Saturday 31 October 2015

Ghost Shortbread for reverse trick or treating

This year's reverse trick or treat was again, all about the haunting. I'm not sure that ghosts drink tea, but we decided that our reverse trick or treat recipients might like a biscuit to go with their evening cuppa. With time in short supply as usual, I simplified my usual shortbread recipe to make these quicker-to-make and less brittle so they didn't break in the cellophane bags. Late year we did Ghost Meringues.

"This year Mummy, I want to be a vampire, but I'll wear my witches hat too" With trick or treating being a relatively new thing to New Zealand, we really like the reverse trend of taking treat to our neighbours, rather than expecting them to have sweets on hand for us. That said, our little blossom was very fortunate to receive more than enough candy from our kind neighbours.  

Ghost Shortbread

240g softened butter
120g icing sugar
350g plain flour
2 heaped tablespoons of cornflour
3 tablespoons white chocolate buttons
2 tablespoons dark chocolate buttons
Approximately 45 white Marshmallows - I got two 180g bags and used all the white ones plus about 10 pink

Preheat the oven to 165deg. C. on bake. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. 

Cream the softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
Fold in the sifted flour and cornflour, and press into a ball on a large piece of baking paper on the bench. 

Place another equally large sheet of baking paper over the dough and using a rolling pin, roll the short bread out until it is about 7mm thick. 
Remove the top sheet of paper and sprinkle the short bread with a little flour. Place the top sheet back onto the dough and flip the whole thing over. Remove the second sheet of baking paper. By flouring the dough, then flipping it over, the shortbread wont stick to the bottom sheet when its cut. 
Now use a small paring knife, cut out irregular ghost shaped biscuits. I made mine about 6 to 7 cm wide. Gather up the off-cuts, press them together and repeat the process until all the dough is cut out. Use a spatula to transfer the biscuits to the lined baking tray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. 
The biscuits will remain soft until they cool. 
In separate bowls melt both lots of chocolate. I melted mine by giving it 10 second bursts in the microwave. Once the chocolate starts to melt, stir it with a spoon and the residual heat will finish the melting process. 
Spread a little white chocolate onto the bottom of each marshmallow and position them on the biscuits.  
Using the blunt end of a bamboo stick, dot little dark chocolate eyes onto each ghost.  

Once the chocolate was cooled and set, we packaged ours in cellophane bags and attached little Happy Halloween notes for our neighbours. This recipe makes about 45 biscuits depending on what size you cut the ghost bases. We had more than enough for our Little Miss to gift a box full to her riding school instructors.   

Happy Halloween and happy baking everyone xx

Saturday 24 October 2015

Afghans! Yum!

Afghans mmmm..... I don't know many people who don't like these little morsels. Always a good little baking, and eating, project for a long weekend. This recipe is from the little known but very competent Recipes from Edna's Kitchen compiled by the Mid Canterbury Federation of Women's Institutes (for all you old school out there, that's the new name for the Women's division of Federated Farmers.) One of the best things about this recipe is most of the quantities are given in cups and spoons rather than needing to weigh everything: easy to whip up in a hurry before friends come around. Here is the other recipe I make in case you want a comparison. 

Edna Low's Afganettes
makes about 19 medium sized bisuits

125g butter
half a cup of sugar
1 cup of flour
1 dessertspoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup cornflakes

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Fold in the coconut and cornflakes, followed by the shifted flour, cocoa, and vanilla. 

The is the opposite order of mixing to most recipes, but I think it softened the cornflakes in the final biscuit. It does take extra mixing to combine! 

Using wet hands, roll spoonfuls into balls and place onto a lined baking tray. Flatten each one a little using the back of a wet spoon. 

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, then I left mine on the tray to cool. 

While they cool, mix up a chocolate icing from 1 teaspoon of butter, a generous tablespoon of cocoa powder, a couple of tablespoons of hot water and enough icing sugar to make a spreadable, but not runny icing. If you add too much icing sugar and the mixture is too dry, just add a few drops of water until you get the consistency you want. 
Spread the icing onto each biscuit and top with the traditional walnut half. 

Now put on the jug, switch on the coffee machine - if it's not on already! - and invite your buddies around for a natter. Have a great weekend!  

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Back from my digital holiday

As some of you might have noticed, I've been having a digital holiday. It all started with a couple of weeks of ill health - nothing serious - then I just put all my efforts towards creating things and away from the laptop. I think I developed a short term allergy to the WiFi. We all know how easy it is to waste time on-line. Being out of action for a while focuses the mind on what really matters, and the value of the precious time we all have with our families. 

I've been baking a few family favourites at the farm.

The spring holidays bought our Little Miss her annual pet lamb. This year we had Fawn the Romney ewe lamb. 

I finished making myself an oversized jersey - photos to come, and I started knitting this cute top-down cardigan on circular needles: typical pink, blue and purple hues for our Little Miss.

It didn't take long to make this simple elastic waisted skirt. She chose the fabric from The Fabric Store at The Tannery. Love that place. 

I'm looking forward to sharing more stories, recipes and crafty goodness soon xx