I do like a good oaty biscuit and these oat, coconut, fennel chocolate chip cookies are some of the best. They’re crisp on the outside, chewy in the middle and very very moreish. If you can restrain yourself, they’ll keep well in the biscuit tin for a few days. Oh, did I say? They’re dairy-free, refined sugar-free and healthy (ish) too.
As some of you know, I try to use organic ingredients where I can. Although organic is better for individual human health, more importantly, it is better for the environment and ultimately benefits human health in the long term. Anyway, on the back of a recently purchased packet of Crazy Jack’s organic dried apricots, I noticed a recipe for these apricot cookies. I had to try them just as soon as I could. A weekend away visiting friends in Glastonbury last month provided just the right opportunity to try them out.
This is how I made them:
- Cut 100g butter into pieces and placed it on a heater to soften – the kitchen is already cold.
- Added 100g soft brown sugar and creamed for a good few minutes until the mixture was very light and fluffy.
- Added 1 tbsp Cornish honey and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and creamed some more.
- Sifted in 150g flour (half wholemeal, half white) and a scant teaspoon of baking powder.
- Chopped 100g unsulphered apricots into pieces and added these.
- Added 25g white chocolate chips & mixed until all was incorporated. It didn’t come together in one big lump, but that was fine.
- Picked up small handfuls and patted into walnut sized balls with the palms of my hands. I made 26.
- Placed well apart on lined baking sheets and baked at 175C for 10 minutes until golden and crisped around the edges.
- Used a spatula to place them on a wire rack and left to cool.
The mixture smelt wonderfully of honey and the aroma as these biscuits baked was really quite heavenly. They were luxurious and delicious, very sweet, but oh so satisfying. They were crisp around the edges with a really chewy centre; the flavour of honey was strong, the apricots added their signature fruitiness and the bits of white chocolate had caramelised giving added texture and flavour. These would make perfect Christmas gifts and indeed I shall be making some myself to give away. If CT doesn’t get his mitts on them first.
The letter for this month’s Alpha Bakes is N. Apart from nuts, I could think of nothing else other than Nonnettes and as I haven’t made any of these wonderful eggless French honey cakes for a while, this seemed like a good opportunity. I decided I’d adapt and use half the amount of the original Nonnette recipe to make 12 smaller cakes using my new muffin cases. A half eaten jar of my mother’s delicious blackcurrant jam was sitting in the cupboard and I still had a bit of rose syrup that really needed using up. Blackcurrant and rose proved to be a nice combination as evinced by the blackcurrant, rose and white chocolate ice-cream I made in the summer.
Here’s what I did:
- Melted 40g unsalted butter in a pan.
- Added 100g local Cornish honey and 50g light brown sugar.
- Turned off the heat and added 50g milk and 50g rose syrup.
- Stirred until smooth then left to cool.
- Sifted 100g plain white flour, 50g rye flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda into a bowl.
- Added the grated zest from 1/2 a small orange.
- Stirred in 25g chopped white chocolate.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the honey mixture.
- Stirred until just combined.
- Divided the mixture between 12 silicone muffin cases and left in my cold kitchen for half an hour.
- Placed a small teaspoonful of blackcurrant jam on the top of each one.
- Baked at 180C for 16 minutes.
- Left to cool
- Mixed 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar with about a tbsp of rose syrup to form a slightly runny icing.
- Drizzled these over the cakes whilst they were still slightly warm.
These were as good as I imagined they would be, that is to say, thoroughly delicious. They were sweet, sticky and flavoursome with a lovely smooth texture. The blackcurrant was a good strong flavour and its tartness helped to counteract the overall sweetness. CT was surprised by the little bits of white chocolate, but enjoyed them. Licking fingers is an occupational hazard with these, although CT didn’t seem to be unduly bothered.
Chris over at Cooking Around the World has started a new challenge Bloggers Around the World. Sadly I didn’t manage to join in last month with Germany as the selected country. This month, it’s France so I’m submitting these Nonnettes.
As these honey cakes are eggless, I am also submitting them to Cook Eat Delicious Desserts where the theme this month is honey. It is being hosted this month by Nivedhanam.
Ros chose V for Alpha Bakes this month, oh my goodness! Other than Vanilla and Victoria sandwich, I wasn’t having many ideas and although vanilla is fantastic, it’s such a common ingredient in cakes, I wanted something a little different. I’ve seen Viennese whirls popping up all over the place which is a great idea, but again not quite what I was looking for. So I turned to trusty Pam Corbin in her wonderful book Cakes and there it was at the bottom of the V list, Vinegar Cake. Traditionally made when hens were off lay, this is an eggless fruit cake from East Anglia. I added a few ingredients not mentioned in Pam’s recipe.
This is how I made it:
- Placed 1 tbsp mesquite powder and 1 tbsp maca powder onto the scales than added white flour to make the weight up to 250g.
- Sifted into a bowl along with 250g wholemeal flour and a pinch of salt.
- Rubbed in 200g unsalted butter cut into bits, until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Stirred in 500g dried fruit made up of sultanas, raisins, chopped dried apples, goji berries and crystallised orange peel (homemade).
- Stirred in 50g chopped Maya Gold chocolate (G&B dark orange spiced).
- Poured 300ml milk into a large bowl (didn’t have a jug big enough) and added 50ml cider vinegar.
- Stirred 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda into 1 tbsp milk.
- Added this to the milk and watched in amazement as it frothed up and up and up!
- Poured this onto the dry ingredients together with 2 tbsp golden syrup and mixed until just incorporated.
- Spooned into a 23cm cake mould and smoothed the top.
- Sprinkled 1 tbsp demerara sugar over the top and baked at 170C for 50 minutes.
- Left to cool in mould for 20 minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool almost completely – couldn’t wait any longer!
Watching the milk and vinegar mixture whoosh up when the bicarb was added was impressive. It reminded me of one those school science lessons which probably no longer occur due to health and safety reasons. Whatever the underlying chemistry of it all, it seemed to work: the cake rose really well. Unfortunately, I took it out a little too soon, so it sank in the middle. Surprisingly, the taste of vinegar was noticeable by its absence. It had a lovely crunchy top and would have been great served warm with clotted cream or ice-cream. I’m not a fan of heavy fruit cakes, but this was just about right, plenty of fruit but plenty of cake too. CT is also not a fan of heavy fruitcakes, which he associates with being dense, dry & and desiccated with bucket loads of horrible mixed peel. This one, he opined, was pleasantly fruity with an unexpected sort of spritliness about it. It had a nice soft crumb and tasted slightly malty which I put down to the mesquite I added. We both felt thoroughly virtuous eating this because of the healthful properties of the maca I had included.
Alpha Bakes is a monthly blogging challenge where a random letter is picked from the alphabet which then inspires the theme of the bake. It’s hosted alternately by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.