Vegan peanut butter and chocolate chip biscuits

Joe (she added the ‘E’ because that’s how she rolled) was beautiful, sweet, wise, brave, funny, passionate, a letter writer, smart as a whip, suffered from a chronic illness but never complained. An absolutely devoted wife, her equally devoted husband is bereft without his soul mate. Beloved baby sister of the Yak, a loving daughter, a committed vegan, animal lover and mother to two very fine cats. An amazing Aunt, sender of wonderful Christmas packages to our boys, the best of sister-in-laws and a true friend to many.

We are lost, The Yak is undone. She died far too young. As I write this it’s raining, like some cliched Hallmark movie. Except that real grief is not like a Hallmark movie. It’s hard, cold and shit.

The Yak made it to her bedside in the UK hours before she died, he went thinking he would be keeping her company in hospital. He came home for a short time then flew back again for her funeral. The tryanny of distance. The lads and I are preparing to leave on our pre-planned trip to the UK to meet up with The Yak. The original purpose was to visit with our Joe.

I have not had the heart to bake, write or blog. But it had been in my mind for the longest time to do a vegan post just for her. So here it is. Vegan peanut butter chocolate biscuits, I hope Joe would have loved them. Just like we loved her.

VEGAN PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE CHIP BISCUITS

WHAT YOU NEED
1/2 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white caster sugar (see cooking note below)
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground flaxseed (this can be omitted if you don’t have it, it assists in binding the ingredients a little more)
1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place the peanut butter, grapeseed oil, sugars and almond milk into a large bowl. (If you are using vanilla essence add it here.) Beat well until the ingredients are well combined. (I used an electric hand beater.)
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla bean powder into the bowl with the peanut butter mixture. Add the ground flaxseed and stir well.
Mix in the chocolate chips.
Roll heaped teaspoons full of the dough into round balls and place on the baking tray allowing room for spreading.
Bake at 180 for 12-15 minutes until light golden brown.
Let cool on the tray slightly then remove to a wire rack to complete cooling.
This made about 22 biscuits.

Cooking Note: it appears that in some parts of the world, some white sugar is processed using bone char. Ewww. That appears not to be the case in Australia but to be safe, I imagine vegans would check it out before they used a particular brand of sugar.

Recipe adapted from the Vegan Yoga Life blog. Link follows photos.

Original recipe:

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Chocolate chip biscuits and a hug

It was late and I had been lying next to my twelve year old lad with my arm draped over him. I stood and said good night, exhausted and ready to flop into the sweet comfort of bed and attempt some semblance of sleep.

Kid 2: Mum, could I please just have one more big proper hug?
Me: Oh mate, I just gave you a hug.
Kid 2: But this time I want a proper two-armed hug.
So, I leant down, scooped up his skinny little body and squeezed him hard. Cheek to cheek. I kissed him and told him I loved him.
As I stood to go he spoke these words to me.
‘I am so glad that I have your Mum hugs with me to go into the world. They make me feel strong and loved and special.’

Sometimes, I am grumpy, mean and tired. Sometimes, my children are grumpy, mean and tired. This motherhood gig isn’t always a lark. I am not whinging. I made my choice. I am also fully aware of all those women who have tried to become mothers and couldn’t, of mothers who mourn the loss of a child, of women who become stepmothers and all those in the sisterhood who have simply decided motherhood was not for them. Total respect and love to us all.

In the future, when feeling like everyone wants a piece of me, or the next time my children are feeling much the same way; I will think of the words from my ‘on the cusp of adolescence son’, take a deep breath, open my arms and just hug them.

These biscuits are on regular rotation in our household and are almost as good as a cuddle from a loved one. Using quality dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt elevates them just a little past the ordinary, to the very bloody good. Happy Mother’s Day to all of us mothers, in whatever form that may take.

CHOCOLATE CHIP BISCUITS

125g butter
1/2 cup white caster sugar
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (or 1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
125g dark chocolate chopped (or 125g chocolate chips)
1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 180C and line two trays with baking paper.
Cream together butter, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy. (I use a stand mixer for this.)
Add egg gradually, beating well after each addition.
Mix in sifted flour then add the chocolate (or chocolate chips) and stir through well.
I often let this dough rest for half an hour or so before baking but it doesn’t matter if you don’t.
Shape large teaspoons of mixture into balls and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Allow room for some spreading. Sprinkle a little sea salt atop each biscuit.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove the biscuits just as the edges start to colour so they don’t overcook and go too crunchy.
Makes about 15 to 20 biscuits, depending on how large you make them. (The photos in this post contain a double batch of these bikkies. Hence, the large amount.)

A recipe that a friend gave many years ago, slightly adapted.

Go here if you are looking for a gluten free chocolate chip biscuit recipe.


Gluten free cornflake biscuits and Box Boy

Here in New South Wales, Australia, we have been recovering from devastating storms and torrential rain. Outside play has been at a minimum. Finally, the sun was shining and I screamed at politely asked my children to go outside and play. They ignored me. During my rant soliloquy on the benefits of outdoor playing Kid 2 came up to me, wearing a cardboard box. He had become Box Boy, reminiscent of The Boy in the Bubble but less circular.

Kid 2: Hug me.

Not particularly wanting to hug him at that moment, I decided to take this as an opportunity to think outside the box. I wrapped my arms around my cardboard enclosed child and squeezed. For the record, it was odd and rather scratchy.

The gluten free cornflakes used in the recipe also came out of a box. Having known and adored similar styles of biscuits in my cheery childhood, I assumed the sproglets would devour them immediately. Incorrect. The little buggers sweethearts wouldn’t even try them. ‘Go on, eat one,’ said I. ‘No’, said they, resolutely and determinedly.

