Tag Archives: cookies

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk and Hazelnut Cookies

9 Mar

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

Just a quick post because I promised you the recipe for these last week after my first Healthy Baking with Chocolate workshop. I am in the middle of writing (and editing heavily) a speech on the relationship between food and health, particularly cancer, for the Marbella Women’s Week conference next week.

I say I. I mean we. Actually he is doing an awful lot of the editing and an awful lot of adding bits in too. It’s only a ten minute talk. I need to focus. So instead I’m writing about cookies.

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Now I’m not saying you should eat these every day or anything but compared to most cookies these are much healthier.They are made with olive oil instead of butter. I use honey and maple syrup (or miel de cana) instead of sugar and the wholemeal spelt flour gives them a lovely flavour.

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK tomorrow so these are for my mum. She loves a biscuit with a cup of tea. They probably have too many bits in for her taste but it’s the thought that counts and I’ve ordered flowers in colours that match her lounge cushions and curtains so I should be safe. She does love it when things match.

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies Recipe

Makes 10-12 cookies. Vegan, wheat-free.

  • 150 g wholemeal spelt flour
  •  1 tsp baking powder
  •  1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  •  4 Tbsp maple syrup or miel de cana
  •  1 Tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  •  a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  •  about 70 g 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 60 g hazelnuts or almonds roughly chopped

Preheat oven 175 C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper

In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nuts and chocolate together  well.

In a jug whisk together the oil, maple syrup/miel de cana, honey/agave, vanilla and almond extract, if using. Pour this into the flour bowl and gently mix together until just combined.

Take a tablespoon of the mix and put it on the lined tray, pressing it down slightly with your fingers. Continue with the rest of the mix leaving  an inch or so in between each so they can spread. Bake for 11 minutes until just golden, leave on the tray for 1 minute then remove to a wire rack to cool. This stops them drying out. Store in an airtight container.

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

 Happy Mother’s Day Mum!

Now back to the speech…

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Fresh Cranberry and Chestnut Gingerbread Scones

30 Dec

These are gorgeous. I had to share them with you quickly before the festive season is over and they are kind of irrelevant.

I bought a punnet of fresh cranberries just before Christmas because I had never seen or tried fresh ones before. When I got them home I was sort of unsure about what to do with them. Cranberry sauce was too boring, I wanted something where you can taste the cranberry in its natural state and feel the texture.

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Orange Blossom and Almond Soft Oat Cookies

16 Apr

 It’s all about the orange blossom here at the moment. As soon as you walk out of the front door the smell hits you. An exotic floral fragrance that is just synonymous with spring in Andalucia.

These pretty little innocent white flowers give of such a powerful scent. We went for lunch last Sunday at Santiago’s restaurant. To be sat in the beautiful garden surrounded by orange trees and the delicious perfume of the blossom is a real treat. In fact every time the wind blew we were treated to a gentle rain of orange blossom petals. “Una lluvia de flor de azahar” to quote Mery the waitress….

I have to admit that I did have a few spoonfuls of a dessert on Sunday, I couldn’t resist. It was a frozen mango margarita cheesecake I think. Whatever it was, it was delicious. I am doing really well with the detox but I do crave something sweet occasionally. I’ve been wanting to make an oaty biscuit/cookie without flour, butter or added sugar. It’s quite a challenge but I think I’ve cracked it with these. The sweetness comes from some Orange Blossom honey that I bought from a local producer. I used ground almonds instead of flour because I love the flavour and moistness it gives to the biscuit and also because we are surrounded by almond trees.


Orange blossom & almond is a classic combination used in a lot of Middle Eastern desserts and pastries. The orange blossom water I used to flavour the biscuits has an unusual, exotic floral taste that is unlike anything else. It perfectly compliments the almonds, dried apricots and dates that I added to follow on with Moorish theme. Pistachios & rosewater would be lovely too if you can’t get orange blossom water.

The other new ingredient I used instead of butter or milk was Crema de Almendras (Almond cream). I’m not sure if it is called almond cream in English or whether it is almond paste/butter. As you can see from the image below it is a thick creamy almond paste. I bought the diabetic version which is sugar-free but is made with fructose so it is sweet.

The result is a soft, chewy almondy biscuit with a background of orange blossom. Delicious, and great for a healthy snack when you need something sweet.

