Homemade Hundreds and Thousands biscuits

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Toddlers and sugar, a match made in heaven?  Probably not for their parents, but when it’s your niece’s third birthday party and you said you’d make biscuits, it’s hardly time to skimp on the sugar.

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I was inspired to make these little numbers by one of New Zealand’s favourite cookie treats…the Hundreds and Thousands biscuit.  The name is pretty self-evident, although perhaps not if you hail from elsewhere in the world outside of New Zealand.  ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ is our antipodean name for the rainbow sprinkles on top of these cookies, but other terms include nonpareils and jimmies.

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I can’t find must history about this biscuit itself, but there are a few stories behind the origins of Hundreds and Thousands.  Some claim they were invented in a New York candy factory in the 1930s, whilst others say that they come from Parisian bakers.

Whatever the origin, it can’t be denied that a liberal sprinkling of on a pink-iced vanilla cookie is an appropriate party treat.  I used Donna Hay’s vanilla snaps recipe for the base and the rest was pretty simple.

Vanilla biscuits:

  • 250g butter
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 & 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted

Icing:

  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 1 & 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • Pink food colouring
  • Strawberry essence
  • Hundreds and Thousands / Sprinkles / Jimmies or whatever you call them!

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.  And the vanilla extract and egg yolk and beat again.

Finally add the flour and beat until a dough forms.  Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 

Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface until 3mm thick.

Cut rounds or shapes from the dough and place on baking-paper lined trays.  Bake until just golden – this took ten minutes in my oven.

Cool on racks.  Make the icing by adding the icing sugar to the butter, a drop of colouring and strawberry essence and beating well, using a little hot water to soften as needed.   When cold, ice with pink icing and sprinkle liberally with hundreds and thousands.

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Sage and cheddar biscuits or, what to do with sage?

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What to do with sage? Make buttery, cheesy sage and cheddar biscuits?  Yes please.

I’ve found myself with a reasonably plentiful supply of fresh sage, which is a new thing.  I have always managed to grow parsley and been left perplexed at how to use the stuff up, but my previous sage attempts have all turned into sad little heaps.

It seems I’m not the only person to pose this question. The lovely Chocolate and Zucchini blog has very helpfully compiled a list of suggestions.  Those of you who have read some of my other cheese-laced ramblings can probably imagine that sage and cheddar biscuits were a stand-out.

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Mmm, cheddar.  Do you know what I love most about cheddar?  It’s those delightful little crunchy bits amongst the dense, savoury cheese.  And recently, I was fascinated to learn  from this wonderful cheese blog, Fromage Homage, that they have a special name….calcium lactate crystals.

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These little biscuits are adapted from this recipe.  They provide a lot of bang for their buck, being so very simple to make but looking most classy served up as a home-made nibble to accompany drinks.  I need to provide you with a warning: they are incredibly buttery.  So much so that you need to have at least two.

Here’s how to make your very own:

Ingredients:

  • 125 grams butter, chilled and diced
  • 125 grams Cheddar  cheese, grated
  • 125 grams flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • Ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius and line two baking trays.

Combine the butter, cheese, flour, sage and pepper in a bowl.  Mix until it forms a ball (I find it easiest to use my hands for this).

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to 0.5 cm thickness.  Use a cutter to make into rounds, treating it like a cookie doll by rolling up the offcuts and cutting out more biscuits.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until crisp and golden.  Cool for one minute and then transfer to a baking rack.

Makes 16 biscuits.
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Edmonds Cookbook ANZAC biscuits

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It is indeed a happy accident, that my arrival at ANZAC biscuits in the Edmonds Cook Book as I head forth in my self-imposed Edmonds Challenge has coincided so closely with ANZAC Day.

ANZAC Day always puts me in mind of Aud and Reg, my Granma and Grandad on my Dad’s side.  Along with many others, my grandparents were part of World War II. Grandad went away with the Royal Air Force, and Granma was a WAF.  The milk bottle in the picture above was once theirs, and I used it in a little homage to them.

Here’s a photo of Aud and Reg below; I think from my Grandad’s cryptic title (“four years ‘ard labour”) and the pile of paper in front of them, they are sitting in front of all of the letters they exchanged while Grandad was abroad.  He looks rather Don Draper, although that’s where the comparison ends…he was a most morally upstanding man and a teetotaller to boot.

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ANZAC biscuits enjoy a historical pedigree dating back to World War I, where their ancestor-biscuits of oats, golden syrup, sugar and four were sold at fetes and galas at home to raise money for the troops.  After Gallipoli the term ANZAC was born, and the ANZAC biscuit followed, first appearing in a cook book in 1921.

