Lavender Chocolate Shortbread

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Yep, I have a thing for shortbread. Salted caramel is my main love, but I keep coming back to these little buttery, crumbly, not-too-sweet bundles.

This recipe is adapted from one of my earlier posts for Basil Flower Shortbread, and works on the same principle- working an unexpected flavour into a familiar base.

You can incorporate as much or as little (or indeed, none) of the floral element as you like, by adding or omitting the Lavender oil and flowers. I bought my Lavender oil from my local chemist, it’s not too expensive and is also really nice to add to caramels.

You can use either fresh lavender gathered from a garden that you know is pesticide free, or use the dried culinary version. Mine came from the dangerous store that is The Essential Ingredient.

The floral flavour is subtle and unexpected, which brought most of my taste testers back for a second helping and a “what is that interesting flavour?”. The best thing is, too, that the recipe makes 40-50 biscuits, so you can enjoy them in a big group or out of a jar with tea and a book at home.

Speaking of books, The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly and its sequels are the reason this post comes so long after the last one. It’s the fourth or fifth time I’ve read them and they are so amazing that they make me blind to all other pursuits!

I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe if you decide to give it a try! Thanks for reading becma bakes.
You’ll need:DSC_0408

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp dried or fresh lavender
  • Drop of lavender oil
  • 240g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped

Method:

1. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine.

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2. Add butter and rub in with the tips of your fingers until mixture is combined and has a crumbly texture.

4. Add lavender elements and chocolate and mix into your shortbread base with a spoon or your fingers; whichever you find more easy.

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4. Press mixture into a firm ball shape and wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, heat oven to 180ºC and grease two large oven sheets.

6. Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface and use a cookie cutter of your choice (in size & shape) to cut out your biscuits. Roll out and repeat until you’ve used as much of the dough as is practical. Check out the below picture- you really do get a good number for the work!

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7. Bake for 20-25 minutes- they won’t go too brown and will firm up more as they cool, so be aware of the smells coming out of the oven to help you judge when they’re ready!

8. Cool on the trays and store in an airtight container. Enjoy at any time of the day- they are especially tasty with a cup of tea or coffee.

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ANZAC day

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Tomorrow is ANZAC day, a day when we commemorate the services and sacrifices of  members of the Australian and New Zealand armed forces. This year is a particularly important day as the centenary of the landing of the Anzacs on the Gallipoli Penninsula.

We observe a number of traditions on the 25th, the most important being the dawn services held across the country. A large number of Australians also enjoy visiting their local to play a game or five of Two Up.

Anzac biscuits are a staple in any Australian biscuit jar year round, but really have their time in the spotlight near the day- so much so that I had to visit three supermarkets to track down my golden syrup!

I figure that everyone has their own recipe for Anzac biscuits, passed down from Grandmas and Aunties, but I thought I would do a short post including my own variation. This one is super easy as it is all done in one saucepan- I like any recipe that minimizes my washing up!

I like to add some chopped Turkish dried apricots to my mixture for some extra sweetness and chewiness – everyone at work who tried them seemed to enjoy the addition. Plus, the link to our Turkish friends is a nice touch.

You’ll need:

  • 100g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp bi carb soda
  • 1 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g chopped dried apricots

Method:

1. Pre heat oven to 160 C and grease two oven trays

2. Stir buter, syrup and water in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted.

3. Remove from the heat and stir through bi carb soda (I love this part).

4. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until completely combined.

5. Roll heaped teaspoons of the mixture between your palms and place on the prepared trays, 2cm apart. Flatten slightly with a floured fork.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on how chewy you like them) and cool on trays.

 

I’m still working on the promised passion fruit recipe- but keep an eye out for some more delicious sweets soon.

 

Easter Spice Biscuits

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For Easter, I wanted to create a variation on my Christmas Jumbles recipe, because we aren’t already eating enough sweet goodies over the weekend…

These tasty biscuits are nice and soft and flavoured with spices reminiscent of hot cross buns and a bit of cocoa. I dipped them in melted chocolate and piped on contrasting decorations to make easter egg and hot cross bun desgins.  I think they look pretty cute for the short amount of time I spent decorating them. They were a big hit at work and I plan to make another batch before the weekend is out!