Orange Blossom & Almond Soft Oat Cookies

makes about 20, vegan, gluten-free

  • 150 gr (2 cups) rolled oats
  • the juice of half an orange
  • 3 tsp orange flower water
  • 120 gr (1/3 cup) orange blossom (or whatever) honey (oil the measure first so that the honey slips out easily)
  • 25 gr (1/3 cup) flaked almonds
  • 175 gr (2/3 cup)crema de almendras (sugar-free almond paste)
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda (or baking soda)
  • 8 dates, stoned and chopped
  • 8 dried apricots, chopped
  • 25 gr (1/4 cup)ground almonds
  • a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Soak the oats in the orange juice and orange blossom water while you prepare the other ingredients. Mix everything together in a large bowl until well combined.

Line a baking sheet (or 2) with baking paper and drop heaped teaspoons of the mixture on the tray(s). You will need two trays or to do it twice. You should have 9 – 12 on each tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack if you can wait that long….

Serve under an orange tree or next to some flowers with a pot of mint tea for the full Moorish taste explosion……

Moment of Gratitude or “Things that made me smile today…”

Our Hydrangeas, aren’t they gorgeous…

Our Aloe Vera plants flowering and the shadows on the wall…

Stunning!!

Father’s Day Florentines with Chocolate, Ginger and Cranberries

19 Mar

Today is Father’s Day in Spain. Even though I live in Spain and my Dad lives in Cape Town I still do the British father’s day in June for some reason. My Dad loves Florentines and I found this recipe with some beautiful photos here this week and just had to have a go at them.

Today we went to see our friends Andrew & Rafa. It was Andrew’s birthday this week so I took him some of these Florentines as a gift. I think they really liked them because we managed to eat them all and he posted a photo of them on Facebook.  Andrew writes a blog called Manana- The Andalucia Diary which is  a really informative insider’s guide to Andalucia and beyond. It includes loads of invaluable information about, where to stay, where to eat and places to visit as well as information about living and working in Southern Spain.

So Dad, here is your virtual Spanish Father’s Day gift, you would have really enjoyed them, but we ate them all sorry. I don’t think they would travel very well but you will be pleased to know that I was thinking of you as we were shoving them down our necks….!!

I have adapted the original recipe to include dried cranberries rather than dried cherries and I used crystallised ginger instead of candied peel as that was what I had (and my dad loves ginger). I used greek yoghurt rather than whipping cream, because I didn’t have any, and wholemeal rather than plain Italian 00 flour.

Florentines with Chocolate, Ginger & Cranberries

makes about 24, vegetarian. Adapted from Catalina Bakes

  • 50 gr butter
  • 65 ml whipping cream (I used greek yoghurt)
  • 115 gr sugar
  • 55 gr honey
  • 120 gr flaked almonds
  • 60 gr dried cranberries (or dried cherries, quartered)
  • 30 gr crystallised ginger chopped finely(or candied peel)
  • 40 gr wholemeal (or plain) flour
  • about 250 gr good quality dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Soak the cranberries in boiling water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile put the butter, cream/yoghurt, sugar & honey in a  small saucepan over a low heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 – 7 minutes, stirring constantly until a light golden butterscotch colour. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond flakes, chopped ginger and the soaked cranberries that have been dried with a clean tea towel.  Mix well then stir in the flour. You should have a sticky batter.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and drop teaspoons full of the mix on the sheets about 7 cm apart (They spread a lot).  Flatten them out a little with a spatula.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes until the edges are turning golden brown (the top sheet will cook quicker than the bottom sheet) then turn the oven down to 150C and bake for a further 4 or 5 minutes until the centre is golden as well (Don’t let the edges burn). Remove the top sheet of Florentines from the oven and swap the bottom sheet to the top if they need to brown a bit more but keep an eye on them.

Move the cooked Florentines on their baking paper to cool completely on a wire rack while you repeat with the rest of the mix.

When all the Florentines are cooked & cooled. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water. Spoon a tablespoon of chocolate on the flat back of each Florentine and spread it out to reach the edges.  Leave to cool chocolate side up while you do the rest. After a few minutes make wavy patterns in the chocolate with a fork and leave to cool completely.

