Gluten-Free Cookies

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I don’t have coeliac disease, nor am I gluten intolerant, but my friend is and as I’m a keen baker I thought I would have a go at baking something tasty for her. She explained that gluten-free foods aren’t as tempting as “ordinary” foods so I set to work finding something for her… and these were the result! Even Mr Travelstodge loved them. His comments were “these are the best biscuits you’ve ever baked” … and believe me, I’ve baked many; much to his waistline’s disapproval!

The ingredients you will need are:

180g Rice Flour (I use Doves Farm)
100g Caster Sugar
100g Milk Chocolate Chips
90g Light Brown Sugar
70g Unsalted Peanuts, Chopped (or use mixed nuts or any combination you want)
60g Unsalted Butter, Softened
2 Large Eggs, Beaten
1/2 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Always make sure you measure out the ingredients before you start, otherwise you will be back and forth across the kitchen… believe me, I’ve been there!

Start by mixing together the rice flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, or a free-standing mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, caster sugar and vanilla extract until light. Next, add the egg bit by bit, making sure it’s mixed in well each time (you don’t want it to split at this point). It will now look rather runny, which is perfectly fine, as you will now add the dry ingredients from the other bowl in to this mix. Put it in one tablespoon at a time otherwise it will end up all over the place! Once combined, add the chocolate chips and peanuts.

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Now, depending on how you want the cookies will depend on how long you leave the
mixture in the fridge. For round, crunchy cookies, leave the mixture in the fridge for an hour so it is solid. If you want large soft, floppy cookies (like the ones you get a Millies Cookies) then leave it in the fridge for about half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190˚C (170˚C Fan) Gas Mark 5. Line three baking sheets with baking paper. If they move about, dab a little butter on each corner of the tray to anchor the baking paper down.

Use a teaspoon amount for little biscuits, or a dessertspoon for larger ones. If you are leaving them in the fridge for the hour then leave a gap of around 5cm between them. If you are leaving them for only half an hour then double the gap, if not triple… they will spread out considerably and end up joining together! You can always break them apart so not the end of the world if they did.

Bake them for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave them to cool… but you all know that!

If you want to leave the nuts out,  just add the same amount of chocolate chips to the mix so it becomes a nut-free recipe too.

Chocolate Biscuits

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I decided that, as I had an egg left in the box, and it was up today, I had better bake something with it… well, I don’t like waste so these Chocolate Biscuits were the result! So far Mr Travelstodge’s work colleagues have given them the thumbs up along with several at my place of work, so they can’t be that bad.

The ingredients needed are:

175g (6 oz)        Caster Sugar
125g (4½ oz)     Butter at room temperature
125g (4½ oz)     Plain Flour
35g   (1¼ oz)     Cocoa Powder
1                         Egg, beaten
½ tsp                  Bicarbonate of Soda
½ tsp                  Vanilla Extract (Not the artificial suff, get proper extract!)

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F, Gas Mark 4) and line three or four baking trays. I used two square trays and one rectangular one but whatever you have will be fine. I find baking paper the best, and a smidge of butter on the tray will help anchor the paper on so it doesn’t move when you are putting the dough on the tray.

Mix together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until pale in colour and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth.

Next, sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa and beat together until everything is combined. (Travelstodge tip: I mix together all the dry ingredients and sift them into a separate bowl and spoon the dry ingredients into the mix. It’s easier if you are using a hand mixer and or a stand mixer too, as you don’t have to keep stop-starting to sift, it’s all ready to spoon in!)

Now, you can create the biscuits in two ways. The first is with wet hands and roll the dough to create the ball shape needed, but this is messy and I always have the temptation to lick my hands clean… or… you can do what I do and use two teaspoons. Keep transferring the dough from one teaspoon to another to make the desired shape.

The size of the dough shape now will determine the size of the biscuit. A teaspoon size will create the biscuits in the photo, but smaller or bigger will mean adjusting the time in the oven. I made around 26 biscuits using a teaspoon size amount of dough. Make sure when you put the mixture on the baking trays you leave enough room for them to expand, otherwise they will come out all joined together… or one massive biscuit, depends how big your stomach is!

Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, based on a teaspoon sized dough.

Once baked, take them out of the oven and leave to cool for five minutes and transfer to a wire rack to completely cool. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a wire rack, I just leave mine on the baking tray to cool completely, it just takes a little longer.

And there you have it! Scrummy chocolate biscuits that everyone will want… all because I needed to use up an egg.

