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Food

Butterscotch Stained Glass (Candy Filled) Cookies

Jess is hosting an Aspiring Bakers Challenge #3 and you can find more details at the link to the challenge on her website there. ‘Aspiring‘ being the word of emphasis here for me. In short, it is a challenge to bake your favourite Chinese New Year cookies. I was quite excited about this because challenges give me a chance to think of and do something different.

I decided to bake Butterscotch Cookies, which I have made before using my mom’s recipe at www.keeplearningkeepsmiling.com. You might want to check out her original recipe too, as I made some minor changes to it. It tastes REALLY GOOD.

I made a few different shapes of the cookies. I came across Stained Glass Cookies somewhere ages ago and always wanted to try it out. So I did this time, using the Butterscotch Cookie recipe.

Ingredients

250 g butter
1 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 C plain flour
1/4 C corn flour
1/4 C rice flour (you can just use 2 and 1/2 cups of plain flour to make things easier)
Assorted colours of hard candy

Method

  1. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla essence, and golden syrup until light and creamy. That’s what golden syrup looks like for those who might not know what it is.

    Beat Until Light And Creamy
  2. Add in flour and mix into dough-like texture.

    Butterscotch Cookie Dough
  3. Cut out cookie shapes of your choice, and another shape from the middle of it to place the candy pieces. Crush the candy pieces and place in the inside shape of the cookie (I’m wording this terribly, so just look at the picture below).

    Cookie Shapes Filled With Crushed Candy
  4. Lay on baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Bake in pre-heated oven of 180°C for about 10 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool completely before removing from tray. And there you have it!
Butterscotch Stained Glass Cookies

Heart shapes because Chinese New Year is a time where families get together and have a great time, more so than Christmas. What didn’t really work was mixing the different candy colours. Because when they melted they just all mixed together and the lighter colours get covered up by the darker ones. So next time I’d probably fill ONE cookie with ONE colour instead of trying to make it look multicoloured.

Because this challenge was Chinese New Year themed, I also made these other cookies with the same dough.

Butterscotch Gong Xi Cookie Shapes

I did not have a cutter for this. I cut out the words completely by hand!! Took me over an hour just writing these two words, “Gong Xi”, so I didn’t write the next two, “Fa Cai”. The full Chinese saying is meant to be Gong Xi Fa Cai. I now know I wrote the second Chinese word slightly wrong, but I’m not Chinese educated and not too great with my writing skills!

Butterscotch Gong Xi Cookies

I was quite surprised it came out as well as it did!

AND because Valentine’s Day is coming up, I made a little lovestruck face.

Lovestruck Butterscotch Cookies

I also love making little buttons with dough. It’s probably my favourite cookie shape. And of course, I can’t help but take a bite before it’s even fully cooled down!

Butterscotch Button Cookies

Delicious!

My dad, who is super-ly Chinese educated, was so proud that I tried to write Chinese by myself and did quite well that he wanted to BUY my cookies.

I charged him £20 a piece. Is that extortionate? *wink*

You May Also Like:

Chewy Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate Fudge Cake
Banana Fritters in Coconut Batter

Food

Falls of Feugh Restaurant & Tearoom

Every once in a while, you stumble into a restaurant that simply deserves to be shouted about. And one of them is the Falls of Feugh Restaurant & Tearoom, a beautiful gem tucked away in the little town of Banchory. It’s located next to the River Dee where you can also see salmon jumping at the right season.

River Dee

It’s great in the summer because we would go for a long walk then head to the restaurant for some lunch. And in the winter, it’s great for taking lots of photos of the snow!

Their menu is fantastic. And what’s special is that they change their menu EVERYDAY. So every single time you head to the restaurant, you’ll have a completely different experience. They have some things that don’t change, like their jacket potatoes and sandwiches. And I always order the same thing (their Cajun Chicken Jacket Potato), so I can’t really write about their other foods. It’s a bad habit – once I find a dish I absolutely love in a restaurant, I hardly (or never) venture out to try anything else.

