Jules apricot and coconut squares

How is it the middle of December already? Things have been super crazy busy in our household… because we bought an apartment, got the keys mid November and have had builders renovating it from top to bottom since then. They are supposed to finish up today … but I don’t think the kitchen is installed yet (horror of horrors…) and we move in next week Thursday… plus a few blimps on our health levels in the last month, has left this poor blog a bit unloved.

But I am back with a recipe for apricot & coconut squares… using up some of my Dr Oetker goodie box items before we move apartments.

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While packing boxes and sorting through old paperwork, I found this recipe handwritten on a small piece of paper within a birthday card from my aunt Jules (something she must have written just before she passed away in 2014) saying that she thought that I would enjoy making it. I had obviously kept the birthday card and recipe with the good intention of making it – but never did and it must have gotten filed away and forgotten until now.

Christmas time has always been a special time to reflect on the year that has passed, remember the good things and try to put all the negative thoughts & memories into the forgiveness box. It is also a time to remember those that have passed away (either in the last year or in the years before), to shed a little tear, say a little prayer and make sure that they are not forgotten.

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So Jules… this one is for you… your hospitality and love for the finer things in life will never be forgotten. Your excessive generosity, love and bigger than life personality make us smile and we try to only remember you for the good years and forget the sad memories.

I added a sachet of Dr Oetker Vanilla sugar to the biscuit/cookie mix and it really added a little something extra! I also used up all the homemade apricot jam that I had made a month or so ago. This is a definite try-again & keep kind of recipe… and super easy

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Apricot and coconut Squares

Biscuit/cookie base:
180g butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon of Dr Oetker baking powder
1 sachet of Dr Oetker Vanilla sugar

1 jar of apricot jam (I used my own homemade version – as little or as much as you like)

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 egg

  • Cream together butter & sugar
  • Add egg and continue to mix
  • Then add flour, vanilla sugar & baking powder & knead together
  • Press into a shallow baking tray (1/4 inch thick)
  • Cover with the apricot jam
  • To make the topping, mix together all the ingredients & sprinkle on top of the jam
  • Bake at 190C for 25min

apricot-and-coconut-squares-2

 

 

Crunchies (Oat Flapjacks)

In South Africa – these biscuits are well known as *Crunchies* but in the UK, most people would refer to them as *Oat Flapjacks*.

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A crispy biscuit made of rolled oats & syrup… cut into squares and moreishly eaten with cups of tea.

(PS – the reason for the radio silence is because we were in South Africa for 2.5 weeks holiday for a friends wedding and family time, then we finalized the purchase of a new apartment and have just recently started the renovation works… along with our 13 month old monkey starting to walk… so busy busy busy!)

These biscuits are super easy to make and HIM gave them a thumbs up (which in his books is HUGE!)

The recipe comes from the Snowflake Book of Baking which Mommabear gifted to me for Easter in 2001… and I am still slowly working my way through baking every item in it! (Subsequently, I hear that the book has been out of print which is quite sad considering how popular it is!)

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Crunchies (Oat Flapjacks)

200g butter
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
15ml golden syrup
160g rolled oats
140g flour
210g caster sugar
80g desiccated coconut

  • melt butter and add bicarb of soda & golden syrup
  • Mix dry ingredients together & combine with melted mixture
  • press into a 20x24cm greased baking tin
  • Bake for 40-45min at 160C
  • Removed from oven, cut into squares while still warm and leave to cool
  • Store in an airtight container (if they last that long)

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White chocolate chip cookies

Just before I was knocked down with a 2nd bout of tonsillitis (don’t even ask – but I was seriously not a happy camper) – I managed to whip up a batch of these delicious white chocolate chip cookies!

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Firstly – I found the recipe in the Olive magazine (July issue) – but theirs called for caramelizing the white chocolate. Now, anyone with a mobile 9month old is not going to be working with hot chocolate for an hour while their Monkey is crawling around their feet … right? So I didn’t do this – but followed the rest of the recipe and they turned out great.

My only negative (and my own fault for not caramelizing the white chocolate) is the cookies looked a bit bland and colourless (even if they tasted great!)

white choc chip cookies 1

Would I make it again? Yes – the recipe is easy and quick – but next time I would use milk chocolate chips OR colourful sprinkles – maybe nuts & cranberries… Hmmm! The opportunities are endless!

