Pineapple, White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies
If there is one plaintive cry that is often heard in this house, it’s ‘Why do you never make cookies?’

It’s true that cookies are usually superseded by a sudden whim to make a cake or a brownie so they usually fall down the pecking order. Plus cookies are remarkably easy to eat aren’t they? What is it about them that makes you believe it’s okay to have two or three when you would normally only have once slice of cake. It’s probably because you have to eat one straight from the oven when the chocolate is oozing from within and they are still pretty dough like. Later on it would be churlish not to partake in a cooler cookie with your tea, letting your cup catch the crumbs so you can slurp them up later.

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

My husband is also a bit of a dried fruit fanatic, there are usually odds and ends of trail mix or some exotic papaya strips that never seem remotely appealing to me. However, these candied pineapple chunks have been winking at me for weeks begging to be used in a recipe. I am not normally a pineapple junkie but I have found myself craving their sweet juicy acidity so whilst a few months ago I would have shuddered at including them in a bake, this time round they were the first ingredient on my list when preparing to make my cookies.

I think it’s rude not to include chocolate in a cookie don’t you? That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the odd oat and raisin number in my time but I usually think a bit of a chocolate addition would liven up the proceedings immensely. This time round I poured in a few handfuls of white chocolate chips, which are the type of chocolate oft neglected from my bakes, but here they seemed so right.

The desiccated coconut was added just because I cannot bear to bake or cook anything without coconut at the moment. I thought I would be bored by now after my endless forays of coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut flakes and coconut milk but it’s just so damn versatile in all its different formats and there is usually a place for it in whatever I am cooking.

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Now these cookies are huge, so make sure you space them apart a good distance in your baking tray. They are chewy but also a little crisp on the corners for the variety of texture which is so important in your daily cookie. The true test was whether they would pass the husband test and they did with flying colours. The only problem is that now he sees no excuse why there can’t be cookies every day.

Pineapple, White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies
Makes 12 large cookies

175g unsalted butter
175g soft light brown sugar
125g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
150g jumbo rolled oats
75g desiccated coconut
125g white chocolate chips
125g dried pineapple chunks

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time then the vanilla until completely combined.
  4. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, oats and coconut.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the rest of the batter and mix until combined.
  6. Finally mix in the chocolate chips and pineapple chunks until evenly dispersed.
  7. Portion out the cookies by weighing out each one out to 100g then rolling into a ball.
  8. Place each ball on large baking trays about 2 inches apart from each other and flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.
  9. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until just turning golden brown.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes until transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Or, eat straightaway so the cookie is warm and the chocolate is still melting.

Sticky Date and Banana Malt Loaf

Sticky Date and Banana Malt Loaf

This was one of those spur of the moment bakes where I had all the ingredients in the house, took 10 minutes or so deciding how I wanted to bake it and then dove in.

Date and Banana Malt Loaf

Granted, I have been meaning to bake a loaf cake for a while. A dense fruity slice of Soreen slathered with double the amount of butter than loaf was one of my husband’s childhood teatime favourites. I bought the malt extract about six months ago in a bit to recreate his childhood memories, but without all those obnoxious preservatives.Date and Banana Malt Loaf

I think what had been putting me off for so long was that all the recipes I had read told me I should be using yeast, meaning you have all that pesky rising time which I have to be in the mood for, probably why I have never excelled at being a bread baker. Then after further research, whilst procrastinating a trip to Sainsburys, I discovered some internet bakers disregarded this stumbling block and made their loaves with baking powder. No sooner had I stuck two fingers up at tradition then I was in the kitchen chopping dates and warming my malt extract.

Date and Banana Malt Loaf

Since I never got round to making the yeasted version I can’t in all honesty tell you what the difference was. All I know is that this version rose gloriously in the oven to produce a familiar dark treacly loaf, intense with fruit and made all the better with the requisite lashings of salted butter. Most of the dates melted into the loaf mix and the banana was really added in lieu of butter which I didn’t think it needed. The fruit notes are therefore subtle, adding more to the texture of the finished result than the occasional burst of sweetness that adding sultanas or raisins might have done.

Date and Banana Malt Loaf

Whatever you do, you must restrain yourself from tearing into the bread as soon as it comes out of the oven as it only reaches its optimum consistency once it has been wrapped in greaseproof paper and matured for a couple of days after the bake. The longer your leave it the moister the loaf.

