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Posts from the ‘Cookies’ Category

Perfect Christmas Sugar Cookies

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Is it even Christmas without cookie decorating?

I know it’s not really a thing in Ireland. The Irish I’ve spoken to about this largely believe an iced sugar cookie, or even gingerbread cookie, is a bit too sweet. I wholeheartedly disagree with this.

In Ireland, kids leave Santa mince pies as a snack. Mince pies! I wholeheartedly disagree with this.

The longer I reside in Ireland, naturally, the more Irish I become in my through process. I’ve noticed this. But there are some things I’ll never let happen; Christmas is a nostalgic time of year. When you think of your happiest times as a child, it’s generally Christmas most of us think of. I definitely do.

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When I was little, my brothers and I always went to Christmas Eve church service with our parents. Then we would go to our neighbour’s for a visit, then when I got a bit older I would go to spend time with my aunt and her family before heading home to my bed.

In the morning, as a kid, we could go down to see what Santa brought us but we were never, under any circumstances, allowed to touch the wrapped presents under the tree until my parents and my grandma, who was confined to a wheelchair, would get up and join us.

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I think my favourite Christmas was the one where I got my cat, Belle. My dad brought her over to me after we had opened all of our gifts. I couldn’t figure out why there was a basket for a pet under the tree and assumed it was for our dog. When my dad went out Christmas morning and came back with a kitten, I was over the moon with happiness.

“Santa got caught in a storm last night and had to leave her at the Scherzinger’s,” he said.

Belle would go on to live for a whopping 22 years, despite (or maybe in spite of) my mother not being a cat person. She was a great cat.

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It’s been hard to adapt to Irish Christmas traditions because my happy Christmas memories are all Canadian. But since my daughters have gotten a bit older, it’s gotten easier to adapt to Irish Christmas. I am at peace with having to make both turkey and ham for Christmas dinner (though I refuse to make Irish trifle, with canned fruit cocktail, jello and store-bought sponge cake). We have started our own Christmas traditions with the kids and it gets more fun every year.

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This year, as always, we will be making loads of gingerbread and sugar cookies. We’ll invite a bunch of kids over to the house and let them go crazy with the royal icing and sprinkles. Their parents will hate me, but it’s all in good fun.

Here’s my recipe for the perfect sugar cookie. A good sugar cookie, in my opinion, should have defined edges, taste better with age (I even like them straight from the fridge or freezer) and it absolutely MUST BE ICED. If the cookie is too sweet, you’re doing it right.

Christmas is all about being too sweet.

Enjoy!

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Perfect Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup unsalted butter

A pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  • Whisk flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt.
  • In a stand mixer (paddle attachment) or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and mix to combine. Add the vanilla and mix again.
  • Add the flour mixture in by the cup, slowly, until everything is combined. Dough will be crumbly at first and then comes together.
  • Gather the dough by hand. Knead a few times to smooth out the dough.
  • Shape into two discs and wrap in plastic. Chill for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness, then cut into shapes.
  • Transfer to the baking sheets and bake for 7-10 minutes (you don’t want them to brown too much around the edges – you still want them to be fairly white in colour).
  • Cool and decorate with royal icing, sprinkles or piped buttercream.

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Maple Pecan Cookie Bars

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Today has been a bad day.

It’s not like I didn’t realize it would be a bad day. Ciara’s been cutting her eye teeth for what seems like ages now and has grown fond of 3am, two-hour-long hangouts on the couch. So yeah, when your three-year-old wakes up at 7am and you’ve just managed to get back to sleep you are definitely not starting your day on the right foot.

So we had a slow morning. Luckily I batch-cook pancakes on the weekends so Maeve can have a quick breakfast if need be, but still, by the time I had her, myself and Ciara washed, dressed, breakfasted and out the door it was well past 9am. Maeve was fairly late for playschool.

It had been a frosty night. After dropping Maeve off, Ciara and I went to town (town being Thurles, about 20 minutes away from the farm). On Tuesdays and Thursdays Ciara hangs out with my friend while I make donuts and other goodies to sell at The Green Sheep. On the way in, my car hit a patch of black ice and I was so close to losing control of my car and sliding off into a hedge. I honestly don’t know how I managed to keep the car on the road. Needless to say, I crawled the rest of the way into town.

