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Eat your veg in a cookie

Eat your veg in a cookie

Merry Christmas!!! Wishing you a lovely time celebrating …and eating!

Christmas would not be complete without the scent of cookies baking. Last year we made Zimtsterne, but this year I thought we would combine the old tradition of baking Christmas cookies with the new one of having a ‘Vegetable of the Week’. As this week’s veg is carrot, we present: Carrot Oat Cookies.

I cannot really say that I made these cookies, as about ten hands – large and small – contributed to creating mixing and rolling these. But the verdict is unanimous: we will not be waiting for Christmas to make these again.

The only change will be making is using less sugar (the original recipe asks for 6 tbs of each of the sugars, 4 should be enough). Also this time round we only had all-purpose flour. Although the cookies tasted fabulous we will use whole-wheat flour next time.

Ingredients
(altered only slightly from the blog ‘Marcus Samuelsson’)

Makes about 20 cookies

90g (3/4 cup) whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder (or ½ tsp of baking soda)
3/4 tsp coarse salt
113g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
4 (to 6) tbsp superfine sugar
4 (to 6) tbsp light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
90g (1 cup) rolled oats (NL: havermout)*
130g (1 cup) grated carrot, from about 1 large to 4 small carrots

Recipe

  1. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the butter and sugar using a mixed. Beat on medium-high for a few minutes until the mixture is fluffy.
  3. Add egg and vanilla. Mix together on a low speed until all is well combined.
  4. Clean and grate the carrot.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter.
  6. Add carrot and oats. Mix on a low speed to combine.
  7. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15-60 min.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180C (375F).
  9. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. (Yes, you do need two sheets as the dough spreads during baking.)
  10. With cold, wet hands roll balls out of a tablespoon of the mixture at a time. Press lightly between your palms to create small disks.
  11. Bake for 10-12 min until golden.
  12. Allow to cool on a rack.


Tip & Variations

  • If you only have regular oats very briefly whizz them in a food processor or coffee grinder.
  • The original recipe adds chocolate chips

For the health benefits of carrots look here.

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A heavenly match: fragrant orange and dark chocolate

A heavenly match: fragrant orange and dark chocolate

I just love giving presents;  thinking up a little something that will put a smile on someone’s face.

I have no idea what triggered this gift, but all of a sudden I thought back to my childhood Christmases: I seem to remember that every year someone in our family was given candied orange peel from this one particular confectionary. But people move cities, habits change. It has been a long time since one of these little cellophane packages sat under our Christmas tree.

So I decided to make some candied orange peel as a gift for my father.  I think I only failed in one respect:  everyone (even the little ones) liked them so much that by now there is not much left for him to enjoy.

These are easy to prepare and taste fabulous – so do not wait until Christmas before making these as a gift for someone you care for.

Ingredients
(found on the blog ‘Whisks and Whimsy’ adapted from ‘Smitten Kitchen’)

4 organic oranges
water for blanching
230ml (8 oz) of water
225g (8 oz) of sugar
100g dark chocolate (I used the 70% Green & Black’s Organic chocolate)


Recipe

  1. Bring two pots of water to the boil.
  2. Slice the top and bottom off the oranges. Score them from top to bottom and then peel each orange in one large piece (if you can manage). Slice the peel into strips.
  3. Place the peels into the first pot. Blanch for 3 minutes. Tip into a colander and rinse with cold water.
  4. Repeat the process blanching them for another 3 minutes in the second pot. (Blanching them twice removes the bitterness from the peel.)
  5. At the same time combine the water and sugar. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add peels to the syrup. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Stir once in a while to ensure the peels are submerged.
  7. Once cooked drain the peels and lay them out on a sheet of baking paper (or rack) to cool and dry.
  8. Melt the chocolate au bain marie. (If possible use a narrow deep cup for the melted chocolate. It’s not necessary, but makes dipping the orange a little more easy.)
  9. Dip each orange peel 2/3 into the chocolate. Then place on the parchment to cool. ( I left them out for 24 hours.)
  10. Once the peel has dried store in an airtight container.