White chocolate chip cookies

100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
150g butter, room temperature
150g sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon milk
220g self-raising flour

  • Beat butter & sugar until light & creamy
  • Beat in egg
  • Add vanilla extract & milk
  • Mix the flour in
  • Add chocolate chips & mix in
  • Line & grease a baking tray (or 3)
  • Place a teaspoon ball of dough on the tray (evenly spaced). Don’t worry about flattening out, as they will do this while baking
  • Bake for 10min at 190C
  • Rest for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool

white choc chip cookies 2

Chocolate dipped Rooibos Tea sandwiched biscuits

Is anyone else as addicted to GBBO as I am???

For those who aren’t aware – GBBO stands for “Great British Bake Off” which is a reality show on BBC whereby home bakers get together each week to bake … and get judged on their bakes! The Judges are famous (Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood) and the 2 presenters are full of fun (Mel Perkins & Sue Giedroyc)… and of course… each week, one baker gets sent home!

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Last weeks theme was *BISCUITS* so I thought that it was only applicable that my weekend baking featured exactly that…. Biscuits! I had this recipe in my “got to bake” pile (Olive Magazine, October 2013 issue) – and adapted it by swapping out the Jasmine tea for Rooibos Tea… and only using milk chocolate (not a combination of dark/milk) – otherwise, everything else was the same.

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I used a food processor to whiz all the ingredients up – and a biscuit maker to press out the shapes… so all in all – this was a quick recipe. The time to sandwich each biscuit together, followed by dipping in chocolate and waiting for that to dry took about the same time… but 1hr later.. there was a biscuit tin full!

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Would I make them again? Yes – HIM declared them delicious (and proceeded to eat 5 in a row on Sunday afternoon)… the custard biscuit really does just melt in your mouth, the rooibos tea filling however wasn’t “strong” enough in flavour… really subtle and the chocolate dipped portion made me think of my granny’s biscuits. But delicious they definitely were!

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Chocolate dipped, Rooibos tea sandwiched biscuits

250g butter (softened)
50g icing sugar
250g plain flour
50g custard powder

rooibos tea bag
100g butter
200g icing sugar

100g milk chocolate (melted)

  • Whiz butter, icing sugar, flour & custard powder together in a food processor to create a soft dough
  • Pipe into small rounds or using a biscuit maker like I did, create your shapes
  • Place onto a greased baking tray
  • Bake for 10-15min at 190c (I did 3 trays – which had 20 biscuits per tray)
  • To make the filling – put tea bag into a saucer & add 2 tablespoons of boiling water & leave to steep for 10minutes
  • Cream together 2nd batch of butter with icing sugar and add the tea liquid
  • Sandwich biscuits together using icing (when biscuits are cooled) and then dip into chocolate and leave to set

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Biscuits

My birthday feels like it was ages ago (and it sort of was… as it was in May!) – but I was super lucky to get a whole array of amazing gifts from friends and family members!! With at least 90% of it being food or kitchen related!

One of which, was a biscuit maker from my mom… which I used a short time afterwards and have been meaning to post about for ages… so here it is!

This recipe was adapted from the Snowflake Book of Baking that mom had given me in 2001 (so you see – there are some things that REALLY last :))

Biscuits for a biscuit maker

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250g butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
10ml vanilla essence
350g cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
cherries (for decoration)

biscuits ingredients

  • Cream butter & sugar together
  • add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition
  • Add vanilla essence
  • Sift dry ingredients together
  • Add to creamed mixture
  • Mix well
  • Place dough into the biscuit maker and press onto a greased baking tray (as you can see – I tried loads of different shapes)
  • (you can add a piece of cherry to the centre of each unbaked biscuit/cookie now before the tray goes into the oven)
  • biscuits tray
  • bake for 10min at 180C
  • (I baked in batches – and did 4 trays in total)
  • Cool & store in an air tight container
  • biscuits baked 1

Apricot Jam Biscuits

Last week – I had a fit of nostalgia…. and was craving biscuits that my granny used to make… chocolate coconut biscuits (aka just like Romany Creams), cherry biscuits and of course – her apricot jam squares… but I didn’t have the actual recipe….

After a discussion with Mommabear – she used the google-web to source me a similar type recipe and reminded me – “either use desiccated coconut OR grate the rest of the dough on top!”

Wise words from a wise woman!

My problem was that it was 9pm on a thursday night… and although I had the “craving” – my effort input levels were not that high … which is why an easy biscuit recipe was still do-able!