The adults who got a look in loved every one of these crunchy, vanilla studded, buttery biscuits. To say they pair well with a good cup of cha (tea) is an understatement. For fans of secondhand goodness, please note the adorable Swedish mug rescued from an op shop for the ripe price of a dollar. Got to love a bargain.

GLUTEN FREE CORNFLAKE BISCUITS

WHAT YOU NEED
125g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar (I used raw)
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder, or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla essence
180g gluten free self-raising flour, sifted
1 tbl milk
1 1/2 cups gluten free cornflakes
1/2 cup sultanas

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until light and creamy. I usually scrape the bowl down using a spatula at least once during this process.
Add the flour and mix on a low speed to incorporate.
Add the milk and mix until the dough comes together.
Use a wooden spoon to mix the cornflakes and sultanas in, stir until well combined.
Use a heaped teaspoon per biscuit and roll into a ball. Place onto the trays, allowing room for spreading, slightly flatten each biscuit with a spatula.
Cook for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. I often turn the trays halfway through cooking to allow for even cooking.
Remove trays from oven and let cool for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
Made 22 biscuits.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a recipe from the Taste website. The link to the original recipe is provided below the photos.

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http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/13559/sultana+cornflake+cookies


Shortbread for a hungry Silly Yak

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‘It’s not fair!’, cried The Yak, stamping his coeliac foot and crossing his coeliac arms. ‘Everybody except me gets to eat your shortbread at Christmas.’ Pouting doesn’t normally work in this household but I am nothing if not kind. Also, I had previously set myself a challenge and it was time to woman up.

Gluten free shortbread has arrived and the Yak is once again a happy man.

The experiment started with golden butter from New Zealand that glittered like Smaug’s treasure. Then basically, I just substituted the plain flour in my regular recipe with a quality brand of plain gluten free flour.

Methinks the key is to only knead the mixture for a minute or two, just enough to bring it together. It also requires a bit longer baking than my usual shortbread.

A batch was sent along to the Yak’s place of employment….although he is a begrudging sharer. The feedback was glowing. (At least that’s what The Yak told me.) They are delicate and moreish, and the Yak thinks every bit as delicious as the gluten laden version.

I concur Sir Yak, I concur.

The big test? Neither Kid 1 or Kid 2 clocked that they were GF…..a pretty good test in my books.

Sure, you can find store bought gluten free shortbread these days but I challenge you to accept the challenge that I challenged myself to. (You still there?). The enjoyment that this therapeutic bake provides, let alone the scrummy eating, far outweighs any convenience from buying it pre-made.

And as a very famous French woman was once reputed to have said ‘Let them eat shortbread’. (Well, she would have if she’d tasted this shortbread).

YOU NEED
250g butter, unsalted
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 3/4 cup gluten free plain flour
1/4 cup rice flour

METHOD
Preheat oven to 180C.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and sift the flours together into a bowl.
Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. (I use a mixer for this.)
Work in the flour gradually and with a very light hand, knead to form a dough. (I do this in the bowl.)
Divide the dough in half, roll each half out to a 3-4 cm log. Wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for half an hour.
Slice the logs into 1-2 cm thickness, depending on your fancy, place 10mm apart on a baking tray and prick each piece all over with a fork.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and straw-coloured.
Cool down on wire racks.
Makes about 20-25 pieces.
adapted from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook

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Shortbread for Christmas

To me, Christmas is shortbread and shortbread is Christmas.

It’s the only time I make it. Batch after batch is baked, packed in various ways and given as a tasty holiday treat. This gives me the opportunity to delve into my collection of vintage kitchenware and present it on quaint china plates or quirky glass bowls. (A great way of justifying my hoarding tendencies).

I never try new recipes for my Christmas giveaway. After years of perfecting this recipe, I would hate to disappoint the yearly recipients. I assure you it’s not due to laziness. Or is it?

In my extended family, we could start Shortbread Wars (like Star Wars but more delicious.) Our family is full of shortbread bakers. Nana Dorothy used to bake shortbread, my mum bakes it, as do two of my sisters. (The baby of the family has gone renegade and has so far resisted this hereditary primal urge..I give her another year…).

This shortbread is short (like myself), light, with a hint of crispness and not overly sweet. I have used the iconic Margaret Fulton’s recipe for the past few years and find that adding the 1/4 cup of rice flour adds that textural bite and lightness that makes me want to sing.

A piece of this shortbread with a cup of tea is ambrosia.

The smell makes little lads salivate and hang round the oven door.

In our house, its mandatory for Santa to be left a piece with the obligatory glass of milk.

This recipe is not gluten free which makes The Yak very sad. My mission (if I so choose to accept it) for the next few days, is to perfect a gluten free version. Fingers crossed.

Shortbread hints and tips: Knead the dough with a lightness of hand for about 3-5 minutes until its smooth and buttery. Do not attempt this on a very hot day unless you have airconditioning or you will end up with buttery mush! I use my trusty KitchenAid mixmaster but I have also used a handbeater. Or use your a wooden spoon and arm power if you feel like a workout!

YOU NEED
250g butter, unsalted
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup rice flour

METHOD
Preheat oven to 180C.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and sift the flours into a bowl.
Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. (I used a mixer for this.)
Work in the flour gradually and with a light hand, knead to form a dough. (I do this in the bowl.)
Divide the dough in half, roll each half out to a 3-4 cm log. Wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for half an hour.
Slice the logs into 1-2 cm thickness, depending on your fancy, place 10mm apart on a baking tray and prick each piece all over with a fork.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp and straw-coloured.
Makes about 20-25 pieces.
The Margaret Fulton Cookbook