Madrid: a discovery in biscuits 

Next up on my tour of Spain, the capital, Madrid. This city can be summed up in three words – vibrant, stylish and atmospheric. 

Right in the centre of Madrid, next the the Plazo Major, is a great food market, Mercat de la San Miguel. This is a great place to pick up pinchos, cheeses and a selection of meats. Obviously, the thing that caught my eye was the patisserie / bakery toward the back of the hall – Horno San Onofre:

  
This great selection of biccies included:

  1. Corazon Pequeno – the small hearts. This was a delicious vanilla biscuit covered in strawberry jam and then a layer of icing to give it the smooth looking texture
  2. A selection of Caracas – including pistachio, sesame seed and honey
  3. Cocados – a very dry coconut biscuit made with condensed milk and eggs
  4. Tejas – very similar to a tuille, this one using my favourite – peanuts!
  5. A simple cookie – though it was very hard and crispy

A trip to Madrid is not the same unless you spare at least half a day to spend in the glorious Parque de la Retiro – a huge park to the side of the city. After a couple of hours sunning, we decided to head over to Madrid-Ibiza, a very non-tourist section on the other side of the park to grab some snacks. Whilst there, we discovered two fantastic local bakeries whose selection of goodies got us very excited!

First up, was Álvaro Artesanos, a gorgeous bakery who had a splendid looking variety:

  
Next we came across Levadura Madre (aka. yeast mother), who also surprised us with the amount of biscuits on offer. Though due to poor Spanish on my part, we ended up with three of the same biscuits rather than a selection! However, the one pictured below was a lovely strawberry flavoured sanwich biscuit:  

  
Keep an eye out for my next post in which we look at what I found in Seville…

Barcelona: a discovery of biscuits

The blog has been sparse of content recently. There is a good reason for that – I’m on a three week Spanish adventure, touring the country with my boyfriend and best bud.

However, two days in and it occurred to me. If I don’t have time to bake, why not share my biscuit discoveries of some of the best bakeries in Spain! 

First up we have Barcelona, the avant-garde capital of Spain. Tucked away down the middle of Carrer de Pi Margall was a fantastic little bakery called Mon PA and the biscuit selection got me very excited.

  
The biscuit selection included, from left to right:

  1. A Spanish take on the French Lunettes, this jam filled vanilla biscuit was coated with chocolate and shaped like a heart. The jam opted for seeds, rather than the traditional seedless, but it was a winning combo
  2. A vanilla biscuit which included pumpkin seeds – not such a winner, but I reckon it would be nice with some cheese
  3. My favourite of the bunch – two chocolate biscuits coated with chocolate and then filled with a caramel-esque filling and laced with chopped hazelnuts. This I am definitely going to try and recreate back in the UK
  4. This was the boyfriend’s favourite – again, similar to the sandwich biscuit technique of the lunettes, but with a hazelnut filling rather than jam

Next up, a visit to the most famous food market in Barcelona – Mercat de la Boqueria. After spending far too much money on cheeses, meats, bread and pastries, I came across the below beauty. This is a traditional cookie that basically has a whole layer of chocolate beneath, forming what can only be described as a cellar of chocolate heaven!

  
That’s it for now, but I will be sure to share more as my adventure continues…

Gingerbread Men

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A couple of weeks back, I went home to visit parents for my father’s birthday.

As usual, we popped into the our local market town, Hitchin, to preuse the gorgeous shops – seriously if you haven’t been, you should check it out.

Luckily enough, one of my favourite cookware shops had a sale on EVERYTHING, so as you can imagine, I went a little cray. One of the bargains I grabbed was a very cute old school gingerbread man biscuit cutter. Therefore, I decided to treat my work colleagues to an army of ginger flavoured biccies.

Makes 18-20 little men

Ingredients

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 125g butter
  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • Icing sugar (for decoration)
  • Chocolate chips (for decoration)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line two baking trays with baking parchment
  2. Sift the flour, bicorbonate of soda and ginger together into a bowl
  3. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs
  4. Now stir through the sugar and create a well in the centre
  5. Beat together the egg and golden syrup in a separate bowl and then pour into the well
  6. Using a palette knife begin combing mixture and then use hands to knead until smooth
  7. Now begin to cut out your gingerbread men using a cutter and a lightly floured surface – I would recommend a thickness of around 5mm
  8. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line two baking trays with baking parchment
  9. Place the gingerbread on the trays and bake for 12-15 minutes
  10. Once baked and cooled, begin to decorate. The ones I created I simply made a icing sugar paste with water and used this to affix the chips! But feel free to get creative

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

This week I wanted to see if I could create the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. The problem is when you start asking everyone what makes a cookie so moreish, you get so many different answers. Therefore, the question is, can you create the ultimate chocolate chip cookie?

The below recipe comes from a source that I always resort too – The Guardian’s ‘how to cook the perfect’ – this has never failed me and I am pleased to say that it didn’t this time.

Follow the below recipe precisely and you will be sure to impress the most pickiest of cookie eaters.

