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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.

Cake, Sweet

Cherry scones recipe – because you can’t always go out for afternoon tea

I love going out for afternoon tea, it’s one of my favourite pastimes (I’ll write about some of my favourite ones) but alas it’s expensive.

It doesn’t stop me wanting one though!

Although it’s easy to buy or make cupcakes and Victoria sponge you need your scones freshly made.

Therefore I decided I wanted cherry scones… And had to make some.

The only thing I don’t like about scones is the baking soda in them as it means I can only eat one before they make my teeth feel fluffy, but this recipe doesn’t use any so you can eat as many as your stomach can handle.

These are definitely best eaten warm, but if not all straight away then the second day is good too. You can just butter them but to really enjoy them then good jam and clotted cream is best. I didn’t have any clotted but I did make whipped cream.


Yummy warm cherry scones

The original recipe I used came from the Good Food website (link below), however I did swap the raisins for glacé cherries so I have altered the recipe to be what I did.

BBC Good Food fruit scones

For the inside filling I used a tub of extra thick double cream mixed with a little vanilla extract and a good strawberry jam.

Perfect!

Ingredients

350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp caster sugar
175ml milk

+ a little to glaze

Glacé cherries – I think I probably used about 6 cut into little bits

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the butter, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.

  2. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid (milk and vanilla) and cherries and combine it quickly – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Flour the dough and your hands, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round shape about 4cm deep.

  3. Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. You may need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four. I always make a little odd shaped one with what’s left of the dough – you don’t want to waste any!

    I always make a little odd shaped one with what’s left of the dough – you don’t want to waste any!

  4. Brush the tops with milk being careful not to get it down the sides, then put into the oven.

  5. Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top.

    Finally serve with your choice of tasty insides.

Bread, Sweet

Accidental cinnamon roll loaf

My daughter always asks me why I don’t make pizza on Friday like her grandad does and unfortunately my answer is because I don’t have time when I’m back from work.

I love making bread and bread based things, there’s something so satisfying about doing it all by hand and the smell when they’re baking is just wonderful.

But with a full time job and 2 children I don’t get much chance to do it, so I decided – let’s make bread!

I was initially going to make bagles but I’ve decided to leave these till a weekend or Friday morning so we can have fresh ones when my daughter is home… Now we have cinnamon rolls instead.

Well, to be honest they expanded much more than I thought they would so instead of eating them as an individual roll, you cut a slice as they formed a nice loaf.

I kneaded these by hand, which was a really bad idea as I don’t seem to have enough energy to do that and the cramp wasn’t fun. Next time I’ll just get out the Kenwood mixer with the dough hook. They did get about 15 minutes kneading but I don’t know if this was enough so I’ll have to let you know when I’ve eaten all of it some.

I only made a small batch as everyone is on their post Christmas diets so this recipe just made 6 roles instead of 12.


Yummy squidgy cinnamon rolls (loaf)

IMG_20180530_184606_045.jpg

Makes 6 rolls or one loaf

  • 7g dried active baking yeast
  • 7 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 220ml warm water (should just feel warm on your skin)
  • 400g strong plain white flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar mixed with ground cinnamon (or use sweet cinnamon, like I did which is already combined with sugar)

Method

Mix up the water, sugar and yeast in a bowl and leave it for a few minutes till it starts to look frothy.

In another bowl add the salt, flour, egg and oil. You can make a little well in the middle but if you’re doing the initial mixing in a bowl you don’t need to worry about it running off the kitchen counter.

Mix the water and yeast mix into the other bowl with the flour. You’ll need to stir till you have no lumps left and it’s starting to look like dough.

Now comes the hard work. On a floured surface knead your dough. It will be sticky and hard to work with but keep going (till your arms hurt and then some more) and it will start to stick to itself and not everything around it.

When it’s been kneaded for at least 10-15 minutes then put it in a bowl that’s been lightly oiled and cover with clingfilm or a tea towel.

Now you can rest and have a cuppa tea as you’ll need to just wait about an hour for it to rise.

After its risen and looks much bigger then take it out, give it a quick knead and divide into 6 pieces.

Roll each piece into a rectangle and spread over the cinnamon sugar mix to each bit then roll it from one end to the other.

Put all 6 little rolls into a non stick or oiled tray, close together but not touching and cover them again to let them rise. This will be 40 mins – hour depending on how warm your kitchen is.

For me I put them too close and they merged and made a very interesting swirl bread.

Pre heat the oven to 180c and bake for approx. 30 mins.

