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Tag Archives: biscuits

Cooking with Tea – Spicy Black Tea Cookies

A few months ago I happily reviewed two tea flavours from the Tea India range which had recently launched in the UK. And, just quietly, my period of drinking Vanilla Chai hasn’t stopped; I still love it.

The gorgeous award-winning chef Ravinder Bhogal is now working with Tea India, creating exclusive recipes using their wonderful premium tea blends and I’ve been given a sneak peek of some of them! Keep reading after the recipe to find out how you can get free tea from Tea India as well as all of Ravinder’s recipes.

Tea India, Ravinder BhogalI have to say that using tea for something other than a cuppa intrigues me. I once tried smoking steaks with lapsang souchong tea leaves (which already have a very strong smoky aroma); the steaks picked up very little extra flavour, but the house smelt like we’d had an indoor barbecue for several days!

Now I can say I’ve been successful in cooking with tea thanks to Ravinder’s recipes. Her spicy black tea cookies are a very interesting take on the humble oatmeal cookie. While I don’t think anyone would guess the ‘secret’ ingredient of black tea, its addition, together with some other more common spices, gives the cookies a lovely and very rich warm spice. I’m nibbling on one as I type πŸ˜‰

When I made them I was in a hurry when shaping the logs (Nicholas woke up early from his nap) and so made them much wider than the recipe. This meant the log was more difficult to slice cleanly later (I had to squish some broken off pieces of dough back into the cookie shapes). Even so, I ended up with 15 cookies, cutting the slices about 2cm thick, so Ravinder must be cutting her cookies quite thickly. Maybe slice a couple of different thicknesses to see which you prefer, or just leave it up to your kids to decide if they’re helping you make them.

Ravinder suggests eating the cookies warm (who doesn’t like a cookie almost straight from the oven?); they’re just as moreish and yummy cold.

SPICY BLACK TEA COOKIES

Prep time: 12-14 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 12-15 biscuits
They will keep in an airtight container for up to four days

2 Tea India black tea bags (leaves only)
125g butter, softened
100g soft brown sugar
70g self-raising flour
120g oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) and line two baking trays with baking paper.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and soft brown sugar.

Add the oats, flour, tea leaves and spices, and mix until well combined.

Roll the cookie dough into a log shape approximately 5cm in diameter. Wrap in cling film and chill for 5 minutes.

To bake, remove from the fridge, unwrap and slice into 12 even sized pieces. Place on the prepared trays.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are just golden brown.

Allow to cool on the baking trays before serving warm.

Tea India Range

Tea India has a Facebook promotion (until 3 June 2013, so be quick!),Β You & I and a Cup of Chai, where it’s giving you the chance to share a free selection of its finest Tea India blends with your friends and family. Find out more here.

Tea India will be releasing Ravinder’s recipes on their Facebook page over the next few months, including mouth-watering Cardamom Kisses using their Cardamon Chai tea. I’m lucky to be able to try these very soon, but you’re just going to have to keep checking back πŸ˜‰

Disclosure: I was sent two boxes of tea to sample and cook with. My opinions are honest and my own.

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Sugar-free Anzac biscuits

Tomorrow (25th of April) is ANZAC Day. The word ‘ANZAC’ (an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) was coined during WW1 to refer to the Aussie and Kiwi troops in Egypt. More than 10,000 of them lost their lives during the campaign to capture Gallipoli in Turkey, which saw them landing on the penisula on the 25th of April 1915. Now ANZAC Day not only remembers these WW1 soldiers but all the Australian and New Zealand men and women who have served and died in wars.

Anzac biscuits came about supposedly when the soldiers’ loved ones wanted to send them something nutritious from home. They had to send something that could withstand a couple of months travel without refrigeration and use ingredients that were readily available during the war. The traditional Anzac biscuit of rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water was born.

sugar-free Anzac biscuits

If you would like to make the traditional Anzac biscuit there are many recipes online, including this one on the ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee website and also here (with a choice of crisp or chewy biscuits).

