Above is an accurate depiction of me. I have eaten many BISCUITS as of late. Then, I got hit with a stomach virus which put me waaaaay behind in my baking game. Apologies for the lateness of this post. But, I am back to being a baking and eating monster.
This is one is going to be pretty short and sweet (like pastry… get it?!). I wanted to show my process and progress of my way to the #showstopper to close out my first biscuit week. Truth be told, initially when I thought about this showstopper (back during Thanksgiving), I got really nervous. Then, a light bulb went off in my nerdy mind: (Ding!) HOGWARTS. I can make a Hogwarts 3D biscuit scene.
Fast forward to February 2019….
Me: FACE PALM.
What was I thinking!? I’ve never made a 3D biscuit scene. Hell, I haven’t even made true English biscuits. But since I am of a stubborn stock, once I get something in my mind… I can’t let it go.
When I was young and innocent, back during Thanksgiving 2018 (yeah, ok, I know it was only a few months ago), I gleefully googled “Hogwarts images” and sent them via email to myself. As I opened these images up this week… I was like "#accio time machine"… to take me back to when I thought making a 3D biscuit scene of Hogwarts was a good idea, so I could slap myself.
But I haven’t graduated from witchcraft and wizardry school yet, so I am stuck with my stubbornness and trying to figure out to craft Hogwarts because this badger won’t quit (#Hufflepuff, baby!).
Treacle, again, something that I have never tasted or used. But now I must use in as many recipes as I can. I remember that I ordered this from the Amazon box during the summer and it took FOR-EH-VER to get her from across the pond … I didn’t have prime option for that apparently. It was a nice little surprise that showed up on my doorstep when it got here. Anywho, the flavor is a very rich, deep syrup. A little woody and earthy...in the best way possible! Definitely an umami booster. (According to Dictionary.com - Umami: a category of taste in food (besides sweet, sour, salt, and bitter), corresponding to the flavor of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate.) Cue brain: trying to find excuses to use treacle.
The flavor of the dough was packed full for flavor and warmth from the spices. Next time, I might try messing around with the recipe and adding fresh ginger… hmmmm.
Once again, I want to make sure that you know that I have no clue what I am doing. So I let the dough rest in the fridge. I figured I would just roll out the dough and then use a sharp knife and cut the outline of Hogwarts. And that is exactly what I did. BTW, I do not have any drawing or crafting skill. I can see how this might seem super rudimentary to some of you who may be advanced in this part of the art world.
I baked the biscuits for about 10 minutes. The larger pieces I had to throw back into the oven because I thought that they were a little soft in the middle...but the small pieces were pretty hard… and that may have changed the flavor a little bit. The flavor seemed to be muddled in the harder pieces. Which is to say less of the all around warm, spiced goodness. Since I am not really sure if these cookie/biscuits are supposed to have a “snap” or be some place in between, I will have to think about that before baking my true #showstopper.
I don’t want to be sacrificing flavor in order to have firm construction, because the 3D biscuit scene should be edible. Also, maybe don’t choose to construct Hogwarts for your first 3D BISCUIT SCENE! Sorry, slight anxiety panic.
Since I didn’t actually have time to “construct” a practice 3D scene… I will pray to the baking gods that something will turn out for the real thing. I actually have a couple of other biscuit/cookie recipes that I want to bake to see if I can incorporate for construction and flavor. I found a couple of recipes on the online wonder that is Pinterest. This particular recipe is not a ginger biscuit but at this point I am not too big a stickler on the flavor as long as it tastes yummy.
All in all, I figured out a couple of ways to get it to stand up but I have to be a little more exact on measurements of cutting and not just #wingingit - (insert: cool name pun here (sorry, I couldn’t figure one out, Lindy)). Oh! I almost forgot to tell you that I finally got some rolling pin spacers so I feel confident that these will help me in my construction… maybe the baking gods ARE on my side! I plan to use a mixture of royal icing to “glue” and cream cheese frosting...because cream cheese frosting and delicious ginger cookies - duh.
For your viewing pleasure… some cute yoga pig sugar cookies. My tribute to Lunar New Year. Just had one for breakfast. See you for the #showstopper.
Until then, Happy Baking. Happy Eating. Happy Repeating.
Florentines. Had I ever heard of florentines before watching this show? Of course... I’ve made them… LIES. I am totally messing with you. No, of course NOT. I have never heard of florentines before watching this show. I mean, let’s be real, there are many, many recipes that I have never heard of before watching this show. I can’t be the only one! But once I learned about them… it’s like I see them everywhere! It’s already happening with Babka. I just watched that episode of #seinfeld with the chocolate babka. But I digress.
We’ll talk about Babka later (Because Mr. Hollywood will make me bake it). Right now, it’s on to the technical for my very first #biscuitweek. Florentines. A Mary Berry recipe. There are definitely more than few recipes out there, but I decided to go with the one I found on BBC, titled “Mary’s Florentines Recipe.” Some of the other recipes I read through seemed to have less ingredients, but I wanted to make sure I was getting the full effect. Also, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make my own candied citrus peel for the first time. So let’s start there.
Perusing the rest of the ingredients, those dang glacé cherries pop up in my life again! I first became acquainted with them during my #classiccherrycake bake. Exciting that I get to use them again. As an actor IRL, I like to make everything super dramatic. So I would like to give you a glimpse into my baking life. Please take your seats, for: The Glacé Cherry Caper.
Glacé Cherries! Good thing I already have some ready to go in my pantry.