Feliz Dia del Padre Dad! I promise I’ll make you some when I come over…..xx

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk and Hazelnut Cookies at The Lakes

21 Feb

Wholemeal cookies taste really good and they are healthier. Don’t kid yourself though there’s still butter and sugar in there but chocolate is an antioxidant so that makes up for it – sort of!!  These were part of a picnic we took the lakes at El Chorro yesterday.

 Half an hour away at  Malaga Airport, millions of tourists arrive every year and get on a coach to Marbella or Fuengirola to spend a week or two on the Costa del Sol and fly home again completely unaware that this exists. Whether this is a great oversight by the Andalucian Tourist Board or whether they are purposefully keeping it a secret I don’t know. I wouldn’t blame them. At this time of year it is all but deserted except at the weekends when a few Malaguenos bring a picnic or some meat to barbeque.

It does get busier in the summer when we all escape the heat of the city or towns to swim in these freshwater lakes. There are campsites, picnic areas, public barbeques, canoeing, pedalos, and fantastic walks. It is great for kids and adults alike there’s something for everyone. Whether you like to do a lot or very little,  you can find your perfect spot here……

The colours are amazing. The bright turquoise of the lakes contrasting with the dusky pink terracotta soil and green patchwork landscape take your breath away every time you come. You never quite believe it’s real. 

The geology is stunning too. The Washer Up tells me this is sandstone (he studied Geology at university). Is it just me or does this (above) remind you of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona? You know the curved balconies?

The thing is they are not actually lakes. They are man-made reservoirs. Franco flooded the whole area, including some villages, to create the water reservoirs for Malaga. How something so beautiful can be man-made doesn’t make sense to me. Especially made by that man. It must have been the best thing he ever did…..

Anyway we found our picnic table with a view (above) and sat down to make our egg salad sandwiches…

If you want to know how to make a perfectly soft-boiled egg see my instructions here…..

Then we shared a cookie before going for walk around the lake and finding a sheltered sunny spot to read the paper. Does a Sunday get any better than that? I don’t think so, the cookies are pretty near perfect too….

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

makes 18 – 24, vegetarian.  Adapted from a Culinate recipe

  • 380 gr wholemeal flour (I used self-raising because that was all I had and 1 tsp baking powder)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 225 gr cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 140 gr brown sugar
  • 200 gr caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 gr plain chocolate (70%) roughly chopped into 1 cm chunks
  • 100 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 175 C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sieve the flour, baking powders and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl or food processor on low whisk/mix together the butter & sugars until blended, about 2 minutes. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl to get it all combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each one is combined. Mix in the vanilla, then slowly add the flour mixture until just combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides again.

Add 3/4 of the chopped chocolate & hazelnuts to the mix saving the rest for the tops. Mix until evenly distributed.  Take a heaped tablespoon of the batter and put it onto the lined baking sheet, pressing it down slightly. Leave about a 3 inch gap between each cookie, they spread like mad. You should only have about 6 cookies per sheet or they will all blend into each other. Sprinkle a little of the leftover chocolate & hazelnuts on top of each cookie and press in lightly. Put one sheet in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third. Bake for 10 minutes then swap the baking sheets around (top to bottom etc) and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cookies are a deep golden brown colour. Remove from the oven & leave to cool on a rack on the baking paper. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

These cookies are deliciously special enough to serve as a dessert, warm and chewy, straight out of the oven with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream melting on top. Or leave to cool, store in an airtight container and they will firm up to a more crunchy everyday cookie.

Share them with friends or do like the Andalucian Tourist Board and make them your best kept secret……

Buen Provecho!

Banana, Date and Hazelnut Oatmeal Cookies

2 Feb

 

These cookies are like little mouthfuls of happiness. Imagine a cross between a banana bread and an oaty flapjack, add in some sweet sticky dates and crunchy hazelnuts and smile. Smile because there’s no flour and no added sugar but you really wouldn’t know. Soft, sweet, delicious and good for you, now come on, how often does that happen…..?

