Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas (over)indulgence

I really need to stop the Christmas baking...

But yet I STILL want to make some gingerbread. We leave for Melbourne in three days and I am still trying to work out how I can fit it in without losing sleep. Well, too much sleep. I think an intervention is in order. And who better to stage it than Grumpy Cat?

Back away from the oven, lady...

What is your Christmas treat that you can't seem to get enough of?

K xx

Friday, December 14, 2012

Georgie in Paris

Dear A-M,

Have a wonderful time in Paris! I loved it there. My favourite parts were visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Tuilleries Garden, screeching at the Pompidou (fabulous acoustics for vocal exercises) and all the wonderful food I ate.

I wish I was coming with you but will have to settle for wearing this beret and eating my plastic croissant. 

Lots of love, Georgie xxx

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas baking: dark chocolate and toasted coconut shortbread

I have a confession to make. I love Christmas baking. Cookies of all shapes and sizes and types. Varieties. Yummy.

Every year I make Not Quite Nigella's cinnadoodles - they have become a Kitty family Christmas tradition - and melting moments. And I usually try to make a different new cookie as well. Last year I made pecan, cranberry and white chocolate cookies (which were delicious) but I was the only one who really liked them. Mr K is not a fan of white chocolate so alas, it was up to me to polish them off. I took one for the team.

I have a serious love of coconut so was thrilled when I stumbled across this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I am a huge fan of Deb's cooking. She has never set me wrong. Her double coconut muffins are some of the best I have ever eaten and her blueberry crumb bars (also made in this house with raspberries) are heavenly. So when I saw the shortbread recipe I knew that was the one for me.

Make no mistake, this is a fairly high maintenance recipe. It requires chilling repeatedly and rolling out a fairly fragile dough. After reading the comments section about the cookie's tendency to spread, I added some extra flour and mine were fine, but I also froze the dough once it had been cut into hearts. Time consuming, yes, but it worked. And they were delicious. Great by themselves and certainly good with the addition of the chocolate drizzle, but on reflection you do lose a bit of the delicate coconut flavour once you smother it in Lindt 70%. Maybe I should have sprinkled more dessicated coconut on the chocolate?

Dark Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Shortbread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Originally from Bon Appetit , April 2004

1/2 cup (about 45g) dessicated coconut
3/4 cup (175g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
50g Lindt dark chocolate, for melting

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius. Spread coconut on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until coconut is light golden, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Mix in salt and vanilla. Beat in flour in 2 additions. Stir in toasted coconut. Gather dough together, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out dough disc between two sheets of baking paper to 1/2cm thickness. Using 4-5cm diameter cookie cutters, cut dough into rounds. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather dough scraps and reroll; cut out additional cookies.Chill dough in freezer for 5-10 minutes before baking in oven.

Bake cookies until light golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pot of hot water then drizzle cooled cookies with the chocolate. Allow to sit until chocolate has set.

Store airtight at room temperature up to 1 week. Take it from me, they won't last that long!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Flutter by, butterfly.

It's no secret I have a bit of a thing for china. I seem to collect it. I have a lovely set of Wedgewood Queen of Hearts china. I am 9/10 of the way to completing my Limoges Legle tea seat. I want some more Sophie Conran for Portmerion tea cups for my birthday...

But I can't seem to stop buying random tea cups.

Like this one. How pretty is it? It's such a joy having your morning cup of tea out of something truly beautiful. A few short minutes of respite. Of clarity. Of quite before the mayhem begins.

It's definitely worth investing in something you love. It makes the moment all that more special.