When I got to The Green Sheep, it was closed because my friend, the owner, thought I had a doctor’s appointment this morning and she had to go to a parent/teacher meeting. I had also thought I had a doctor’s appointment but thankfully called to double-check – it’s actually next week.

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My friend got back from parent/teacher and I managed to make some apple fritters and deep-clean my cooking equipment. Then, someone came into the café and I could hear them say, “Tell Janine to go move her car – the ticket guy is out there!”

Now, before you say anything: I know I should be paying for parking. BUT you get 15 minutes of free parking in Thurles, so I was taking advantage of that (ok, maybe too much advantage).

So I got to my car before the ticket guy gave me a ticket. However; he remembered me from two weeks ago, when he had fined me for having out-of-date car tax. I had just gotten this car a few months ago and with Christmas… well… I knew I was playing with fire. I paid for my tax once he ticketed me, but it was still in the post. He didn’t give me another fine; instead he chewed my ear off.

Combine this with exhaustion from being a parent and the hormones of a crazy pregnant lady and… well, you get the idea of how I’m feeling right now.

I basically want to cry myself to sleep. And then sleep for a really, really long time.

Instead, though, I might make some more of these Maple Pecan Cookie Bars. They’re so easy to put together and taste amazing.

Baking is really therapeutic, isn’t it? You’re in control. Your hands are busy. Your mind is in a zen-like state. This is probably why I liked working in the pastry sections of restaurants so much, even though I’m not really a pastry chef. That section of the restaurant oozes calm while the others get chaotic.

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Anyway, back to these delicious, nutty little morsels. They have a brown sugar cookie base and a maple pecan topping that is soft, chewy and crunchy all at once. The maple flavour really comes through (and I was using the generic maple syrup – even though it claims to be “100% Canadian Pure”, it’s way too inexpensive to be any good).

They were a hit at the café, so I’ll be officially adding them to The Siùcra Shack‘s menu and will put them on rotation at The Green Sheep.

Give them a try; they’re so forgiving. Baking them will make you forget all about your crap day.

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Maple Pecan Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

For the base:

250g/1cup plain flour

110g/2/3 cup brown sugar

110g/1/2 cup butter

For the topping:

1 egg

55g/1/3 cup brown sugar

75ml/1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 bag (about 250g or 1 cup) whole pecan halves

Flaky sea salt

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 180∘C (350∘F). Line a rectangular baking tray with parchment and set aside.
  • In a bowl, (or in your stand mixer; paddle attachment), cream the brown sugar and butter for the base. Then, add the flour and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Press the cookie dough into the baking tray with your fingers. When the dough is evenly spread out, blind bake for about 15 minutes. Check it at 12 minutes; you don’t want it too dark.
  • Take the baked cookie base out of the oven and cool slightly. In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the filling except the sea salt and pecans.
  • Pour the filling over the top of the cookie base. Arrange the pecan halves over the top.
  • Bake the bars, still at 180∘C/350∘F, for another 15 minutes or until it’s just set. If the top seems soft that’s ok. It will set as it cools.
  • Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. Then, remove the whole thing (parchment and all) and slice into bars or squares.
  • These guys will keep for 5-ish days (they don’t usually make it that long, though)

Simple Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Maeve turned three last August. These days, she seems to change without me or her dad noticing. Every now and then she makes me stop in my tracks and admire the little human being she is becoming.

Last night over dinner, she started to sing a song. This in itself is not unusual – she is constantly singing. The song choice wasn’t even surprising. She has been regaling us with Christmas carols since November, and Christmas being over for weeks has done nothing to stop her from singing them. It was the language in which she was singing that made me pause and ponder.

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She was singing Away in a Manger in Irish. My little baby. Broken, badly mispronounced Irish, but Irish nonetheless. I thought she was singing in gibberish – Pat corrected me. I knew her playschool teachers had been teaching the students some Irish words, but I thought “bed” and “tree” were the bulk.

I am so proud. Not just of her, but of our community. Our local school is extremely small and fights for numbers as the population dwindles but it has great staff and a fabulous playschool attached. Maeve races in every morning and barely stops to say goodbye.

She has learned so much from her patient, gentle teachers. At three, she has become a truly integrated member of society – a society I didn’t even know existed ten years ago. It makes me really happy.