Please forgive the lack of methd photos and the not so great photos of the finished product – I made these quite late on a work night. My soundtrack for this recipe was equal parts Disney, Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones- I’ve been reading an interesting biography about the Stones and thus they have been on high rotation!

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 You’ll need: 

For the biscuits-

  • 60g butter
  • 1/2 cup (110g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (270g) golden syrup
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 1/2 cup (75g) self raising flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour
  • 1/.2 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 4 tsfffp cocoa or cacao powder

For the topping-

  • 200g dark chocolate melts
  • 200g white chocolate melts
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Food colouring, if you like
  • Food shimmer

Method-

1. Combine the butter, dark brown sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until smooth.

2. Add hot mixture to a large bowl and cool for 10 minutes. Add egg to cooled mixture and stir until combined.

3. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients and stir until combined, and repeat. Taste dough and add more cocoa or spice if desired.

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4. Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, with floured hands, until it loses its stickiness (about 5 minutes).

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5. Wrap dough in cling-wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease & flour two oven trays.

7. Remove chilled dough from the fridge and roll out to about 0.5cm thickness and cut out your shapes, with a lightly floured biscuit cutter and placing onto trays. To get my easter egg shape, I cut out circles and then used my fingers to make them longer and more egg-like.

8. Bake for around 15 minutes, keeping an eye on them and turning or swapping shelves if necessary, and remove when just golden brown and fragrant. Cool on trays for 5-10 minutes and then place on wire racks to cool completely.

9. Place chocolate in wide, shallow glass or stoneware bowls. Heat in bursts of 30 seconds at medium heat in microwave, stirring at each interval until melted. Add a tablespoon of oil to each and stir to combine.

10. Carefully dip the top of each cooled biscuit into one of the melted chocolates and place on a sheet of baking paper to cool.

11. Using a piping bag or a ziplock bag with a corner cut off, pipe contrasting or coloured chocolate onto your dipped biscuit top and dust with shimmer if desired.

12. These biscuits are a delicious Easter treat and will keep for at least a week in a container, or in cellophane bags for gifting.

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p.s. If you like my lovely vintage ironstone bowl, take a look at acreativelifestyle on Etsy, it’s curated by a lady in Tasmania and features a great collection of kitchen and homewares at really great prices.

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Basil Flower Shortbread

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Our basil is in flower at the moment, and it inspired me to call my Grandma and ask for her Aunt Maise’s shortbread recipe – she’s been promising it to me for a while.

I’d read a recipe for herb flower shortbread in Cooking With Flowers by Miche Bacher (such a beautiful book), and thought I would combine that idea with the Scottish classic.

The basil flowers add a subtle point of difference to the otherwise familiar biscuits. If you prefer, the flowers can be left out altogether or exchanged for other herb flowers like rosemary, oregano or lavender, depending on what you have in the garden.

I had my good headphones on for this bake and I must admit to grooving around the kitchen a whoooole lot while preparing and washing up. It was a Genesis and Led Zeppelin heavy shuffle.

I exercised both days this weekend (including a 36km bike ride this morning!) and I think that’s why I feel super energetic tonight.

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You’ll need

  • 225 unsalted butter, softened and chopped
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice flour, sifted
  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • small pinch sea salt
  • 1-2 tbsp basil flowers
  • extra caster sugar for topping, if desired

Method

1. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl.

2. Add butter to bowl and rub into dry ingredients using the tips of your fingers. This should take around 10 minutes and leave you with a well combined ball of dough, a bit like pastry.

3. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate until firm, around 45 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat oven to 180ºC and grease a large oven sheet.

5. Cut chilled dough into two equal portions and roll out into rectangular lengths around 10cm wide.

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6. Cut into pieces around 2-3cm wide and place on the prepared tray. Prick biscuits with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden.

