Today is my belated grandmother Bami’s birthday, so I decided to make her famous sugar cookies, which was one of her signatures and one of my fondest memories of her.
We used to always request these special cookies on our birthdays and Bami always made so many of them that I swear they could have lasted you until your next birthday. I also remember them being a staple on our Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert table.
The secret to these cookies is the special glass that has glass bubbles on the bottom (very trendy in the 1970s) that you use to make indentations on the top of the cookie. No one knows where Bami’s official glass is, but my boyfriend’s mom knew I was on the lookout for one and found one in her belated mother’s old glassware so she passed it on to me. Now that I have the recipe AND the special glass I can finally do her cookies some justice and they’ll be on my dessert table every Thanksgiving and Christmas.
These are very delicate sugar cookies due to the use of a mix of white sugar and confectioners sugar. They are also unusual in that they use 3 types of fats – butter, margarine, and oil. The dough consistency is not as dense as normal cookie dough so definitely don’t skip the step where you freeze the dough – it will be difficult to roll it into balls if you don’t.
So without further adieu – here is the family recipe:
Makes about 9 dozen (I’ve divided this recipe by 4 and it’s turned out fine)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 stick margarine (not softened)
- 1 stick butter (not softened)
- 1 cup oil
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla (add along with dry ingredients and oil)
- 4 cups plain (unsifted) flour
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- Sift dry ingredients except sugar
- Cream butter, margarine and sugars. Gradually add beaten eggs to mixture.
- Blend in dry ingredients, pouring in the oil and vanilla gradually. When the dough gets too stiff for mixer, finish it by hand.
- Freeze until hard.
- Roll into small balls. Press bottom of a glass than has been dipped in granulated sugar.*
- Put about 15 on each tray.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or to desired color.
*Note: I could’t figure out how Bami stamped the cookie dough with the glass before they had baked because the dough just kept sticking to the glass. Instead, I baked the cookies until they were almost ready, then I pulled them out of the oven, stamped them with the sugar coated glass, then popped them back in the oven for 2 more minutes until they were done.
Posted in U.S.A.
I’m a big fan of Donna Hay, who is Austraila’s answer to Martha Stewart. I’ve tried a few recipes out of her 10th anniversary magazine from October, which had an entire feature on brownies, one of my all time favorite simple classics.
You are probably wondering what is so special about brownies that would make them worthy of Donna’s anniversary magazine, but this was not just any ordinary brownie feature. She has created brownie cookies that you sandwich around peanut butter frosting and blondies with crumbled Oreos in the middle – both were absolutely amazing.
I’ve made both this month but since the brownie cookies disappeared before I could take a decent photo, I’m writing about the Oreo blondies.
Donna’s recipe calls for cream cheese to be dropped into the mixture in the pan before baking, but I found the flavor much too tangy and would suggest replacing the cream cheese with chunks of white chocolate. The cream cheese chunks also started to look a bit funny after a day so if you are planning on serving these the day or 2 after baking then definitely go with the white chocolate chunks instead.
Oreo Blondies adapted from Donna Hay
- 200g (7oz) softened butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ⅔ cup of all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 200g (7oz) white chocolate
- 125g (4.5oz) white chocolate chips or softened cream cheese (see note above)
- 150g (5oz) Oreos
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350° F)
- Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.
- Gradually add eggs, beating after each addition.
- Add vanilla extract.
- Add flour, baking powder and melted white chocolate and beat.
- Spoon half the mixture into a lined baking tray. (20cm x 30cm or 8in x 12 in)
- Place spoonfuls of white chocolate chips on top (could be substituted with cream cheese if you wish).
- Sprinkle with chopped cookies.
- Spoon remaining brownie mixture on top, covering the cookies completely.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Happy Thanksgiving! I took these into the office today along with a pumpkin pie to so that my non-American colleagues could finally taste some authentic American classics.
Buckeyes are the nut off of the state tree of Ohio (and mascot of Ohio State University) and this might as well be the official state candy because every good Ohioan knows how to make a mean buckeye. I’m not from Ohio but learned how to make them from my Stepdad’s family in Ohio and I’ve been making them for Thanksgiving potlucks and holiday parties for the past few years.
I’ve always made the traditional buckeye candy recipe but this year decided to try Smitten Kitchen’s because she uses less powdered sugar and adds graham cracker crumbs, which I thought could add some extra texture. Since I am living in Australia and can’t find graham crackers anywhere, I did quite a bit of research (including taste testing with my few remaining imported graham crackers) and discovered that digestive biscuits are almost identical in taste to graham crackers. Win!