Tips & Variations

  • Instead of or before dipping the orange in chocolate, the peel can be tossed in 250g (1 cup) of sugar.
  • These peels still look a little rustic. If you are looking for a more polished result temper your chocolate (this will keep the chocolate shiny and with less “feet”.)
Zimtsterne - traditional German cookies for the holiday season

Zimtsterne – traditional German cookies for the holiday season

Christmas is a time of traditions and our family holiday would not be complete without plates piled high with cookies. We also have the tradition of dedicating one day to a “project”. This year we combined the two traditions: I pulled out the baking book, that still has my grandmothers bookmarks in it, and set to baking together with my little nieces.  These cinnamon stars were a great hit – especially with the youngest. They are wonderfully chewy and soft with a lovely almond and cinnamon flavour.

I have to be honest though: I took me two attempts to get the icing right. I had to learn the hard way that you should whisk icing as briefly as possible. If you beat it too much, it dries all foamy and brittle.

The cookies are very quick to make. Only icing them costs a little time. But although it is not quite traditional they also taste good without any icing.

Ingredients
(recipe from ‘Das grosse Dr. Oetker Backbuch’)

3 egg white
250g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
275-335g ground almonds (not the white kind, but ground with skin on)

Recipe
1. Whisk the egg whites until just stiff. Sift and add the icing sugar. Reserve 1/3 of the icing.
2. Mix the remaining egg whites with the vanilla sugar and cinnamon.
3. Make a dough by adding the almond meal; start with about half of the almonds and add just enough until the dough is hardly sticky.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 130C.
5. Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and flatten using your hands until it is about 1/2 cm thick. Use a rolling pin to even the surface.
6. Cut out cookies using a star shaped cookie cutter.
7. Brush each cookie with icing.
8. Bake for about 8-15 minutes. Keep an eye on the cookies as the icing should not brown.
9. Store them in a cardboard box.

Tips & Variations
• Should the icing be too thick to spread easily, water can be added
• You could replace some of the ground almonds with hazelnut

This year the fourth generation cooked from this recipe book that used to belong to my grandmother'

This year the fourth generation cooked from this recipe book that used to belong to my grandmother’

A muffin that is rich in spice and light in ingredients

A muffin that is rich in spice and light in ingredients

In the words of Bing Cosby & others: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

This weekend I brought my Christmas tree home and decorate it – this year it is glistening in cold sliver and pure white – beautiful!

As a little reward for lugging the tree, I made myself a treat: apple muffins -fluffy, moist and tasting of Christmas.

Ok, carrying the tree up a few stairs really was not that much work, but then these muffins are effortless and rather healthy so …. a perfect treat for a lazy Saturday…

…and a quiet Sunday…

….and on a wintery….eh monday.. (they seemed even moister the second day, but I did not have enough to test anything more than that)

Ingredients
(from the blog ‘Texanerin‘)
Serves: 6-10 muffins


130g (1 cup) whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice (DE, NL: Piment – you can grind the berries in a coffe grinder)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda

90ml (1/4 cup) mild olive oil
70ml (100g, 1/3 cup) honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
60ml (1/4 cup) buttermilk (see tip for alternatives)
about 1 (180g / 1 cup) apple

1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

 

Recipe

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175C. Place 6-10 liners into a muffin tin.
  2. Mix the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together oil, honey, vanilla and egg. When it is has combined
  4. Add buttermilk.
  5. Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Mix carefully and quickly; do not overwork.
  6. Peel the apple and cut into small cubes.
  7. Fold the apple into the batter.
  8. Fill liners with batter.
  9. Combine sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the muffins.
  10. Bake until done (until a skewer comes out clean). Around 15-25 minutes.

Tips & Variations

  • I have not tried it, but spelt flour might work instead of whole wheat
  • If you do not have buttermilk: mix 60ml milk with 1/2 tbsp (apple) vinegar or lemon juice and allow to sit for 5 minutes – the original recipe also suggests (vanilla) yoghurt as an alternative