Biscuits

Almond Christmas Wafers

christmas almond wafers

185g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
250g plain flour, sifted
100g ground almonds

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and almonds and mix to a firm dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until very firm.

Divide dough into 4 portions, roll out one portion 5mm thick and refrigerate the remainder until required. Using biscuit cutters in Christmas shapes cut out the dough (Christmas trees, angels, stars, etc.). Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake on a greased and lined baking tray at 180C for 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden.
Store in an airtight container. Dust some of the shapes with icing sugar before serving.

Layered Mascarpone and Berry Christmas Pudding

Layered Mascarpone and Berry Christmas Pudding

250g mascarpone
3 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons caster sugar
300ml cream
125g amaretti biscuits, crushed
125g hazelnuts, chopped
1 punnet blueberries
2-3 punnets strawberries
Extra blueberries and strawberries for decoration
Toasted slivered almonds for decoration

Almond Christmas Wafers to serve. (Recipe follows)

Process mascarpone with egg yolks and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Whip cream until soft peaks form and fold through the mixture. Carefully wash and dry the beater, then beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold through the mascarpone mixture. Fold in the amaretti crumbs and the hazelnuts.

Wash and hull the strawberries, cut into halves, quarters if they are very large. Wash and dry the blueberries.

Arrange alternating layers of mascarpone and mixed berries in a glass serving bowl, finishing with a layer of the mascarpone. Do this carefully, as the dessert looks spectacular through the glass. Chill well. Decorate the top with a wreath of berries and scattered almonds slivers.

To serve, place on a large serving platter and surround with almond Christmas wafers.

Photo by: Taste.com.au

Bundaberg Rum Balls

Traditional and choc & hazelnut coated Bundaberg rumballs

Bundaberg Rum is a very Queensland spirit and not to everyone’s taste. Dad of course won’t drink any other kind of rum. It’s not even served in a lot of places south of the Queensland boarder. You can always use another rum, but use “Bundy” if you can.

These are very easy and quick to make (no baking required!), make great Christmas gifts and are perfect for when friends drop round during the silly season.

Recipe makes approximately 30-40 balls (depending on size of balls). I usually make double (or triple) quantities, as they go so quickly!

1 packet plain sweet biscuits – similar to Arnott’s Nice
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted to remove lumps
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons Bundaberg rum (more if you like a bit of a kick)

1 cup extra desiccated coconut or 1 block of 80% Cacao chocolate and crushed hazelnuts

Finely crush biscuits in a food processor. Add cocoa powder, desiccated coconut, sweetened condensed milk and rum to crushed biscuits. Combine all ingredients well (you should end up with a stiff mixture). If it is a particularly hot day, or your mixture isn’t quite stiff enough for the balls to hold their shape, put the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before rolling.

Take large teaspoons of mixture and roll into balls using your hands, then roll balls in extra coconut to coat. Alternatively, you can melt chocolate in a double boiler then dip the balls in chocolate and roll in finely chopped hazelnuts.

Place in a single layer on a baking sheet or shallow plastic container and put in freezer. Once frozen, put into a container and keep in the freezer until ready to use.

Shortbread

Shortbread

Everybody loves shortbread, especially at Christmas, and each cook swears by her own recipe. (I’m sorry if that is sexist!) I find shortbread made only with plain flour rather cloying and much prefer it made with the addition of some ground rice or semolina to give it some crunch. Don’t confuse ground rice with rice flour, although you can use rice flour too. Rice flour is quite fine whilst ground rice is more gritty.

250g butter
2 cups plain flour
½ cup semolina or ground rice
1/3 cup caster sugar

Sift the plain flour and add the other dry ingredients. Rub butter into the mixture and knead lightly until they can be transferred onto a floured board and kneaded until smooth.

Alternatively, put the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, chop the cold butter roughly and add to the bowl. Process until the mixture forms a ball around the blade.

Press the mixture evenly into a greased lamington tin (28cm x 18cm), mark with a knife into squares or rectangles for cutting later. Prick the surface of the shortbread with a fork.

Preheat the oven to moderately slow (160C) and bake for 35 –40 minutes. Remove from oven and using a very sharp thin knife, cut right through along the pre-marked lines. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

The shortbread can also be made in an 18cm diameter flan tin with a removable base. Mark into wedges of the desired size and prick with a fork. Alternatively use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes as above!

Orange and passionfruit Yoyos (or melting moments)

These are the sort of delicious biscuits I remember as a child, only more so. (Though probably not as good.)  Serve with tea, or after dinner with coffee. Nobody ever said cheese was compulsory!

150g soft butter, chopped
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
2 teaspoons zested orange rind
200g plain flour
50g rice flour

 Passionfruit butter:

30g soft butter
80g (½ cup) icing sugar
1 tablespoon passionfruit pulp

 Beat butter, sugar and orange rind until light and fluffy. Stir in flours and, using a wooden spoon, mix until combined.

Knead gently on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Roll walnut-size pieces of dough into balls, place on greased baking trays and flatten with the back of a fork.

Bake at 180C for 10 – 15 minutes or until crisp and golden. Stand for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

For passionfruit butter, beat butter until pale and creamy, add half the sugar and beat until well combined. Add passionfruit and remaining sugar and beat until well combined and fluffy.

Spread a small amount of passionfruit butter onto half the biscuits, then top with the remaining biscuits.

Makes about 16.

Cheese Biscuits #1

Cheese biscuits neverendingcookbook

I think a little cheese biscuit with a drink when ones’ guests arrive is a perfect way to begin any party. The Moreton Club has done these tiny biscuits for years and whilst I believe that the recipe is available I do not know anybody who actually has it.

I am enormously proud of this recipe because it is the result of a lot of hard work and much experimentation. I think my recipe is a little better than the Moreton Club’s. Lately it is my most requested recipe, which does say something!

This recipe has the added advantage of having equal quantities of butter, flour and cheese which makes it very easy to remember, and very easy to make in smaller or larger quantities.  When I began experimenting with these biscuits, the flour was all plain flour. Then it became plain flour with a little rice flour added, then plain flour with a little ground rice. Now I make them with equal quantities of plain flour and ground rice. This gives the biscuits a very satisfying crunch.

250g butter
250g imported Parmesan cheese, finely grated
125g plain flour
125g ground rice (or substitute rice flour)
Cayenne pepper

Sift together the plain flour, cayenne pepper and ground rice or rice flour. Cut butter into small cubes and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add sifted flour/s and cayenne and the finely grated Parmesan. Process until the mixture forms a ball around the shaft of the food processor. Remove biscuit dough from food processor and wrap in plastic film. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 120C.

Grease a baking sheet or baking tray with butter and, using hands, roll biscuit dough into balls approximately 1 cm in diameter. Place on the baking tray and press balls with a fork to flatten and decorate.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are lightly coloured. As soon as you can smell the cheese in the biscuits they are almost done.

Cool on a wire rack until completely cold, then store in an airtight container into which some kitchen paper has been placed. If biscuits are not needed for a week or two, seal the airtight container with tape.

To serve, reheat at very low temperature on baking sheet until biscuits are warm but not hot.