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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

September 2010 Daring Baker's Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies (or my Mauritian Napolitaines recipe)

sugar cookies,napolitaine

This month's Daring Baker's Challenge was set on a theme and the theme was September. September meaning whatever the month of September means to us (the Daring Bakers). Well, for me September started with some not so good news (if I put it that way) as Mum required urgent surgery. But everything went fine and she is now recovering. So, my theme for September is Mum's recovery. I was not in my home country to support her so I dedicate these sunflower decorated sugar cookies to her. Sunflowers are her favourite flowers! And yellow hearts, yellow being her favourite colour.

The Daring Kitchen

DARING BAKERS SEPTEMBER 2010 CHALLENGE: DECORATED SUGAR COOKIES

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of What the Fruitcake?! Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

The sugar cookies I made are based on a famous Mauritian cookie recipe. We called them Napolitaines. They are basically buttery soft cookies, sandwiched with a layer of jam and iced with a sugar coating. Apart from the icing, they are usually not decorated and coloured pink (although all sorts of variations exist). For an authentic Mauritian flavour, 1-2 tablespoons of rum is added to the dough. I omitted this however. Also I couldn't find any vegan red food colouring over here, so I just used the strawberry jam itself as colouring agent in the icing.



Decorated Sugar Cookies (Mauritian style - Napolitaines) (About 15 cookies)
300g sifted white flour
180g vegan margarine (cold)
2 - 3 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry jam (for spreading on the cookies)
1 tablespoon rum (optional)

For the icing:
300g icing sugar
30 ml water at room temperature
Strawberry jam for pink colouring (or a few drops vegan red food colour)
Pinch pf curcuma powder (the yellow colouring from turmeric) for yellow colouring
Melted chocolate (just place 1-2 squares in the microwave)


Place margarine into the flour. Cut into tiny pieces then rub with the fingers to make a soft dough.(Use a little more margarine if necessary but do not use water). Sprinkle in the rum (if using). Wrap up the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven 180 degrees Celsius.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 4 mm. Cut small circles, about 5 cm in diameter from it.

Re-roll trimmings and cut more circles.

Place them on lightly greased baking sheets and bake until cooked but still beige in colour, not brown. Allow to cool.

When cooled, spread jam over half of the cookies and cover with the remaining ones.

sugar cookies,napolitaine

Mix the water with the icing sugar to make the icing. Leave some white. Divide the rest into 2 parts. Add a little jam to obtain the pink colour and a little curcuma for the yellow colour.
Adjust the consistency using more icing sugar (if too thin) or water (by drops, if too thick.
Mix well until a consistent colour is formed.

To test consistency, drop some on the cookies, it should take about 10 seconds for the icing to cover the cookie including the sides. You'll need to slightly lift the spoon and tap it again on the top icing and around the edge to allow the icing to overflow on the sides.

sugar cookies,napolitaine

Ice the whole batch of cookies. Leave iced cookies to dry for a few hours or preferably overnight before doing the decorations. (If so, you may want to do the yellow coloured icing the next day).

sugar cookies,napolitaine

To decorate with flowers, I used medium piping tip.

sugar cookies,napolitaine

Work from the centre outwards then coming back to finish in the centre.

sugar cookies,napolitaine

Drop some melted chocolate in the centre with a toothpick.

sugar cookies,napolitaine


Enjoy!

sugar cookies,napolitaine

Sunday, 19 September 2010

DARING COOKS 2010 CHALLENGE: FOOD PRESERVATION: THE APPLE BUTTER OF KNOWLEDGE

apple butter,daring kitchen,daring cooks

I am posting this 5 days late! Not that this was a tedious recipe to make. It was infact very easy and quick. Because I am allergic to nuts, I regularly make fruit butters to use as spreads. I have made apple butter a lot of times before and I like mixing it with other fruits.
This time I mixed it with some tamarind paste for a distinctive sweet and sour taste.
I really like this combination and more often I find myself eating a spoonful as dessert rather than a breakfast spread! The slight sour taste also makes it really good to use as a dipping sauce with corn chips or poppadums!

The Daring Kitchen

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.


DARING COOKS 2010 CHALLENGE: FOOD PRESERVATION: THE APPLE BUTTER OF KNOWLEDGE


For this recipe I used Irish Bramley apples. Bramley apples are usually slightly larger than a common regular apple and they have a tangy taste. They are mostly used as cooking apples in pies or crumbles.

Because I tend to eat these butters quite quickly, I don't usually use elaborated methods of preservation and these butters usually keep for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

Bramley Apple Butter (with a hint of tamarind)
3 bramley apples (peeled and seeds removed, finely chopped/sliced)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste (seeds removed, dilute with a little water to make it easier to remove the seeds)
1 cup sugar

  • Place all ingredient in a non stick pan, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until apples are soft enough to mash. Occasionally add water if required to allow the apples to cook and not burn.
  • After cooking, you can either mash in a blender, with a hand blender or with a wooden spoon (which I did, as I like some chunky pieces to be left).
  • Put back in the pan and reduce to desired spreadable consistency.
  • Allow to cool then place in sterilised (boiled in water, then left to dry) pots and keep refrigerated.
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