playing with flour

Category: Cookies

Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies


The weather is absolutely insane here. It was only weeks ago that it was so hot it was hard to do anything strenuous, now its raining so hard areas are flooding, we lost power temporarily and I have to continually mop up our floors as the water seeps in under the windows! It’s the perfect day to read a book, watch a movie or bake cookies. If you’re in need of some inspiration these cookies are a pretty good option.

I started work last week after a thorough orientation meeting some of my super friendly and interesting colleagues. I knew that Monday morning would be highly stressful as I had no idea of how things worked or what the local protocols were (well, that and I feel like all the knowledge I once had has left my brain after a three month holiday!), so I made these cookies as a comfort measure to eat when I was feeling overwhelmed. Turns out they work wonders.

Crumbly and light, they literally melt in your mouth. Add in the chunks of white chocolate they’re a fantastic pick me up with a cup of tea and aren’t overwhelmingly sweet so it’s easy to eat a couple without even thinking about it (which may not be the best thing for the waistline!). Feel free to swap the white chocolate with dark or milk chocolate or even something crunchy like peanuts or smarties, personally though I think the white chocolate pairs really well with the cocoa in the cookies.

Yes I do realize there is a lot of butter in this recipe but I’ve found that decreasing the amount stops the cookies from being as decadent and they don’t have the melting quality that makes them so endearing. Just do what I do and give them away before you eat them all.

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Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

1 3/4 cups plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp cocoa
250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
200g white chocolate, chopped

Preheat your oven to 160º and prepare baking trays. Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl beat the butter until soft, then add the sugar and beat until pale and fully mixed (the longer you beat the light the cookies become – give it at least  2 minutes). Add the cocoa mixture and beat until combined into a soft dough.

Add the white chocolate and stir through. Take tablespoon sized amounts of dough and roll into balls. Place on the baking tray and flatten with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until firm on top. Allow to cool on the tray until they firm up then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



Ginger Crumble Cookies

Tasmania is a beautiful place. Peaceful and quiet, it almost feels isolated. The locals however are friendly and accommodating and I feel like I’ve been living here forever. We’re lucky enough to have a simple place to stay that is right on the beach and only a five minute walk to my placement. We’ve spent the last few days driving around the south of the state, enjoying local fresh produce and stopping at every market and road side stall we came across. I’m honestly not sure I ever want to leave!

The cabin we are staying in is very basic but comfortable, but unfortunately doesn’t have an oven so there hasn’t been a lot in the way of baked goods over the last couple of weeks. I made these cookies before I left so at least I have something to share with you.

Full of ginger flavour, firm on the outside and soft in the middle, these cookies are great for afternoon tea when you need a pick me up. The ginger crumble sprinkled on top gives an extra texture and some added flavour. Next time I think I’ll add chopped macadamia nuts to the crumble also or even some crystallized ginger. It can be hard to tell when these cookies are done, they do puff up while they are cooking and then settle down again. I found once they had settled a bit and we’re golden brown they were perfect.

Thanks again for your patience, I do miss writing here but with very limited internet access it is hard to do. I have been finding inspiration for new treats to try out once I return home though, so I promise to make it up to you!

Ginger Crumble Cookies

2 oz unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp golden syrup
100g brown sugar
1 egg
150g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice

Preheat your oven to 170° and prepare two baking trays with baking paper. In a large bowl mix the butter, sugar, golden syrup and egg. Sift in the remaining ingredients and mix well.

If you find the batter too dry you can add a small amount of water until the batter forms a soft dough. Roll out tablespoons of the dough and place separated on the baking sheet. Press down lightly with your fingertips then sprinkle over some crumble topping.

Crumble Topping

20g unsalted butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1.5 tbsp rolled oats
1.5 tbsp brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together with your fingertips until coarse. Sprinkle over prepared cookies and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread

I have a confession to make: before today I had not tasted Nutella. Shocking I know, but it’s true. Obviously I’ve had chocolate and hazelnuts before, and even had the two together, but not once had I eaten this amazing spread. It is probably a good thing really, I can see myself buying (and eating) a lot more of it. I ate three spoonfuls before even starting these cookies!

Fragrant with hazelnuts and coffee this shortbread melts in your mouth. The rice flour keeps them light and the hazelnut meal gives a strong flavour and interesting texture. You could easily substitute almond meal or even macadamia meal if you like, but I found these cookies went perfectly with a spoonful of Nutella sandwiched between them.

This shortbread is quite easy to make but a little temperamental to work with. I recommend placing the dough in the fridge for a while before shaping into cookies to avoid getting your hands too messy. I cut small shapes out of half of my cookies while they were still warm from the oven although you can try and do this before you bake them but they may be too soft. Also don’t let them cool completely and then try to cut them as they will just crumble.

I think this recipe will quickly become a favourite in this house, not least of all because it gives me an excuse to eat more Nutella!

Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread Cookies

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60g icing sugar
60g hazelnut meal
130g rice flour
1 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tsp hot water
Nutella to fill

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

Sift icing sugar into a bowl and add the butter. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Add the hazelnut meal, flour and coffee and stir until combined. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Roll teaspoon sized balls of the dough and place on baking trays. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass (use a piece of baking paper between the glass and the dough if they stick) and bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden.

If cutting out shapes from your cookies now is the time to do so. Be very gentle and use a toothpick to clean up any edges. Once completely cooled spread Nutella on one cookie and sandwich with another.

Crunchy Choc-Mint Cookies

After all the citrus over the last couple of weeks it was definitely time for some chocolate. I have a complete weakness for anything choc-mint flavoured and these cookies do not disappoint. Crunchy and crumbly with delicious ganache filling it’s hard to stop at one.

