I’m hoooome! Back in London for Christmas break and I’m extremely relieved to be able to chill out for a bit. This has been an all-consuming semester so far. I said to my boyfriend last week ‘I can see now why people drop out in third year. I never understood before but I do now’. It was inevitable that this would be the most challenging year, surprisingly not academically, but mentally. It’s my final year of education after 15 years and I’m so close to being done which is a bit terrifying. I’ve also had less and less time this year for creative release which has always been my respite from academia (hence the existence of this blog). Having my ‘separate food life’ on the side of school has what has prevented me from having stress breakdowns before so it’s an essential part of what keeps me sane.
Now I’ve got a month “off” (that’s in quotes because I still have to revise for exams and work on my research project) so that means I can get back into the kitchen a bit more. Christmas is my absolute fave time for baking because it’s so cold that standing in front of a oven is incredibly enjoyable. It’s also a time for catching up with people at various gatherings – i.e. the perfect opportunity to bring along cookies or cake! I’d much rather gift my friends something delicious which some time and effort has gone into than buy some novelty gift that’ll end up in the bin.
These lil oaty biscuits from Ottolenghi & Helen Goh’s new baking book, Sweet*, are akin to shortbread in their high butter content and short texture. They’re perfect for this time of year, being flavoured with orange zest, toasted almonds, dried cranberries and some white chocolate. I decorated them with snowflake sprinkles too because they’re SO CUTE but still a bit sophisticated 😉 to make a sweet gift for friends. Hope you give them a go & share with some other lovely people!!
- 125 g dried cranberries (soaked in 25ml orange juice)
- 150 g (1 cup) almonds
- 150 g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 75 g (2/3 cup) wholemeal flour (whole wheat flour)
- 150 g (1 1/2 cups) jumbo rolled oats
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 225 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 100 g (1/2 cup) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 250 g (9 oz) white chocolate, melted
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350oF.
- Spread the almonds out on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, roughly chop into 0.5–1cm pieces. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl and add the flours, oats and salt. Mix together and set aside.
- Increase the oven temperature to 190°C/170°C Fan/375oF Line two or three baking trays with baking parchment and set aside.
- Place the butter, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium speed for about 2 minutes, until combined and light.
- Add the almond and flour mix to the butter and sugar and continue to mix on a low speed until the dough just comes together. Add the cranberries and orange juice and mix for another few seconds to combine, then tip the dough on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead into a ball, sprinkling over more flour if needed to prevent it getting too sticky.
- Cut the dough in half and roll out one half so that it’s just over 0.5cm thick. Use a 7cm cookie cutter to cut the dough into rounds. Transfer these to a lined tray while you continue with the remaining dough. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly coloured all over. Remove from the oven and set aside until completely cool.
- Meanwhile, place the white chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water.
- To coat the cookies:
- Either use the back of a dessertspoon to spread a tablespoon of melted chocolate over each.
- OR transfer the melted chocolate to a piping bag, cut off the very tip and drizzle it over the cookies.
- Set aside on a cooling rack for the chocolate to set, which can take up to an hour, before serving