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.
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.
I’ve been baking treats again this month and seeing as it’s World Baking Day on Sunday 17th May, I couldn’t help sharing this particularly naughty cookie recipe with you. I first made these cookies as a birthday gift and I’ve made them a few time since, as they are so simple to make and deliciously moreish. In fact, they don’t hang around long enough for me to snap a decent photo of them – they are usually scoffed by my guests the minute they come out of the oven!Ingredients: 150g self-raising flour, 100g butter, 100g light brown muscovado sugar, 1 tablespoon golden syrup, plus a tube of Smarties. For the Maltesers recipe you’ll need 25g cocoa powder and a packet of Maltesers.
Any excuse to make a sweet treat eh? And Easter is the perfect time to make something sweet for the family over this 4-day weekend. Here are my favourite Easter recipes that I’ll be sharing with my family over the bank holiday and I hope you’ll have a go at making some treats for yourself too!
Decorated sugar biscuits Ingredients: 125g butter, 125g caster sugar, 1 medium egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 250g plain flour
Beat the sugar and butter together until light and creamy then add the egg and vanilla extract and mix. Sift half the plain flour into the bowl, mix and then add the rest of the flour and mix into a soft dough. Knead the dough until smooth and wrap in cling film before chilling in the fridge for at least half an hour. When you are ready to make your biscuits, preheat your oven to 180 °C /350 °F and roll out the dough on a floured surface. Use cookie cutters to cut out any shapes you like and move onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper or a baking liner. Bake Cook for approx 10-15 minutes until light golden brown – really keep an eye on them towards to end to prevent the edges of the cookies from getting singed! This is one of my favourite recipes for cute decorated biscuits – simply ice with a icing sugar mixed with a drop of lemon juice and let the kids go crazy decorating them with chocolate sprinkles and hundreds-and-thousands!
Fudge Topping Ingredients: 150g Chocolate (supermarket cheap stuff is fine, or if you can bear it, melt down your easter eggs!), 250g Softened butter or margarine, 275g Icing sugar, 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease two 20cm/8in sandwich tins. Put the cocoa powder and boiling water into a large bowl and mix well to make a paste. Add all the other ingredients and beat again until combined. Divide the cake mixture between the prepared tins. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until well risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tin.
Topping: Melt your chocolate and whisk in the vanilla extract, icing sugar and butter. Work quickly as the topping mixture will start to set as it cools – sandwich some of the fudge mixture between the two cakes then spread the rest over the top and down the sides. Pile on mini eggs and chocolate coins to decorate, then fight over who gets to try the first slice! 😉
I’m very excited to be sending my Easter recipes in to my favourite foodie blog The Pink Whisk who are running a bloggers Easter recipe challenge in association with Two Little Fleas – I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed until Easter that blog writer Ruth likes what she sees! 🙂
As it’s the last Pieday Friday before Christmas, I thought I’d share a couple of festive recipes to kick-start your yuletide baking – gingerbread cookies and Christmas morning muffins.
The first is a very traditional recipe for making gingerbread men, but here I have used cookie cutters from Wholeport to cut out the pieces to build a small 3D sleigh – how cool are these cutters?! So here’s how I did it: First I melted 50g margarine with 100g soft brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of golden syrup and stirring together before adding to a bowl with 300g plain flour, a pinch of salt and 3 teaspoons of ground ginger. I mixed this together and then added 4 tablespoons of milk to bring it together into a dough. I then rolled out the dough and cut out the pieces using the cookie cutters – you can use gingerbread men shaped cutters, or normal cookie cutters such as stars and circles. Bake the cookies on greaseproof paper for 10-15 minutes at 160 degrees. After they had cooled I used chocolate icing decorate the sleigh.
The second recipe is for spiced banana muffins for breakfast on Christmas morning. The batter is super-easy to make and they only take 10-15 minutes to bake in the oven. Mix 225g self-raising flour with a pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons on cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. In another bowl, cream 75g butter with 175g sugar and beat in 2 eggs before mixing into the flour. Add 450g mashed bananas and a handful of sultanas (however much you like – I put in loads!) and mix to make the batter. Put into muffin cases (like the ones I use from Wholeport) or this can even be baked as a loaf in a greased, lined tin. Bake at 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes for muffins and around 45 minutes for the loaf, checking with a cocktail stick to see if the batter has set in the middle. These are great muffins to have for breakfast on Christmas morning!
I hope you enjoy baking over Christmas and I’d love to see your recipes – tweet me photos of your festive treats at @Cassiefairy 🙂