I adapted the recipe by using 3/4 of the dough for the base (instead of half) and then mixing in a cup of desiccated coconut into the other 1/4 dough to make the topping. The dough however was quite wet – so grating was not an option and I finally resorted to rolling out pieces to place on top of the jam layer! (lazy – I know – especially when I could have just added more flour…)

as nice as these were (and HIM really enjoyed them because they were so sweet due to the jam – and kept refering to it as “cake” :)) – I would probably continue the search for a recipe that reflected what my granny used to make!

Apricot Jam Biscuits

apricot jam biscuits final

2 cups of flour
2 tablespoons sugar
60ml water
1 egg
125g butter (softened)
8ml baking powder
JAM
1 cup desiccated coconut

apricot jam biscuits ingredients apricot jam biscuits ingredients 2

  • Sift baking powder & flour together
  • apricot jam biscuits bowls
  • rub softened butter into mixture to make crumbs
  • apricot jam biscuits dough
  • beat egg & water together & then add to dough mixture
  • Mix until it forms a tight dough
  • Use 3/4 of it – roll out to make the base of your biscuits
  • Spread half a jar of jam across the top
  • apricot jam biscuits pre-oven
  • Mix the rest of the dough with the coconut & crumbly/roll out and place on top of the jam layer
  • Bake at 180C for 20-30min
  • apricot jam biscuits 1

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Home-made Christmas Gifts: Millionaires Shortbread

As I sit in Sunny Cape Town after almost 2weeks of bliss – friends, family and fun (not to mention sea and sky)… I find that I miss my blog and sharing…. so before I start packing for tomorrows trek back to cold Brussels – I wanted to share this post. Xxx

When you can’t find a millionaire or make a million… and you have a really sweet tooth… then consider this biscuit recipe 🙂 which has all the makings of happiness combined in 3 of many people’s favourite foods, namely: chocolate, caramel and shortbread biscuit.

I made these a week before Christmas as part of my *Home-made Christmas Gifts* pack for friends and although it isn’t a particularly difficult recipe, it is somewhat time-consuming – as you really need to wait for the caramel to get to the right colour and consistency on a low heat, then you need to pour it over the freshly baked shortbread (which took 40minutes to bake)… then you need to let it cool for at least an hour before you attempt the melted chocolate part.

Really?

Having said that – it might be time-consuming, but it really is EASY… and super Delicious and makes a great gift, wrapped up carefully and decorated with ribbons!

Millionaires Shortbread Recipe

loving the 3 layers
loving the 3 layers

Shortbread:

  • 175g butter, cubed
  • 250g flour
  • 75g caster sugar

Caramel

  • 397g tin of condense milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of Golden Syrup
  • 100g butter

Chocolate

  • 250-300g chocolate (I used dark)

METHOD:

  1. Sift the flour and add to the Food processor that Mommabear had donated to my cause during my Oct visit to Cape Town
  2. Add sugar and butter and pulse until crumbs have been formed
  3. Press into a base of tin (20cm should work), prick the shortbread lightly and bake for 40-45min at 160C until lightly browned
  4. To make Caramel, place condense milk, butter and golden syrup into a thick bottomed pot and gently melt
  5. Bring to the boil (gently), stirring constantly until the colour darkens and the mixture thickens
  6. Pour over shortbread and leave to cool for approximately 1hour
  7. Melt chocolate over a pan of hot water and once fully melted, pour over the caramel
  8. Leave to set for at least 3hours or overnight and then cut into squares or bars

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Chocolate Apricot squares

I have mentioned it before – but I truly do have a whole bookshelf of the most amazing recipe books… gathered from my mid teens until now, my early thirties, ahum – I mean late twenties 🙂 and I still can’t resist buying more!

It actually meant that I was easy to buy presents for – birthday or Christmas… and in 2000 – Mom gave me the South Africa Quick ‘n’ Easy Cakes & Muffins (biscuits, slices and more) cookbook (sponsored by Moir’s and other South African baking partners).

This particular recipe book has given me endless inspiration and my personal favourite pages are now dog-eared from so much use… favourites include the self-saucing chocolate pudding, apple crumble dessert cake, scones, chocolate cake, lemon crystal cake and chocolate surprise muffins to name a few!

Although the recipe that I have below is really simple and doesn’t use the traditional Moir’s products in it… But it does use Marie biscuits which are now part of the Moir’s offering.

