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.
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  • 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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Mocha Slice

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This is another one of my Grandma’s classic recipes. I made it on the weekend and took it to share with the family after we watched her house sell at auction.

It was a great auction and it will be hard to say goodbye to a house that is full of so many happy memories (not to mention her amazing new kitchen- you might have seen it in this post.)

As this is Dad’s favourite sweet recipe of his Mum’s, I thought it a good one to post following Mothers’ Day.

You’ll need

For the base:

  • 1 cup self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt

For the icing: 

  • 1 heaped teaspoon of instant coffee dissolved in 60ml of boiling water
  • 15g butter, melted
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder, sifted

Method: 

1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a standard rectangular slice tin with baking paper.

2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

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3. Add butter and egg and stir until completely combined. Press into the prepared tin and smooth with the back of a metal spoon.

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4. Cook slice for 15-20 minutes, it will harden on cooling so keep an eye on it and test to check whether it is becoming hard after 10 minutes in the oven.

5. While the slice is cooking, make your icing by mixing all together all of the ingredients in a small bowl. It should be reasonably runny, with a similar consistency to melted chocolate.

Questionable photography skills that day.
Questionable photography ‘skills’.

6. Remove the slice from the oven and allow to cool slightly for five minutes. Pour the prepared icing over the still warm base and spread evenly. Cool in tin until the icing has set to a glossy finish and slice.

You can also sprinkle some extra cacao powder and roughly ground coffee beans on top to add a bit of extra oomph to the presentation if you so desire!

Let me know what you and your taste testers think of this one.

The below photo says it all for my place- I had set up my slice to take photos, went away for five minutes and came back to find my most attractive piece missing. Dad had unknowingly devoured it!

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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!

eggys

 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.

good friday

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.

easter

Choc Baileys Tarts

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I do apologise for the long delay between posts, I have been doing a bit of experimenting in the kitchen of late, as well as working hard at my new job!

My wonderful friends and I had a pool party yesterday and, as designated dessert maker, I adapted a recipe I’ve made a couple of times before.

I love chocolate tarts and they are a pretty regular fixture on my special occasion dessert list. I originally made this recipe as a large tart but have found it easier to serve and that the filling sets more quickly in individual tart form. The fact that they look super cute is just a bonus! The recipe is easily adapted to be gluten free by simply exchanging the flours for gluten free alternatives.

The tart case is a chewy, nutty adaptation of the base I use for my salted caramel slice, and goes beautifully with the rich chocolate-liquer filling. I topped each tart with a candied pecan, not the prettiest decoration, but they add a nice bit of extra crunch and nuttiness.These were a real hit and tasted great accompanied by some fresh berries and ice cream.

I always have music on at home,  especially when I’m baking. My soundtrack for recipe was Paul McCartney and Wings’ album Red Rose Speedway. I had to have a bit of fun with the sleeve, it fit too well.

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As Paul says, ‘Get On The Right Thing’ – give these tarts a go!

You will need:

Hazelnut tart cases:

  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (100g) hazelnut meal
  • 1/4 cup self raising flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Choc-Baileys filling:

  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 2 tbsp Baileys Irish Cream Liquer

Candied pecans (if desired- plain pecans or hazelnuts will also work on top!):

  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC and line a 12 hole muffin tin with rectangular strips of baking paper, with one end sticking over the edge of the cup (this means the cups stay well-shaped- no paper folds sticking in, and are easy to remove).

2. Mix butter, hazelnut meal, flours, brown sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl until well combined.

3. Press balls of mixture into prepared tin, making the base reasonably thick and pressing up the sides, trying to keep the sides even and not too bulky- you need room for the filling after all!

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4. Bake for around 15 minutes or until nicely browned. They should have puffed up a little bit in the centre at this point, and I use the back of a rounded measuring spoon to gently press the sides of the still-hot cases and make a nice rounded bowl for the chocolate filling to come. Let cool completely before filling.

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5. I made the candied pecans while my tart cases were cooling. If you would like some to top your tarts (or just to eat on their own), simply stir the sugar, water and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the nuts and stir until the mixture starts to turn golden and bubble, keep stirring for a couple of minutes to make sure they are all well coated and then carefully turn out onto a piece of baking paper to cool.

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6. Add chocolate, cream, vanilla and Baileys to a medium mixing bowl and stir over a pot of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the surface. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and well combined.

7. Pour mixture into cups until full, I created some cool marbling on a couple of the tarts by using a little measuring cup with a pouring lip with a little bit of cream coating the sides. Will definitely do it to all of them next time, test out my rusty barista skills.

8. Place tarts in the fridge until set and top with candied pecans to serve. So good!

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Some becma bakes fans:

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Jackie couldn’t wait to dig in…
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Two thumbs up from noted food critic Keira.

Salted Caramel Shortbread

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This (less than pretty) batch were a request from my bestie “I love that you bake stuff all the time. Constant supply for Jackie!”

These delicious biscuits have been a crowd pleaser every time I’ve made them, and if you give them a go you’ll soon know why 🙂

Buttery, melt in your mouth shortbread sandwiched with a layer of salty-sweet caramel and dipped in dark chocolate. Amazing. (my own description just made my mouth water so much that I had to stop writing to go and grab the last one from the fridge)

The process is reasonably easy but quite time consuming because of cooling and refrigeration a couple of stages of ‘construction’. For this reason the original recipe from The Women’s Weekly requires shop bought shortbread rounds- I think it’s worth spending the time to make your own, though, as the home made shortbread is what really makes these biscuits special.

I find a good way of managing my time with this recipe is to make your biscuits and caramel the night or morning before you need the biscuits, and then come back the next or later in the day to fill, chill and dip them.

Makes about 18 biscuits

 You’ll need:

For the shortbread rounds

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 cups (300g) plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (90g) rice flour, sifted

For the salted caramel filling-

  • 1/2 cup (110g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 60g butter, chopped
  • 1/2-1 tsp sea salt flakes, to taste
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk, mixed with above cornflour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate dip-

  • 185g dark eating chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil

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Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160 C and grease and flour two oven trays.

2. Beat (soft, not melted!) butter and caster sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the water and flours in two batches.

3. Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll into tablespoon sized balls and flatten slightly with a lightly floured fork.

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4. Bake about 40 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden brown around the edges.

5. Meanwhile, make your salted caramel filling. Place the sugar, chopped butter, water and half your sea salt into a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add milk mixture and stir until it boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in egg yolk and vanilla. Allow to cool for ten minutes before tasting, and add more salt flakes to taste, if required.

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6. Place in a bowl and cover with clingwrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove cooked biscuits from oven and cool on trays.

***TAKE A BREAK***

7. Spread caramel over half of your cooled shortbread and sandwich with remaining biscuits (I try to size/shape match my pairs before putting them together). Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (I do this on a cooled tray).

8. Melt chocolate in a small bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (without the water touching the underside of the bowl) OR if you’re game, in the microwave in short bursts at medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in oil.

9. Dip one side of the cold cookies into the melted chocolate and stand on baking paper, at room temperature, until set. When set, feel free to pop them in the fridge, they taste super good either temperature.

So! As you can see this one is a bit of a lengthy process. I promise you it’s worth it, and you can easily work the different stages around the rest of your day (I went to the gym and then came home and dipped them in the chocolate. Dangerous. Tasty).

These are great at a party or to take as a sweet treat to a friend’s place. Have fun!

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Yummmm

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