I don't usually bake biscuits. I don't really know why but I suspect it's because of the tedium of the task. Consider this. With a cake or a pie, once you've completed your prep work, mixed all your ingredients together and assembled your dessert, all you need is to stick the mixture/batter/pie in the oven for a stipulated period -- 35 or 55 minutes, depending on what's cooking. Maybe, just to be safe, you'd check on how your dessert is progressing once or twice, just by peeping through the window of your oven. Cakes and pies, you see, don't need constant supervision. They allow you to multi-task: you can watch an episode of Dexter while your cake is cooking, no problem. [Season 6 of Dexter is, by the way, totally awesome].
There is NO WAY you can multi task while making biscuits. No way at all. Just like a petulant child, biscuits demand your complete attention. Unless you have an industrial-sized oven (like Anna Olsen on AFC's Fresh or Sugar), biscuits have to be baked in batches. I have an average-sized domestic oven which means I can only bake 15 smallish cookies (or 6 large ones) at one go. One batch of dough usually yields about 60 cookies which means, to bake 4 batches of bisuits, I'd have to hover around my oven for over an hour doing precisely this: roll chilled dough, cut dough into shapes, place cut dough 2 cms apart on greased tray, put tray in the oven, roll more dough for second batch of cookies, cut dough into shapes, place on second tray, remove the first batch of cookies and put in the second batch. REPEAT and then REPEAT AGAIN.
Tedious or what??
So after all this complaining why in heaven's name did I decide to make cookies last Sunday? One word: Christmas.
I don't celebrate Christmas but that doesn't stop me from getting into the festive spirit every year. I love singing Christmas carols and I love looking at Christmas menus that are featured in magazines and on cooking shows. From whisky-soaked fruitcakes to deliciously sweet mince pies to gingerbread men (and women and houses) ... Christmas cooking is fun.
So I thought I'd get in on the fun and bake some cookies.
I dug out my Women's Weekly cookbook on Biscuits and Slices and searched for a recipe that looked both tasty and easy. There were quite a few options and so I decided to go with a recipe for which I had all the ingredients ... or well almost all the ingredients. I chose to make the Chocolate Orange Rings but without the orange cream since I didn't have the orange juice required! Basically what I made was a basic butter cookie that was dipped in delicious dark chocolate and topped with chopped pistachio nuts. Are you drooling yet? You should! It's delicious.
The recipe was very simple and the dough came together really well, really fast. The biscuit tasted really good even without the chocolate coating or the springkling of nuts. But why go for the bare cookie when the chocolate coated one tasted not just good but GREAT!
I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't eat more than a couple. I don't know why I bother making such promises. I've eaten five so far and it's only been a day.
Ah well, it's Christmas. Merry Christmas me ... and you too of course. Here's the original recipe for the Chocolate Orange Rings.
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
13/4 cups plain flour
1/4 cup self raising flour
11/3 cups choc melts, melted (I used dark cooking choc, about 100g)
3 tsp oil
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, finely chopped
Orange cream filling
1 tsp grated orange rind
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp orange juice
3/4 cup icing sugar
Beat butter, sugar and egg in a bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in sifted flours in 2 batches till a dough forms. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 mins.
Roll dough on lightly floured surface till 3mm thick. Cut int rounds using a cookie cutter; cut our 3 cm centres from each round so there will be a small ring in the centre (I omitted this step as I wasn't planning on sandwiching the cookies with cream). Place rings on a greased baking tray.
Bake in moderate oven (about 150C) for about 12 mins or until lightly browned. Lift gently onto wire rack to cool.
Make the cream filling: Beat butter and rind in a small bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in milk, nuice and icing sugar.
When cookies are cool, sandwich them with the filling. Dip one side or the whole cookie if you prefer in the melted chocolate and sprinkle with nuts. Place on a foil covered tray till they set. Refrigerate cookies.
Makes about 30 sandwiched cookies.