Toffee shortbread biscuits

A tin of Carnation caramel was lurking in the back of the cupboard, and carrying on with my biscuit theme, thought I could use it as a filling in a double biscuit.

I have an easy shortbread recipe given to me many years ago when I was a student, by my Scottish landlady, and this would go really well with the caramel. You must use butter for these to get the lovely flavour.

350g plain flour
110g cornflour
110g caster sugar
225g butter

tin caramel

100g dessicated coconut -optional

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Cream the butter and sugar either by hand or with electric mixer on a low speed till nice and smooth. Sift the flours together and add to the mixture. Work the flours in by hand. Knead the dough till it's smooth then wrap in clingfilm and chill for about 30 mins.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 5mm and cut out rounds with a cutter, the size depending on how big you want your biscuits!
Put the biscuits on baking sheets and bake for 10-12 mins till lightly coloured.
Cool on a wire rack.
When cold, spread one shortbread with some caramel right to the edges and top with another one. Press together very gently, as they break easily.

My duaghter was here when I made them, and as she's a coconut fan, suggested I roll the sides in some coconut, which I duly did. They are really delicious, melt in the mouth,but rather messy;  I'm not sure if I'd prefer them without the coconut - will have to make them again to decide! Should have done some with coconut and some without.

Hadn't thought about using shortbread to make double biscuits, but will now think of some other filling ideas to try.


Pistachio and pear cookies

This is another variation of my basic cookie recipe.  We love pears and finding some dried ones, I had to make some cookies. You could use other nuts if you prefer, other dried fruit too - I've used dried cranberries and cherries and these are good.

Here's the basic recipe again:

:Oven 190C/375F/gas5. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchent paper or a silicone sheet.

Basic recipe:
225g soft butter
140g caster sugar
1 beaten egg yolk
2 tspn vanilla extract
280g plain flour
pinch salt
Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl with a wooden spoon, then beat in egg yolk and vanilla essence. Stir in the flour and salt. Mix together to make a ball of dough.

Additional ingredients:
55g ready to eat dried pears, chopped finely
55g pistachio nuts, chopped
some whole pistachio nuts to decorate

This time, add the nuts and pears after the flour and mix it all together into a ball of dough.
Take spoonfuls and roll into balls, put on baking sheets and space well. Flatten a bit and put a whole pistachio into the centre of each cookie.
Bake 10-15 mins till golden. leave to cool on sheet, and then put on a wire rack.

Not a very inspiring photo, but I didn't have a chance to take another one as all the cookies were whisked off to Luton Airport! The cookies have a crunch from the pistachios and I really like the flavour of the pear.


Swedish rhubarb cake

The other day I found a Scandinavian cookery book in a local charity shop, and this recipe was in it.
We have one lone rhubarb plant in the garden, and there was just enough ready to pick to use in this cake.
I've adapted the recipe to the kind of cake I wanted, so I'm claiming it as mine now! It makes a small amount of rhubarb into a delicious dessert, tho' it's not a big cake if you have a family to feed.

150g caster sugar
90g plain flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
about 250g rhubarb
50g cold butter
1 tspn cinnamon
2 tbspn pearl sugar

Preheat oven 175C/gas 3/4
Grease and line a 20cm springform tin [make sure you grease the tin well or the cake will stick like glue!]

Cut the rhubarb into about 1cm pieces.
Beat the eggs and sugar with a mixer till it's pale and nice and fluffy. Then fold in the flour and baking powder.
Pour this batter into the tin and put the rhubarb on top, pushing it into the batter.
Then cut the butter into thin slices - it needs to be very cold [straight from the freezer cold as suggested by Phil] and very quickly becomes difficult to slice. I used a potato peeler then changed to a small sharp knife. Put the butter on top of the batter and sprinkle the pearl sugar over.

Bake for about 40 mins till golden - the original recipe says 25mins, but my cake wasn't anywhere near cooked, so gave it another 15 mins. Leave in the tin to cool and then turn onto a wire rack.

The pearl sugar disappeared with the butter, and gives a lovely crunchy layer on top of the cake, and the rhubarb was moist underneath. I sprinkled a bit of icing sugar on top.

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