Archives for posts with tag: biscuits

I read a lot of recipes, everyday on blogs, in the newspaper, magazines, websites. Some recipes cement themselves in my conscious, a bookmark so clear and vivid I have no need for an electronic or paper page marker. Sometimes I think there must be a part of my brain solely charged with storing food information. Like a niggle to not forget a dentist appointment or to pay a bill or return a library book, I have a niggle to not forget about this bread I just read about, or to remember a recipe for olive oil cake while Perrin still has a 20 litre container of his family’s press under his kitchen table.

red wine red wineciambelline al vino

Most recently I read about a biscuit, simple and straightforward enough on paper, five main ingredients, made mostly by hand in one bowl – the ease is appealing. But I only realised this as I made them; they first caught my attention with this summary – biscuits made with wine for dipping in wine! That was all I needed to know.

red reflectionsred wine days

And really, that’s all you need to know too. There is no story here, although I did start a draft post on a rather overwrought, melodramatic note about earthquakes and high winds and rumbling ground and beautiful Italian biscuits for dunking in wine. But in a bid to keep things real, I’ll focus on the biscuits.

swirly doughrolling and pinching dough

They look delicate but are hardy. They can withstand a good dunking and being carted about town in containers. They are sugar crusted and look like doughnuts with dark, caramelised bottoms and just blushed tops. They contain generous sprinkles of fennel seeds adding the sweet-savoury lilt of aniseed. When they bake, and this is my favourite part, the kitchen smells like baking bread, a yeasty, oily focaccia perhaps. Even after they have cooled, a biscuit brought to your mouth will still smell of yeast and grassy olive oil.

Fennel seedsready to bake

These flavours, a seemingly ill-aligned profile of oil and wine and aniseed, are a bit like chilli and chocolate, maple syrup and bacon, avocado and raspberries, that is, they work. In fact these ciambelline could be the most adaptable biscuits you make – we’re thinking they really could be dipped, dunked and spooned into all manner of things. Hot chocolate and black tea for slow days then stiff drinks for later – a sweet sherry, a dry sherry to compliment the savoury, yeasty tones; cointreau for a bit of zest; eaten with rosé at lunch or a hearty red on a dark night. Creams – perhaps lemon syllabub, or soaked prunes mashed into a thin creme fraiche or perhaps eaten on the side of a panna cotta.

There’s no story today – just biscuits with red wine for dunking in red wine – all you need to remember them by.

Ciambelline al Vino
Recipe from Rachel eats

On the original post no measurements are included in recognition of true Italian cooking style – a ‘feel your way/you’ll know when you see it’ approach. I have included measurements but the recipe should be easy enough to halve or double as you like. Equal quantities of sugar, olive oil and wine are key. Next time I might add a smidgeon of grated lemon zest.

1 cup sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup wine – red, white or fortified (I used red)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
flour – I needed close to 5 cups in total
sugar for dusting

In a bowl stir together the sugar, olive oil and wine. Add the salt and fennel seeds then begin to add flour in small measures, mixing at each addition until a soft dough has formed and comes away from the sides.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly for several minutes, adding more flour until the dough is smooth. Cover and rest for at least an hour. Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with paper.

Break off walnut size pieces and roll between your hands or on the bench until a slim log forms – about 8-10cm. Wrap the ends around to meet and pinch together. If the dough gets too oily, rub your hands with flour. Pour a bit of sugar in a small bowl and place the ciambelline in the sugar until lightly covered. Place the biscuits on the oven tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy


At the start of June I happened to flick over to the Kitchen Maid for a blog reading fix (her blog posts are short and sweet, ideal for a quick hit), when I saw the special ingredient for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge: coffee. Oh lordy may, I thought, chocolate and coffee, my two favourite things.

When it’s been a long day, or I feel the start of caffeine withdrawal shakes coming on, I buy a coffee and a Santé bar; I take my coffee black and my chocolate near abouts. I use the chocolate like a spoon, swirling it through the coffee, then licking the melted coffee-chocolate, feeling the rose creep back into my cheeks. It’s a dangerous way to live.

Then, just last weekend, I happened to be flicking through Julie Le Clerc’s Simple Café Food, looking for something else entirely, when I saw a recipe for Turkish Velvet Biscuits, with the sub-title “coffee, coffee and more coffee”. Oh lordy may, I thought, here we go!

