Justified

Happy New  Year! Here’s to a smashing 2014 😀

After what I like to call the ‘Big Christmas Bake-Off’, I usually have leftover things in my pantry that have to go asap.
In June last year, we decided to call it quits on sugar as best as we possibly could. There were two main reasons for this: a) Fructose is truly AWFUL for your body and b) better eating.
It wasn’t as hard as it sounds, funnily enough we weren’t huge sugar eaters to begin with but when we did eat it, we ate a lot.

Anyway, so with the new year comes revolutions  resolutions as per usual. We accomplished so much last year, this year we are really knuckling down on our health.
Back to the perfunctory clearing of the pantry, I had a bucket load of choc-chips that needed using and with the new regime being implemented on Monday 6th January, they had to go. But I hate waste!

I decided to make cookies. I went on the hunt for the best choc chip cookie recipe (which we all know is easier said than done) and I believe I have found it.
All props go to Food 4 Thought (who have an abundance of recipes). I will share the recipe here for the people who are too lazy to click the link XD

Chocolate Chip Cookies – (recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits – adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought)
(makes about 35)

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
150g dark chocolate chips

Preparation
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cream together butter, both sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add lightly beaten egg gradually, beating well after each addition.  Mix in sifted flour and salt.  Add chocolate chips and mix well to distribute throughout dough.

Shape teaspoonfuls of mixture into small balls, place on a lined oven tray allowing room to spread slightly.  Bake in oven for 10 – 12 minutes, until just golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Nutrition: Chocolate! Sorry, there’s nothing nutritious about these unless you include taste.

cookies 2

cookies

Tips:
– Normally when I make cookies, they bleed into each other. When a recipe says a teaspoon size ball, DO IT. I actually followed this for once and had no mess!
– Because I had so many choc chips to use, I doubled the above ingredients and literally made 80 or so. I used Cadbury Choc Chips.
– Try cutting the sugar down a bit, these are really super sweet. Next time I will try eliminating the sugar (I used caster sugar) and sticking with the brown sugar. Or perhaps halving each sugar.
– Make sure you let them sit on the tray when you take them out of the oven, for at least a couple of minutes because they will be soft. This will let them set further.
– I cooked them for exactly 12 minutes @ 180 degrees (c)

Thoughts:
Just as Fiona @ Food 4 Thought did, I ate tested two or three of these straight from the oven and then another couple once they were cooled.
Honestly? The best choc chip cookies, homemade, that I’ve ever eaten. They were crunchy/firm on the outside and chewy and soft in the middle. This recipe shall go into the folder that I keep for naughty days.

Repeat Offender?
Yes, if we were on a regular sugar consumption. No doubt I will be making these for others though!

Only one problem left now – can we eat this many cookies in 48 hours?

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The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Part III

Monday  (17th) was D-Day. I HAD to get this task completed otherwise it would have been all for nowt. Delivery was Tuesday. No time to waste!

I dont know how chefs/bakers do it. That much time on your feet, day after day, cooking….ARGH.
Not to mention the urge to run far, far away from food in general. Actually, that may be a  cure for fatness…perhaps I should look into that further?

So it was oven baking day and the night before I had whispered a few feeble words with regards to the weather being cold so that my house wouldn’t over heat.
Obviously, in Australia its Summer time right now and the last thing you want to be doing is running an oven in an already heating up house. Not fun. And guess what? It was cold and somewhat miserable. I was in luck!

Day Three – The Finale
Shortbread & Cookies 

Shortbread (Scotland)
(www.taste.com.au/recipes/553/shortbread+scotland)

Ingredients
250g butter, softened
1 cup pure icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cornflour
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tbs white sugar

1. Line 2 flat baking trays with baking paper. Draw an 18cm circle in the centre of each sheet of baking paper.
Turn paper over so that marking is face down.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Sift flour and cornflour over butter mixture. Stir until a soft dough forms.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth.
3. Divide dough in half. Gently press each piece into a 10cm (diameter) disc. Place shortbread discs on baking trays.
Using circles on paper as a guide, gently press shortbread out with your fingers to form a 1.5cm thick, 18cm (diameter) round.
4. Pinch the edge of each round to form a frill. Score 8 triangles in each shortbread round (do nut cut through dough). Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until firm.
5. Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush shortbread with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes, swapping trays after 15 minutes, or until shortbread is light golden and firm to the touch.
Allow to cool completely on trays. To serve, use a sharp knife to cut through markings.

Nutrition: Apparently none. Although, butter is from cows and is therefore healthy?

Shortbread uncooked  shortbread cooked

Tips:
– It seems tedious to follow the directions exactly, what with the drawing of circles and blah blah yawn >.> I actually have a perfect round circle burnt lightly into my breadboard…so I placed my baking paper over the top and use it as a guide. Voila!
– Use a salty butter – I found this was missing that smidgen of salt.
– Use caster sugar instead of plain old white sugar, its finer and prettier.

Thoughts:
As above, I swear this was missing salt. The texture was perfect, the base flavour was there…it just didn’t have that thing that shortbread is sposed to have. And the only thing I can think of is that.
I’m going to make another batch this week so I will test my theory and update.

Repeat Offender?
Why yes. This is actually the second time I’ve made this recipe, unfortunately I didn’t bother to make notes the last time so I had to eat it again to remember!
Eric looooves shortbread. Like, loves it more than he loves me. So I am bound to continue to find the right recipe – if you have one, send it to meeeeee.

