What, I asked myself, can I do to make today special, a little bit different? It’s a question I think I should ask myself every morning, once I’ve been up long enough to have my wits about me, but I’m not yet well enough trained to remember to do that every day. I don’t think the task or idea in hand has to necessarily be large, just something to mark this day as different from the previous one. Today, it’s true to say, the need for novelty was a little bit pressing. Yesterday, after waking up to an icing sugar dusting of snow on the ground from the previous evening, the day was filled with sunshine. Not only was the snow gone by lunchtime, but the light was of the quality to have you smugly thinking you might just have managed to outwit winter and spring is thinking about putting in an appearance within weeks. However, today has been grey, grey, grey, with just a hint of grey for good measure, and not forgetting a pinch of sleet and a half to three-quarters of a gale for the icing!?!
What, then, did I decide to do? As anyone who has visited my blog before has probably noticed, I am greatly motivated and inspired by seasons and occasions. So with cold miserable weather outside, and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I decided it was time for some comfort baking. Dressing for the occasion – neck to ankles in fluffy, fleecy attire, some of it pink, some of it not, and my cherry DMs – I set about concocting what I have decided to name “White Chocolate and Cherry Heartfuls”. You may think that baking shouldn’t require protective footwear, but the truth of the matter is that my boots were new at Christmas and I like them so much I don’t want to wear them outside yet. So they’ve become honorary slippers for now. My Four-Footed-Lovely is not overwhelmingly impressed on two counts. Firstly, they’re a bit loud and clompy for his taste, and I know he was not amused because he sneezed his disapproval over the left one (not near the food, I hasten to add!) as I was craning about, looking in the cupboard for the spices, when all the time half of them were in another cupboard (why weren’t they all together? They are now. Lesson learned.). And secondly, he has become Designated-Slipper-Buyer for me and usually chooses me a lovely fluffy pair that he can nuzzle up in, in his favourite colour: PINK! He’s a masculine dog, he can carry pink off. Anyway, I digress…
I do love filling the kitchen with baking smells on a Sunday morning. Four-Footed-Lovely does like to supervise, but he wasn’t allowed to do any taste-testing since dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate (apart from the sort that is especially made for them, of course).
4 rounded dessert spoonfuls of caster sugar
3 dessert spoonfuls of condensed milk
2 teaspoonfuls of orange juice
1 teaspoonful of vanilla essence
8 heaped dessert spoonfuls of self-raising flour
3 heaped dessert spoonfuls of oats
2 or 3 shakes of ground cinnamon
2 or 3 shakes of ground ginger
2 or 3 shakes of ground mixed spice
50g white chocolate
5 glacé cherries
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2 Cream the butter, sugar, condensed milk and orange juice together until you have a smooth yellow liquid.
3 Stir in six heaped dessert spoonfuls of flour and two heaped dessert spoonfuls of oats.
4 Once the consistency is a bit stiffer and the ingredients are getting quite well distributed, add in the spices and the vanilla extract and stir in well.
5 Finely chop the white chocolate and mix it into the forming dough.
6 At this stage, the dough is quite wet, so now is the time to add in two more heaped dessert spoonfuls of flour and one more heaped dessert spoonful of oats to soak up some of the moisture and to make the mixture stiffer.
7 Finely chop the glacé cherries and add them to the dough, mixing them thoroughly through it.
8 Gather the dough in your hand and create your biscuits! You can either pluck small amounts of dough, roll them into little balls and flatten them, or you can do like I did and roll the dough out and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Being this close to Valentine’s Day, I used a little heart shaped cookie cutter I’d bought before Christmas (full, as I was, with lofty festive ambitions which, alas, went unfulfilled!).
9 Place your biscuits on tins lined with greased foil and bake for 9 minutes, or until golden with slightly browned edges.
I found that this recipe made about 40 little heart shaped biscuits, with enough dough left over to form a circular globby biscuit in honour of the Lunar New Year, but obviously numbers differ according to the size of your cutter or your flattened balls.
“*Gasp!* Someone has already taken one!”
I don’t know if it’s my
wishful thinking imagination, but I keep thinking I can smell biscuit dough in my hair!?! Overlooking that, for anyone who is celebrating the Lunar New Year, I wish you a Happy New Year! For anyone considering celebrating Valentine’s Day, Happy Valentine’s Day! And for everyone everywhere, Happy Sunday!