Banana, Date & Hazelnut Oatmeal Cookies

make about 16-18, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from a Kahakai Kitchen recipe

  • 65 gr butter, melted
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 8-10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 35 gr (2/3 cup) rolled oats
  • 65 gr (1/2 cup) toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped (or other nuts)
  • 65 gr (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 65 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  •  1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 18o C and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Mash the bananas in a large bowl with a potato masher or fork, and stir in the melted butter and vanilla. In another bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, dates, coconut, ground almonds, baking powder & salt. Then add this to the banana mix and stir until just combined.

Take tablespoons of the mix and put them on the lined baking tray a few inches apart, flattening them out slightly.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack with a spatula to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Serve with tea or coffee, as a mid morning/afternoon treat or as a lunchbox filler. The house will smell amazing while these are cooking, your mouth will water and people will befriend you….

 Beware they are addictive and don’t last very long, you have been warned…..!

It’s that time again, the end of another month and Nancy at Spicie Foodie hosts a round-up of January Best Recipes from around the food blogging community. My Thai Squash Wonton Soup is featured as well as loads more delicious recipes with beautiful photos. Just click on the YBR (Your Best Recipe) badge above and have a look around….

 I would just like to thank Mateja at Indulging Life for giving me my first Stylish Blogger Award and for her continuing support and foodie friendship. Below is a list of blogs that I think deserve this award as recognition for their creativity, passion and, of course, delicious food! 

 Mateja @ Induging Life

Lindsay @ Kitchen Operas

Lauren @ Corridor Kitchen

Roxan @ Kitchen Meditation

Denise @ Bread Expectations

Tiffany @ Como Water

The Bee & The Fruit in the Kitchen

Nadia @ For the Love of Yum

Jouamma @ Taste of Beirut

Medeja @ Cranberry Jam

Kita @ Pass The Sushi

Nancy @ Spicie Foodie

Tes @ Tes at Home

Kara @ Happy When Not Hungry

Thanks everyone for the constant inspiration, keep it coming!! Copy the award above to display on your blog if you want and you can pass it on to people who you think deserve some recognition..!

Beautiful Almond Blossom and Amaretti Biscuits

18 Jan

You can tell that Spring is just around the corner when the almond trees start blossoming. All of a sudden from nothing and out of nowhere they are everywhere. Beautiful candy floss trees with their barely pink flowers brighten the landscape with hints of pink fairy dust….

 Each tree has its own personality and unique beauty….

Closer up the blossoms are white with fuchsia pink centres and the nut grows underneath it…

With all this inspiration I had to make something with almonds. Something delicate, beautiful & light to match the almond blossoms. These  biscuits are not strictly speaking ” Amaretti ” biscuits they are called Ricciarelli. A deliciously light, moist almondy biscuit from Siena, flavoured with orange zest. The lightness comes from them being made with ground almonds, sugar &  egg white. There is no flour or butter in this recipe…..

Ricciarelli (Almond Biscuits from Siena)

Adapted from  The Travelers Lunchbox  Recipe

Makes about 16, vegetarian

  • 150 gr ground almonds
  • 140 gr caster sugar
  • about 75 gr icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • the zest of  1 orange
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  •  about 1 tsp orange juice

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sieve the ground almonds into a bowl to get rid of any big lumps. Mix in the caster sugar, 50 gr of the icing sugar, the baking powder and orange zest until well combined. Beat the egg white in a clean bowl to soft peaks then stir it into the almond mixture. Mash everything with a wooden spoon, add the almond extract and the orange juice and mix it all together until you have an almondy paste like in this photo below.

Put the remaining icing sugar on a small plate (you may need more). Take out a small amount of the paste and roll it into a ball, in the palm of your hand, about the size of a walnut. Roll it slightly to form an oval (almond) shape and roll it in the icing sugar, flattening it out slightly. Put it on the lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the almond paste leaving enough room in between each one for them to spread a little.

Sieve over the rest of the icing sugar and leave at room temperature to dry out for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.  Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. They will still be meltingly soft in the middle. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving and store in an airtight container.

Serve after dinner with coffee or as an afternoon sweet treat..

These are the best almond biscuits I have ever tasted. Moist and chewy in the middle like a marzipan melting moment. They are really easy to make too. Everyone would be really impressed if you were to make these for a dinner party and they would also make lovely gifts. Just remember about the drying time of 2 hours, it may seem like a pain. I can’t stand waiting either, especially for these, but they are definitely worth the wait…..!

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