The jury is out on whether this is a fruity bread or cake, although I suppose the lack of yeast definitely lends it more of a cakey vibe. But the special thing about this bake is that it fits the bill whether you are craving a sweet or salty mid-afternoon treat. After carefully guarding the loaf for the past two days, once my husband had caught whiff of its presence, it is now waiting happily in its greaseproof paper, getting even more moist and delicious, ready for its ultimate taste test later this evening. I don’t think anybody is going to be disappointed.

Date and Banana Malt Loaf

Sticky Date and Banana Malt Loaf

150ml milk
125ml freshly brewed hot tea
180g medjool dates
1 banana, mashed
70g malt extract + extra for brushing
70g black treacle
375g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soft dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
1 tablespoon demerara sugar

  1. Mix together the milk and hot tea and add the chopped dates. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease and line a 9 inch loaf tin.
  3. Pour the malt extract and the treacle into a small saucepan and heat until runny but no more.
  4. Turn off the heat then add the mashed banana and the soaked dates along with all of the liquid into the malt and treacle.
  5. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt, dark brown sugar and baking powder
  6. Make a well in the centre and add the egg and the liquid ingredients.
  7. Bring the flour into the liquid ingredients then stir everything together well with a wooden spoon.
  8. Pour the batter into the baking tin, sprinkling the demerara sugar over the top. Bake the loaf for an hour, covering the top with foil half way through if it’s starting to over-brown on the top.
  9. When it’s ready, remove from the oven, turn out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.
  10. When the loaf is cold, brush the surface liberally with malt extract then wrap in greaseproof paper and foil and leave to mature for 2 days before eating so the loaf gets lovely and sticky.

Dark Chocolate Chip, Rosemary and Fleur de Sel Biscuits

Dark Chocolate Chip, Rosemary and Fleur de Sel Biscuits
It seems that I have given everything in my life over to preserving at the moment. It’s an addiction, I can’t get enough of filling up those jars and watching them stack up and up. My study, once the calm area of reading, writing and reflection has been invaded. Bookshelves have been emptied of books, books taken up to the attic as the jellies, relishes, pickles and jams have taken over.

I think that’s why I had a little moment this weekend in between the piccalilli and the apple and stem ginger chutney when I needed a recipe with instant results, something I could actually eat right that second. You know, dinner. And what better dinner than butter, eggs, sugar and flour. For a quick baking fix, you don’t need to go much further than a biscuit. The only impatience you need to overcome is that initial 20 minutes when the butter is being brought up to room temperature. Don’t let it kill your instant fix fun though, do what I do which is which is sit on my kitchen stool, a model of calmness as I leaf through a cookbook. Don’t shoot the butter murderous looks as the edges refuse to soften on this chilly August afternoon but instead… Oh alright then, after 10 minutes I might have
thrown the butter cubes unceremoniously into the kitcheanaid to let my faithful friend do the rest of the work. Whizzed up on high, it beats the butter around so it has no choice but to yield and when it does sugar is launched into the bowl as well and mixed for 3-4 minutes until light with air.

From there, it is no time at all to add the rest of the ingredients one at a time, mix, then add, mix then add. The egg, the vanilla, the flour, baking powder it all goes in before the chocolate chips, rosemary and fleur de sel are stiffly stirred in. At this point I forced myself to have the time and patience to weigh the dough out properly so my biscuits would all be the same size. It probably had a lot to do with the episode of GBBO I had just watched on catch up so was shamed into doing so, no one wants to get on the wrong side of Paul and Mary. However, this step was worth it as 12 minutes later, after the bake, seeing the biscuits lined up so uniformly, tweaked a little bit of perfectionist pride in me.
Dark Chocolate Chip Rosemary and Fleur de Sel Biscuits  |  Stroud Green Larder

I made these biscuits a few weeks ago and for some reason didn’t write about them. A bit of a travesty as they really are quite delicious, I was happy therefore to have found an opportunity to whip them up again for inclusion in the blog. These are more biscuit than cookie as the idea is that they should be crisp, with pockets of oozing chocolate providing the only give in the biscuit. They are also a little bit grown up and refined and are absolutely ideal sitting on the saucer of a cup of tea when you need a bit of time off from pickling, jamming and jarring.