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OK, maybe having her back at playschool five days a week after a long, shack-happy Christmas break makes me happy, too. Gotta stay honest.

Anyway, yesterday was her first day back. When she got home, I asked her if she wanted to do some baking. I already knew her answer. She always wants to do some baking.

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She asked if we had any chocolate chips for cookies. We didn’t; we had something even better. I had reorganized our massive bookshelf while she was in school (I know!) and found THREE WHOLE BARS of Belgian milk chocolate I had purchased on my weekend away in Brussels that we had somehow forgotten to eat (I know). Coarsely chopped, the creamy, aromatic chocolate was perfect for our chewy cookies.

But, you know. Chocolate chips are fine, too. If you can’t get to Belgium.

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In other news, cookies are a great way to introduce your small child to baking. Mostly because:

  1. It’s really difficult to screw up a cookie. Even when they’re bad, they’re still good.
  2. If the child wants to mix, mix, mix, you won’t end up with a tough, overworked mess. Cookie dough is very forgiving.
  3. Cookies taste good. Everyone likes ’em.
  4. If your kid insists on cracking the eggs herself, you can pick half a shattered eggshell out of cookie dough more easily than, say, cake batter (half the batch eaten and we haven’t found any pieces yet!).

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Ciara was eating chocolate overseeing the cookie-baking from her highchair, in case you were wondering. She’s a tough boss, but luckily she approved of the final product.

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Simple Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup/250g softened butter

1 cup/250g soft brown sugar

1/2 cup/125g white sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup/250g rolled oats

2.5 cups/625g plain flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp flaky sea salt

1 cup/250g chopped chocolate or chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375∘ F (190∘C). No fan. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with the brown and white sugar. You want the butter to be completely combined with the sugars.
  • Add the vanilla and eggs. Mix until well combined.
  • Add all of the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix. The dough will be slightly sticky, but if you think it’s too sticky you can add more flour (if you like a more robust cookie – I like mine thin and chewy).
  • Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.
  • Drop cookie dough by the spoonful onto the baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • Cool baked cookies on a wire rack before eating. They’ll keep for days (but definitely won’t last long if your husband, father-in-law and children are anything like mine). You can freeze them, too – they’re great homemade treats to add to lunchboxes!

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48 Hours in Brussels

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Ah, Bruxelles. I fell in love with that charming city over a dreary, cold weekend in November and I’m only now able to tell you about it! Happy new year, dear readers. 2016 was really great for me in lots of ways (like that time my second daughter was born) and really bad in other ways (like that time Donald Trump…).

I think 2017 is going to be really great. Especially for my family, because we’re expanding yet again! Ciara will be 18 months when our third child is born this coming Spring so our two latest babies will be just shy of official “Irish Twin” status, but that won’t make our lives any less hectic. I’m just gonna embrace the craziness and be as kind to myself as possible.

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With that said, why wouldn’t I jump at the chance of a weekend away in one of Europe’s coolest cities? A few girlfriends and I bought cheap Ryanair tickets (€40 return) and rented an apartment for the weekend (which also worked out to about €40 per person). We were as close to the downtown core as you can possibly get, so our accommodation was a steal (and very clean, and very charming – here’s the link to the Airbnb).

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Our group was split between girls who wanted to party and girls who wanted to sleep (aka the pregnant ladies with kids at home). We all wanted to shop and eat. The location suited everyone’s tastes – just steps away from the Grand Place, the pedestrian shopping streets and the bar district. Artisan chocolate shops, French patisseries, waffle kiosks and proper Belgian friteries were absolutely everywhere. A real food heaven.

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On Saturday morning we gathered with other poor backpackers for a free walking tour of the city. Our guide (Oriane from Viva Brussels Walking Tours) was absolutely brilliant. I don’t normally like guided tours – it’s difficult to escape if the tour is really boring – but Oriane was funny, knew her history and gave good tips on where and what to eat/drink in the city. It was a cold, clear day but we were dressed warmly and enjoyed the exercise.

