Biscuit, Sweet

No sugar chocolate orange shortbread

My sister is currently pregnant but despite her healthy life (including running a half marathon just before getting pregnant) she has gestational diabetes.

Unfortunately, she also has a sweet tooth just like I do and the lack of chocolate, cakes and biscuits has been really hard for her so I’ve started looking up recipes that she may be able to eat.

One I thought that would be extremely simple to do would be to make shortbread and swap the sugar for sweetener. Now I don’t advocate sweetener being any ‘better’ or healthier for you than sugar but it’s a way to enjoy a little treat when you can’t have sugar.

I can’t say this recipe will be good for everyone with diabetes as you’ll know your diet better than anyone but it has certainly worked for my sister.

I decided to make the recipe chocolate flavoured by using cocoa powder as this doesn’t actually contain any sugar. If you’ve ever been curious and tried cocoa powder you’ll realise it’s extremely bitter on its own. Remember – cocoa powder, not drinking chocolate. There’s a big difference between the two. Unless you can have sugar, don’t use drinking chocolate for this recipe!

To also try and take a little of the bitterness away I wanted to flavour the chocolate so used orange blossom water (Nielsen Massey Orange Blossom Water is the exact brand) and I checked out the ingredients to make sure it didn’t include sugar.

The end result was a little box of biscuits, which although may not taste as sweet as you’d expect, they’re a nice biscuit treat when you can’t have sugar.

No sugar chocolate orange shortbread

This made 7 cookies. Recipe easily doubles


  • 1.5 tablespoons Canderel (I used this as it’s the one I had but try other types of sweetener) If you wanted to make this recipe with normal sugar it would be 1.5 tablespoons granulated sugar which equals 1oz.
  • 2oz butter
  • 3oz plain all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1. 5 teaspoon orange blosson water (you can flavour with anything you like but check to make sure it doesn’t contain sugar in the ingredients) It might be even better if you finely grate the zest of an orange though I haven’t tried it yet


Preheat the oven to 180c

Make sure your butter is at room temperature or soften in the microwave before using

In a bowl mix the Canderel, butter, flour, cocoa powder and orange blossom water. Basically all of the ingredients.

Mix till they just combine, you don’t want to over work the dough as this will make it tough.

Use your hands to bring the last part of the dough together and on a lightly floured surface roll out to about the thickness of a £1 or euro. I’m afraid I don’t know the American coin equivalent, but you don’t want these too thick or thin.

Cut out using your cookie cutter of choice and continue till all the dough has been made into biscuits. Try and get as many shapes cut out each time as the less times you re-roll the better.

Line on a tray with non stick lining on and chill in the fridge for 30 mins-ish. It’s not imperative you do this, it just helps the cookies keep their shape whilst baking.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 12 minutes.

The biscuits will seem soft when they first come out so don’t try and remove them immediately. Let them cool for 10 minutes then you’ll be able to move them onto a wire rack to cool.

There you have it! A rediculously easy shortbread recipe, sugar free.

Enjoy…just don’t eat too many too quick.

Biscuit, Sweet

In the Night Garden Cookies

In less than 3 months it is my little daughters first birthday! Its scary reminiscing about her being this tiny helpless little thing I bought home to only 9 months later having a very active little madam who wants to be everywhere and eat everything.

So I decided that I had best start thinking about her first birthday cake and how to decorate it. She doesn’t have any interest in TV at all (just wasted time she could spend exploring I guess), she won’t sit still for any books (see TV issue) so she doesn’t have a favourite character in that way.
After a little think I’ve decided to make an “In the Night Garden” cake and cupcakes. This is because my brother in law used to work on the programme making it and we have toys, books, DVDs and clothes for her. It also seems to be very popular with other young children.

My cake decorating skills are fairly none existent but I saw a way with icing that seemed to make it look easier than normal – flat shapes cut out and layered.

Please let me introduce – Iggle Piggle, Makka Pakka, Upsey Daisy and 3 Tomliboos. No, I haven’t gone mad, that’s their names. Anyone with young children will probably be able to sing the song to.


