Sunday, 4 December 2011

Recipe Swap: Crunchy Clementine Christmas Biscuits

What a week – I know that this is not the first time I have started a blog entry with this statement, but I do think my husband being taken into hospital with appendicitis warrants its repetition.   He is out now, in fact, he got out less than 24 hours after having his appendix removed.  He’s not allowed to lift which is challenging, particularly as the children don’t understand why he can’t pick them up for cuddles, and has to take it easy for four to six weeks – I will do my best to be a good nurse and caring wife, but I am sure he would testify that I am not the best at this sort of thing!  I will just have to cook him some yummy dinners to build up his strength!
There is, however, nothing like a medical emergency to help you get things into perspective and I am determined that we are going to have the best Christmas ever, especially as he should be well on the mend by then – yay! 
In order to keep my sanity this week and take my mind of its events, I was determined to get my entry for recipe swap done, particularly as Christianna has opened a new vintage cookbook for this monthThe Second Ford Treasury of Favourite Recipes From Famous Eating Places” and from it chose an American classic, the Toll House Cookie.  It was written in 1954, and features recipes from famous restaurants at the time, making it a fascinating vintage social register.    I love books like this, they are such an amazing insight into social history and I can’t wait to see what Christianna will pick each month.

From The Second Ford Treasury of Favourite Recipes From Famous Eating Placese
Anyway, to enter into the Christmas spirit, I thought I’d make some Christmas biscuits.  I had been thinking about what ingredients to use and inspired by a favourite seasonal cake Clementine Cake, I decided on Clementines.  A decision that was aided by the vast number of the tasty little citruses in my fruit bowl, part of my continued effort to encourage my girls with their fruit consumption!
I should note here, that as you have to cook the Clementine for two hours before using it, it could be a good idea to make it alongside the aforementioned cake, which you can find on page 75 of Nigella’s How to Eat. 
As it turns out, these biscuits are really tasty, full of festive spice and a background of seasonal Clementine!  As usual, I had some assistance from Elsa and Anna on this and we’ll definitely be making them again as decorations for our tree!  The smell when they are cooking is also amazing and sooooo Christmassy!

1 Clementine (place this in a pan and simmer, topping up with water, for approximately 2 hours – leave to cool, drain, remove seeds and  blend (skin and all)).
350g Plain Flour
½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Ground Cloves

2 Teaspoons Cocoa Powder
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt
100g Butter or Margarine
200g Soft Brown Sugar
Preheat your oven to 170 oC (150 oC fan).  Prepare your baking sheets (you’ll need a couple).
Sift the flour, salt, cocoa and spices into a large bowl and in another, cream together the sugar and butter and add the Clementine puree, beating well.  Add the flour gradually into the sugar and butter mixture until the dough forms a ball.
Wrap the dough in cling film or place in plastic bag  and pop into the fridge for a least half an hour (but up to overnight).
Cut the dough in half, and in order not to over-work it, roll one half out to approximately a ½cm between two sheets of floured baking parchment and cut out your shapes.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  I used my new star cutters, but you could easily use any Christmas shape, and remembering to make a hole for a ribbon at the top of each biscuit.

Bake for around 25 minutes.
I iced the cookies with simple glace icing (300g of sieved icing sugar with approximately 4 dessert spoons of boiling water), but obviously you could decorate in any festive way you see fit.
My little helpers!

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