Noirin’s crackle top molasses cookies

Molasses cookies - 1Our mothers are often the best cooks and bakers we know, and I can safely say mine is no exception to this rule. These cookies are one of my mom’s most famous and they always appear magically on the coffee table when tea is poured. They’re also great because they don’t require any exotic ingredients which means you can usually make them without having to venture to the shops.

What you’ll need

Molasses cookies - 22/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses/black treacle
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour/plain flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried ginger
About 1/3 cup granulated sugar

What to do

Using electric beaters, mix the oil, sugar, egg and treacle together in a large bowl. Next, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger, and mix until combined.

Molasses cookies - 3At this point I found the dough was a bit less solid than usual (I think the British treacle might have slightly different properties to the Canadian molasses) so I popped it into the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.

Once the dough is firm enough to roll into balls, preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F.

Pour the remaining 1/3 cup sugar into a small bowl. Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls, then roll the balls in sugar and place 3 inches apart on greased cookie sheets.

Molasses cookies - 4Bake for 12-14 minutes, leave to cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then allow to cool completely on racks.

Enjoy alongside a cup of tea – these make exceptional dunkers!

Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies 4When the weather’s wet and dreary, there are certain foods that just hit the spot. For me, a warm oatmeal raisin cookie (accompanied by a cold glass of milk) is pretty hard to beat. This recipe is based on Ina Garten’s – the cookies really manage to find that crunchy chewy balance, plus they’re quick, easy and there’s a good chance you’ll already have most of the ingredients in your cupboard.

What you’ll need

150g / 1 ½ cups pecans
180g / 1 ½ cups plain flour (all-purpose flour)
Oatmeal raisin cookies 31 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g / 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
200g / 1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
270g / 3 cups rolled oats (I prefer whole oats)
225g / 1 ½ cups raisins

What to do

Begin by preheating the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F.

Spread the pecans on a baking tray and pop into the oven for about 5 minutes until they’re gently toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside (keep the oven on). Once cool, chop roughly.

Next, in a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.

Oatmeal raisin cookies 2Then, in a large bowl using electric beaters, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. After this, add the vanilla and the eggs (one at a time).

Add your flour mixture slowly, and once combined, add the rolled oats. Finally toss in the raisins and pecans and give a final mix through.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, place on a baking sheet leaving them room to expand, and press down gently with the back of a fork. Bake for roughly 12 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool on the trays for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

“Test” a couple while they’re still warm and accompany with either a glass of cold milk or a warm cuppa.

Enjoy!

Many thanks to Ina Garten for her inspiration for this recipe.
You can find her original recipe in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.
Copyright © 2008 by Ina Garten. Photographs copyright © 2008 by Quentin Bacon.
Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.
You can find Ina Garten’s bestselling cookbooks wherever books are sold.

Energy-boosting granola bars

IMG_1883Whether they keep you fueled on a weekend hike or are dunked in a cup of tea at elevenses, these granola bars are certain to keep you going. One of the nice things about this recipe is that it calls for a lot of ingredients in their standard pack sizes, meaning there’s less measuring required, and you won’t be left with 27g sunflower seeds at the end. That said, it makes a rather hefty batch (about 36 bars), but don’t worry though, they freeze well for lunches.

What you’ll need:

100g unsalted butter
130g honeyIMG_1864
750g old-fashioned rolled oats
100g slivered almonds
100g chopped pecans
100g green pumpkin seeds
100g sunflower seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp salt
350g sultanas
250g light brown sugar
325g golden syrup
250g peanut butter

What to do:
Begin by preheating the oven to 165°C/145°C fan/325°F. Line 2 10×12 inch baking tins or dishes (or alternatives of equivalent size) with greaseproof paper.

IMG_1877In a small saucepan, heat the butter and honey over low heat until melted and combined.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and salt. Mix together, then pour the butter and honey mixture over top. Stir until combined.

Next, take as many baking sheets as your oven can hold at once (I used two but would have preferred three), and spread the mixture evenly between them.

Bake the granola mixture for 20-25 minutes (stirring every 5 minutes) or until the mixture is an even golden brown throughout (the mixture will take less time the more baking sheets you use).

IMG_1874Once the granola is baked to your liking, remove it from the oven, stir in the sultanas and leave it to cool (don’t worry, this will take less time than you expect). Once cooled, transfer to a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, golden syrup and peanut butter. Over medium-high heat, stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is at the boil. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the cooled granola. Stir until the mixture is evenly covered.

IMG_1886Cool the mixture slightly then press into your greaseproof paper-lined tins. One of my tins was quite a lot smaller, so my bars are quite thick, but I reckon a thickness of 1.5-2.5cm is ideal.

Cool completely, then cut the bars to whatever size you choose. I wrapped most of mine individually and froze them for my lunch – they were still nice and crunchy once thawed.

Enjoy!

Dip-alicious

There are few things I enjoy more than sitting out on a summer’s afternoon with a cold drink, some tortilla chips and a bowl of fresh salsa. That said, I’d quite happily settle for guacamole, hummus or tzatziki, and instead, think I’m as much a fan of the the laid back atmosphere these foods seem to inspire as anything. As a result, I’ll be bringing you some of my favourite summer dips over the next few weeks – so if you’re tired of waiting for some sunshine to kick-start the barbecue season, let this bowl-food put you in the mood.

Cheerfully crunchy cereal bars (GF)

My friend Jen introduced my to this tasty recipe for crunchy cereal bars – they’re perfect for bringing in your lunch, they’re packed with peanut buttery goodness, and best of all, you can customise them to suit your taste, mood and dietary affectations. I replaced the wheat germ in the original recipe with ground almonds, so this recipe is 100% gluten-free. That said, the bars aren’t quite as firm as they might be, but they still pack a tasty punch!

What you’ll need

1/3 cup (100g) toasted sesame seeds (the toasting is optional if you’re short on time or energy)
1 1/2 cups (40g) crisp rice cereal (if you’re going gluten-free, makes sure your cereal is as well)
1 generous cup (340g) cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup (100g) sunflower seeds
3/4 cup (150g) chopped dates or currants
3/4 cup (110g) chocolate chips
3/4 cup (60g) ground almonds (or wheat germ)
1/3 cup (60g) finely chopped walnuts or pine nuts
1/3 cup (120g) honey

What to do

Begin by greasing the bottom and sides of a 9″x12″ pan or glass dish. Sprinkle half of your sesame seeds across the bottom of the bottom of the dish and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (excluding your remaining sesame seeds) and mix by hand.

I used raisins and chocolate chips in my bars (which I can confidently recommend, but I have the urge to experiment with dried cranberries, apricots and white chocolate. This is definitely the the time to make these bars your own, so go nuts (that is, if you’re into nuts…)!

Once you’re happy with your mixture, press it firmly into your greased dish, sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds on top, and press them into the mixture – I found the rounded side of a spoon to be remarkably effective for this purpose.

After this, pop your dish into the fridge, and once firm, slice your bars into individual pieces. Following this, I wrapped my bars in cling film and froze them, and they thawed with no trouble whatsoever. My only other tip (for those using ground almonds) is to keep your bars chilled for as long as possible to keep them firm.

Other than that, enjoy!