Winter present and past…
This morning the countryside here is a classic picture postcard winter scene. The grass is frozen and crisp, the branches in the hedgerows look like fabulous and extravagant sparkling broaches from a smart Parisian jeweller, the sky is a soft shade of baby blue and even the long streams of wash from passing jets look like they are there as a decoration. The whole scene is a dazzling twinkling light show under the bright sunshine.
I have been out to feed the chickens and pigeons, and the wild birds have also received their ration. They were all ravenous and seemed especially grateful.
I love the sound and feel of the crunchy frosted grass under foot. It is so evocative and reminds me of winters long past.
I am going out to an early Christmas dinner this evening and am bringing a tin of homemade biscuits as a gift. These little delights will keep for several days in a tin or box, so while it is definitely still too early to make them to present on Christmas day, you can advise the hopefully grateful recipient to eat them while they are at there best and not to save them for too long. You could happily make these on the 23rd to gift on the 25th. Decorate these with as many sparkly and vulgar bits as you wish. It is nearly Christmas after all.
Christmas Chocolate Biscuits
8 oz / 225g Flour
1 ¼ oz / 35g cocoa powder
1-teaspoon baking powder
5 oz / 140g butter
4 ½ oz / 125g caster sugar
1-tablespoon vegetable oil
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the butter, oil and caster sugar in the bowl of a mixer and cream together with the paddle fitting until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until well blended and smooth. Sieve the flour, cocoa and baking powder on to the mixture in the bowl and blend in until the mixture comes together. Do not over mix. Chill the mixture for 30 minutes if it feels a little soft.
Pre heat the oven to 350f / 180c.
Roll out the mixture about ¼ in / 5mm thick, using a little flour to prevent it from sticking. Alternatively, roll between sheets of parchment paper. Cut out the biscuits with the cutter of choice and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave a little space between the biscuits as they swell slightly.
Cook in the pre-heated oven for approx 8 minutes. They will feel gently set to the touch and will crisp up as they cool. Place the tray on a wire rack and allow the biscuits to cool, still on the parchment paper. Serve dusted with a little icing sugar or caster sugar or cocoa powder or ice with the icing suggested below.
Lemon Glace icing
110g / 4oz Icing sugar
Zest of 1 Lemon and approx 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sieve the icing sugar in to a bowl. With a wooden spoon, carefully, blend in the lemon zest and enough juice to make a spread able icing. Beat until smooth and glossy. The consistency will be that of thick cream