Category: Baking

Strawberries and Cream Jammy Dodgers

Strawberries and Cream Jammy Dodgers

So it’s been a while since my last post as I’ve been taking a rest from everything. I’m one of those people who will try and do everything and then a little bit more on top, which is great fun until you realise you’ve burnt yourself out. But now I’m feeling refreshed and ready to start going crazy in the kitchen again, fully in the knowledge that I will inevitably crash in the short term future – but hey, you’ve got to make the most of your productive times as and when they hit you right?!

These beauties are in homage to my all time favourite British biscuit – the Jammy Dodger! Generally I’m not a biscuit person, but give me one of these and I’m instantly taken back to happy childhood memories of packed lunches and picnics in my back garden. I’ve fancied these up a little by using a rich clotted cream shortbread as the biscuit component. Essentially by using clotted cream as well as butter you end up with an even richer, melt-in-the-mouth biscuit than your regular shortbread (it’s pretty good if I say so myself!).

Recipe

Makes 12

Time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

For the biscuit

  • 100g Cold butter
  • 100g Clotted cream
  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 300g Plain flour
  • 1 Egg yolk

For the filling

  • 4-5tbsp Strawberry jam

Method

  1. Put the butter, clotted cream and sugar into a bowl and beat together until smooth. Then add the flour and rub the sugar/butter mixture into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Mix the egg yolk with 2 tsp water and then add this to the main bowl. Mix together again until a smooth ball of dough forms. Split the dough into 2 equal balls and then cover each one in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  4. Take one of the balls of dough out of the fridge and put it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to about 5mm thick and then cut out 12, 6cm circles using a round cookie cutter. Place these discs on a baking tray and then gather up and re-roll the dough until it’s all used up.
  5. Roll out the other block of dough to the same thickness and repeat the cutting out of circles. Then take a smaller cookie cutter (diameter about 1cm) and stamp out the middles of the second batch of biscuits to create doughnut-like rings.
  6. Bake the biscuits in the oven for around 15 minutes until golden brown and just starting to crisp. Then leave to cool completely on wire racks.
  7. To prepare the filling put the jam into a bowl and mix a little with a small spoon to loosen it up. Turn over the cooled base biscuits (the full circles) and spread a little of the jam over the base of each one. Top with the biscuits with the holes in the top and then enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Mocha Torte

Mocha Torte

It’s coming to the end of term, the end of an era and a bit of a change in mind on my part. I started this blog mainly as a project for myself – I wanted to create recipes and have a place to put them, a catalogue if you will. Then, last summer I decided to also use this as a platform to explore the topic of mental health and mental health awareness. These are areas I’m still interested in exploring and writing about, however I’ve now decided to let it come more naturally. I’m one of those people who when they set their mind to something will do whatever it takes to make it happen, even if it isn’t the best thing for themselves. In this case I was determined to turn out two recipes a week, every week. However, as I’m restricted to cooking in my holidays, because I don’t have the space or time here at uni, I essentially binge-cook in my vac and then post later on. I also eat ALL the cakes, pastries and general sweet things I make during those times, (roughly 2 recipes a day), leading to me having a really bad diet and so on. Needless to say that isn’t a healthy way of living.

Therefore I’ve decided to keep on going, but to just be more relaxed and varied with my posts. Rather than sticking to a strict twice a week schedule I’ll post as and when I feel inspired to do so. I’ll keep blogging my own recipes, but will also write about mental health, my culinary travels and whatever else feels particularly inspiring. In essence this will continue to be The Mindfulness Kitchen, I’ll just be looking after myself a little more which at this point in my life is something I need to be doing. It’s slightly worrying that it’s taken me this long to realise this – but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because you want to do something, feel like you should do something or feel like you can do something it doesn’t mean you should. Take a second to really think about what you’re doing. Take a minute to think about your life choices and ask yourself is this what’s best for me? Of course, beyond that you should think about others and what’s best for them, but you can’t help anyone if you’re in an emotional pothole, so you should first make sure you don’t end up in one!

(On a side note, anyone else made massively peckish by this wonder of a mocha torte?)