Popcorn, Two Ways!

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I’ve always loved popcorn. The smell always takes me back to family nights out at the cinema, but as time has gone on the price of popcorn has gone through the roof, so I tend not to buy it anymore when watching a film at the cinema. These days, I prefer to snuggle up at home with my fiancé with a cup of tea and homemade popcorn that’s warm and sweet.

So, I have two versions of popcorn that I’m sure you will all love, but play around with the recipes and adapt them to your own taste.

Christmas Popcorn

Mincemeat Popcorn

No, before you say it, it has NO meat in it. It’s a recipe I saw on Kirsty Allsopp’s Crafty Christmas that makes good use of the leftover mincemeat from mince pies.

There is no actual measurements for this recipe I’m afraid. It’s just a case of heating oil in a large pan, throwing in some popcorn kernels and putting the lid on, and wait for the pop pop pop….. I would put in enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan, or a couple of handfuls. Then once all popped, pre-heat the oven to 180°c – 190°c (gas mark 4-5) and put all the popcorn into a bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of mincemeat and stir it round with your hands so it’s mixed in well.

Spread it out on a lined baking tray and put it in the oven for about 6-10 minutes.

When it’s done, let it cool slightly. Remember, this will be a caramelised larva of heat! Only when it is cool enough to touch, break it all up into pieces, and there you have it!

You can also add other things into the mix like almonds, cranberries, more apple or sultanas etc, but I just love it as it comes.

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Sugar Coated Popcorn

This one is for the sweet toothed connoisseur. It’s sweet, buttery and in no way shape or form good for you, but oh my, it’s delicious!

You will need:

110g      Un-popped Kernels
225g      Sugar
2 tbsp   Butter
3 tbsp   Water
½ tsp   Vanilla Extract.

Pop your corn kernels as per packet instructions. Put in a clean large pan with a lid and set aside.

Next, melt the butter in a pan and then put the rest of the ingredients in. Bring to the boil whilst stirring with a wooden spoon. (BE CAREFUL OF HOT SUGAR!)

Leave on a roaring boil for about a minute. Don’t stir at this point.

Now, you must be very careful here, as you have to pour your sugar mix on to your popcorn. Put the lid on and shake the contents until it’s all mixed together. I prefer to use two wooden spoons and toss them like a salad bowl, but however you do it, again, please be careful.

And there you have it! You can make it less or more buttery or sugary by having a play around with the ingredients. Try using icing sugar, or for a not-so-buttery taste, use less butter.

Flapjacks

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Ahhh, sweet, gooey, crunchy flapjack.  This has become a staple in the Travelstodge household, so much so even my brothers who were helping me put up my greenhouse today asked for some, so two batches were made and I only have one left!

So, all you need for this lush treat is the following:

225g   Porridge Oats
125g   Demerara Sugar
125g   Butter
5tbsp Golden Syrup

Pre-Heat the oven to 190°c (Gas Mark 5).  I would line a 20cm round tin with baking paper, as if you just grease it the flapjack is a nightmare to get out.

Using a wooden spoon, melt the butter in a large non stick pan on a low heat. Once all melted, add in the sugar and the syrup and stir until it’s all combined to one colour.

Next, add in the oats.  Add them a bit at a time so you are sure they are all combined and covered in the sugary, butter mix.

Put the mixture into the lined tin.  I would use a metal spoon to smooth over the top as it will be easier than a wooden one.

Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Once you take it out, you must leave it to cool in the tin, and I mean completely cool down.  If you try to take it out when it’s warm, it will just crumble and look a right mess!

So there you have it, You can cut it into pieces if you want to or just troff away on the whole thing.  Whichever way you decide to eat it, enjoy!

Nutella Brownies for Nutella Day!

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Apparently it’s World Nutella Day today, so here is my tried and tested recipe for quick and easy Nutella Brownies.

All you need is:

1 1/4 cup (around 400g) Nutella

1/2 cup Flour (around 63g) (plain will be fine)

2 Eggs

Put all the Nutella in a bowl and mix in the eggs.  I personally whisk the eggs together and add them in slowly, or a bit at a time, as you want the eggs combined in properly.  Then add the flour.

Grease or line a tin, square is better as you can cut them into pieces easier.  Mine is 8×8 square but smaller would be fine as they just end up being a bit thicker.

Put into a preheated oven of 350ºf (175ºc) for 15 minutes, and enjoy!

Let me know how you get on with them, I’m off to get some Nutella…