A slightly different take on the classic festive gingerbread man, this cookie dough contains cocoa powder so it produces a dark, crisp biscuit. When cut out with a gingerbread cutter they’re the perfect shape for icing a skeleton design for Halloween. The darker colour biscuit emphasises the spooky shape and tastes even better than normal gingerbread thanks to all the chocolate in the recipe!I think that these homemade biscuits would be great to give out to trick-or-treaters or could be the dessert for your spooky Halloween party. Here’s how to make the dough and bake the perfect chocolate gingerbread skeletons:Ingredients for around 18 biscuits (depending on the size of your cutter): 300g plain flour, 50g cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 120g butter, 120g brown sugar, 140g golden syrup, icing sugar for icing the skeleton shape.Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix flour, cocoa, ginger powder and butter together in a bowl. Either use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour, like a crumble recipe, or put into a food processor and pulse together until it forms a crumbly consistency. Drizzle in the golden syrup and continue pulsing the processor until it forms a dough, or mix with a knife if you’re doing it the manual way.Step 2: Divide the dough into quarters and place between two sheets of greaseproof paper. Roll out the dough then peel away the top layer of paper. Step 3: Use a gingerbread man cutter to press shapes into the dough. Peel away the excess dough, leaving the gingerbread man shapes on the greaseproof paper.
Organising a party that has an underlying theme to it can be a pretty difficult thing to do at the best of times, but if you are aiming to provide food that fits this theme then the task gets even tougher. The enduring popularity of the James Bond franchise, and the recent release of its latest smash hit – Spectre – have led to more people organising Bond themed parties. This lets people dress as 007 himself, or Bond girls, and enjoy casino themed foods – but how do you go about preparing these?
Jam-filled playing card biscuits
It is not hard to see how these would be the perfect edible addition to a James Bond casino themed party and the great thing about them is that they are perfect for guests of all ages. Create the dough by sifting sugar into your bowl and beating together with lemon zest and butter until it is fluffy in consistency. At this point beat in egg yolk, salt and flour, before rolling the dough out and cutting it into roughly 7-inch rectangles. These should be frozen for half an hour minimum before being cut down to rectangles of around 2 inches each and baked for ten minutes. Once they have cooled, you cut the card symbols into them using cookie cutters and add the red or black jam to create the finished cards.
I’ve read a few recipes and even seen a few videos on making microwave meringues and, after watching Nadiya win the Great British Bake Off with microwave marshmallow royal icing, I decided that a short-cut is never a bad thing, and wanted to give microwave meringues it a try. Plus, it’s my bestie’s birthday today and she loves meringues, so what better excuse than to bake her favourites as a birthday treat! I wanted to let you know how I got on with my experiment because I’m sure you’re equally intrigued as I was about whether this method actually works or not. Well, things didn’t work out quite as I had imagined but it certainly was an easy to way cook up a quick meringue in a hurry. I used a recipe from the BBC Good Food website and here’s how I got on… Firstly, the whisking process was a little faster than with normal meringues because you don’t need to whisk in the sugar as you go. Instead, the recipe tells you to ‘lightly beat the egg white’, which is quite a quick process – my egg seemed to be was lightly whisked within a minute. The next step is a sift loads of icing sugar into the egg white; we’re talking 300g icing sugar to 1 egg white, so that part took a long time. The next step is to roll the meringue ‘dough’ into balls and microwave on a piece of kitchen towel for 1 and a half minutes. I didn’t take any photos of my meringue balls because I got carried away with the excitement of seeing whether it worked and shoved them straight in the microwave.
I watched as the first batch started to rise up and took them out after the recommended time, but they quickly fell flat as they cooled and stuck to the kitchen paper. When they were cool I tried to peel them off the paper, and they all seemed to be stuck or, when they did come off, they snapped in half. I wasn’t too worried because they didn’t really look like meringues at all so I wasn’t going to use them anyway.
I tried again with a second batch, leaving them to cook a little longer and the same thing happened. They looked really promising in the microwave – all big and puffy – but they fell flat as I got them out. I decided to change plate (I’d been using a microwavable plastic plate until now) for a ceramic one, and lined it with greaseproof paper rather than kitchen paper. I popped the next three balls into the microwave and hoped for the best.
Thankfully, this method was much more successful and the meringues were double the size of the first two batches while cooking and when I took them out they didn’t flatten. Hurrah! I tried again with the last lot of meringue and decided to leave these in a little longer than the one and half minutes, hoping that they would rise up even bigger. Unfortunately, the smell of burnt sugar started wafting out of the microwave pretty soon after the minute and a half was up and one of the biggest meringues had been singed on the inside. So definitely stick to the timing in the recipe – it’s there for a reason!