I made the circles of icing as a practice and then because I was quite pleased with myself I made some basic shortbread cookies for them to go on.

Now all I will have to do is try and make them again, at night, in 3 months time whilst being back at work full time. Hmm.

Biscuit, Sweet

3, 2, 1 – Simple Shortbread Cookies

This recipe has to be one of my go to recipes when I don’t have any eggs or much else in the house to bake with.

It is so simple because it only uses 3 ingredients, which I always have in the house no matter what – plain flour, margarine or butter and sugar.

They combine to make a lovely crisp shortbread which you can add anything else you want to taste or decorate however simply or creatively you are feeling.

It is a brilliant recipe for kids to do because it makes a dough similar feel to play-doh, and if you wanted to be creative (or a bit mad) you can add a little bit of food colouring to make some interesting looking shortbread. I think that any recipe that gets children enjoying baking has got to be a good thing.

The best part is that this recipe is just the base and it really cant go too wrong. The worst thing that can happen is that you overwork the dough (which might happen with children) and it will end up a little chewier, rather than crunchy, which isn’t the end of the world as it will still taste fab.

You can get a million and one different type of cutters as well nowadays so the only limitation is your imagination. I have Christmas cutters, animals, squares, circles, letters numbers, stars… !

Have fun and experiment, I guarantee you will make this loads of times.

3, 2, 1 Shortbread

The reason I have called this recipe 3, 2, 1 is because of the proportions you use.
It goes – 3 oz flour, 2 oz margarine or butter and 1 oz of sugar.

This will make a small batch which will do you a few cookies and to make more just double the recipe as long as you stick to the proportions.

Butter will give you a lovely rich flavour but if you don’t have it then it still works perfectly with margarine – just add a tiny drop of vanilla essence.

6oz plain flour
4oz margarine or butter
2oz sugar
(I also added a handful of chocolate chips to mine and also half a teaspoon of nutmeg and cinnamon)

Pre-heat the oven to gas 4 or 180c

Put the flour in a bowl along with the sugar and with a wooden spoon mix in the butter or margarine. For butter you might need to rub it in a little more with your fingers but with marg you can just stir it in with a wooden spoon.

[If you want to add food colouring or a flavour, add them now – I added the cinnamon and nutmeg]
When it is starting to look mixed together, put your hands into the bowl and press everything till it starts to combine into a dough. This will happen quite quickly.
If you are using a food processor then just put it all in together (I use the K beater on mine) and let the machine combine it to a dough – just be careful not to mix it too long.

When everything just about sticks together wrap the dough in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll out the dough till it is about the thickness of a £1 coin (or a 1€, or about a centimetre).
The thickness will also depend on what shape you are going to cut out. More intricate ones will need a slightly thicker dough, this isn’t a problem as you will just cook it for longer.

Cut out as many shapes as you can get out of your dough then re-roll and do the same again. Ideally you don’t want to roll it out more than 3 times but if they are for yourself then I always use up all of it – I hate waste!

Line up your cookies onto a baking sheet a couple of inches apart. They will grow a little during baking but not too much.
[If using, now is the time to add any toppings onto the cookies. I pressed chocolate chips into the top of mine]

Bake in the oven for about 15-25 minutes.

When ready they should look a little puffed up and browned lightly all over.
They will firm up a little when cooling but if the underside looks a bit doughy still then put them back in for 3-5 minutes.

When they have cooled decorate them however you like!

Other ideas what to do with this recipe:

Lemon shortbread – add the zest of the lemon and when cooled make a royal icing using some of the lemon juice to drizzle over

Pink or blue shortbread – add a little food colouring to the mix. Try and use a gel colouring as the liquids will make it sticky. They will loose a bit of their colour when cooked but are quite inspiring for children.

Decorated stars – make a plain shortbread mix and when cooled cut out colours of icing using the same shaped cutter and stick to the top with apricot jam

Chocolate Shortbread – remove a tablespoon of the flour and replace with a good tablespoon of cocoa powder.

Christmas spice – add half a teaspoon of nutmeg and half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a few well chopped up pieces of glace cherries.