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I spent a lot of time buying chocolate and eating waffles. I must have averaged three waffles per day. The best thing about a true Liège waffle (the term “Belgian” waffle is incorrect since there are two types of waffle in Belgium – the Brussels waffle and the Liège, which is the one we tend to associate with Belgium) is that you can eat it on the go. Most shops will offer all kinds of sweet toppings, but DON’T – it’s just overkill. A proper Liège waffle is already sweet. Wrap it in a napkin and eat while you take in the sights.

As mentioned, there is no shortage of great quality Belgian chocolate on offer in the pedestrian areas off Grand Place. Your biggest problem will be deciding what to buy and from which shop. I bought several types of chocolate from different places and even bought some generic Belgian chocolate at the supermarket – all delicious.

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Other food and drink options worth exploring in Brussels include the famed Speculoos biscuits (my faves came from Maison Dandoy), traditional double-fried frites and, of course, Belgian beer. I know I’m pregnant, but I still bought a small bottle of Gueuze – an old-style Lambic beer which is fermented by particles in the air found only around Brussels. It had a sour, cidery taste. Really nice.

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And the frites? Oh my GAWD the frites. Our apartment was just around the corner from one of Brussels’ best friteries – Friterie du Café Georgette. The frites are triple-fried in beef fat, giving them an addictive flavour and perfect texture. They put Irish chips to shame. With a bit of mayo on the side, these frites made a good, cheap meal for us on more than one occasion.

I wasn’t so crazy about our final meal. Our tour guide had mentioned that Chez Lèon – an old-school Belgian restaurant – served great moules frites. Since the restaurant wasn’t far from our apartment we thought it would be a good place to go for dinner. The ambiance was wonderful. We had an older waitor with flawless tableside service. He was also a shameless flirt and a born entertainer. Unfortunately, my mussels weren’t nearly as vibrant; both moules and frites were disappointingly bland.

Dessert was a different affair (probably since most of the cooking was done tableside). I had a Normandy-style pancake. It might be the best dessert I’ve ever had (a hefty claim, but it was just that good – done simply, served hot – delicious).

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I’d love to go back to Brussels, or explore some of Belguim’s other cities, with my husband someday – preferably when I can drink beer again. The flight is an easy 1.5 hours from Dublin and the city is breathtaking. Don’t get hung up on terrorist threats; just don’t. Life is too short, and Brussels is too beautiful and fun to miss.

And those frites…

*This is not a sponsored post; no freebies were had. Just good times with friends.

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Coffee, Walnut & Meringue Squares

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I got the recipe for these sweet bites from a familiar source: the Middle River Hospital Auxiliary’s Cookbook, published in the year 2000, to raise funds and also commemorate my tiny Cape Breton community.

When I say tiny, I mean minuscule. I come from a minuscule place. The valley where I grew up stretches out over a wide expanse of land, but is so sparsely populated you wouldn’t even know you were driving through a community. That is, save for the “Welcome to Middle River” sign that greets travelers as they zoom down the side of the mountain.

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Yes, the name of my community is Middle River. Because of the river running through the middle of it. Not the most creative of names, but I don’t think my ancestors were too concerned with place names as they got to know the local Aboriginal tribe, felled trees, dug massive stones out of the earth to make fields, built log homes and scary makeshift bridges and tried not to get scurvy during the long, cold winter.

They were just a touch busy.

Back then, women would have to wait for weeks on end for peddlers to come visit and sell them the things they could not make. Sugar, tea, pots & pans – the peddlers would trek on horse or by foot and the families they visited would feed them and put them up for the night. They brought not only house and farm-wares, but news and stories, too. In such a remote place, their visits were always eagerly anticipated.

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It’s not so difficult to get sugar now, although you still can’t get any in Middle River (we don’t have a grocery store). You need to hop in your car and drive for 20 minutes to the town of Baddeck. Still, no biggie. Most people have to go there for work and school, anyway.

So getting back to this Millennium Cookbook and these tasty little squares. In the book, this recipe is called “Yum-Yum Squares”. I find it a little bit vague, however true the statement. So we’ll break it down into it’s delicious components and call them, for the sake of clarity, Coffee, Walnut & Meringue Squares.

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I should also confess at this point, just in case someone from home, with the same cookbook, is reading this. I messed with the recipe. Like – a lot. There was initially no coffee in these squares. It was just walnut and meringue. But hear me out:

There’s a popular type of cake in Ireland called a coffee cake. I know what you’re thinking – “We have coffee cake in Canada, too, dummy.” Well, no we don’t; not like they have here.

