Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A Little Light Baking

As the days get hotter and brighter, I find that the last thing I want to do is spend all afternoon in a hot kitchen (I'll have the pleasure of doing that all evening). Unfortunately, my desire to bake is overwhelming and I just have to get my hands dirty all over again.

At the beginning of the week I took M out in her pushchair and walked up to Sainsburys for a few groceries. Naturally, I came back with a few too many things - some that had caught my eye as I walked up an aisle, and others that were on offer and seemed far too good to refuse. One such item was a packet of Mikado biscuits, something some of my friends had been praising for a little while. I'd not yet tried them and had almost ripped the foil open before I'd left the shop.

What addictive little chocolate biscuits. I understood the hype immediately and promptly scoffed the little packet.

The following day I craved more Mikado. And a session in the kitchen. I opened my well stocked cupboard from the previous days outing and found all the ingredients to make some Mikado of my own. Of course, I couldn't just make a basic version - they had to be bettered with nuts and dried fruit.

At first I tried to make my biscuits round like Mikados are - but it took a lot of time and effort to roll the dough out thinly enough and once the first batch came out of the oven, they weren't as uniform as I'd hoped so I decided to make them square instead. Thank goodness for time saving methods!

Chocolate, pistachio and cranberry dipped biscuits

200g unsalted soft unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
400g plain flour, plus more for dusting
150g dark chocolate
50g shelled pistachios, finely chopped
50g dried cranberries, finely chopped

Using the paddle attachment in an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until creamy.
Beat in the egg until it's well combined. Sieve in the flour and mix until a dough forms.Gather into a ball with your hands and wrap in cling film before putting it in the fridge for an hour to chill.

When the hour is up, turn the oven on to gas mark 4, 180C. Grease and line two baking sheets. Remove the dough from the fridge and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Working quickly, roll out to 5mm thick and trim the edges to form a rectangle. Cut out long sticks of dough, not more than 5mm wide and transfer very carefully to the baking tray. Place the sticks no closer than 1cm in case they spread.
Bake 4-5mins until golden.
Leave the biscuits to set on the baking tray for a few mins before transfering to a cooling rack.

When all the biscuits are cooked and cooled you can get on with decorating them.
Melt your chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water and pour it into the centre of a baking tray. Have a sheet of greasproof paper out on the worksurface to place your chocolate dipped sticks.
One at a time, lie all but the last inch of a biscuit in the melted chocolate and roll it around until more of it is covered. Drip each over the puddle of melted chocolate for a moment to get rid of any excess chocolate before lying flat on the greaseproof paper. After dipping five sticks, sprinkle with the chopped pistachio and dried cranberry pieces and admire your handiwork.

Of course, any nuts or dried fruits, or indeed types of chocolate, would work well with this recipe. Next time I put a batch in the oven, I plan on coating them in pink dyed white chocolate and dried blueberry pieces.

Best served dunked!

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