Monday, 28 December 2009

Candy Cane Cookies

While doing my Christmas shopping I bought some candy canes. I had never seen them in the shops here before and I thought they would be lovely on the tree for my grand children. As is usual for me I bought too many but they looked so pretty and I was so delighted to find them on this side of the pond I couldn't resist. I was wandering around the blogs when I found a lovely recipe using candy canes made by Recipegirl She is in America and used little white chocolate morsels with white and pink stripes made by Hershey which we can't get here. They looked lovely and her pics are gorgeous. The correct name for them is peppermint bark Cookies but Rhyley called them Candy Cane Cookies so I stuck with that. They are lovely. Until now I didn't know these little sweets were peppermint flavoured. So easy to make and a perfect way to use up those candy canes you have still hanging on your Christmas tree. The other biscuits in the picture are Rocky Roads. The recipe for those can be found here. In this version I used Amaretti biscuits instead of tea biscuits and added a handful of dried cranberries.

Candy Cane Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces dark or milk chocolate, or a mix of the two, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
6-8 candy canes crumbled
2 ounces white chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13×9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with long strip of 9-inch-wide parchment paper, leaving overhang on both short sides of pan.

2. Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then egg yolk. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed just to blend.

3. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into prepared baking pan, spacing evenly. Using moistened fingertips, press dough to form even layer over bottom of pan. Pierce dough all over with fork.

4. Bake cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed and edges begin to come away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; immediately sprinkle the chopped chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Using small offset spatula, spread chocolate over top of cookie in thin even layer. Immediately sprinkle chopped candy cane kisses over (or candy canes).

5. Stir white chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. If it’s too tough and thick to stir, add a tiny drizzle of vegetable oil or 1/2 tsp. of shortening to thin it out. Remove from over water. Using fork, drizzle white chocolate all over cookies. Chill until white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

6. Using paper overhang as aid, lift cookie from pan and transfer to work surface. Using large knife, cut cookie into irregular pieces.

Cooking Tips:
Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in refrigerator (or freezer) in airtight containers between layers of waxed paper or parchment paper. Can be stored in the freezer for several weeks.

Yield: About 36 pieces

My notes - I chopped the chocolate in the food processor and also the candy canes. Leave the candy cane crushing until the last minute as the crumbs go sticky and clump together making sprinkling a bit difficult.

With thanks to RecipeGirl for this.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Season's Greetings

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

No Fool Like An Old Fool

I have had a hectic couple of weeks and with one thing and another life has getting me down a bit lately. I had an appointment to get my hair cut today. It hasn't seen colour for quite a few years. I gave up the blonding as I disliked the straw it produced. As Grannymar says 'The autumn golds have turned to winter snow'. I consider myself fortunate as my hair is quite soft and silky and not wirey as sometimes happens with the greying. In my youth it was a thick luxuriant curtain of auburn. Do any of you recall those heady hippy days in the sixties? Ah the memories. I digress. Rhyley and I were discussing my forthcoming visit to the hairdressers and she thought it would be a wonderful idea to have some pink highlights. Now who am I to argue with the wisdom of a five year old. I do have to explain we are a very provincial lot here in Northern Ireland so this is quite an event. My hairdresser and I laughed so much. My daughter was less than impressed. The words 'Mum you are nearly sixty' were uttered in horror when she saw it. This just added to the nonsense. I was so restored to my usual humour I don't care how ridiculous it looks. Rhyley is so thrilled with her Granny. I expect when I crawl out of bed in the morning it won't look so appealing. We are off to Barbados next month on our annual jaunt. I think this will go down a storm there. As the title says 'There's no fool like an old fool'

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Mini Chocolate Cranberry Christmas Cakes

I was given these little cardboard cake cases by a very dear friend. They were a perfect size for little Christmas gifts. It was my intention to use Nigella Lawson's chocolate fruit cake recipe but the raisins I had looked a bit iffy and I dislike currants. I did have plenty of sultanas and dried cranberries and as I love the festive red of cranberries I decided the colour would be perfect in Christmas cake. It is essentially a boiled cake which makes it very easy to make. No need to soak fruit for days on end a quick boil does it. The result is a rich moist cake which is much nicer than some of the dry crumbly cakes I have tasted in the past. With apologies to Nigella here is my version.

Chocolate Cranberry Fruit Cake


350g/12¼oz dried soft prunes, chopped

2oo g/7oz dried cranberries

200g/7oz sultanas

175g/6¼oz unsalted butter, softened

175g/6¼oz dark brown sugar

175ml/6¼fl oz honey

125ml/4½fl oz rum (It should really be coffee liqueur but I didn't have any)

2 oranges, juice and zest

1 tsp mixed spice

2 tbsp good quality cocoa

3 eggs, beaten

150g/5¼oz self raising flour

1/2 teasp bicarbonate of soda

75g/2½oz ground almonds


1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.

2. Line the sides and bottom of a 20cm/8in, 9cm/3½in deep, round loose-bottomed cake tin with a layer of baking parchment. When lining the tin with the parchment, cut the material into strips that are twice as high as the tin itself (it is easier to use two shorter strips of parchment, than one long strip); the height of the strips protects the cake from catching on the outside of the cake tin.
Also cut a disc of baking parchment to fit the diameter of the tin. When the cake has set you can pop this little hat on the top to help stop any scorching.

3. Place the fruit, butter, sugar, honey, rum, orange juice and zest, mixed spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan. Heat the mixture until it reaches a gentle boil, stirring the mixture as the butter melts. Let the mixture simmer for ten minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

4. After 30 minutes, the mixture will have cooled a little. Add the eggs, flour, ground almonds, and bicarbonate soda, and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until the ingredients have combined.

5. Carefully pour the fruitcake mixture into the lined cake tin. Transfer the cake tin to the oven and bake for 1¾-2 hours, or until the top of the cake is firm but will has a shiny and sticky look. At this point, if you insert a skewer into the middle of the cake, the tip should be slightly sticky .

6. Place the cake on a cooling rack. Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the tin.

To make individual cakes as I have done. I used 6cm x 8cm cases. This made approximately twelve. There is no need to line the cases and they take approximately 1 hour 20 minutes to bake. Test them after an hour.
I decorated by cutting out stars of fondant icing.