The recipe is simple enough but it is time consuming, mostly due to the waiting times for each step to set or cool. If you can spare the time these rich biscuits make for great gifts and the layers of chocolate make quite a heavy treat so you only need a couple per person.

I wanted to take some pictures of dipping the cookies into the melted chocolate, but it was such a messy process I didn’t think they would look too glamorous! I would recommend using simple cookie shapes to help make the dipping process easier and ensuring you have everything set out and ready to go before you start. As you can see I did just drizzle some cookies with chocolate instead of coating them which was much easier, but the overall taste was better when coated in a thick layer.

Chocolate Mint Cookies

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
½ cup rice flour
2 tbsp cocoa


200g mint chip chocolate
1/3 cup thickened cream

Chocolate coating

200g dark chocolate
200g milk chocolate
1 tsp peppermint essence

In a large bowl beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Sift in the flours and cocoa and beat on slow speed until combined. Gather the mixture together and press into 4 small disks. Cover with clingwrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

While you’re waiting make the ganache by finely chopping the mint chocolate and placing in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until almost boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit without stirring for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cream and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cover with clingwrap and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 160° and prepare trays with baking paper. Roll out a disc of dough to 3mm thick and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. I would recommend simple shapes as the dough is pretty fragile (and it will make coating them with chocolate easier). Place on trays and bake for 8-10 minutes or until firm. Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool completely.

When cool, spread ganache on cookies and sandwich together. Pace back in fridge for 15 minutes or until set.

Using a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the dark and milk chocolate and add the peppermint essence. Dip cookies in chocolate and cover completely, scraping off any excess. Allow to set on wire racks.

Keep cookies in an airtight container, preferably in the fridge.

Caramel Almond Biscotti

Nothing goes better with a cup of tea or coffee than biscotti. Meaning ‘twice-baked’, these crunchy Italian biscuits are simple to make and so versatile you can add almost anything to them. Previously I’ve made simple almond and lemon zest, mixed nut, hazelnut and chocolate and double chocolate biscotti. This time I wanted to use up some of a large bag of almonds I recently bought and these delicious caramel chips.

My mum and I found these caramel baking chips in the supermarket recently and they’ve fast become one of my favourite baking ingredients. They’re strong and sweet and don’t lose any of their caramel flavour when baked. If you cant find them regular chocolate chips or even white chocolate chips would substitute well.

This recipe makes for some really light biscotti with an excellent crunch. The almond and caramel pair really well together and make them seem quite decadent. Next time I think I’ll enhance the vanilla a bit more, perhaps using a vanilla bean instead of extract, to make it a bit stronger.

A couple of tips – be very careful handling the biscotti until they have been baked and cooled for the second time, they are really delicate and fall apart easily. Once finished though they’re firm enough to fling around! Also if your dough is really thin and won’t hold its shape at all you can add some more sifted flour but you’ll have to beat it in by hand. If you do, go slowly and add a small amount at a time and ensure it’s completely mixed in.

Caramel Almond Biscotti

110 g whole almonds
130 g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
230 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
110 g caramel baking chips

Preheat oven to 180° and line a baking tray with baking paper. Chop your almonds roughly and set aside.

Place eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until thick, pale and creamy, about 5 minutes or so.

In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the egg mixture and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and ensure it is mixed through. The batter should be thick and creamy and quite sticky.

Fold in the chopped almonds and caramel chips.

You now need to mold a log shape with the dough. I found it quite sticky and hard to work with so I would recommend putting it straight onto your baking paper and using some flour to help move it around. It doesn’t have to look perfect but should be a roughly even shape.

Turn your oven down to 160° and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is quite firm and golden. Ensure it is properly cooked or it will fall apart when cutting through the centre. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Using a serrated bread knife cut the dough on a diagonal angle into slices. It’s up to you how thick you would like them; I went for roughly 1.5cm. Place each biscotti back on the baking tray and bake for approximately 10 minutes on each side or until golden. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Celebration Cookies

It has been an exciting and anxious day today, waiting for results from my final ever university exams and finding out where I will be placed next year as an intern. It’s been a really long road with nine years of university and two degrees, but I can finally say I’ve made it. Officially I don’t get the doctor title until the end of the year but it feels pretty damn good just the same!

I found these cookies on David Lebovitz’s blog and immediately wanted to try them. They make for the perfect cookie to have with a cup of tea or coffee and it’s hard to stop at just one. I made them early this morning, before I’d gotten any of the good news, quietly confident they would be celebration not commiseration cookies.

These cookies use tahini, which is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Make sure you buy 100% ground sesame seeds as some varieties include sugar or other ingredients. The cookies come together really quickly and have a complex sweet taste that allows the sesame seeds and almonds to shine. Next time I’d like to add some praline or similar to give an added crunch but they are lovely just as they are.

Tahini and Almond Cookies

Recipe by David Lebovitz

140 g plain flour
140 g wholemeal flour
70 g almond meal
150 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
150 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons water
200 g tahini paste

Preheat oven to 175º and prepare 2 baking trays with baking paper.

If you have a food processor it’s just a matter of combining all the ingredients except the tahini and water and processing until you get a fine crumb. In my case I used my stand mixer until I got the same result, it wasn’t a problem, it’s just a longer process.

Add the water and the tahini and continue to mix until you get a smooth dough. Knead the dough on the counter a couple of times to bring it all together.

Create small balls of dough and space evenly on the baking trays. Flatten each of them slightly with your fingers.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a baking rack.

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