Cook this: 6 ingredient jam thumbprint cookies

Having grown up in a very Italian family, I love roasted chestnuts in winter. Nonno used to make them for us when we were kids, and I loved sitting at their dinner table, digging my little fingers in the split in the shell, peeling the charred layed off those golden little nuggets, and eating them until dad said I couldn’t have any more because I’d be sick. So, when I found St Dalfour at the Good Food and Wine Show a few weeks ago selling chestnut jam, I got more than a little bit excited. I only bought one jar, and have been kicking myself ever since!


I’ve been using a spoonful of it to mix through my porridge, along with a handful of blueberries and a sprinkle of cacao nibs, but I wanted to make something sweet to eat with a cup of tea as it gets colder. I also wanted something quick and easy, that I could make whenever I wanted them without having to get changed out of my PJs to go buy ingredients for. Same base recipe as the lemon cookies I posted a few weeks ago, but the secret ingredient is absolutely the jam – find a way to get your hands on some!!

Ingredients:
– 100g butter, softened
– 100g caster sugar
– 1 egg yolk
– 200g plain flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– St Dalfour chestnut jam!

 

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 170° and line an oven tray with baking paper.

2. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until thick and creamy, followed by the egg yolk until completely smooth and combined.

3. Stir in the flour and baking powder until combined.

4. Roll the dough into balls (about tablespoon size works well) and space them out on the oven tray.

5. As the recipe might imply, press your thumb into the centre of each cookie to make space for the jam, and drop a little jam in each thumbprint.

6. Bake for 15min, or until golden brown.

Cook this: Cacao nib & oat cookies (sugar, lactose & gluten free)

So, a flare up of stomach issues have necessitated a return to slightly stricter low-FODMAP regulations. Again. But that’s not as bad as it was the first time around – I know more know, and know what my body can and can’t deal with a little better.

I was browsing Instagram for recipe ideas the other week, and came across this gorgeous picture from @edgarraw – his Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. Ummmm yes please! I’m an oat addict, and an even bigger chocolate lover, so these looked pretty good even before I scrolled through to the recipe.

Once I got to the recipe, I also found it included other favourite ingredients of mine – cacao nibs, dried dates and almond milk. Despite the severe fructose intolerance, I actually stomach a little dried fruit (yay!), so while it might look like a LOT of dates in this recipe, remember it’s divided between the whole batch. This recipe is also sugar free, as the cookies get all their sweetness from the dates – basically makes them health food. I made some changes (as usual) and was stoked with the result! Here’s my version of Edgar’s cookies…

Ingredients:
– 1½ cups loosely packed dried dates
– ½ cup almond milk
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– ½ cup almond meal or gluten free plain flour
– ½ tsp baking powder
– 1 cup rolled oats
– ¼ cup flax seeds
– ¼ cup toasted cacao nibs
– ¼ cup shredded coconut

Method:
1. Soak the dates in super hot water for an hour.

2. After soaking, pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

3. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients – the flour, baking powder, oats, flax seeds, cacao nibs and shredded coconut.

4. Drain the dates and place them in a food processor with the milk and vanilla extract. Blend until a paste comes together.

5. Spoon the paste mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well to combine completely. If it’s too dry, add a little water to help bring it all together.

6. Take tablespoons of the mixture and shape into balls, placing them on the oven tray with a little space in between.

7. Bake for 15 minutes, and cool on the tray. Enjoy!

Cook this: Walnut & cranberry stuffed shortcrust cookies

I saw this recipe on Sawsan’s site, Chef In Disguise, not long ago and saved the recipe instantly; the sound of a walnut stuffed shortcrust cookie sounded incredible, and her photos were mouth watering! I decided to put my own spin on it because
a) I really can’t stomach cinnamon, and
b) I love the walnut/dried cranberry combination.

You can find Sawsan’s original and more Middle Eastern recipe on her site, but here’s how I made it a bit more “me”  : )

Ingredients:
– 1.5 cups plain flour
– pinch of salt
– 1 tbsp caster sugar
– 100g cold butter
– ½ cup lukewarm milk
– ½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
– ½ cup dried cranberries, chopped

Method:
1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and butter in a mixing bowl, rubbing the butter into the flour until it resembles crumbs.

2. Gradually add the milk while kneading to a smooth, soft dough – you may not need all of the milk, so only add it bit by bit.