Makes 15-18

Ingredients

  • 120g salted butter, at room temperature
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 75g granulated sugar (I actually used golden granulated, but either is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 170g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (alternatively you could use chocolate chips)
  • Sea salt flakes

Method

  1. Using a wooden spoon, beat together the butter and sugars until just combined. Add the egg and vanilla extract and then beat until all combined
  2. Sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda, then use a spoon to add to the mixture, stirring until it just comes together into a dough. Fold in the chocolate pieces.
  3. At this stage, you can chill overnight, if you have time, otherwise chill for as long as you can – minimum 30 minutes
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with baking parchment
  5. Using slighlty damp hands, divide the mixture into gold-ball sized rounds and place on trays, spacing well apart
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden – not brown!
  7. Sprinkle slightly with sea salt once you remove from the oven and allow to cool

Recipe adapted from: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/apr/25/how-to-cook-perfect-chocolate-chip-cookies

Lemon Kisses

Lemon Kisses

Lemon Kisses

When it comes to sweet treats / desserts / biscuits, one of my all time favourite flavours has to be lemon. It is such a lovely, sharp, sweet, gorgeous flavour addition.

So when one of my work mates asked me to create the ultimate lemon-infused biscuit, this recipe went straight to the top of the list.

You can try variations on the elements to this biscuit (i.e. white chocolate icing filling), but if you want to go to lemon heaven, then stick to the below.

Makes 18-20 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 lemons (zest and juice)
  • 280g plain flour
  • Lemon curd
  • Icing sugar

Method

  1. Beat together the butter and the sugar
  2. Now beat in the egg yolk,  lemon zest and vanilla extract until all combined
  3. Stir through the sifted plain flour, starting with a wooden spoon and then finishing with your hands, kneading until smooth
  4. Choose your biscuit cutter and cut out an even amount of biscuits (remember, these are sandwich biscuits) – rolling and reusing scraps until all dough is used up
  5. Place the cut outs onto pre-lined baking trays and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C and pop the biscuits in for 8-10 minutes, until just turning golden around the edges
  7. Remove and cool
  8. Once fully cooled, spoon a small amount of the lemon curd onto one biscuit and sandwich with another
  9. Once all are sandwiched, mix together icing sugar and the lemon juice until you get a drooping consistency and then sprinkle all over the biscuits
  10. At this stage, you can shake some further icing sugar over the biscuits, otherwise allow to cool
  11. I would recommend leaving overnight so that the flavour fully develops
Lemons Kisses

Lemons Kisses

White Chocolate, Pecan and Coconut Cookies

White Chocolate, Pecan and Coconut Cookies

White Chocolate, Pecan and Coconut Cookies

My boyfriend asked me to bake these for him. Unfortunately, he only received one as I decided to treat my work colleagues to the rest.

I have yet to hear the end of it.

Anyway, these are a fantastic alternative to a traditional chocolate chip cookie and so tasty!

Makes 15-20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 115g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 110g soft dark brown sugar
  • 50g golden granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 130g plain flour
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • 20g oats
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  •  50g white chocolate chips
  • 70g chopped pecans

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with baking parchment
  2. Cream together the butter and the sugars until well mixed
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and cream until completely blender and slightly light
  4. Now add the flour, coconut, oats, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until you have formed a dough
  5. With your hands, mix in the chocolate chips and pecans
  6. Wet a tablespoon and use this to spoon the mixture onto the baking trays
  7. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until they have just begun to turn golden at the edges
  8. Allow to cool on a wire rack – I would suggest leaving them on the tray for around 2-3 minutes as they may be quite soft at first!

Peanut Butter & Banana Cookies 

Peanut Butter & Banana Cookie

Peanut Butter & Banana Cookie

The hunt for the ultimate Peanut Butter Cookie continues…

Bananas are the one fruit that always, without fail, end up going to waste in my house.  It doesn’t help that I am  very particular about my bananas – I will only eat them if they are perfectly yellow. No brown. No green. Just yellow.

That was where I was inspired for my latest recipe – adding my browning bananas to the mix. And I must say, I was quite impressed with the results – it turned out to be almost ‘brownie’ like in texture. I even chucked in a leftover Twirl from Easter. So you could call this my ‘leftovers’ cookie mix!

Makes 18-20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 125g mashed banana (about 1 and a half medium sized)
  • 130g smooth peanut butter
  • 70g soft dark brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 165g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • One Twirl chocolate bar (43g) – smashed into pieces

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line two baking trays with baking parchment
  2. Beat together the mashed banana with the peanut butter until fully mixed
  3. Now stir in the sugars and vanilla extract until it is a smooth consistency – preferably in a stand mixer, but the good ol’ fashioned way works too
  4. Fold in the flour, baking powder and Twirl pieces – it will become quite stiff, but this is what you are trying to achieve
  5. With slightly wet hands, begin to make small balls with the dough (half a golf ball) and place onto the tray spaced well apart
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove and pop onto a cooling rack