Jam. You just can’t beat it. The sun came out in Leeds yesterday, which of course prompted everyone to go crazy. On a wonder into town with my friend Gareth, I came across the craft fair in the Corn Exchange. Amongst the general stands selling jewellery (and one selling all the different possible types of fudge, red bull, really?) I came across a stand selling homemade Jam. I had quite a lengthy chat with the owner, about the different types of jams that she made and ended up walking away with a selection, the cogs already whirring in my head as to what I could do with them. I settled for a jar of raspberry, jar of ginger and a jar of scotch whisky marmalade. I decided on thumb cookies. Tiny, nut-covered, jam filled pieces of joy.
80-100 grams hazelnuts, almonds, pecans or walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
60 - 120 ml raspberry jam
Heat your oven up to 180°C (160°C fan).
Spread the nuts over a baking tray (I chose pecan), then place in the oven for around 10 minutes to toast. Once these are done, allow them to cool for half an hour then either chop them finely by hand or put them in a food processor and blitz until fine.
Keep the oven on and line a baking tray with grease proof paper.
Cream together the butter and the sugar. Then beat in the egg yolk and the vanilla extract. Beat until combined. (Ensure you save the egg white).
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt (if you used salted butter, don’t worry too much about including the salt).
Mix the flour mixture into the butter mix, starting on a slow speed and gradually increasing it. For a long time it just looks like bread-crumbs. Stick at it and eventually it combines into a pastry like dough. Mix until it has just formed.
If it’s too soft, put it in the fridge for between 30-60 minutes.
Divide up into individual balls, each around 2.5cm across. You’ll get around 20 from the batch.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until it’s froffy.
Spread the chopped nuts out on a flat surface (I used a plate). Individually dip the balls into the egg white, then gently roll them over the chopped nuts to coat.
Place on the baking tray and using your thumb (or handle of a wooden spoon) press a hollow into the top of them gently.
Fill the hole with jam.
Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until browned.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Oreos. Truffles. What more could you want? Before I’d really started baking I went to a friend’s flat party. One of her friends had bought a selection of homemade treats with her and amongst them, were Oreo Truffles. They were simply incredible. A week later I tried my hand at them myself. They are possibly one of the simplest things possible to make and incredibly tasty. I’ve done them on numerous occasions and even put them inside cupcakes.
Chocolate for Melting (either White, plain or milk, whatever you want)
This is a no-bake recipe and the only time consuming part is chilling the truffles.
Start by breaking down the oreos, either put them in a bag and attack with a hammer (you couldn’t ask for better stress relief), or else put them in a blender or processor. Either way, break them down until they are fine crumbs.
Mix in the cream cheese.
Form in to balls and place in the fridge for several hours until they have firmed up.
Melt the chocolate (using the butter for shortening) and coat the truffles in the chocolate. This gets very messy.
Place back in the fridge to set the chocolate and get the truffles back to the right consistency.
Now, I am well aware that my first post was also Reese’s cookies. But I made these yesterday, and while they are fresh in my mind I just have to write about them. They are simply incredible. My friend Daryl showed me the recipe, which she found on Kitchen Magpie. Couple that with there being two of my colleague’s work birthdays today, one of which is an American woman who adores peanut butter, it was kind of a no-brainer. I’ve made “cookies” that contained peanut butter cups before, but they were sort of… squidged? Yeah, that’s the word, into the top of the cookies, which were slightly more cake-like. These actually contain the cup inside the centre of the cookie. It’s the perfect amount of indulgence. I always get such funny looks from the cashier whenever I turn up at the till with a basket full of nothing but Reese’s cups. These went down an absolute treat at work with one of my colleagues asking me to bake them, and only them, once a week for the rest of my time with the company.
First of all, preheat your oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan).
Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Followed by Vanilla.
Separately mix together the flour, salt and baking powder before mixing it in slowly on a low speed. (At this point I noticed that my cookie dough was a tad too sticky so I added a bit more flour until it firmed up a little.)
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Now comes the fun bit.
Take a good sized dollop of the dough in your hand, don’t make it too large as this is just the base of the cookie. Squidge (yup, there’s that word again) the peanut butter cup into the top of the dough, flattening it slightly.
Take a similarly sized piece of the dough and cover the top of the cup, pushing it down around the edges of the cup.
Spread them out on a baking tray, covered with a baking sheet. Space them slightly, but don’t worry too much as they don’t spread a large amount. Press them down slightly.
Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.
Now, here, is where my love affair with peanut butter starts to rear it’s beautiful peanutty head. I have a bit of a soft spot for Reese’s Pieces and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Much of my baking has included them, and not just because of my own soft spot. I love baking for friends, and around 90% of them love peanut butter and American candy. This means that if I’m baking for a crowd, it’s a fairly good go-to thing. At the time, Reese’s Pieces were on offer at Sainsburys. Half price. I just couldn’t not stock up. My excuse of course was “well I can bake with them”. (Please excuse the lack of imagery with some of my earlier posts, I wasn’t in the habit of taking so many pictures back then).
Thus began my hunt for a Reese’s Pieces chip cookie recipe. I didn’t have to look far. Hershey’s obliged.