Cajun Chicken Jacket Potato

It’s a must try. And always add some salt and pepper and LOTS of butter. De. Li. Cious. And I don’t know what they put in their salad dressing but it is oh-so-good.

I tried some of their butternut squash soup once, which was really good too. But because the menu changes daily, I’ve never been able to try it again. I suppose that’s the down side of a changing menu. Service is normally quite good. The interior is very quaint and Britishly decorated, which I like. I always think a restaurant’s decoration should reflect the type of food they serve. They also have tables on a little balcony outside that overlooks the river, which is simply splendid in the summer! That said, summers here are not great so you might still find it too cold to sit outside.

Falls of Feugh Interior

I stole the next photo from their website because I don’t have a photo of the restaurant itself (I hope they don’t mind!).

Falls of Feugh Restaurant & Tearoom

Gorgeous ain’t it?

Ok it looks small from the front, but it extends quite far back. Check out their website for a virtual tour!

Food

Wagamama Caramelized Sweet Potatoes Recipe

I’ve never tried this dish at the Wagamama Restaurant, but the picture looked really good from the book so I thought I should give it a go. This is why all cookbooks should come with photos! It’s also one of the easiest recipes I have ever tried. Plus this makes a great snack for when the hunger pangs strike (which happens about 83 times a day).

Wagamama Caramelised Sweet Potatoes (photo from cookbook)

Ingredients

250 g sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin wedges
Olive oil
1 tsp golden syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp black sesame seeds (omitted because I didn’t have any)

Method

  1. Place potato wedges on a baking tray and drizzle olive oil over it. The original recipe uses vegetable oil to deep fry the potato but I didn’t relish all the cleaning up afterward. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180°C for about 15 minutes or until brown.
    Sweet Potato Wedges

    Baked Sweet Potato Wedges
  2. Combine golden syrup with lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat.
  3. Pour over the potato wedges and stir well to coat. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds if you have them.

    Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

Ok so the potatoes got a little burnt. But it tasted really good. I took it to a potluck lunch and someone actually asked me for the recipe (who me?). The first time ever. It felt so surreal. Normally it’ll be people wondering who brought the overly salty burnt pasta bake that I take a scoop out of so it doesn’t look so pathetic untouched.

I think it looks better deep fried, but it’s healthier baked. And the caramel is not a super thick and sweet caramel, which I liked. The lemon adds a tanginess to it and it’s something a little different to have with sweet potato.

This couldn’t be any simpler!

Some other Sweet Potato Recipes that I LOVE (made none other than my wonderful mom):

Sweet Potato Donuts

Sweet Potato Balls for Dessert

Sweet Potato Carrot Cake

Click HERE for more of her delicious Sweet Potato Recipes! Scroll down to her Sweet Potato Section.

Food

Banana Fritters In Coconut Batter

My First Recipe Book

I don’t like over-riped bananas. As long as my bananas have one brown dot on it, I don’t touch it. As it happens, I forgot to eat my bananas and all of them were practically brown. I was just about to throw them out when I found this recipe in my book. Banana Fritters in Coconut Batter. I love coconut and I imagine it adds a zing to the dish. I’ve had fritters in normal batter so this sounded interesting. Plus mom makes the most amazing Banana Fritters, which I personally like better (especially since I don’t have to make it myself *grin*).

This recipe is adapted from the book pictured.

Ingredients

1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
60 g desiccated coconut (omitted because I didn’t have any but you might like to add it)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
3 tbsp coconut milk
3 tbsp water
Bananas
Oil for frying

Method

  1. To make the batter, put the flour, coconut, sugar, sesame seeds, coconut milk and water in a bowl and whisk to a smooth batter. Add more water if too thick.

    Batter
  2. Peel bananas and cut in half lengthways (and in half crossways if bananas are large).

    Bananas
  3. The recipe says to deep fry, but I don’t like using so much oil (a hassle to clean up the kitchen). So I used less oil and pan-fried my fritters. Far less oily and fattening too. Flip bananas when browned on one side.

    Frying Banana Fritters
  4. Serve with ice cream. The combination of hot and cold is too satisfying.