Recipe

Serves 16

Time: 1 hour, plus chilling time

Ingredients

For the base

  • 150g Digestive biscuits
  • 75g Unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

  • 260g Dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp Golden syrup
  • 600ml Double cream
  • 4 tsp Instant coffee granules

To decorate

  • 300ml Double cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste
  • A sprinkling of cocoa powder

Method

  1. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin with butter and baking paper. Now make the base. Crush the biscuits with the back of a rolling pin to make a rough crumb. Then add the melted butter and stir to make a mixture that resembles damp sand.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and level it out with the back of a spoon. Leave in the fridge until needed.
  3. Put the chocolate, syrup and ¼ of the cream into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave for 15-20 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt. Stir to make the mixture smooth, remove from the heat and leave to cool until just warm.
  4. Pour the rest of the cream into a bowl and add the coffee. Leave to dissolve and then whisk until just starting to thicken but not yet holding peaks.
  5. Fold the cream into the cooled chocolate with a stiff spatula or large metal spoon until the mixture is smooth and completely combined.
  6. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and leave to set in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
  7. Pour the cream and vanilla for the topping into a large bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. When the base is set dollop this cream on top. Un-mould the dessert and place it on a plate. Then finish with a sprinkling of cocoa powder and serve!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Salted Caramel Brownies

Salted Caramel Brownies

Oki so I have my first exam on Thursday (*insert panicked stress noise*). I’m sure it’ll be fine but I’m still  in a roller coaster state of ‘oh it’ll all work out’ and ‘oh man I have so much work to do!!!’. I guess this isn’t helped by the fact that my levels of motivation have hit rock bottom and I’m currently in a state of perpetual procrastination. So I’m going to leave this post short (again) and try to do some work – little and often right?

(Just as a heads up though – these are great revision snacks! They also work really well with jam or fresh berries in the middle instead of the caramel if you’d rather!)

Recipe

Makes 16 squares

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 210ml Vegetable oil
  • 320g Light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 4 Medium eggs
  • 80g Cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate, as it has added sugar and less cocoa, and so has much less flavour)
  • 130g Plain flour
  • 50g Milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 170g Caramel
  • ½ tsp Salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Line a small, square tin (mine was 20×20 cm) with butter and baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the oil, sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs and whisk until fully combined. Add the cocoa and whisk again (go slowly here as the cocoa will go everywhere if whisked too fast). Then add the flour and the chopped chocolate and whisk until fully mixed
  3. Pour half the mixture into the lined tin and smooth out with a spatula.
  4. Mix together the caramel and the salt in a bowl and then blob it over the brownies. Top with blobs of the remaining brownie mixture and then use a knife to swirl the two a little.
  5. Bake the brownies in the oven for 25-35 minutes. Be careful not to over bake here, as you want brownies to be slightly gooey in the middle. If you’re used to baking cakes I’d say take them out 5 minutes before you’d think it’d be ready if you were making a cake.
  6. Cut into 16 squares and serve! (They’re especially good with fresh berries and cream!)

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Turtle Cookies

Turtle Cookies

So funny story about how I found these. I was originally searching on google images for pictures of turtle shaped cookies as I found pictures of the idea on pinterest and I wanted to make some of my own. However, the first things that came up when I searched ‘turtle cookies’ were tonnes of these treats, and they looked so mouthwatering I knew I had to try making some myself! They’re essentially rich chocolate biscuits, rolled in pecans (although I’ve used hazelnuts as I think they’re a superior nut) and then filled with salted caramel and drizzled with melted chocolate. I mean what’s not to love eh?

As you may or may not know it’s currently mental health awareness week – this year focusing on the very key issue of body image so I thought I’d briefly touch on this. We all have bodies and we all have varying opinions of them. Personally I’m not as positive about my body as perhaps I should be. I’m a little too round, too squidgy, too ‘curvy’, whatever is the most pc. I’ve also had an annoying conflict of interests between my passion for baking and my want to be healthy and slim for a really long time. I now find myself constantly swinging between being miserable because I’m not baking in an attempt to eat healthily, and disliking my body because of all the baked goods I eat. Of course there is something called self control, but I’ve never been very good at applying that to myself when it comes to baked goods.  But although I’ve not quite got to the point of accepting my roundness I have started to get to the point where I can accept how I look and not let it affect my mental health which is something for now. So if you’re in a similar position I just want you to know that if you’re insecure about your body firstly know that you are gorgeous, even if you can’t see it,  and secondly that there is so much more to life than how you look. So don’t let size get you down – there’s so much more to focus on and enjoy in life, and having a little extra padding won’t stop you from doing any of it!