It is of course unthinkable that Edmonds, holding its bible-like status in the New Zealand baking canon, would not have a recipe for ANZAC biscuits, and indeed I, personally, would not use any other.  So without further ado, see below for Edmonds’ ANZAC biscuit recipe

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup desiccated coconut
  • 3/4 rolled oats
  • 50g butter
  • 1 T golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 T boiling water

Heat the oven to180 degrees Celsius. Mix together the flour, sugar, coconut in a large-ish bowl.  Melt together the golden syrup and butter (I did this in a little dish in the microwave).  Dissolve the baking soda into the water and add it to the butter and syrup.  It will bubble and fizz in an awesome kind of way.

Mix the butter mixture with the dry ingredients and place tablespoonfuls on a cold, greased tray.  I must confess I used a cookie cutter to shape them; I’m sure this is not authentic, but I had some new cutters and I was looking for a chance to use them. Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden and crispy.

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Chocolate and ginger Anzac biscuits

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These little lovelies simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the mighty Anzac biscuit, which inspired me with its comforting blend of oats and golden syrup. I shan’t be going into too much more detail on this point, because Anzac biscuits will be coming up shortly as part of my Edmond’s challenge and I’d hate to spoil anything, except to note that the Anzac biscuit is a source of national pride for many an Antipodean baker.

Whenever I feel in need of a bit of nourishing, I turn to my trusty jar of rolled oats and all kinds of delicious are never too far away. These biscuits are easy to make and although my ones have apricot and raisins, any dried fruit you had in residence in your pantry would make a happy union with the rest of the recipe. Ditto the chocolate; I like milk chocolate and dark is also most toothsome. I’ve yet to try white chocolate, but I reckon this would also be pretty fabulous.

Enjoy these with a steaming hot mug of tea, and with the oats and the fruit, I do believe they would make an acceptable breakfast. They are pretty much porridge in a biscuit, after all.

Happy Baking.

You will need:
1& 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 cup apricots, chopped
2 t fresh grated ginger
200g chocolate of your choosing, roughly chopped
150 g butter
2 T Golden Syrup
2 T hot water

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In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, grated ginger and chopped chocolate.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a pan over medium heat.

Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and then add this to the melted golden syrup and butter. This will cause the mixture to bubble up. Tip it quickly into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Put tablespoon-sized dollops of the mixture onto greased baking trays (I get about 20 out of this recipe).

Bake the biscuits at 180 celscius for 15 minutes or until they are golden, and then cool on a baking rack.

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Ginger shortbread with orange curd

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This idea came to me by accident, really.  I’m always a fan of shortbread, so any excuse for that.  But the orange part happened when a lonely orange, languishing in the fruit bowl, happened to cross my field of vision whilst I was enjoying a Sunday morning browse through Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.

I happened to spot Nigella’s cute little Lemon Gems and immediately wanted to create similar little dollops topped with something rich and citrus-y.  Lacking the vegetable shortening required by the recipe, however, and not feeling much inclined to go out hunting for some, another hearty biscuit was needed.

Shortbread is the heartiest of the hearty in my opinion.  My friend the internet tells me that shortbread is so named due to its texture, as an old meaning of the word ‘short’ was ‘crumbly.’

My go-to shortbread is recipe is the trusty Edmonds’ and so I very naughtily used it here…and I say naughty, as I’m using not using Edmonds as part of my Edmonds Challenge, which reminds me that I am due some more excitement with that particular endeavour.  And so, I mixed things up by deviating from the recipe slightly with the addition of ginger.

Edmonds asks the following, and I have added my ginger tinkerings…

Cream 250g butter and 1 cup of icing sugar together until it’s light and fluffy.  Sift 1 cup of cornflour and 2 cups of flour together.  If you’re me, at this point also add 1.5 teaspoons of ground ginger and 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger to the flour and cornflour.  Mix the dry and creamed ingredients together, knead and roll out to 0.5cm thickness on a floured board.

At this point, I transferred the shortbread to an oven tray and it into rectangles.  I used a (clean!) fingertip to make little craters in the biscuit and popped them into a 150 degree celsius oven.

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And now for the curd. Seeing as I was having a Nigella day anyway, I used her recipe for lime curd, replacing the lime juice and zest with the juice and zest of my orange, along with a quick squeeze of lemon juice.

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When my indented shortbread had become pale golden (which took about half an hour) I removed it from the oven and filled the little craters with the orange curd.

It was a creamy, custardy curd which was rather pleasant with the shortbread.  And the whole lot went at work the next day, so they can’t be all bad.