In Ireland, coffee cake is literally flavoured with coffee. It also consists of two layers of moist, dense, buttery cake and chopped walnuts. The majority of the coffee flavouring is in the buttercream, which is delicious. This flavour combination makes me really happy, which is why I added the coffee to these squares.

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Aside from adding coffee to the mix, I also upgraded the amount of walnuts in the recipe by about a bazillion. There are now chopped, toasted walnuts in each layer, as well as a generous sprinkling on top. Lots of crunch and nutty flavour result.

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Coffee, Walnut & Meringue Squares

Ingredients:

1st layer:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups AP flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup crushed, toasted walnuts

2nd layer:

2 egg whites

1 cup superfine sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1 tbsp instant coffee granules

1/3 cup crushed, toasted walnuts

3rd layer:

1/3 cup crushed walnuts (don’t toast these – they’ll toast in the oven while baking)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius, no fan) and line a small cookie/baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
  • Using a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Mix. Add the flour, salt & baking powder. Mix until just combined. Fold in the toasted, crushed walnuts.
  • Spread the dough onto the lined cookie sheet and gently press down with your fingers until the dough is evenly spread out along the bottom.
  • This time using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar until soft peaks are reached. Add the vanilla & coffee granules. Gradually add the superfine sugar while continuing to whisk. When stiff, glossy peaks are formed, your meringue is ready. Gently fold in toasted, crushed walnuts.
  • Spread the meringue mixture evenly over the cookie dough base. Top with the remaining, untoasted crushed walnuts.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. Check after 30, if you have a hot oven the walnuts on top may brown too quickly. If this happens, just place a sheet of tin foil over the top until the base is fully baked.
  • Allow to cool completely before portioning into squares or bars.

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Orange & Dark Chocolate Shortbread

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Does Christmas even exist without shortbread cookies?

Even though there isn’t any snow on the ground, even though I won’t be slurping down my Dad’s famous seafood chowder this Christmas Eve and even though I won’t be sipping brandy-spiked eggnog with my Mom, I can still make these delicious, tender shortbread cookies and instantly transport to Christmas-land.

I grew up on Scottish-style shortbread, made in one large tin, pricked with a fork, sprinkled with sugar and cut into wedges. While tasty, I was never enamored by the texture which was thick, heavy and (depending on the baker) sandy. When I started culinary school, we made shortbread cookies in my pastry class that we sandwiched between some lemon curd and dusted with powdered sugar. They melted in my mouth and changed my life forever.

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So what did I take away from this class? A few tips:

  • Like a pie dough, you don’t want to work the gluten in the flour too much, nor do you want an under-mixed, sandy-textured mess of a dough. Somewhere in between those two extremes is ideal.
  • Some recipes call for just sugar, flour and butter while others call for sugar, flour, butter and cornstarch. A solution that works for well for both recipes? Use confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated. It contains cornstarch and will result in a light and tender cookie.
  • Roll out the dough between two sheets of waxed paper. If you don’t have any, roll out the dough on a surface lightly sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar instead of flour. This ensures your cookies won’t dry out and crack.

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This recipe uses orange rind for flavour. Then, when all are baked and cooled, each cookie is dipped halfway into a bowl of melted dark chocolate. You don’t want to skimp on the quality of the chocolate here – at least 70% cocoa is recommended! The result is a delicious, tender, melt-in-your-mouth Christmas cookie that isn’t too sweet and will be a great accompaniment to that glass of eggnog on Christmas Eve (don’t forget the brandy).