3. Cover the dough and set aside for 30 – 60 minutes (I went with around 45min).

4. When the dough has been rested long enough, grab tablespoon sized chunks off the ball of dough and and spoon a bit of the mixed walnuts and cranberries into it. Mould the dough around the filling and gently roll it into a ball. Place cookies on an oven tray as you go.

5. Rest the cookies for a further 10 minutes, and pre-heat the oven to 180°C. After the second lot of resting, bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until golden.

 

The base dough for these cookies is absolutely phenomenal, and one I will be using a LOT now! It’s so simple and soft, and I think quite versatile. You can also obviously fill these cookies with anything you want – I’m thinking of trying one with citrus zest in the cookie dough next time… The other great thing is that they are SO easy to make, and require very few ingredients, all of which are usually kitchen staples. Given that it is Monday, you might want to throw a batch together after work this afternoon!

Eat here: Dominique Ansel Bakery, Tokyo

Dominique Ansel Bakery
5-7-14 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo
http://dominiqueanseljapan.com/en

A while ago I wrote about my January 2015 visit to Dominique Ansel in New York City; last month saw me visit another of their stores, this time on the other side of the world in Tokyo, Japan. You can read a little more about my New York experience here, but the Reader’s Digest version is that I was met with sass and attitude, sans cronut. Unimpressed, to say the least.

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Like my New York visit, I arrived at the Tokyo store around the same time, 9am-ish in the morning, not long after opening time. Also like New York, I was met with a wall of the most beautiful and colourful looking cakes and cookies and macarons. But, in complete contrast, the lady who served me this time around couldn’t get me my cronut quickly enough, or present it to me with a proud enough smile on her face! What a gem!

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Given that it was breakfast time, I’d already walked Takeshita Street, and had a pretty massive day ahead involving a LOT more walking, I decided to grab a beautiful green matcha cookie, too. I started on that, and it was perfection – a wafer like base filled with something closer to a dense cake than a cookie, the matcha flavour was every bit as incredible as you’d expect here.

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Then, finally, my much anticipated cronut. Which I’d been waiting 10 months for.
Every.
Bit.
Worth.
The.
Wait.

Wow. So, it was a sweet potato number spiked with whiskey and creme fraiche, with nutmeg spiced maple sugar. Rich and creamy with perfectly golden pastry. This is the cronut dreams are made of. This makes walking in the rain worthwhile. This is everything. When you visit, check out their Instagram for flavour of the month!

All in all, way better experience than the New York store, the offerings had a really disting Japanese flavour to them, the cafe itself was beautiful and light and fun, and the non-stop, smiling flow of traffic through the door was testament to how popular they are over there! Great move, Mr Ansel! Now let’s look at making the move to Melbourne!

Eat here: Levain Bakery, New York City

Levain Bakery
167 W 74th St, New York
http://www.levainbakery.com

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If you’ve been following me for more than a week, you may have noticed I’m a bit of a sweet tooth. It’s not my fault. I’m Italian. And I inherited it from dad. Uncontrollable. Anyway, I really love sweets. Unfortunately, I’ve also been pretty sick, on and off, for the past 12 months or so. Initial investigations have proven that my infant-lactose intolerance has returned, and my body also isn’t a massive gluten fan. Low FODMAPS investigations shall continue post holiday, in the mean time, I’m trying a bit of everything, sharing it all with the husband, and trying to note what I’m feeling crap after (this trip is kind of a last splurge for me, after much thinking and life analysing, I know I need to make a lot of changes after this trip, including my diet!). Chocolate and pastry is up there on the “feel shit later” list, but a sweet tooth can’t visit New York without trying a famous Levain cookie!

They do four types of cookies only, and they do them bloody well, which draws the well deserved crowds. When we walked in not long after opening time this morning, there was already a small queue, and the human traffic didn’t stop or slow up the whole time we were in there.

Because we hadn’t had any breaky before we got there, we grabbed a cup of tea each and decided to grab a pastry, too (they have a mouth-watering range on brioche/pastries/scones and what not to go with the cookies). The brioche with chocolate chips was rich, full of chocolate chips and really good.

The cookie I went with was the chocolate chip and walnut, the favourite of the people from what I gathered. Fresh out of the oven (the chocolate chips were still a little melty), it was every bit as perfect as the hype claimed; I’d struggle to think of another purchased cookie I’ve eaten as good as that one *slow claps it out* absolutely magnificent, wish my stomach could have tolerated another, totally worth feeling a little ill for!! Anyone else visited and tried the other flavours??