My boyfriend’s mom loaned me her #70 scoop that came from Uncle Stan Wigley’s Charters Towers Café in Northern Queensland who used the scoop to make milkshakes in the 1950s.
Buckeye Candy Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: I made 77 with a #70 (1/2-ounce) scoop – and I measured the first few to make sure they were ½ ounce.
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
- 1 cup digestive biscuit crumbs (or graham crackers if you are in the U.S.)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 12 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together until combined with an electric mixer.
- Add the digestive biscuit (or graham cracker) crumbs and beat for 10 seconds.
- Add the sugar and butter, and mix on the lowest speed, then increase the speed until the ingredients are combined. Scrape down the whole bowl well, then mix again. The mixture will be quite sturdy and a little dry — perfect for shaping.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out ½ ounce scoop of filling and use your hands to form it into a ball (make sure it is sturdy enough to withstand being poked with a skewer and dipped in chocolate).
- Place the ball on the prepared sheet and repeat the process until all of the candies have been shaped.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before dipping in chocolate (optional but really makes them a lot more sturdy against the skewer and melted chocolate).
- Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler, stirring until it is completely smooth or in a microwave in 30 then 10 second increments, stirring before you start it again until it is completely smooth.
- Let it cool to tepid (about 100 degrees, though I’d go a little cooler next time for a thicker coating).
- Using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate and roll it about so that almost the entire candy is coating, leaving a small circle uncoated. Smitten Kitchen recommends sticking the skewer in the side, angling the bowl towards it and making sure it is submerged as you roll the candy around.
- Chill the buckeyes until they are set, about 30 minutes.
Do ahead: Buckeyes will keep in the fridge for up to a week, or I’ve had highly restrained friends keep a stash in their freezer for a year!
Posted in U.S.A.
In honor of the Australia v. NZ Rugby World Cup game that’s on tonight I thought it would be appropriate to write about Anzac biscuits. Anzac biscuits are the most traditional Aussie biscuit (or cookie) that I can think of, due to their Australian origins during World War I. Anzac stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and these biscuits were the creation of Australian women during World War I who were looking for a food that would be able to survive the 2+ month Merchant Navy ship journey to the soldiers and still have the maximum amount of nutritional value.
In order to withstand the long journey, none of the ingredients in the biscuits are perishable. Instead of eggs these biscuits used golden syrup or treacle as a binding agent.
They were first called Soliders’ Biscuits but after the ANZAC soldiers’ landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 they were renamed ANZAC biscuits and are commonly eaten on ANZAC Day, which is celebrated on 25 April to honor all Australia and New Zealand War Veterans.
This recipe is from an Australian Day to Day Cookery for “Home Craft” Students that’s from my boyfriend’s mum’s high school home economics class.
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ¾ cup shredded coconut
- ¾ cup sugar (raw sugar is best)
- 4 oz butter
- 3 level tbsp. golden syrup (or corn syrup in the U.S.)
- 2 tbsp boiling water
- 1 level tsp baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 160 C (320F)
- Sift flour into a bowl.
- Add rolled oats, coconut and sugar.
- Melt butter in a saucepan, add syrup and water.
- Add soda, allow to foam and pour immediately into dry ingredients.
- Mix well the take small pieces of mixture and press out thinly on greased baking trays, allowing space between each biscuit for spreading.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
I’m from the Southern United States so I’m accustomed to seeing odd experiments with deep fried foods, my favorite being the deep fried Mars bar. But I had never before seen deep fried ice cream until I moved to Australia, where it is on nearly every Asian restaurant’s menu. It must be something that they’ve created just for the Australian market because I’ve been all over SE Asia and have never encountered deep fried ice cream, but I’m not going to call out the un-authenticity of the dessert because it’s simply amazing.
Basically, in order to make a deep fried scoop of ice cream you have to pre-scoop the ball of ice cream and deep freeze it so that it’s rock hard. Then you can batter it, freeze it a little longer and flash fry it in oil before drizzling it with caramel or chocolate and dusting it with coconut.
When served, it is surrounded by a thin, warm, gooey layer of cake on the outside and is frozen solid on the inside. I am always amazed by how hard the ice cream actually is after being immersed in a vat of boiling oil!
I found this recipe on taste.com.au if you are brave enough to try it yourself!