I experimented to make a sugar-free, more toddler-friendly version. Instead of the sugar and golden syrup (or treacle in some recipes), I used honey and applesauce (unsweetened pureed apple). The texture with these two substitutions produces a biscuit with a soft chewy centre, but you can make them less chewy by flattening out the biscuits as much as possible before cooking them.

They went down very well with Nicholas (he’s had them as snacks and also for breakfast, and they survive dunking in milk very well). Hubby, who usually doesn’t like my sugar-free experiments, has happily eaten them without complaint, while I’ve also scoffed a few feeling a lot less guilty than if they were packed with sugar.

This would be a great recipe to try making with your munchkins, but because of the honey it’s advised not to give these biscuits to little ones under 12 months old. It’s also a recipe that’s easy to halve if you don’t want to make so many biscuits.

SUGAR-FREE ANZAC BISCUITS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes about 30 biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
125g butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup applesauce / apple puree
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 160C and line two oven trays with baking paper.

Gently melt the butter with the honey either in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Let cool.

Combine the rolled oats, plain flour and coconut.

Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the boiling water and add it to the cooled butter mixture.

Stir the butter and bicarbonate of soda mixture into the dry ingredients, add the applesauce or puree and mix until combined.

Place teaspoonfuls of the mixture (it’s normal that it’s quite runny) onto your prepared trays and flattened the mixture out (the thicker the biscuit the softer and more chewier the centre will be). Unlike traditional Anzac biscuits, these won’t spread any more during cooking.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove carefully from the trays (they’ll still be quite soft) to cool on a wire rack.

Other uses:

  • Use the biscuits as the base for individual unbaked cheesecakes: place a whole biscuit in the bottom of a muffin tin (lined with a paper case to get it out more easily), top with your preferred cheesecake mix and refrigerate.
  • Use broken up biscuits as a crumble topping for cooked fruit.

I’m linking this recipe to the AlphaBakes monthly challenge (this month it’s the letter ‘A’) jointly hosted by Ros from The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline from Caroline Makes.
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Scary finger biscuits

The countdown is on for Halloween, and one of my oldest and dearest friends, Kath, made these fabulously spooky fingers with her son. Are you brave enough to try them?

There are quite a few pins of severed finger biscuits floating around on Pinterest, but I loved that Kath’s version look like zombie fingers that have clawed their way out of the ground! The spooky effect is easily achieved by dying flaked almonds for the fingernails and dusting the cooked biscuits with some cocoa powder β€˜dirt’. Kath also added some spots of green food colouring for a mouldy effect!

Kath used a simple plain biscuit recipe from Martha Stewart. The recipe makes a lot, but you can freeze the leftover dough for up to three months and make some different biscuits another time.

SCARY FINGERS

Prep time: 20 mins, plus 20 mins for dough to chill
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes about 30 fingers

2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Flaked almonds
Black food colouring (or red and blue food colouring mixed together)
Cocoa powder for dusting

Colour almonds by putting them in a bowl and covering with food colouring, leaving them to soak until they become black. Dry on paper towel.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

In a food processor, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and then on a low setting, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until combined.

Take the dough out of the food processor and press it together. Divide it in two, wrap each piece in cling film (or place in a ziploc bag) and freeze until firm (about 20 mins).

Preheat oven to 160C and line oven trays with baking paper.

Take one piece of dough from the freezer and shape it into fingers by rolling pieces to about 8-10cm in length (if the dough is too hard, let it stand for 5-10 mins to soften a little).

Squeeze one end of each biscuit to form the finger tip and again near the centre to form the knuckle. Use the back of a knife to lightly score around the knuckles. Press a coloured almond flake into each finger tip to create the nail. Repeat with the other piece of dough or leave it frozen for another day.

Place the fingers on the oven trays and bake for 10-15 mins.

Let cool and lightly dust with cocoa powder.

Variations:

  • Use whole unblanched almonds for fingernails without colouring them, or whole blanched almonds painted with food colouring.
  • Dab red jam on the end of each biscuit for freshly severed fingers.
  • Colour the biscuit dough with food colouring to make monster fingers.