Candy Cane Cut-Out Cookies

It was time for a post festive season clear out of the snack-shelf* and I came across the remnants of the candy canes. A little the worse for wear and held in shape only by their cellophane wrapping.
Most normal people would have just dumped them in the bin, but I’ve never in my life claimed to be normal so it was into the kitchen they came to be used in ….. something…. The something turned out to be cookies, not your ordinary cookies, but cut out cookies of course!

I have a nifty little cutter that cuts holes in the centre of your cookie shape, but if you dont have one all you need is one large ( 4-5 cm) and one small (2-3cm), which will do the job perfectly.

This is a great bake to do with small people it’s a lot of fun with tasty and good looking results. We got a little carried away ( I know, you’re stunned) and decided to colour our dough as well, this is not strictly necessary, but it is really pretty πŸ™‚

If you don’t happen to have any candy canes kicking about in your kitchen then any kind of boiled sweet or hard candy will be fine.

This recipe should yield between 20-30 biscuits
*it started out as small persons snack box, but has gradually grown and taken over a whole pantry shelf. Oops.

Candy Cane Cut-Out Cookies

225g Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
150g Butter
75g Sugar
25g Icing Sugar
1 beaten Egg
5 Candy Canes ( or a handful of boiled sweets )

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Cube the butter and rub into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and stir in then sift the icing sugar and mix well. Mix to a stiff dough with the beaten egg then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed well.

The next step is optional πŸ™‚

Split the dough into 3 roughly equal parts and add a few drops of food colouring to each part and kneed until you get an even colour. ( it’s advisable to wear some gloves at this point unless you want technicolour hands for the rest of the day.

Place the dough into plastic bags and chill for at least 30 minutes.
roll out dough
Roll out your dough to between 1/4 and 1/2 cm thickness, cut your shapes and place onto greaseproof paper (VERY important not to bake them directly on the baking tray /cookie sheet).
place cookies on paper
Take your candy canes or boiled sweets and smash into small pieces, place a small piece of candy into the hole of each cookie.
place sweets in centreNow… you can of course reuse the ‘middle bits’ and re roll, or… you could place them along side and have lots of very cute tiny biscuits too πŸ™‚
Place in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees and bake for between 10 and 15 minutes. Take them out as the cookie begins to brown and the candy is a bubbling liquid.
take out of oven
Leave then on the tray for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack as this will allow time for the candy to solidify.
cool on paper first
Once completely cooled store in an airtight container, or just eat them straight away!!

yummy cookies

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Pain au Pud

I’ve been mulling this recipe over for a long time and imagining how yummy it would be, but as of a few days ago I’ve never made it. There is a very good reason for this. The reason is that the recipe requires 3 slightly stale pain au chocolate, and they have never existed in our house. Of course one or two* pain au chocolat have crossed the threshold but they have never survived long enough to become even a tiny bit stale, a lifespan of less than 5 minutes is more usual.

Now as it happened I was looking after the small person of a friend for an afternoon last week and when she came to pick him up she brought, as a thank you, an enormous box of pain au chocolat for us to consume during our collection time coffee. Now with the best will in the world ( in addition to the fact I’d spent most of the afternoon feeding the children on freshly made biscuits and cakes ) there was not much of a dent in box when she left. And so it transpired that even after a few days there were a few pastries left lingering in the cupboard. It was time.
.
*probably a few more than that.

Pain au chocolat pudding

3 pain au chocolat
200 ml milk
3 eggs
75g vanilla sugar

Slice the pain au chocolat thinly (1/2cm slices) and arrange in an ovenproof dish.

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Put milk into a bowl ( probably a slightly larger one than I used…) and whisk in 3 eggs. Stir in the sugar till well mixed.

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Pour over the slices of pain au chocolat and allow to soak until the slices are soggy.
With traditional bread and butter pudding you have to soak the slices for a little longer, but as the pastry is a lot less dense than bread the soaking time is significantly shorter. About the same time as it should take to pre- heat your oven to 175 degrees should be perfect.

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Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the ‘custard’ begins to set then remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes then make a cut right down the centre of the pudding. I know this sounds a little peculiar, but trust me on this. It will made your pudding rise beautifully, and stay risen!

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Return your pudding to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, until it is well risen and the ‘custard’ is set.

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Rest for a few minutes before cutting, then serve warm with a big dollop of double cream or creme fraiche. If by any chance there is any left over, it also tastes great cold.

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Everything pickle

It all started with an aubergine. You see I absolutely hate throwing anything away, and the leftover aubergine was about a day away from the compost heap and was calling out to me every time I walked in the kitchen. What with that and the plaintive calls of the half parsnip, going to the kitchen was becoming quite a noisy affair. I knew that I would be out with friends for the whole of the next day so there was going to be little opportunity muck about in the kitchen so the moment was seized and I decided to cook.

What I was going to cook was still slightly up in the air so it was time to see what else needed using up. As it turns out there was rather a lot, and when presented together there was really only one answer.

Cheeky Chunky Chili Chutney

1 Aubergine
3 Carrots
2 Onions
1 Fennel
1/2 a large Parsnip
2 Tomatoes
6 Baby corn
2 tsp of chopped fresh Chillies
1 heaped tsp of wholegrain Mustard
300 ml of brown Vinegar
200 ml of white Vinegar
50 ml of cider Vinegar
100 ml of Red Wine
50 ml of ginger syrup
300 g of brown Sugar
Cold Water.

Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients, and in particular the vinegar varieties. As I said I was using up odds and ends of stuff so as long as the volume of vinegar remains the same as the total in the recipe it really doesn’t matter what type you use. And if you need the recipe for ginger syrup you will find it on the chrystallised ginger post πŸ™‚

Anyway….

Roughly chop all the veg, not too small this is a chunky chutney, and place in a large heavy bottomed pan.

Add the chillies and mustard, then pour in all the vinegars, red wine and ginger syrup.

If the liquid doesn’t cover all the ingredients, top up with cold water and stir well.

Turn on the heat and bring to the boil stirring all the time.

Once the chutney is just boiling add the brown sugar and stir till completely dissolved.

Turn down the heat to a good simmer and walk away, put you feet up, watch a bit of Telly.

The chutney needs to sit and simmer for about 2 hours with the occasional stir to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

After a couple of hours the liquid should be a rich glossy dark brown, thick and sticky. Now is the perfect time to pot. Fill washed and sterilised jars to the top and screw the lid on tight.

 

Now you can eat this the following day ( which is just as well as a jar of it ended up at my friends barbecue the following evening ), and it has a really nice taste and a cheeky little bit of spice to it, but I’ve got a feeling that by around Christmas time, it will be sensational. I am trying to ignore the two pots left in my cupboard. It’s really not that easy you know.

A BientΓ΄t

There will be pictures added to this post as soon as a small technical issue* has been rectified.

*The technical issue being that I’ve put them somewhere and I can’t seem to find them….