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Orange & Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup salted butter, softened

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2 cups AP flour, sifted

Rind of one orange

Pinch of sea salt

2 bars (about 300 grams) good quality dark chocolate

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees (160 degrees Celsius, no fan). Line a baking tray with parchment.
  • With a hand mixer cream together the butter, sifted confectioner’s sugar, salt and orange rind. You want this mixture to be light, pale and fluffy.
  • Sift the flour over the creamed ingredients. At this point I trade in the hand mixer for my hands. I mix the flour in gently while working the dough until it’s at a consistency where I can shape it into a ball.
  • Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
  • On a surface gently sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar (or using the waxed paper), roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Cut out cookies (use whatever kind of cutter you want – I went for a good ol’ circle because I gave away my cookie cutters before we moved to Ireland). You can prick the cookies with a fork to avoid air pockets or let them and the air pockets be – your preference.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes. You don’t want them to be golden brown or anything – the paler the better when it comes to shortbread.
  • When the cookies are baked and cooled, melt the dark chocolate in a glass bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. You don’t want the chocolate to be super hot – when you dab some on your lip you want it to be slightly warmer than body temperature. Add in some unmelted chocolate to help it cool, if necessary.
  • Set up some parchment or waxed paper on a flat surface. Dip the cookies in the tempered chocolate, removing any excess, and place on the parchment to cool and harden.
  • Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze them before dipping in chocolate for as long as you want.

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Dried Cherry, Almond & Orange Biscotti

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I’ve tried to sit down and write this post on three different occasions now, but that’s what happens when there’s a newborn baby in your life. Maeve has been amazing so far – she feeds well, sleeps well and has had relatively few meltdowns (far less than I’ve had in the last month, anyway). It’s so hard to believe she’ll be four weeks old this coming Sunday; I feel a million years older since giving birth.

Having my mom here has been a godsend, and that’s putting it lightly. I don’t know what I’ll do when she leaves at the end of September and I suddenly have to do my own laundry again – I’m trying not to think about it too much! We have a jam-packed September planned, which makes me exhausted just thinking about it but also very excited. My father is flying into Ireland on Friday and my oldest brother will be arriving the next day.

The baby’s christening is set for September 14th, which, in retrospect, I should have planned for the weekend before since we’ll be missing both the Waterford Harvest Festival and the Grow It Yourself Gathering, both planned for the same weekend. I was so looking forward to both events, but will just have to wait til next year to partake – it’s not every day your first-born gets christened, after all, and there will be a huge family gathering afterwards in Patrick’s hometown in Tipperary.

Aside from the christening, we’ll be taking my family around Ireland – to Kilkenny, Kerry, Cork, Wexford and Galway – to sight-see and have a mini-vacation. My parents are looking forward to the Listowel Races, which Pat’s Auntie Bridget has been telling them about since last year, and I am looking forward to eating my way around Galway et. al.

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I am slowly getting back into the swing of things since giving birth. It’s been tough adjusting to the demanding schedule of a newborn as well as giving myself time to heal. Yesterday was amazing, though. Maeve had a great nap in the afternoon, giving me time to make a stew for dinner and some crunchy biscotti to have with our tea.

I love biscotti. My favourite flavour combination is one my former chef used to make: pistachio, milk chocolate and dried cranberry. Those three things just complement each other so very well.

Yesterday I saw I had sliced almonds and dried cherries sitting in the cupboard. I was going to make cookies but then thought better of it. It takes just as much time to make biscotti, the end result is often better and, frankly, it’s less work than a drop cookie recipe. And right now, at this point in my life, I am all about less work.

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Dried Cherry, Almond & Orange Biscotti

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups AP flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

3/4 cup sliced almonds

3/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries, or raisins)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

zest of one orange

1/3 cup melted butter

1 egg white, slightly beaten

granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius, no fan). Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  • In a bowl, mix your dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon) and add the almonds and cherries. Mix well and set aside.
  • In another bowl (or using your stand mixer with the whisk attachment) beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, almond extract and butter. Remove the whisk attachment and attach the paddle.
  • Add in the dried ingredients all at once. Mix until it all comes together, then turn dough out onto a well floured surface (if the dough is too sticky knead a bit more flour into it to make it workable).
  • Divide the dough in two equal portions. Shape each portion into a 12 inch-long rectangular log (*note: at this point you can wrap them in plastic and freeze them indefinitely). Place them on the baking sheet and lightly brush the tops with the egg white. Sprinkle sugar over the tops.
  • Bake the logs for about 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and they’ve baked through. Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes, then, using a chef’s knife, slice the logs on the diagonal making biscotti fingers that are approximately 1 inch thick.
  • Place the sliced biscotti, standing up, back on the cookie sheet and return them to the oven. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until they’re crunchy and light. Great for dunking in tea or coffee!

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