These biscuits fill the kitchen with the scent of coffee. Take a pinch of the mixture and there is sweetness and a bit of spice, and then, the deep bitter flavour of coffee hits you. Despite using ground coffee in the dough, and then being rolled in ground coffee and sugar before baking, the texture is quite lovely. Yes, there is a bit of a grainy quality, but in the best possible sense. The coffee sugar creates a crisp outside with a sort of airy softness in the middle.

These biscuits fall in the same camp as biscotti for me. They aren’t overly sweet, ideally served with coffee (funny, that), and would even be nice with a coffee flavoured or cream based liqueur. I’m thinking they would be an excellent match for coffee, chocolate, or perhaps maple ice cream.

Turkish Velvet Biscuits
Barely adapted from Julie Le Clerc’s recipe

The chocolate here may seem like a bit of an after-thought, but the coffee is the shining star. I think you could possibly switch out the measure of ground coffee in the mix for an equal measure of cocoa for more of a mocha flavour.

2 tablespoons finely ground coffee
1/2 cup caster sugar
150 grams butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup finely ground coffee
1 egg
1 tablespoon strong espresso
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
50 grams dark chocolate
small knob of butter

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray.
In a small bowl mix the first measure of ground coffee with the first measure of sugar and set aside.
In a bowl cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in the second measure of ground coffee, egg, espresso, all spice and baking soda. Stir through the flour until just incorporated.
Form into walnut sized balls and then roll through the coffee-sugar and place biscuits on baking tray.
Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

In a microwave proof bowl melt the chocolate with the butter. Once the biscuits have cooled, drizzle chocolate over biscuits.

Makes 20-30 biscuits depending on size.

My walk to university each morning takes me through Lambton Quay, Willis street, Manners Street and Cuba Street, the trunk line of Wellington. Lambton Quay at 8am is full of dark suits and high heels clipping on the brick paving. Men and women wrap their hands around take-away coffee cups, heads down, off to work. But on Cuba Street everything looks different. The sun is beginning to hit the top of the buildings at this time of the morning and the street is a patchwork of sun and shadow. On Cuba Street people drink their coffee indoors, some might even call this brunch.

I notice the people first of all. I smiled to myself when I saw the man who looked like he had stepped off the set of a Beatles video; he was bearded and had a certain swagger about him. He was eating a cupcake with mint blue coloured frosting which was falling through his beard. There was a man twirling and waxing his dreadlocks on a park bench. There is the sad looking woman who I imagined was beautiful at a point in her life, before whatever demons she now has took hold. The colourful hippies set up shop on a blanket selling their crochet hats and knotted bracelets. There are buskers – people are literally singing and dancing in the street. You might see men drinking flat whites from beer handles, or the American card trick guy, his black top hat visible above the heads of school girls gathered around him, or the woman who is dressed every day from head to toe in army camouflage.

I pass by the bucket fountain with its splish-splosh inelegance and clunky lack of grace. I walk past Matterhorn; the black sandwich board outside with a chalk drawing of a steaming coffee and an open packet of cigarettes appears a false representation of the top notch food served inside. Further up is Olive and Midnight Espresso. Then Logan Brown with its bright red door and Floriditas with their drooping lights and swirly wall paper: beacons of the Wellington culinary scene.

I look at the buildings now too. They took a while to notice, not because they aren’t beautiful – I think these buildings are some of the most beautiful in Wellington – but because we never seem to look up while we walk. So, look up, I tell you. I see a vast array of colours, the intricate details and a mix of past and present.

Near the top of Cuba street I look for the changing spaces. The new grafitti art, the new posters and footpath stickers. I watch every day as one shop begins to close down and a new gallery is built. Day by day I have seen this gallery space become whole – last week the floor tiles were unveiled and the walls are now a clean white.

As Cuba Street ends there is the Kreuzberg summer café. Their menu is titled Good Things and they sometimes have $5 Pimm’s cup during happy hour. I like that. The road here, for a long time, was artfully decorated in white paint splatters. Shooting drops radiated from a large splodge of paint. A paint can or bucket must have dropped from the construction site above. I would have like to have seen that.

Around the corner on Hopper street is the Supreme Coffee Factory. This is where my walk gets really good, for the air is filled with the most incredible scent. If the wind is right and its suitably early, the smell of roasting coffee beans drifts around you. It smells of melting chocolate, bitter coffee, burnt toast, baking biscuits and maybe a little bit of burning rubber. It smells hot and bittersweet and slightly acrid. I love it, it’s the high point of my walk, this smell.