Dark Chocolate Chip, Rosemary and Fleur de Sel Biscuits
Makes 20 biscuits

125g butter, at room temperature
185g caster sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
185g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g dark chocolate chips
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
½ tsp fleur de sel

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix in until thoroughly combined.
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, rosemary leaves and fleur de sel then add to the rest of the biscuit dough along with the chocolate chips.
  5. Bring the dough together to form a ball.
  6. Bake the biscuits in two batches. Weigh out half the dough, setting one of the halves aside for a bit, then split into 10 balls, which should be about 30g each. Place each ball on a large baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes when the edges should be turning golden.
  7. Once the biscuits are ready, remove from the tray with a spatula and transfer to a cooling rack.
  8. Take the second half of the dough and split into another 10 balls, place them on the baking tray and bake also for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the tray and transfer to a cooling rack.

Eccleswell Tart

Eccleswell Tart

This tart came about as a way of marrying my two favourite English tea time treats, Eccles cakes and Bakewell tarts. I don’t always want to choose between them at the bakery and it is not always prudent to have both. This way I can have both but not feel too greedy, the ginormous wedge I serve myself probably nullifies my efforts though.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder

I have made this tart several times now over the past year and have been meaning to include it in my blog but it has never quite survived long enough to reach the photography stage.  It is a really lovely tart, a bit more going on than your average Bakewell tart but the frangipane and the juicy fruit marry up beautifully. It is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder

I usually make my own ground almonds as I find shop bought just tastes a little bland. Sometimes that is what you are looking for in this ingredient but on this occasion I toasted and ground up my own almonds. I toasted them a little over here but it was a happy accident as it gave this particular tart a lovely biscuit flavour and a gold frangipane colour. If you don’t want to go to the trouble then you can use shop bought ground almonds totally guilt free but the results are slightly different as although the frangipane topping is softer it is not quite as almondy. I suggest using a dash of almond extract along with the vanilla extract if you are going that way.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder

My Eccles cake mixture depends totally on what I have in my cupboard. I was lucky enough this weekend to have a grand stock of dried fruit but even so the marriage of currants and sultanas is traditional and in my mind the best. I couldn’t resist adding a little stem ginger though as I think it’s pretty fabulous. The marmalade was included in lieu of mixed peel since a certain somebody in my household refuses point blank to eat mixed peel and this way I can still achieve the citrus note without offending my husband. If you still happen to have mincemeat leftover from Christmas though then by all means use it here to clear out your cupboards. Eccles cakes are just boozeless and suetless mincemeat anyway.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder

Eccleswell Tart

For the Pastry
270g plain flour
100g unsalted butter, fridge cold
100g caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

For the Eccles Mixture
20g butter
1½ tbsp breakfast marmalade
100g currants
50g sultanas
60g light brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
1 ball of stem ginger, finely chopped
pinch of salt

For the Frangipane
Adapted from Richard Bertinet’s Almond Cream
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
25g plain flour
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
20g flaked almonds to decorate

1 x 18cm round loose-bottomed tart tin

  1. To begin with make your pastry. Take the butter out of the fridge and slice very finely with a sharp knife, then place in a large mixing bowl with the flour.
  2. Tear the butter up and coat thoroughly with the flour, then begin to rub gently between your fingertips until you reach very rough breadcrumbs, don’t take it too fine. It should take less than 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, salt, egg and egg yolk then bring together into a dough. Tip it out onto the work surface and press together to form a ball. Wrap in baking parchment and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile make the eccles mixture. Melt the butter together with the marmalade in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat then add the rest of the ingredients, stir together and set aside to cool.
  5. Then make your frangipane by creaming the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.
  6. Add the ground almonds and mix together until fully incorporated.
  7. Add the flour and egg and egg yolk and vanilla and carry on mixing until smooth. Place the frangipane in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  8. Once the frangipane is in the fridge you can roll out your pastry. Roll until it is about 3mm thick and line the pastry into your tart tin. Leave the edges untrimmed then place the pastry tart tin in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  9. Once ready you can assemble your tart. Spread the eccles mixture onto the bottom of the tart in an even layer. Then spoon the frangipane on top to cover completely, smoothing it down on top. Finally scatter the flaked almonds on the top.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes then cover the tart with foil to stop from browning any further and bake for another 20 minutes. Leave in the tin to cool for about half an hour, then trim the pastry around the edges and remove from the tart tin.
  11. Serve at room temperature at 4pm with a lovely cup of tea.

Eccleswell Tart  |  Stroud Green Larder