Sunday, December 10, 2006

Low Cost Luxury

250g plain flour,
200g butter, softened
3 egg yolks,
75g vanilla sugar
pinch salt
Mix the sugar, butter and egg yolks together with a fork then work in the flour and salt. Form into a ball and rest for 30 minutes. Roll out to 1/4", cut into circles and then wedges, or finger shaped biscuits and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 18-20 minutes or until golden and crisp. Test after 15 minutes to make sure they are not overcooked. Cool on a wire tray.

This next recipe makes a wonderful curly, and very thin crisp biscuit. I made half a batch yesterday and ate lots! My husband had some with his ice-cream, the rest (not very many left actually) were put into a tin. Today they are even crispier. Without almonds they work out at two for a penny. So this is the type of recipe I will be suggesting we use on our economy drive starting in the New Year.
tip 1: the biscuits spread to about 3" across, so leave plenty of room to spread, also as those in the centre of a baking sheet tended to be softer, I suggest using a smaller blob there and spreading the mixture slightly.
tip 2: if making half quantitites, be as accurate as possible with the weights and put the ingredients into separate bowls ready to use.
As only a few tuiles can be baked each time, the mixture will thicken due to the butter setting, so either stand the bowl over (not touching) warm water, or just leave it - it will spread once in the oven. In fact my second batch was better than the first perhaps because I spooned the mixture onto the very warm baking sheet.
Almond Tuiles: makes around 3 dozen
2 egg whites,
4 oz caster sugar
2 oz plain flour,
2 oz melted and cooled butter
2 oz flaked almonds, chopped (optional)
In a bowl, beat the egg whites by hand until frothy but still sloppy. Mix in the sugar then the flour. Make sure you mix well. Finally mix in the melted butter and then the almonds if using.
Lightly grease two baking sheets (suggest you try using one first for a trial batch) and spoon on the mixture in tiny blobs (a bare teaspoonful), keeping them well apart.
Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 6-8 minutes or until brown and cooked in the centre. Remove with a fish slice and working as rapidly as possible place each tuile over a dowel or wooden spoon handle or even a rolling pin and press gently down to make a curve. They crisp up in seconds. Remove to a wire cake airer to do the rest. If any have crisped up too much to bend, just leave these flat. When cold, store in an airtight tin.

No-cook Honey Cake:
8 oz digestive biscuits, coarsely crushed
6 oz butter
2 tblsp. runny honey
2 tblsp sherry or lemon juice
4 oz candied peel
4 oz glace cherries, chopped
Cream the butter, add the honey and the rest of the ingredients and mix until well blended.
Turn into a 1lb cake tin and press down well. Put in the fridge until very firm. Turn out and serve sliced.
tip: save the crumbs from the bottom of a biscuit tin for this, they don't all have to be digestives. You can also incorporate grated or melted chocolate, orange instead of lemon juice, liqueur instead of sherry.

Almond Macaroons: makes about 4 dozen.
1 egg white,
3 oz (75g) ground almonds
3 1/2 oz (100g) caster sugar
1/2 tsp. almond essence
Whisk the egg white until stiff, then fold in the ground almonds, sugar and essence. Put into a forcing bag with a 1/2" nozzle (or use a teaspoon and a steady hand) and pipe out small blobs
on a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper (rice paper is traditional). Allow room to spread.
Bake at my favourite temperature of 180C 350F, gas 4 for about 15 minutes or until just starting to colour. Cool slightly before removing from the non-stick paper, (you can leave the rice paper on the base as it is edible), then finish off on a wire rack. They will keep well in an airtight tin for a week or so.