Healthy Snacks for Kids: Granola Bars or Flapjacks

12 March 2012 § 4 Comments

I love writing my What’s for Dinner? column on Barista Kids as it challenges me to think of quick, good dinners.

In general I try to focus on meals for the whole family and make sure that it’s something healthy, tasty and fun that kids want to eat more of. If I get that bit right, I can reduce The Ladies™ snack consumption. Sometimes, of course, (file under: kids being kids) they just need something to tide them over until the next meal.

Thus, these granola bars (or flapjacks as we have been calling them back in Blighty since Shakespeare’s day) are really easy and pretty tasty. You can find the recipe here on Barista Kids.

I try not to buy too many processed snacks as even the so-called “healthy” ones have some dubious ingredients. This granola bar is packed with oats, seeds and dried fruits.

Yes I know there’s a bit of butter, sugar and golden syrup, but you get to control the amount. « Read the rest of this entry »

Coconut florentines

22 December 2011 § 4 Comments

I really promise this will be the last cookie post for a while. When Melody from Hot from the Kettle, asked me for a few cookie recipes, this one was begging to be shared.

I used to think florentines were tricky to make until I made them, and found out they are so easy. Glacé cherries were never my thing. I’ve not figured out if that is because they conjure up images of naff cocktails or just because they are totally tasteless with a weird, rubbery texture. So with my aversion to glacé cherries I replaced them with festive dried cranberries.

This is a very decadent cookie: dried fruit, almonds, coconut and chocolate as dark as you like. I love a minimum of 70% cocoa content, but if white chocolate floats your boat, you could use that. The recipe is over on Hot From the Kettle.

Spiced gingerbread cookies

20 December 2011 § 5 Comments

I warned you we have been making a lot of cookies. When Melody from Hot from the Kettle invited me to do a guest post for Hot from the Kettle – I really did not need an excuse to get baking with The Ladies™.

These gingerbread cookies taste good. How could they not? They are made with golden syrup, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. « Read the rest of this entry »

’tis the season for lots of cookies – lemon star cookies

19 December 2011 § 2 Comments

The Ladies™ and I have been making a lot of cookies this past week.

Here’s a recipe for these lemon star cookies, singing with zesty, citrus-ness, that I just posted on What’s for Dinner? on Barista Kids. « Read the rest of this entry »

Kitchen sink cookies (cherry, pistachio, coconut, chocolate chip)

1 July 2011 § 9 Comments

The Ladies™ wanted to make cookies. There was no negotiation. Zero. They had to take cookies on their afternoon playdate. We had all of 30 minutes to make them. If I was making them alone that would not be a problem, but add two four-year olds in the mix and that becomes quite a challenge.

I remembered the now-mushy cherries I bought last weekend at the Farmers’ Market. Their fate was either cookie or an early grave in the compost bin. So I snuck in the cherries as they cost too much to throw out.

Not sure if it was the time pressure but I kept adding ingredients like a crazy woman – a handful of pistachios, some coconut, oh and chocolate chips. The cookies turned out to be a riot of flavor in each bite – nutty, sweet chocolately cookies.

Miraculously it took us about 35 minutes to make them, so we were only a few minutes late for the playdate. The stress was worth it for the just-baked cookie smell in the car.

Ingredients – makes about 24

  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon – I prefer to grate from a cinnamon stick (don’t trust powdered cinnamon)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 12 tbs unsalted butter softened
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 oz chocolate chips – I used a mixture of white and semi-sweet
  • 4 oz unsweetened grated coconut
  • 1 cup pistachios (obviously shelled! And chopped)
  • 1 cup chopped cherries
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

In a large bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients.
Cream together the butter and sugars – I usually do this in my stand mixer, but you can do with a hand mixer or by hand.
Then add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add the vanilla.
Beat in the flour on a low-speed.
Fold in the chocolate, coconut, cherries and nuts.

Mould the dough into balls the size of a golf ball.

Place the cookie dough balls on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

Pre-heat the oven to 350° and bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes until just beginning to turn golden.

Cool on the cookie sheet, on a rack.


20 May 2011 § 2 Comments

I love it when people give me their recipes – handwritten or a recipe torn out of a magazine. It shows they took the time to think of me. There’s something in it that harks back to a different age: a time before texts, Tweets and celebrity TV chefs.

I was thrilled when a Bolivian family friend, who knows I have a soft spot for South American sweets, gave me a recipe for alfajorcitos. To complete the South American connection she consulted her Argentinian friend for the recipe. She came to my house, armed with not only a beautifully handwritten recipe, but also the maizena (cornstarch) AND the dulce de leche, so I really had no choice but to make them.

¡Gracias Ana Maria!

The alfajores turned out well. Although they tasted a bit too metallic I had used heaped teaspoons of baking powder, instead of level ones. Also time the baking as a minute or 2 over they will brown and they are meant to be pale. The recipe is in metric as I’m worried if I convert it, it will not be accurate, and baking is all about accuracy which is why I’m not a good baker.

Here’s the alfajore recipe:

  • 250 gr softened butter
  • 150 gr sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac (optional)
  • 300 gr cornstarch
  • 200 gr flour
  • ½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 level tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • Lemon zest from ½ a lemon
  • 1 cup shredded dried coconut, unsweetened

Mix the cornstarch, flour, bicarbonate and baking powder.

Beat the butter with the sugar, add the egg yolks one by one. Continue beating and add the cognac, and little by little the flour mixture.

Add the vanilla essence and the lemon zest. form into a ball and roll out on a surface that is dusted with cornstarch. Use a pastry cutter or a small glass to cut into small circles.

Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Watch carefully and remove if they look like they are browning.

When cool, spread dulce de leche, then roll the edge in shredded coconut. If you can wait, this requires considerable willpower, these joyful little cookies taste better a day or two after baking.

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