have once again taken over cities around the UK. It seems that they have now been firmly planted into the local Christmas culture. They signify the start of the festive season as soon as those log cabins start taking over the pedestrian areas of the cities shopping areas. This is a fairly recent phenomenon but is very popular hence their explosion from a few cabins to a sheer take over for around 4 weeks at the end of the year!

I enjoy a brief visit to the markets especially because you get ideas of different food gifts to make for people over the festive period. However most of the wares and food on offer are very expensive and it is always extremely busy! I find places that are packed with people shoving past each other, and prams being rammed into my ankles as parents are trying desperately trying to keep their children within sight, extremely stressful! So I don’t last too long before I need to escape the crowds and find somewhere quiet for a cup of tea and slice of cake… Any excuse! 😉

One item on sale on the markets are ‘German Coconut Macaroons’ that are the size of your fist! I’m not exactly sure why they are called ‘German Macaroons’ as I’m sure that they are a very English recipe! They are very nice served warm and great for coconut macaroon fans. Crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. However I find the size of them a little too much in one go, so would prefer them about half the size…

Each year in my office we do ‘Secret Santa’. This is where we each choose a name out of a hat and buy a gift for that person. The idea being that you keep it a secret and the person can then guess who bought them this gift. The usual criteria is that we can spend no more than £5 each on the gift. This year to make things a little more interesting we decided that the gift should be home made or bought from a thrift/charity shop.

For my Secret Santa present I decided to make this Coconut and Lime Macaroon recipe for a little twist on the traditional coconut macaroons. This is mainly because I had some limes in the fruit bowl that needed to be used up and coconut and lime are a very classic pairing! I decided to finish off the macaroons with some drizzled melted chocolate as they didn’t look very interesting as round little balls. The chocolate also adds a little bitter contrast to the sweet coconut and tartness of the lime.

The Taste Test

The recipe called for 1 tablespoon of lime juice and the zest of 1 lime. I decided to add the juice of two limes after tasting the mixture and the lime juice not coming through very well. I should have just stuck to the recipe! The lime taste must have developed during the cooking so the tartness over powers the coconut a little. However the coconut taste is still there and the macaroons are nice and crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, so all is not lost!

After the success of the Stem Ginger Shortbread recipe I decided to make another batch. However this time I pushed the dough into mini muffin moulds to get a nice even shape. However I left them in the oven a little longer than I wanted so they are browner than I’d like but still taste lovely!  I think they may be slightly too deep too next time I will only half fill the tins. However I do quite like the look of them with the shiny stem ginger on top making them look like mini puddings!

Stem Ginger Shortbread

Stem Ginger Shortbread

One reason for choosing these recipes are that they are both high in sugar and have few quickly perishable ingredients. Since it’s Christmas and food is usually in abundance, it’s difficult to judge how long food gifts will be able to hang around in the fridge or cupboard and without a ‘use by’ date I don’t want to give my friends any kind of food poisoning! Both of these recipes should last a few days in an airtight container. I’ve wrapped them tightly in food bags to keep the air out and help them last a little longer.

Cardamom and Pistachio Cookies

All wrapped up and put in a gift box, I think they look pretty good! 🙂

Christmas shortbread: Pistachio with Cardamom and Stem Ginger

 

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

My family and I don’t really celebrate Christmas to the extent that most families do in the UK. We get together with extended family for a couple of days over Christmas Day and Boxing Day to eat lots of lovely food, usually having a fairly traditional roast Christmas dinner. Unsurprisingly the best part of Christmas for me is the giving and receiving of food. For the past few years I’ve been making little Christmas food gifts for friends and family rather than just relying on shop bought festive treats. Partly because it helps to reduce the cost of Christmas shopping, but also because I think putting a little effort into making a gift for someone is always appreciated! And since I’m not blessed with any artist crafty ability or patience to learn a new skill, then I fall back onto the art of baking…

This year I’ve started off with some tried and tested shortbread recipes. This weekend I made some Stem Ginger Shortbread for a friend of mine who is actually celebrating her birthday, so technically this was ‘Birthday Shortbread’. She’s also expecting her second baby, so I figured that ginger is great for any pregnant woman with it’s anti nausea properties (beside being really delicious!).

The second lot of shortbread was flavoured with cardamom and toasted pistachio nuts, a classic combination! These were taken to some friends of mine who I have just started working with as a trustee of the Bumba Foundation. This charity raises money to build schools in Uganda for children who are otherwise unable to get an education. It’s an honour to be part of this work and I look forward to getting stuck into the fundraising events in 2014! Please check out the website for more information about the Bumba Foundation. Today was my first trustees meeting, so I took a these shortbread cookies to make a good first impression.

 

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

Pistachio and Stem Ginger Shortbread

The shortbread recipe I used was based on this BBC recipe that I have successfully used in the past but after researching a few other recipes I decided to substitute some of the wheat flour with a couple tablespoons of cornflour to ensure extra crispness, I think it worked! Using this basic recipe as the base, I added the additional flavourings by adding some of the stem ginger syrup to the dough and pressing chopped up stem ginger to the tops of the cookies. For the second batch the ground seeds of about 8 cardamom pods were kneaded into the dough and crushed pistachios pressed into the top.

 

Christmas Gift Box

Christmas Gift Box

I wrapped the shortbread in some gift bags and sealed to keep them fresher for longer then put them in these little Wilton Christmas gift boxes that I found when Christmas shopping. Very cute don’t you think?!

More posts on my Christmas food goodies to come…