So the last 6 meringues turned out pretty well and ended up looking like a proper meringue. The texture is crisp and dry, and they are very very sweet. I think the big ones will be great with whipped cream in the middle and dipped in chocolate, or with strawberries as a yummy pudding. But what was I going to do with all the flat meringues? They tasted fine but just didn’t look all that great. I’m sure they would be ideal to crumble up into an Eaton mess and I remember the recipe for the ultimate dessert – a raspberry bomb – that my sister makes. This is simply crushed meringue, raspberry coulis and cream whipped together and frozen, and it is out of this world. So that’s an option for these microwave meringues too. I decided that I’d make a batch of dark chocolate cookies and use the crushed meringues as a topping to sprinkle over the chocolate to sweeten it. I’d recently bought some 90% cocoa chocolate, thinking that I’d be able to eat it but I just couldn’t do it – it was TOO chocolatey, if there can be such a thing? So I wanted to use this chocolate but needed to sweeten it, so the ultra-sugary meringues would be the ideal accompaniment. I whipped up a batch of chocolate cookies using a recipe online, again from the BBC Good Food website, but I left out the chocolate chips and drizzled the melted chocolate over the top of the cookies instead. I sprinkled with the crushed meringues and then drizzled a little more chocolate over the top for good measure. I sandwiched some of the better flat meringues between two cookies for a bigger dessert, which looks great but I suspect might be sugar overload! I just tried one of the cookies and it is actually the nicest treat I’ve eaten in a long time, so I’m going to pop them in a cake tin, along with all the successful meringues sandwiched together with cream and drizzled with more chocolate, and take them round to my bestie’s house to celebrate!
Did you ever try to make microwave meringues yourself? If so, do you have any tips for the next time I make them? Or have you tried out any recipe and had to salvage it after it went wrong? I enjoy turning mistakes into yummy treats so this challenge was good fun for me, although of course I would have preferred to have more successful meringues in the first place! Let me know how you get on if you try out either recipe by leaving me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy.
As you can probably guess from the frequency of my festive blog posts, I’m really looking forward to Christmas and I’ve taken a look at back some of the seasonal recipes that I’ve shared on the blog over the past few years so that I can revisit some of these festive flavours myself. I thought I would share these posts with you again today to inspire your festive baking, so here they are:
Do let me know if you make any of these recipes yourself over Christmas and I’d love to hear about your favourite festive recipes so leave me a comment and links to recipes below. Also tweet me @Cassiefairy anytime over Christmas with your festive bakes!
Yes, I’ve been baking again – What, two recipe posts in one week? I hear you cry – but for two good reasons. Firstly, it is National Afternoon Tea week and I couldn’t let a celebration like this pass me by without baking some cookies to dunk in my cuppa, and secondly, I’ve just found out about The Great Blogger Bake Off challenge and it’s always good to have a legitimate excuse to do some mid-week baking for my blog!
In honour of National Afternoon Tea week, I am planning my trip to the Blackpool Tower Ballroom in order to experience one of their amazing high teas (it looks fabulous, doesn’t it?). During my last trip up north to a friend’s wedding in Lytham, I ran out of time on my holiday and couldn’t fit in seeing all my pals as well as making the trip to Blackpool that I so wanted to do. So I missed out on an afternoon of decadence, but this time I’m booking my tickets and making certain that I get my tea-and-cake! As you may have already read on my blog, I’ve been learning to swing dance (with a little lindy thrown in – I’m getting adventurous now!) at a weekly dance class and although I’ve finally invested in some proper dancing shoes, I’ve really not had much opportunity to try them out. I am super-excited about the thought of dancing in the famous Tower Ballroom on a sprung dance floor to the sounds of the famous Wurlitzer organ. If it’s good enough for Strictly Come Dancing, it’s good enough for me! So watch this space for an update of my visit and plenty of photos of me twirling, no doubt!
On to the second part of my blog post; The Great Blogger Bake Off. Megan from The Briar Rose blog told me about the challenge during Blogstock last weekend, and I immediately started thinking about biscuit recipes for this week’s theme. I went for a fairly safe double chocolate chip cookie recipe that I found on All Recipes.co.uk but Megan has baked some uber-pretty white chocolate millionaires shortbread with salted caramel – I SO want a square right now! My cookies turned out decidedly spongey when baked but they taste good with all the chocolate chips thrown in and absorb a nice lot of milk when dunked, which is highly important in any cookie recipe. Here’s the recipe I used:
Ingredients: 250g plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 170g unsalted butter, 200g dark brown soft sugar, 100g caster sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 325g chocolate chips
Method: Preheat the oven to 170 C and grease lots of baking trays because these cookies grow and spread while baking, so need room on the trays – you can maybe bake four cookies per standard oven tray. Melt the butter before mixing in the brown sugar and caster sugar, and a tablespoon of vanilla extract. Allow the melted butter mixture to cool a little before adding one egg and one yolk and beating until creamy. Sift together the flour, bicarb and salt and mix into the sugar-butter-and-egg batter.
Stir the chocolate chips through the batter – I added both white and milk chocolate chips. Drop a heaped tablespoon of the batter onto a baking tray for each cookie but don’t flatter – it will spread and rise during cooking. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted and allow to cool – if you can wait that long!