Recipe

Makes 20

Time: Around 90 minutes

Ingredients

  • 80g Unsalted butter
  • 140g Caster sugar
  • 1 Large egg, separated
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 140g Plain flour
  • 40g Cocoa powder
  • 200g Chopped hazelnuts
  • 200g Caramel
  • 1/2 tsp Table salt
  • 25g Milk chocolate to decorate

Method

  1. Begin by making the cookies. Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolk, milk and vanilla and mix again until combined.
  3. Stir the flour and cocoa powder into the mixture to make a soft dough. Then wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  4. Take the egg white and whisk it until it’s frothy. Then put the chopped hazelnuts into another bowl.
  5. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it into 20 equally sized balls. Then dip each one in the egg whites followed by the chopped hazelnuts. Place the balls on a lined baking tray.
  6. Using a round measuring spoon (like a 1/2 teaspoon) press into the centre of each ball to make a dip.
  7. Bake the cookies in the oven for around 10 minutes until just set. They will harden more when cooled so don’t wait for them to crisp.
  8. Leave the cookies to cool completely on wire racks. Meanwhile put the caramel into a bowl and stir in the salt. Transfer the caramel to a pipping bag and leave in the fridge until needed.
  9. Pipe the caramel into the centre of each cooled cookie and then leave for 5 minutes to set.
  10. Meanwhile melt some chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Spoon the chocolate into a disposable piping bag and cut a small round hole in the bottom. Then pipe a drizzle of chocolate over the top of each cookie. Leave again to set and then serve!

Alternatives to try:

  • Fill the middle with a berry coulis instead of caramel, and then drizzle with dark chocolate.
  • Roll the biscuits in chopped peanuts (or any other nut you’d prefer).
  • Flavour the dough with the zest of 1 lemon/orange and fill with lemon curd/chocolate ganache.

Thanks for reading! For more info on Mental Health Awareness week click on the link here

Emma x

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Dark Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Dark Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health support recently. It’s always there in my mind but over the past week or so it’s been playing on my mind a bit more. Primarily how do we make support for those with mental illness better? We are lucky enough to have great support in the UK through charity groups and in my case university counselling systems, but it’s still no where near enough for the growing numbers of people needing these services. I’m trying to write an article at the moment for an Oxford newspaper about mental health support in the university and during my research I found that around 12% of the university’s undergraduates tend to use the counselling service every year – and that’s just the people who have the courage to seek help. If that’s the number of people in the system how many are suffering across the entire community?

Unfortunately there’s little large-scale difference a single person can make on ground level. We can do our best to help by starting conversations, breaking down taboos, and raising money for the great organisations that are trying to help. But we can’t reduce NHS waiting times or the way in which help is given by these systems. I grant you that this isn’t much of a positive conclusion. I’d prefer to leave you on a grand call to arms ‘this is how we will go forward’ moment, but alas I think the most I can say for now is look after each other. Talk to each other, have real conversations about real things, not just flippant ones about food or reality tv (although they’re great to!). Bake with friends, eat with friends, take some time for yourself. Find what you enjoy and do that. You don’t have time to be doing anything else.

(On a side note, today I felt like writing about something more poignant than cookies, but nonetheless these are super super moreish and really easy to make so I’d really recommend them for group baking and sharing!)

Recipe

Makes 18

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 250g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • ½ tsp Baking soda
  • 2 tsp Cornflour
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 115g Melted butter
  • 150g Brown sugar
  • 50g Caster sugar
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 120g Desiccated coconut
  • 130g Chocolate chips

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornflour and salt into a large bowl and whisk together to combine.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the melted butter and the two sugars until fully combined. Then whisk in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and then mix with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms. Add the desiccated coconut and the chocolate chips and mix again to incorporate them.
  5. Separate and then roll the dough into small balls (about 1 tbsp of mixture each) and then place them on the lined baking trays with some space between them.
  6. Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes until spread and starting to turn golden. Leave to cool and then eat!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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