Deep Fried Ice Cream
- 1 qty vanilla-bean ice cream (see related recipe)
- 250g digestive biscuits (or Nilla wafers if you are in the US)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon milk
- sunflower oil
- icing sugar and maple syrup, to serve
Working quickly, scoop ice cream into 6 round balls and place on a paper-lined tray in the freezer. Freeze for about 2 hours until very firm. Crush a pack of biscuits to fine crumbs and place in a shallow bowl. Again working quickly, roll frozen balls in crumbs to coat, then freeze for 1 hour. Lightly beat eggs with milk in another bowl. Again working quickly, coat each ball first in egg mixture, shaking off excess, followed by a second coat of crumbs. Return balls to freezer for another 1 hour. Half-fill a deep-fryer or large saucepan with sunflower oil and heat to 190°C. (If you don’t have a deep-fryer thermometer, a cube of bread will turn golden in 30 seconds when oil is hot enough.) In 2 batches, fry ice cream balls for 10-15 seconds until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain briefly on paper towel, then serve immediately dusted with icing sugar and drizzled with maple syrup.
Posted in Australia
My boyfriend’s cousin Val, who recommended the banana lime cake from a previous post, also suggested that we try the Old French Fig Cake out of the same book. She’s brought over a slice of one that she’d made and we decided that we had to give it a try to have with our morning tea.
I have to admit that I’ve never cooked with figs. I’ve had plans to use them several times but always buy the figs and then forget about them until it’s too late and they are ridden with mold. This time was different. We bought some beautiful figs from the weekend market to use in the cake – the recipe calls for 225g but Val recommended that we used more so we threw in a few extra.
The dough ends up being very thick and cooks on low heat for a long time, which is typical of old fashioned cake recipes.
It’s very sweet and drier than a dessert cake, which makes it perfect for morning tea.
Old French Fig Cake Recipe adapted from Cake Bible
- 300g (10 oz) fresh ripe figs, chopped finely or minced
- 125g (4.4 oz) butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 egg, lighty beaten
- 3 2/3 cups plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ Tsp grated lemon or orange zest
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 150C (300F). Lightly grease a 20cm (~8 in) cake tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
Place figs in a saucepan and simmer for 8 minutes. Add butter and sugar and keep stirring over gentle heat until melted. Allow to cool.
Stir egg into mixture. Add sifted flour, baking powder, salt, zest, and vanilla extract.
Pour into prepared tin and bake for 60-90 minutes or until cake no longer sticks to a cake tester.
Dust with icing sugar.
Posted in France
Tagged Cakes, Dessert
We had two birthdays to celebrate this week so we decided to make an old fashioned hummingbird cake. I was surprised that my boyfriend’s mum in Brisbane had the recipe since the first reference to hummingbird cake was in Southern Living’s February 1978 issue as a recipe sent in by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins on Greensboro, NC! Once you try one of these sweet, tropical cakes you’ll understand why it went on to become the most requested recipe from Southern Living. The one mystery that Mrs. Wiggins never explained in her submission to Southern Living was how the cake got it’s unusual name.
I did a little research and found that there are several theories as to why the cake is called a hummingbird cake, whichall seem pretty plausible. I found these on associatedcontent.com:
- This cake is so yummy that it makes you HUM with delight, or happiness when you anticipate having a slice
- Hummingbirds drink nectar from flowers and this cake is just a sweet as a flower’s nectar
- Hummingbirds themselves are associated with the lighthearted and sweet side of life, hence the name of this cake
- When the cake is served, people hover around it the way hummingbirds hover around nectar bearing flowers
- Although a cake made for people, it is a cake sweet enough to attract even hummingbirds
Regardless of where the name originated, the cake is fantastic for celebrations and very simple to make – you don’t even need a mixer until you start making the frosting! Here’s the original recipe from Mrs. Wiggins, but I’ve noted the changes that we used since I think that the original recipe is too sweet.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar (we used 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 (8-ounce or 250g) can crushed pineapple, undrained
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 cups chopped bananas
- 2 cup (125g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces (250g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 16 ounces (500g) icing (confectioners) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup finely chopped pecans
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.
Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Mix butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until incorporated. Then mix in the confectioners sugar and vanilla until fully incorporated.
We decided to make the cake even more tasty by adding sliced mangos and shredded coconut between each layer. My boyfriend’s mum has tried both fresh and canned mango slices and recommends to go with the canned mango since it’s juicier. Either way you can’t go wrong!
Spread the Icing over each layer, top with slices of mango and dust with coconut. Then spread the remaining icing over the rest of the cake.
Posted in U.S.A.
Tagged Cakes, Dessert