Sweet and Salty Peanut Cookies

To quote Nigella, “If greed alone were the spur and measure, these would be my favorite cookies”. That seems like a good enough recommendation for me!!

1/3 cup light brown sugar, plus more for dipping later
scant 1/2 cup butter, plus a little more for melting
scant 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tbs. self-rising flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. or 4 1/2 oz. salted peanuts

Heat the oven to 375°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, shortening, egg and vanilla. Mix together well, then stir in the flour and then the peanuts. Drop the dough in rounded teaspoons onto the baking sheets about 2″ apart. Brush the bottom of a glass with melted butter, then dip in some brown sugar and gently flatten the dough.

Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, by which time they should be cooked through. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 30

Custard

So many desserts and better served with custard. No offense to Byrd’s, but freshly made is so much better!

1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, slit down the length
2 1/4 cups light cream
5 large egg yolks
1 tbs. sugar

Fill the sink with cold water. You will need this too cool the custard once cooked, or to plunge the custard in if it starts to split.

If you are using a vanilla bean, put it in a pan with the cream and heat until nearly boing. Take off the heat, cover and leave to steep for 20 minutes.

If not using a vanilla bean, pour the extract and cream in a pan over the heat. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together. When the cream is warm, slowly pour it over the egg mixture, beating all the while. Pour everything into the rinsed-out and dried pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the custard has thickened, about 10 minutes.

Plunge into the sink of cold water for a minute or two to cool. You can eat it right away or make it in advance, keep it chilled and warm it over a pan of simmering water.

Serves 4

 

 

Garlic and Parsley Flatbreads

These are something between garlic nan and herby focaccia: dimpled, doughy and headily pungent.

3 1/2 cups white bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. rapid-rise yeast
1 tbs. salt
1 1/3 – 1 2/3 cups warm water
5 tbs. olive oil, plus more for pouring over the garlic and drizzling
3 heads of garlic
bunch of flat-leaf parsley
sea salt, for sprinkling

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Pour in 1 1/3 cups warm water and the oil and mix to form a soft, but firm dough, adding more water if needed. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside, turning once. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to double in size, about an hour.

While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 375°F. Cut off the tops of the garlic heads and place in a small, foil-lined baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season and pull up the foil to form a parcel. Roast until soft and golden, about 45 minutes. Unwrap the foil and leave to cool.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down and leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Divide in half and form each into a chunky oval. Place each on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 30 minutes, or until puffy.

Meanwhile, squeeze the garlic out of the bulbs into a small food processor. Add the parley leaves, then pour in enough olive oil to make a paste. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Poke your fingers all over the tops of the breads to dimple them, then spread the garlic paste over the tops.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the breads are golden and the garlic paste is a darker brown. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Slice and serve.

Coffee and Walnut Splouge Cookies

This lovely little cookies come together in a jot and are perfect with a cuppa.

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
14 tbs. butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 tbs. instant espresso powder
2 eggs
generous 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars, then add the espresso powder and the eggs. Stir in the flour mixture just to incorporate, then stir in the walnuts.

Using a smallish ice cream scoop or two spoons, drops mounds of the batter onto the baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden and just set to the touch. Cool on wire racks then store in an airtight container.

Easy Almond Cake

This cake is a jot to make and simply divine to eat. Soften the marzipan in the microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to incorporate into the batter.

1 cup plus 2 tbs. softened,, unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tbs. softened marzipan
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 cup self-rising cake flour (or 1 cup self-rising flour….remove 2 tbs. and add 2 tbs. cornstarch)

Heat the oven to 350°F and butter, then flour a 10″ springform tube pan.

Chop the butter and marzipan, then put them along with the sugar in the food processor. Whizz until combined and fairly smooth. Add the almond and vanilla extracts, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the flour and pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for 50 minutes, but check after 40. The cake should be golden and a cake tester should come out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Serves 10-12

Snickerdoodles

More cake-like and less sweet than the American version, these are easy to make and even easier to eat.

1 2/3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbs. cinnamon

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt, then set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1/3 cup of sugar until light in texture and pale in color. Beat together the egg and vanilla, then stir into the butter mixture. Add the dry ingredients. Roll into walnut-sized balls.

Combine the cinnamon and remaining sugar in a small bowl. Roll the balls in this, then place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to sit on the baking sheets for 1 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 dozen