    Banana Fritters in Coconut Batter

Looks pretty good right? You’d want to eat it right? I’d say it came out pretty well.

But before you think I have some hidden cooking talent because all my food always seems to turn out well, let me tell you of the bunch of bananas I fried, only six pieces turned out like this.

And the rest?

Well, I’m embarassed to show you this, but I did promise the good, the bad and the ugly.

Gloopy Slimey Banana Fritters

Where is help when you need it? I don’t know what happened. Either the oil was not hot enough or I was too impatient and just flung them about a bit too much.

I see you’re looking appalled. These look so unappetizing. And I could come up with many detailed descriptions as to what I think they look like.

But I think I’ll spare you the thought *grin*.

Food

Chocolate Fudge Cake

My First Recipe Book

My parents had guests for dinner one night and so I thought to see if mom might need some help. Seems she had all the food prep under control. Then she asked me to make dessert because I could then put it up on my blog. But I’m onto her – it’s really so she wouldn’t have to make it herself! Moms can be sooo sneaky. But I love making dessert because I love eating them so I was quite happy to flip through my cookbook for a new idea. And I decided to make Chocolate Fudge Cake.

This dessert was easy enough to make (although other challenges did present itself). There’s a reason why we don’t share a kitchen – we both want to be Head Chef! Despite the long-ish post, this is actually a very quick and easy recipe (as long as you keep my mom out of your kitchen).

Ingredients

Fudge Cake:
150 g unsalted butter
3/4 cup caster sugar (I used natural molasses sugar at mom’s insistence – a little advice: Don’t.)
100 g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda (I used 3/4 for a double portion of this recipe)
1/2 cup milk

Chocolate Sauce:
50 g unsalted butter, chopped
125 g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp natural vanilla extract

Method

  1. Melt and cool the dark chocolate. Leave aside.
  2. Place butter and sugar in a bowl. Mom insisted I use natural molasses sugar because it was healthier. Fine. Problem was, molasses sugar clumps together in hard lumps and I didn’t realize because I never used it before. Before I knew it, I had already started mixing the butter and sugar. That’s when mom goes, “Oh I normally press out the lumps before using it. Maybe you should’ve used normal sugar instead.” It was your idea! I had to use a spoon to squish the lumps against the side of the bowl as much as possible to salvage this cake. Which took a good 20 minutes.
    Butter and Natural Molasses Sugar

    I put the butter to defrost in the microwave – it melted a bit too much. Oops. Oh well.

  3. Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Then add the melted chocolate and beat well.

    Add Melted Chocolate
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

    Add Eggs
  5. Fold the sifted plain and self-raising flours, cocoa powder and baking soda into the chocolate mixture. Add the milk and beat lightly until well mixed. It looks lumpy because I couldn’t smooth out all the clumps of molasses sugar.

    Cake Batter
  6. Line a baking tin with grease paper, pour in the batter and bake in a preheated oven of 180°C for 35 – 40 minutes (or until skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean).
  7. To make the sauce, melt the butter, dark chocolate and vanilla extract in a pan over low heat. When completed melted, add in the cream and stir well.

    Making Chocolate Sauce
  8. Serve the cake with the chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream on the side. I used a circle cutter to cut a round piece of cake.

    Chocolate Fudge Cake

As soon as the cake came out the oven, I couldn’t help but to cut myself a piece. I exclaimed in astonishment that it wasn’t sweet at all! My mom pipes up, “Oh that’s because molasses sugar is not as sweet!” But the whole point of dessert is that it’s sweet! So I had to add some normal sugar to the chocolate sauce to compensate. Apart from the whole sugar scenario, I also had to struggle desperately to hold onto my mixing bowl from the very beginning to prevent her from laying siege to it (she kept trying to take over!). All in all, it was a still delightful dessert and I can’t wait to eat more. But it was a very stressful situation, which I pray none of you will ever encounter.

They say that “Too many cooks, spoil the soup”. But what they forgot to tell you is that:

Mother and Daughter,
Should never cook together.

This is why we don’t share a kitchen. Of course, I’m sure she also has plenty other reasons.