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7. Sprinkle biscuits with the extra sugar and allow to cool.

Grandma used to make her shortbread for my Aunty and Uncle’s cafe and loves to tell the story of a chef who tried it and declared it the best he’d ever tasted.

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I realise that these photos aren’t the best, and I do apologise, but I think Grandma’s story should convince you to give this shortbread a try next time you’re after something easy for afternoon tea or lunches.

Have a great week!

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Christmas Jumbles

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This time last year, I was inspired to do some Christmas baking to give to family and friends as a seasonal treat. Gingerbread is fine, but has never been my favourite-I wanted to make something softer and kid friendly.

Honey Jumbles are a sweet memory from my childhood and I knew I had a recipe in my Women’s Weekly book, so I got myself some Christmassy biscuit cutters and food dye and had a crack at a bit of decorating. My first batch needed a bit more spice (thanks trusty family taste testers!), so I added more flavour to the next lot and had a winner.

I made a number of batches and made gift bags to give to family and friends. They were well received by all- the little kids seemed to like them just as much, if not more than the grown ups, I think because the icing balances nicely with the spices. This year I’ve made even more biscuits (up around the 200 mark) and it’s been a big undertaking, but I’ve had heaps of fun decorating and gifting them.

In this recipe I have used two cutter shapes, a Christmas tree and star, but you can cut any shape you like (no need to go and buy specific Christmas ones!), and make your biscuits Christmassy when you ice and decorate. You should get between 30-40 biscuits out of the one batch, depending on the size of the cutter/s you use.

 You’ll need: 

For the biscuits-

  • 60g butter
  • 1/2 cup (110g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (270g) golden syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (75g) self raising flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour
  • 1/.2 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

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For the icing-

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 cups (240g) icing sugar
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • approx 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • food colourings of your choice (red and green at a minimum)
  • Metallic cachous, food shimmer, sprinkles & whatever takes your fancy to decorate with

Method 

  1.  Combine the butter, dark brown sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until smooth.DSC_0287

2. Add hot mixture to a large bowl and cool for 10 minutes. Add egg to cooled mixture and stir until combined.

3. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients and stir until combined, and repeat.

4. Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, with floured hands, until it loses its stickiness (this usually takes me about 5 minutes of kneading). DSC_0315DSC_0324

5. Wrap dough in cling-wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease & flour two oven trays.

7. Remove chilled dough from the fridge and roll out to about 0.5cm thickness and cut out your shapes, with a lightly floured biscuit, placing onto your trays so they don’t touch (I’ll be honest, to fit them all on, they have to be pretty close, which is why I’m not giving you a distance)

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8. Bake for around 15 minutes, keeping an eye on them and turning or swapping shelves if necessary, and remove when just golden brown and fragrant. Cool on trays for 5-10 minutes and then place on wire racks to cool completely.

9. To make the icing- place egg white in a medium bowl and add sifted icing sugar. Stir until a thick paste forms. Divide mixture between as many bowls as colours you want to decorate with- I usually take enough to mix up two bowls and leave the last third in the main bowl to use as I need. Add colouring gradually and stir until you reach the desired colour, and then add lemon juice and extra icing paste as necessary to make it spreadable.

10. Spread your biscuits with the icing you want to use as the base colour, usually I make my trees green and stars red, but I’ve branched out with purple, blue and yellow this year too 🙂 Allow to dry for about 10 minutes.

11. Using a piping bag or a ziplock bag with a corner cut off, pipe a contrasting colour onto your hard icing base and decorate with whatever you have decided to use.

12. Leave for 20 minutes to make sure the piping and decorations are set and store in an airtight container or package for gifting (I put two stars and a tree in little cellophane bags with curled ribbon and give them out, they look pretty cute). Biscuits will keep for about 2 weeks. DSC_0033DSC_0036DSC_0035

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I hope you’ll have a go at these if you have some time in the next few days leading up to Christmas. If not, the recipe is easy to adapt (just use different cutters!) to make some treats to have around the house over the holiday period.

Happy Christmas!

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