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Raspberry Rings…with jam and Nutella

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Lucky me, to receive this lovely baking book for my birthday from my similarly kitchen-obsessed little sister.  Alice Arndell’s Alice in Bakingland is a treat for the eyes as much as anything, full of pictures of dainty plates, matching teacup-and-saucer sets, all showing off delightful mounds of delicious cakes and biscuits.  Squeal!

So of course it was absolutely necessary that I set about testing some of these recipes as a matter of priority.  These Raspberry Rings happen to be the very first recipe of the book.  Yes, I was only one recipe in when I came across my first ‘must bake.’ I prefer to think this says more about the calibre of the recipes and less about just plain greediness on my part.
To make Alice’s lovely Raspberry Rings, I started by creaming together 200g softened butter and half a cup of sugar, then beating in 4 tablespoons of condensed milk, as directed. Readers of my blog may be aware of my love of creamed butter and sugar. Condensed milk does nothing to dampen the flame.
I continued to add the required 2 tablespoons of milk, 2 cups of plain flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  The recipe asks that one shapes the dough into two flat discs, wraps in plastic wrap and refrigerates.  Here are mine:
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After half an hour in the chiller, one disc of dough is rolled out onto a very well floured board.  And can I stress here the importance of lots of flour from my personal experience…it’s always a little upsetting to pick one’s hard-earned dough from the roller.  Alice directs that the dough is rolled out to 4mm thickness, and 5mm rounds are cut from the dough.  I have a lovely star-shaped cookie cutter that I simply don’t get to use enough, so I decided to do some star-shaped biscuits as well.
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Now the surgical precision really begins….the next step is to cut little shapes from the centre of these rounds (and stars, in my case).  I recommend a good sharp knife for this.
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The second disc of dough becomes the bottom layer of the biscuits, so I made a second set of rounds and stars.  The biscuits are baked at 190 degrees celsius until just going brown around the edges – this took about 10 minutes in my oven.  Once cool, it’s time to sandwich the biscuits.  Alice’s recipe asks for a teaspoon of jam, and I used mixed berry for about half of mine.
For the other half, I had a brainwave…Nutella.  This delightful chocolate and nut spread billed as some kind of health breakfast condiment is usually something I eat from the jar with a spoon, so the step to delicious chocolately cement for biscuits wasn’t too difficult at all.
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A gentle dusting with icing sugar and they are ready to go.  The verdict?  Both pretty and scrumptious.  I can’t wait to try some more from this book.
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Spiced maple biscuits

Who doesn’t love a bit of maple syrup?  The indigenous people of the Americas were the first to harvest maple sap.  One legend credits the humble squirrel with its discovery, telling of a young boy who watched a red squirrel nip at the bark of a maple tree and lap up the sap.  How cute is that?!  I love squirrels and I’m well willing to believe it.

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My husband came home from work recently, deeply enamoured of some maple syrup cookies, an office treat from a workmate’s holiday in Canada.  Not one to be outdone by holiday biscuits, I decided to rise to the challenge of making some maple cookies of my own.

I based my biscuits on this lovely recipe, with the addition of some spices as I fancied a little kick.

To make these spiced maple biscuits, you will need:

  • 180g butter, melted
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 60ml maple syrup
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Begin by melting the butter and once melted, mix in the sugar and leave it to cool.  Melt the butter in a reasonably-sized pot, as the beauty of this recipe is you can make the whole lot in this one pot.  And what’s not to love about less washing-up?

Once the butter and sugar are cool, add the egg and mix in.  Follow with the maple syrup and the vanilla.

Sift in the flour, salt, baking powder and spices and mix to combine.

This will leave you with quite a gloopy mixture (as demonstrated below).  Do not panic!  It now goes into your fridge for at least an hour to chill.

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Set your oven to 180 degrees during this time.

Once chilled, scoop teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased baking tray.  The mixture is quite pliable and you can easily shape the biscuits with your fingers.  Sprinkle with some caster sugar and a little cinnamon if you fancy.

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Bake them until golden, about 10-12 minutes in my oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.  The mixture makes about 36, if you use teaspoon-sized dollops of the raw dough.

Because I was feeling creative, I topped mine with a little heart-shaped dusting of icing sugar….pretty easy to do, although I warn you, the icing sugar gets everywhere.  If you wish to try this at home (although I understand if you cannot be bothered),  I simply cut the shape out of a piece of stiff cardboard slightly larger than biscuit size, placed the cardboard over the biscuit, and sifted on the icing sugar.  Remove the cardboard and there you have it, a cute little heart plonked on your biscuit.

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These go down nicely with a cup of tea!

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