During these autumn days, in the morning when the sun is low, I want to sit on the concrete wall by the Supreme Factory, near the electrician’s shop, the council flats and the abandoned bathroom showroom. I would sit there, not worrying about being late for class, because in this part of town, punctuality doesn’t matter. I would unwrap those biscuits you see up there. They have the air of an ANZAC biscuit, but with the heat of ginger and the sticky sweetness of dates and sultanas. They match the smell in the air, although, they would be equally well matched with a proper coffee, in a proper cup. But, hey we are near Cuba street, things are different here.

I’ve never been much of a biscuit person. My father makes a darn tasty chocolate oat cookie. Two batches are never the same but that is part of their charm. I like the idea of a biscuit – a single entity, everything you need, and everything that is good, in one spoonful of dough. And yet, I prefer cake, something which can be eaten with a fork and yoghurt or cream. Cake feels like more of an event.

But here are those biscuits. They have a bit of chew, a bit of crisp. It may seem like a lot is going on in these biscuits. But then, like Cuba Street, they just seem to work and to win your over with their slight eccentricities. They may very well become my biscuit of choice.

Date and Ginger ANZAC Biscuits

150 grams butter, softened
200 grams soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 1/4 cups flour
6-8 dates
25 grams sultanas
1 tablespoon golden syrup
4 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds/slivered almonds (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 180°. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add ground ginger and beat for 2 minutes more. Add oats, coconut and flour. Mix through – it may be easier to use your hands at this point. Roughly chop the dried fruit. Place in a small saucepan with the warm water and golden syrup. Heat, stirring occasionally until just bubbling. Remove from heat and add the baking soda. Stir. Pour the hot fluffy mixture into the biscuit dough and mix well.

Spoon dough into walnut sized balls and place a suitable distance apart. Flatten ever so slightly with a wet fork. In the grooves from the fork sprinkle a pinch of sunflower seeds/slivered almonds/pumpkin seeds or a mixture of them all. Place in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes or until nicely golden. Remove from ovena dn allow the biscuits to cool for 5 minutes on the baking tray before moving to a cooling rack. They will feel quite soft but they crisp up as they cool.

Enjoy with coffee, in whatever form you take it, or tea. Or any other beverage!

When my sister first moved to Central Otago to begin her summer working on Felton Road vineyard she had no idea what to expect, and neither did we. We were not familiar with the environment: we did not know the roads she would be driving, or the house she would be living in, or the spectacular scenery she would be surrounded by at the vineyard. From Wellington we could only remind her to wear sunscreen and make sure she was eating something other than toast.

Georgie made these biscuits during her first few weeks of work to take to the vineyard and share with the other workers. I thought it was a good sign she was baking for other people rather than to comfort herself in moments of anxious self doubt and homesickness with half a dozen biscuits.

Last week Georgie was home and my family spent the week cooking and eating and drinking together. It was a good week. Georgie and I made Baci di dama on Monday evening while Mum cooked a piece of aged sirloin (aged sirloin on a Monday night!!). We drank bubbles, ate cheese and Dad conducted a little wine tasting. These biscuits are very easy to make and I imagine they would be more so without all the distractions of wine tasting and bubbly drinking and cheese eating.

Baci di dama means lady kisses in Italian. Eating these biscuits, though, I would liken them more to a tenderly spiky kiss from a softly bearded gentlemen. They are not the sort of satin pillow softness of, say, a mother’s kiss, but they do have a delicate crumb and crunch to them. Ground almond adds a more interesting note than a normal yo-yo biscuit, the sort made with mostly butter and icing sugar.

When you make these biscuits, wherever you are in the world, whoever you are with, bearded gentlemen or little ladies, know that they will be enjoyed by all.

Baci di Dama
These biscuits can be sandwiched together with chocolate or Nutella. I think an almond butter cream could be nice also.

100grams butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup flour

Chocolate filling:
100grams chocolate
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.
Stir in the flour and ground almonds until a stiff dough. (Initially the mixture might look like bread crumbs, just keep working it quickly until smooth).
Form walnut sized balls and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool and thicken. Once biscuits and chocolate have cooled, sandwich biscuits together with chocolate mix, or filling of your choice.

Thank you for the photos and recipe Georgie, x.