Archive | February 2014

Ultimate dunking gingers – a gingernut at its best!

These are the favourite all time biscuits from my pile of cut-out torn-out half-remembered and improvised recipe collection. My grandchildren love them – our local UKIP customer at the market, with her ‘Say no to  the euro’ badge proudly displayed, queues to buy them. ( I guess they are a fine symbol of earthy British taste – we fought wars for spices in the past so it must be part of our tradition.) I even took a box on a sailing holiday – as they are said to ward off sea-sickness. I have since heard that may not really be true – but they were devoured with alacrity.

Once you have got the balance of fat/syrup just right, these ginger biscuits are as near foolproof as can be. I occasionally make a box of ‘misshapes’ and give them to my son to take to work – but I don’t think they get that far. So here is the recipe – I would emphasise the importance of baking these on parchment paper so they don’t stick and they don’t sit on a greasy tray. When I have made the little balls of dough, ready to put on the tray – I take each one and gently roll it in my palms until I can feel it slightly sticky. At this point I feel it is ready to pop on the tray as it has its own oily coating and will cook and spread and crackle just as it should. The recipe I use tells me to use the ‘melting method’ but I have always ignored that – so here is what I do.

gingers lined up to cool

Dorset Dunking Gingers

Recipe

130g. self raising flour

1 tbsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. bicarbonate soda

200g. castor sugar

115 g unsalted butter

85g golden syrup

1 medium free range egg, beaten

35- 40g stem ginger ( drained and chopped)

3 baking trays, lined with parchment paper (try Aldi for great value parchment paper and remember you can re-use by reversing!)

Method

Sift the flour, ground ginger, bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.

Put the butter and sugar into a mixer and beat together until soft.  Add the syrup and beaten egg along with the ginger pieces until absorbed. Mix in the flour mixture gently – using a wooden spoon or spatula to help the process.

When it is all combined, roll into a log. Divide the log into half and then quarters. Each quarter represents 6 biscuits – so divide into two and then each piece is 3 ! I find this the easiest way to deal with this kind of baking – otherwise I have ended up with huge cookies at the start of baking and mini morsels at the end!

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Once the division is done, roll each piece into a ball, using your hands. Arrange on the prepared baking trays, spacing well apart as they will spread.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 mins, until a good golden brown. Keep an eye on them and maybe turn them once during the baking so they brown evenly. You will know they are ready when they crack – then sink. Depending on how crunchy you like them, you can take them out at any point after that.  Some of us like to chew – others to crunch and of course many of us are dunkers!

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Leave to cool on the trays for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container – or just let the family eat them! These gingers keep remarkably well in an airtight tin – probably two weeks.

What to do with egg whites – albumen alternatives

So many recipes demand a  yolk here and a yolk there ( and I’m not yolking!) As any frequent baker knows, you can end up with a surplus of the ‘white stuff’ . (For those reading this in the depths of the hardest winter ever known – I do apologise for even joking about it) I was led the way of ‘Forgotten Cookies’ by Lauren, and that solved my surplus egg white situation in the very nicest way,  but recently was searching for an alternative. Trouble is that I don’t want to step on the toes of other bakers in the market – or cross spoons with them in any way. Some of them make just the most perfect macaroons – pale golden shells with creamy insides. I have tried and failed miserably. A sweet old man i in a tiny restaurant in a small town called Fondi in southern Italy, once brought me two Amaretti with my coffee and even gave me the recipe when I extolled the virtues of their taste and general delightfulness. I think I was a bit over-excited by  the glass of Limoncello he pressed on me beforehand. Once I got home,  I tried so hard to replicate his perfectly rounded little bundles of egg-white, sugar and  ground almond – but somehow they were not the same and, to my shame,  finished their little lives, crumbled at the bottom of another dessert.

Recently – in a little book I borrowed from the local library – I found the following recipe also using left-over egg whites, sugar  and  coconut. Photography often sells food and in this case it did inspire me to try. The original recipe was for ‘choc-dipped macaroons’. I have to admit I am not great at ‘dipping’ and most of the chocolate ends up on the counter on on my fingers – so here is my own alternative. sweet morsels

Coconut macaroons with chocolate hats!

Recipe

1 egg white

1/2 cup /90g/30z castor sugar

2 tsp cornflour

1 cup /90g/30z  dessicated coconut

approx 65g chocolate ( dark or milk is entirely up to taste)

Method

Preheat oven to 160c (315f/Gas 2/3)

Line a tray with baking paper. Place the egg white in a small dry bowl. Using an electric beater ( or a hand whisk and patience I have only read about in books) beat the whites until peaks form and you can turn the bowl upside-down without the whites falling out. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly until the mixture is thick and glossy and all the sugar has dissolved. Add the cornflour and beat until the ingredients are just combined.

Add the coconut to the egg white mixture using a metal spoon ( or even better a silicon spatula) stir until the contents are just combined. Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on a prepared tray. Bake 15-20mins and then cool on the tray.

Place the chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of barely simmering water – when the chocolate begins to soften, stir until it is smooth. Dip the macaroons into the chocolate and allow the excess to drain. (If you are as bad as me at ‘dipping’ – then take a teaspoonful of chocolate and pour it very gently over the top of each macaroon – rather like a school beret!)

ready for marketin a pilemacaroons