(rushes to pantry and throws open doors)
Seriously, there is some in my pantry, remember?! When I made them for that cherry cake (keeps scanning pantry)
Oh. I used them ALL in that cherry cake. Hmmm.
(Rushes to fridge and throws open doors)
I’ll use those Amarena cherries that I never used in that cherry cake. Ok, cool. I’ll make it work.
(Rereads ingredients in recipe)
“...dried cranberries OR glacé cherries.” Maybe I won’t use the Amarena cherries because... (rushes to pantry and throws open doors once again)
I know! I have dried sweet cherries!
(grabs bag of dried sweet cherries, in sweet sweet victory!)
Dried, sweet cherries seem like the best of both worlds…
(Dana pumps fist in air and smiles.)
*readers cheer relentlessly*
I am sure you already guessed it. Instead of glace cherries OR dried cranberries, I am using dried sweet cherries from my pantry. I also didn’t have any walnuts and substituted pecans. But you will have to wait for “The Walnut Caper,” another day.
It’s not that I don’t want to follow the recipe EX-ACT-LY, but listen, during the technicals on the show they have a whole team of people, behind the scenes, prepping their ingredients for them. I wish that I had that whole team too...but it’s just me driving around to different stores and/or ordering things off the Amazon box. So I am big supporter of use what you have. Which is exactly what I did.
With the candied citrus peel out of the way...I was able to jump right into chopping everything up according to the recipe. This one was interesting because essentially everything is done in a pot over the stove. I’ve never made a cookie like that. EXCUSE ME - biscuit.
But before I go on… I need to talk about golden syrup. I was not acquainted with golden syrup before GBBO. And lo and behold, golden syrup is used in this Mary Berry recipe.
I thought about just forgetting about using golden syrup because I had read that other things could be substituted… but I decided that since the Amazon box could get it to me same day (!) (Note: it did not get to my house same day… but within the 2 days), I splurged and ordered some golden syrup- the same brand as my treacle (which I do have future plans for :)). And honestly, I am glad that I decided to get actual golden syrup because I think it is So. Damn. Tasty. It’s not quite syrup you put on American pancakes or agave or even corn syrup (which I try to stay away from)... but it has this richness without being cloyingly sweet. The color is truly “GOLDEN” and it it’s like a rich, carmel-y, butterscotch-y, toffee-y, taste to it and I am thinking it would be delicious with some cornbread (another example of my fat genius).
So thumbs up for my first foray with golden syrup.
Back to spooning the melty blobs of stuff on the cookie sheet. It said to spoon out 1 teaspoon and shape for each Florentine. I thought that looked rather small and I wasn’t really sure how big these were going to be, even though I know that they will spread in the oven. So I decided to count out 18 of them and double up blobs on the cookie sheet...and cross my fingers for baker’s luck.
There was spreading in the oven. And I don’t know how they do in photos, but mine did not come out perfectly round. Well, I think ONE did. I let them firm up a little bit after taking them out of the oven since I baked on a silpat. Transferred them to a wire rack to cool and went about my business to temper some chocolate.
Now, if you read the full recipe - it does say to temper the chocolate using a candy thermometer… I don’t own a candy thermometer… since I haven’t needed one, yet. I thought that this might be great excuse to get one, but alas, I forgot to order it with the delicious golden syrup.
Instead, I just did my thing. Melted chocolate (dark) using the Bain Marie method. Using a fork to drizzle the chocolate onto the biscuits, which I thought worked surprisingly well. Then, I discovered I committed BAKE FAIL #2.5 (I really don’t think it deserves WHOLE number step up) I was supposed to chocolate the bottoms of the biscuits first, let THAT set, and THEN drizzle the tops with chocolate. Well. I didn’t.
I did discover a nice way to chocolate my biscuit bottoms though— by using a spatula and loading some melted chocolate on there and then “dipping” the biscuit bottoms to get an even coating. Since I already had drizzled chocolate on the tops of the biscuits… I had some indentations of the wire rack on the bottoms. Whoops.
All in all, I felt that these florentines were tasty. I feel like I still had a decent shine to my melted chocolate, even though I didn’t have a candy thermometer to temper it to the correct temperature. But I did melt half the chocolate, removed the bowl from heat, and then added the rest of the chocolate in order to avoid any burning.
I was pleasantly surprised how much citrus flavor came through in the biscuit...and I am excited to think of other recipes to use the candied peel in. I’m planning to revisit the Lemon Drizzle Cake and make a recipe for a vegan one, so I think the citrus peel will have a place in my oven soon.
These biscuits (cookies, if you prefer) would definitely NOT be a go-to for me. Even though I think they are tasty, I can think of many other different cookies and biscuits that I would gorge myself on. But they are simple enough to come together to whip them up quickly, with whatever candied/dried fruit and nuts you have on hand in your pantry, to take to a brunch or have with your own tea at home. I think next time I might take my husband’s suggestion and use white chocolate for the drizzle. Seems like a great flavor combo AND would look very nicely on the biscuit themselves. Thanks for the suggestion, honey.
Next up… #showstopper. Yep, that is a 3D biscuit sculpture. Still trying to wrap my mind around how I’m going to do it AND bake up some yummy things for Chinese New Year. I’m thinking Chinese sausage pastries are in my future and yoga piggies. I’ll get pics and all that good stuff up on here and on my IG @dana.does.things
Until then, Happy Baking. Happy Eating. Happy Repeating.
P.S Thanks to Lindy (#lindybakes) for taking on the endeavor of editing :)
Candied Citrus Peel: