Treats and sweets, sharing homemade breads, scones and muffins, little pastries, queen cakes with yummy toppings – all speak of holiday fun and delicious times with friends and family. Eggless baking is not as scary as it seems, so try some of these relatively easy-to-make sweet snacks and tea time delights.
Note: Butter is a hectic price! If substituting with margarine, remember that the taste will not be the same. It’s easier to detect margarine in toppings and creams, so use it to bake with and save the butter for where the taste really matters!
This is an ideal way to create a quick treat from left-over mashed pumpkin, so set some aside the next time you are cooking pumpkin or butternut. You will need 1 cup, nicely sieved to remove lumps, and it should be cold. Preheat your oven to 190o and grease a cookie sheet. Sift together 2 cups of all-purpose flour (try brown bread flour for a nuttier flavour and more texture); 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder; a pinch of salt. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and ¼ cup of brown sugar with 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Mix the wet with the dry ingredients and use a quarter cup measure to drop batter onto the cookie sheet; this makes 6 scones, so I generally double the recipe. I like to sprinkle some ground pumpkin seeds on top or even a little shake of cayenne pepper before popping into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. These are best served warm, with a dollop of melting butter. Use the basic recipe for sweet or savoury variations.
Best Crunchies Ever
These biscuits are perfect for dipping into chocolate or nibbling at a picnic or munching on a hike; they have lots of good stuff in them and are practically guilt-free. These quantities make 24 crunchies. For the dry ingredients you will need a cup of rolled oats; ½ cup of sugar; ¾ cup of all purpose flour; pinch of salt; ½ cup of chopped almonds (or macadamias); ½ cup of raisins (or dried cranberries). The following wet ingredients are heated gently together in a small pan: ½ cup of butter (or coconut oil, or margarine) with 1 tablespoon honey or golden syrup and 2 tablespoon of boiling water. When melted and well-mixed, add the baking soda and stir well. Now add the wet to the dry and mix thoroughly - using your hands will ensure that the mix is perfectly integrated. You can add a tad more hot water if the mix is too dry. Drop by rounded spoonful (I have seen a professional baker use a small ice-cream scoop which works very well) onto the greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake until golden (around 15 minutes) at 150o. Leave them to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to firm up. Drizzle with melted chocolate for extra yumminess. Store in an airtight container lined with grease-proof paper.
Only the Italians would come up with a name like that! These are sweet little mouthfuls that combine the flavours of almonds and chocolate. For the cookies you will need 1 cup of ground almonds (you can buy almond powder or grind up your own) and 2 tablespoons of castor sugar (if using granulated sugar, grind it with the almonds.) Set aside. Cream 250g of butter with ½ cup of castor sugar until light and fluffy; add the almonds; a pinch of salt; and a ½ teaspoon almond essence and blend for a little longer. Sift 1¾ cups cake flour with ¼ cup of cocoa powder (use raw cocoa powder if possible - the taste is just fantastic and a little goes a long way), then fold the dry ingredients into the butter mix, and refrigerate for an hour. Roll into 8 dozen small balls about the size of cherries. Flatten the bottoms slightly and place at least 2cms apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 180o for up to 12 minutes, until firm, then remove and cool. Melt an 80g bar of chocolate to your taste – traditionally black chocolate, but not everyone likes the bitter sweetness of that. Melt it over a saucepan with boiling water, adding 2 tablespoons of butter. Remove from heat and, using tongs (and a light touch), dip the flattened bottom into the chocolate and then sandwich onto another cookie. You will have 48 little kisses. Pile them up on a plate, sprinkle lightly with icing sugar and serve with coffee after a celebratory meal.