Cool on a rack

You can add whatever topping you like but I went with the classic cream cheese

Cream cheese mixed with icing sugar and a splash of milk. Otherwise you could have this with custard or just icing sugar and water.

I gave it a dusting of cinnamon, as you can never have too much and ta-dah all done.

It won’t last too long as it’s home made bread and also rediculously tasty but keep it in a sealed container.

Bread, Savoury

Baking rosemary bread rolls in Italy

I love Italy, I love the food, people and atmosphere, I feel very at home there which is good as this year will probably be my 28th time I’ve been there to the same place in Italy for holiday. A few years ago my dad inherited a family house, a very old house which is stuck in the 1950s with no boiler or hot water. We cook on a gas stove but I think it’s great.

This year I decided that I wanted to make the bread for our lunch times (as the crusty dry loaves we eat every day hurt my teeth). I bought the yeast with me from the UK but everything else I got when I was there.

I made 3 different types of bread with varying degrees of success, though I was pleased with any success since I had no scales to measure my ingredients with!*

The recipe and pictures today are from my bread rolls. They are so very simple but I managed to get them to work and we ate them all up very fast.

*How I measured the flour without scales was to buy 1kg bags of flour and guess that it’s half of it. Simples.


Rosemary bread rolls

  • 500g bread flour
  • 2 tsp dry fast acting yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 300ml water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Chopped up rosemary (or you could substitute for any dry herb, I used fresh rosemary)

In a bowl add all of your dry ingredients, except the rosemary,making sure that the salt is on the otherside to your yeast.

Make a well in the middle and pour most of the water and the oil into the centre.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture till it starts to come together then add in the last bit of water and mix.

Tip onto a clean work surface and start to knead the bread. At first it will be very sticky and you’ll want to add extra flour…don’t! Trust me, it will start to come together into a dough.

Keep kneading till it looks like dough and doesn’t stick to everything like glue. This will take at least 10 mins by hand.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave till the dough has risen well (in Italy this was about an hour as it was so hot, in UK temperatures it’s probably closer to 2 hours)

Once risen put back onto the work surface and ‘knock back’ which is to knead the dough a bit more. Now add your herbs at this point.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll into ball shapes. Put them close but not touching on your baking tray. I’d line a baking tray with non-stick paper and flour generously. Cover very loosely.

Heat the oven to 220c and let the dough rise for another hour.

Bake for 15 minutes until lovely, golden and happy to see you.

Chocolates/Truffles, Sweet

Dusted Cherry Truffles

Cherry Truffles

Due to the usual Christmas lull I’ve reduced the amount of sweet making and baking down to a minimum but after I made a Black Forest Gateaux inspired cake I was left with 300ml of double cream.

I decided that it was a sign, a sign to make chocolate truffles! Not that I really needed a sign but you know, inspiration comes in many forms and this time it came in exactly 300ml of cream.

I love to make truffles but the part I don’t like is the rolling and shaping, it is messy and I never seem to do a really good job of it. This time I am going to try different methods one day – rolling in cocoa, coating in chocolate and piping into chocolate moulds.

I have found the ones coated in a dusting of cocoa powder to be the most successful ones to eat so far but they are not the prettiest. I think this is because the truffle mix was a little too soft when I tried to shape and because I am not very good yet at tempering chocolate.

Rolling them in cocoa powder is the easiest to do.

I flavoured the inside of the truffle mix with cherry and rolled in cherry cocoa powder, from the company Sugar and Crumbs. Although these are a little bitter (maybe some icing sugar added next time) they look more like truffles and are easier to shape.

I might be a long, long way from master chocolatier but these look a lot more impressive than the skills required to make them.


Dusted Cherry Truffles

Ingredients

  • 300g Dark Chocolate
  • 300ml Double Cream
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 tablespoon cherry liquor
  • Cocoa Powder (ideally cherry flavoured)

Method

Chop up your chocolate and put into a large bowl and set aside

In a pan heat up the cream and butter slowly till the butter melts and the cream begins to simmer. This is where you start to get a few gentle bubbles on the top, try not to boil it!

Immediately pour over the chocolate and stir until it the chocolate has melted

Add in your cherry liquor, or any other flavour you fancy. Add it a little at a time and taste as you don’t want to add too much and make it too strong.

When the mix has cooled a little, refrigerate for at least 4 hours

Take the mix out of the fridge and either using a teaspoon or a melon baller, spoon out truffle sized pieces and working very quickly roll them in your hands till they are ball shaped

Once you have the shape roll them into the cocoa powder and set aside

After all of them are finished, keep them in the fridge in an airtight container and they should last a couple of days (if you don’t eat them all in one night and feel completely sick)