Strawberry shortbread

Lovey strawberries, anyone?

It has always been either orange or lemon shortbread. Since I was toying with the idea of sending some sweet hearts over to France for Valentine’s Day, I decided to try my hand at using some strawberries instead for that sweet, nearly pink touch.

I changed the recipe to accomodate 1) the extra fluids from the finely diced and mashed strawberries; 2) the use of a different type of flour and finally 3) the absence of regular granulated sugar. I suppose you could say that this shortbread come about with the use of whatever I had at hand.

Strawberry shortbread
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/4 cup of superfine flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup corn flour
pinch of salt
5 small strawberries (half mashed, half finely diced)
Flour for sprinkling

What to do:

  1. Sift flours and salt.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and smooth. Add in mashed and finely diced strawberries together with sifted flour. Mix all until just blended.
  3. Refrigerate until firm (about half an hour).
  4. Cut and roll dough into desired shapes. Bake at 180 C until edges are very light gold (approximately 15 to 20 mins).

The outcome was pretty fine – nothing overpowering and tinged with some sprinkle of red here and there. The dough was hardly pink and it is good to keep it that way. Too pink and you lose the added touch that comes from the diced strawberries peaking out from the surface. Taste-wise, it was very buttery, crumbly and chewy – it has to be the strawberries!

Now the question is this: do I still want to decorate them with thin slivers of pinkish icing?

Starry starry strawberries...

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(Nutmeg) Ginger cookies snaps

(Nutmeg) Ginger goodness!

Initially I was thinking of making ginger snaps for Chinese New Year but somewhere, somehow along the way, I ended up with dough that was too soft to be rolled out and cut into shapes. After analyzing the recipe, I realised that I was making ginger cookies with a somewhat gingerbread-like recipe/consistency instead. Oh woe to me for failing to decide on the “right” recipe before starting it.

Ginger snaps are somewhat harder when cool and are to be rolled out and cut whereas the recipe I used called for rolling the dough into balls and then flattening them out on the pan – molded cookies, if you will.

(Nutmeg) Ginger cookies snaps
Makes 36 (actually more!)

2 1/4 cups flour (all-purpose flour will do)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup margarine, room temp
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup molasses (or dark treacle)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 – 1/3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

What to do:

  1. Cream 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter and margarine until light and fluffy. Add egg and continue beating until blended well. Add molasses.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients three times and stir in butter mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat over to 160-180 C. Line pans with wax paper/baking paper.
  4. Place the remaining sugar in a shallow dish. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and roll balls in the sugar to coat.
  5. Place the balls two inches apart on the prepared sheets and flatten slightly.
  6. Bake till golden around the edges but soft in the middle, 12-15 minutes. Let cookies stand for 5 minutes before transferring to a rake to cool.

Adding dark sticky treacle! Treacle + butter swirls

I totally botched the last step, choosing instead to bake cookies for 15 minutes and NOT letting them stand – just took them out to cool.

Since it has been ages since I last made anything from scratch, I fumbled around and made a few errors changes, namely added 1 to 1/3 teaspoons of nutmeg instead of 1/2 teaspoon as called for in the recipe (hence the weird title) AND dumping in 1 cup of sugar instead of 1/2 cup first (I did scoop up the additional 1/2 cup before creaming it with the butter). Well, I should get used to this since I’ll be making orange-strawberry shortbread checks as well.

Frankly, I was a little nervous. It’s my first time making cookies with anything else but fruit and flavouring. All sorts of things ran through my mind – would it have enough of that gingery taste? Would the overkill of nutmeg totally ruin my dough? Will it be too sweet? Would the treacle make it taste awfully weird?

It turned out to be just fine; a little chewy when warm but oh-so-snappish when cool. The additional nutmeg added a unique touch to an otherwise gingery snap so no complaints there. Thank goodness my experimentations (mistake or otherwise) never fail me! While the aroma is fantastic for the house, I found the cookies a little too sweet for my liking because of the amount of sugar required for rolling those sticky little balls around even though I nearly replaced all white sugar with light brown sugar which is less sweeter. So will definitely have to make a note somewhere to cut out that bit that says “roll balls in sugar”.

I’m still wondering if I should ship off some to Nil – need to find a sturdy-enough yet airtight container that won’t break. We’ll see how it goes. Now it’s off to finish off some knitting!

Oh so snappish!

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Orange Cheesecake

Butter and digestive biscuits for the base Crushing the biscuits Butter well of biscuits Mixing them all

Orange Cheesecake

250 g digestive biscuits (actually you can use 200 g of biscuits and 50 g of cornflakes)
140 g butter (salted or otherwise)
500 g cream cheese (cubed first before mixing)
300 ml whipped cream or regular cream
Orange rind from 1 Valencia Sunkist orange
Orange juice from 1 navel orange and half of a Valencia Sunkist orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 water
1 tablespoon gelatin (unflavoured)
2 teaspoon brandy/cooking wine/orange liqueur

What to do:

  1. Finely crushed biscuits, add melted butter and press into a 8 inch pan (or any pan of your choice). I used a shallow pan because I don’t like to have too much cheese in my cheesecakes and thus, ended up with two pans of cakes.
  2. Refrigerate until base becomes hard.
  3. Beat whipped cream until soft peaks form. I’d suggest this AFTER you are done with your cream cheese and such. I did it first and my whipped cream started bleeding (I got a bit of water coming out of my cream – normal if you let it sit after beating).
  4. Beat cream cheese, rind, juice, and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the batter looks smooth and creamy. I added a bit (maybe a quater) of the orange pulp while squeezing out the juice. I think it gives the filling a little bit of colour and texture.
  5. Fold in cream until it’s well mixed.
  6. Add gelatin to the water (make sure that the water is boiled) and stir until it dissolves. Leave aside to cool. This can be done while you are busy making the cream cheese mix.
  7. Spoon in brandy/cooking wine/liqueur and add gelatin. Mix well.
  8. Pour into the pan and refrigerate for at least six hours. Overnight is best.
  9. When serving, use anything you wish as a garnish. I plan to use sliced oranges.

The biscuity base Whipping the cream The filling, all done and ready Assembled and in the fridge

The original recipe called for less orange juice and more liqueur but I sort of felt that it could be a bit tad over-powering. Parents had a go tasting the filling and found it orangey enough to be passed off as an orange cheesecake.

The gelatine bit worries me. My previous attempts at making cheesecake involved baking so I’m rather unfamiliar with this product. Hopefully, it’ll turn out just fine – am planning to check on it tonight.

It was a little chaotic in the kitchen while I was beating the cream and making the filling. Hence the lack of pictures during that process. So, unless you’re a pro, have everything prepared before you start mixing stuff except for the orange juice which has to be squeezed out fresh (like with all fruit juices that you intend to use in cake-making recipes). Same thing with the rind.

[EDIT: On a side note, I ought to get a springform pan – just took a look at the cake and while it looks kinda cute, the cake when removed from baking paper has this “homemade” look to it. Gah.]

Ah…baking…now if only Nil was here to finish off the leftover filling. ^.^

The finished cake An orange slice

ps: This recipe is a combination of this and this. 😀

pps: Oh, the rating above is given after considerations on difficulty level, availability of ingredients and overall fun.

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