With almost 100years of experience, Moir’s (part of the second biggest food group company in SA – Pioneer Foods) is a name that is synonymous with home baking in South Africa – offering products like baking powder, essences, food colourants, glacé fruit, coconut, bicarb and ready to bake cake mixes… and in 2011 – they added to their portfolio SA’s most loved biscuit names (i.e. Marie, Tea Lovers, Lemon Creams, Choc Krust, etc )

And with 2 gold medals under SA’s belt in the 2012 London Olympics – both by swimming heroes… what better way to end the week than to celebrate with an SA favourite – aka Marie Biscuits in a NO-BAKE treat 🙂

Chocolate Apricot Squares

200g Marie biscuits

100g Butter

1/4 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons Cocoa powder

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

250g chopped dried apricots

  1. chop biscuits with a knife (or place in a strong bag and crush with a rolling-pin)

  1. Gently melt butter, sugar and cocoa powder
  2. remove from heat and cool
  3. Using a wooden spoon, beat in egg and vanilla essence
  4. mix in the biscuit and apricot pieces

  1. spread evenly in a big cake tin, pressing down
  2. refrigerate until firm

Jam slice biscuits

Another favourite of mine – directly out of the Snowflake book of baking (that I have mentioned before) is a whole section on the easy baking items for Children (now, don’t judge me… but my logic is, if a kid can get it right… then I can’t get it wrong… right????)

And looking back… I am pretty damn sure that Mommabear used to make these…

They really are easy.. and tasty and HIM confessed to devouring 4 on his way home the other night… and as far as I am concerned… if he digs them, then they were a success!! I used home-made marmalade jam made by a friend… so they were not so sweet… and HIM agrees that a nice thick, rich and sweet home-made jam (plum, apricot, etc) would make them even more delicious (if that is at all possible :)).

What I didn’t give to HIM, I took into the office… and I swear that a swarm of locusts appeared and scoffed down every crumb!!

Jam Slice Biscuits

125g Butter

100g sugar

1 egg

5ml vanilla essence

280g flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

125ml jam (160g)

  1. Beat butter and sugar together
  2. Add egg and vanilla essence and continue to beat
  3. Sift in dry ingredients and knead
  4. Press half the dough into a 20x24cm greased (or baking parchment at the bottom) pan
  5. Spread over the jam
  6. Grate the rest of the dough over the top
  7. bake at 180C for 20minutes
  8. Cut into squares (makes 20)

    unbaked

Bring on the friendship peanut butter cookies

My wonderful bestie in PE… whom we shall call Kir 🙂 and whom I have been friends with from the moment we saw each other in Std 6 (Grade 8)… along with out 3rd muskateer Shellzie-babes. I reckon it was fate (if I believe in fate)… but from the moment that both Kir and I arrived mid way through the year to a new school, a new city and a new life – Shellzie-babes took one look at us, took us under her wing and treated us with friendship that most people never get to experience.

We are all 30 (and more)… and our friendship has endured for 17years for a few reasons:

  • No matter where in the world we live (and we have all had a turn living abroad by now), coming together is like coming home – that wonderful warm fuzzy feeling that you belong!
  • We have been such good friends for so long, that we are practically sisters… we fight, we bicker, we laugh, we cry and mostly… we hug perfectly! There are no secrets between us – not even the ugly ones!
  • We get together at least once a year – just the three of us. No boyfriends, no husbands and no other friends. Just us. A proper catch up where we can discuss the saddest things we are experiencing or the planning of the most joyous occasions (I am happy to say that I have been blessed by being Bridesmaid at both their weddings)
  • Days, weeks and months can go by – without a word between us and BAM we can pick up exactly where we left off…

I can share food stories with you about these 2 other gals… like the time we made chocolate rice krispie sludge in mugs or the time we noticed smoke coming out of the oven while baking something (I think that I might have casually pointed to the stove and said “is it supposed to do that?”) and of course our chips and dip for girls weekends (particularly those woolies cheese crackers or water biscuits with chicken liver pate)… or shells warm butternut, spinach and feta salad…

And during one skype session with Kir, we were discussing baking biscuits and she kindly sent me this recipe which says is the BEST peanut butter cookie recipe *like* ever! so this is for you *koeks* 🙂

Peanut Butter Cookies:

1 ½  cups flour

1/3 (third) cup soft butter

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup of white sugar

1 egg

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract/essence

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy
  3. Add the egg and beat some more
  4. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and beat some more
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the batter
  6. Mix briefly until the dough comes together
  7. Roll dough into 3cm diameter balls and place onto a lined or greased baking sheet
  8. Press each ball down with a fork
  9. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown
  10. Place onto a wire rack to cool