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Honey Jumble Biscuits
(www.taste.com.au/recipes/22917/honey+jumble+biscuits)

Ingredients
60g butter, chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp milk

Icing
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Pink food colouring

1. Combine butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until butter has melted. Bring to the boil. Remove from heat.
Set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, mixed spice and cloves over butter mixture. Add milk. Stir to combine. Cover. Set aside for 1 hour or until mixture has cooled and thickened.
3. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly.
Divide dough into quarters. Roll 1 portion into a 25cm-long log shape. Cut into 5cm-long pieces. Place on prepared trays, leaving room for spreading.
Using a wooden spoon, flatten each piece of dough until 5mm-thick. Repeat with remaining dough portions. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden. Stand on tray for 10 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Make icing Using: a whisk, beat egg white in a bowl until foaming. Gradually beat in icing sugar until combined. Stir in lemon juice.
Spoon half the mixture into another bowl. Tint pink with food colouring. Spread half of the biscuits with pink icing. Spread remaining biscuits with white icing.
Set aside for 30 minutes or until set. Serve.

Nutrition: Eggs..are healthy!

  Honey Jumbles raw  Honey Jumbles raw on tray

Honey Jumbles white icing  Honey Jumbles pink icing  Honey Jumbles cooked

Honey Jumbles white iced

Honey Jumbles pink iced

Tips:
– Don’t over cook!
– Less colouring is more (LOL – I never learn)

Thoughts:
These made me sad. I LOVE gingerbread. It’s the one thing I love about Christmas the most when it comes to food. I don’t know if it was me? Or the recipe? I have to blame the recipe. But it was very sad.

Repeat Offender?
Unfortunately, no. Boo! They were hard. And not nice and crunchy hard, just hard. Like stale hard. And then a bit chewy in places. And just plain old WEIRD and SAD.
I’m still trying to get over this one.

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Spiced Ginger Cookies
(Super Food Ideas, Issue August 2012 Page 77)

Makes 40
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 18 minutes (plus cooling time)

Ingredients
170g butter, softened
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup golden syrup
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup raw caster sugar
2 tbs sliced glace ginger – I omitted this

1. Preheat oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and golden syrup. Beat until combined. Sift flour, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon over butter mixture.
Using a wooden spoon, stir until combined and a soft dough forms.
3. Place raw caster sugar in a shallow dish. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Roll balls in sugar to coat evenly. Place on prepared trays, 5cm apart, to allow room for spreading.
4. Using the palm of your hand, flatten slightly. Lightly press 1 piece of ginger into the top of each cookie. Bake for 15-18 minutes, swapping trays halfway, or until light golden.
Cool on trays for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve

Nutrition: (each) 416kj; 3.7g fat; 2.3g saturated fat; 1g protein; 15.9g carbs; 0.3g fibre; 16mg cholesterol; 105mg sodium

spiced ginger plain deco3 uncooked  spiced ginger plain deco2 uncooked

spiced ginger plain deco3  spiced ginger plain deco2

spiced ginger plain deco1  spiced ginger plain cooked

Tips:
– Cook to cooking time.
– Use whatever you want on top – I did! Actually, I had these neat jars of mixed decorations that Woolies had and hadn’t used them so I thought Id give them a whirl.
– The dough is really fluffy and light and a little sticky, use the spoon method to create the balls and drop them a few at a time into the dish with the sugar. Then just give them a quick toss through and remove.

Thoughts:
This recipe was quite good. It was a little bit fiddly rolling the dough in sugar. They came out quite chewy, which I’m not opposed to at all but..I was hoping for a biscuit biscuit.

Repeat Offender?
Maybe. Eric isn’t a fan of ginger like I am. I may just see how I feel next year XD

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Rainbow Cookies
(Super Food Ideas, Issue August 2012 Page 77)

Makes 48
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 15 minutes (plus cooling time)

Ingredients
250g butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g packet chocolate freckles

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until well combined.
3. Siftr flour and baking powder over butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until combined. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls.
Place on prepared trays, 2 cm apart, to allow room for spreading. Press 1 freckle into the top of each cookie to form a 4.5cm round. Bake for 12-15 minutes, swapping trays halfway, or until light golden.
Cool on trays for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve.

Nutrition: (each) 488kg; 5.3g fat; 3.4g saturated fat; 1.4g protein; 16g carbs; 0.3g fibre; 21mg cholesterol; 56mg sodium.

Rainbow Cookies raw

Rainbow cookies single cooked  Rainbow cookies cooked

Tips:
– Well, obviously. Space them out better than I did! I don’t mind though, my mother always made cookies that merged like these ones XD
– You could change out the freckles for anything you like, really.

Thoughts:
These slightly crunchy, chewy and just all round nice. The recipe was simple to follow and the prep was easy.

Repeat Offender?
Sure. If I’m feeling like lazy cookies! I don’t actually bake cookies often. Christmas seems to be the only time.
Eric liked them, and that’s always a good sign, yeah?

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You can imagine by this stage, I was freaking exhausted.

My feet were killing me. I was covered in flour and icing sugar. My kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it. And I still had to wrap and hamper it all up!
Thankfully, that was the sitting down part.

finished hamper

 

Ah.
Seriously, I’m glad tha’ts all over.
Will I do it again? Ask Martha in November, 2013 (bitch!)