Throwback Thursday: Custard Yo-Yos from Sweet

There is something about the sandy buttery texture of these biscuits that takes you to your happy place and if you are looking for the perfect indulgent treat, these most certainly are it.

I’ve been making these yo-yos since December when Food52 Baking Club was going through Ottolenghi & Goh’s baking book, Sweet. I worked out rather quickly that simply replacing the flour with gluten free flour would allow for a lovely gluten free option on the cookie platters I gave out at Christmas, and I made batch after batch of these with the first bunch of rhubarb I’ve ever purchased from the grocery store.

Well rhubarb season is over, so it was time to start experimenting with other fillings as our primary school fete is coming up and I’m looking after the cake stall and think these could be a huge hit if I get them just right. These are my first try with changing the filling, and the only thing I did was replace the rhubarb with strawberries (and I even took the time to roast them for 30 minutes in the oven).

The biscuits themselves are a mixture of gluten free flour, custard powder, pure icing sugar, salt, butter and vanilla which are then rolled into 15g balls and flattened with a fork before baking. They’re sandwiched with the roasted strawberries that have been pureed in a food processor with butter and pure icing sugar and a little lemon juice which give that delightful pink color and a tart fruity contrast to the sugary buttery biscuits.

Really they aren’t all that difficult, but they are delicate and you have to be super careful not to overbake or underbake them. I lost my first tray by overbaking which was a bit sad, but the rest came out perfectly as I adjusted the timing.

My only criticism of the recipe is that the icing is either really soft or really hard, rather than being that perfect in between. They set solid if in the fridge but can become a melty mess if you try to serve them at room temperature. I’m getting to the stage where I think I may give up on their icing recipe and look elsewhere for a solution that will be fete appropriate, as the cake stall is going to be outdoors. I do want to keep the strawberry though, as that seems to make them a bit different to the vanilla or lemon or passionfruit fillings you normally see.

Regardless of that, I love this recipe and have written it out in my recipe book for safe keeping. It’s nice to give the gluten free person in your life something that doesn’t feel like they’re compromising. These make a really sweet gift!

The Fearless Baker: Flourless Cocoa Cookies

This month, Food52 Baking Club is working through Erin McDowell’s book The Fearless Baker. I had the library order this book a few months ago, knowing that this was going to be coming up and was able to get my hands on it for about a week in December, and boy, oh boy am I excited to have it back!

I’ve made these flourless cocoa cookies a few times now, and I have to say they are by far the nicest naturally gluten free cookie I’ve had. They are like a cookie on the outside and while others have described the inside as a brownie, I’d say it’s more like a chocolate truffle – delectably rich and delicious.

People have had trouble with the sticky and thick batter, but I’ve found if you just use a handheld mixer to do the work, the trouble is virtually non-existent. And scooping the dough with a spring loaded cookie scoop keeps them uniform in size and while the shape isn’t smooth, that’s actually part of the charm.

Did I mention they have only 7 ingredients?! You simply whisk some eggs, add icing sugar, salt, cinnamon and cocoa, then stir in some vanilla and chocolate chips. You can seriously have the batter ready to go within 5 minutes. Scoop them onto a baking paper lined cookie sheet, sprinkle some salt on top and in my oven they took 8 minutes to get firm without overcooking.

I have had rave reviews about these every time I’ve made them and they will definitely be staying in my cookie rotation for the foreseeable future. A good start to what should be a great month of baking!

Throwback Thursday: Rose Hibiscus Shortbread Fans from Dorie’s Cookies

I’ve previously done a Throwback Thursday post for Dorie’s Cookies, the book Food52 Baking Club covered in its very first month. This book is seriously an encyclopedia of every type of cookie you could possibly want to make. And every picture is so beautiful.

We made this recipe when we threw a little afternoon tea for Mother’s Day last year (it’s online here). Everything that we made had some form of pink in it – well the sweets, that is. And the fact that this recipe has tea in it, made it even more appropriate for our special afternoon tea table.

I’ve since come to adapt it as a gluten free cookie. In the side bar, Dorie gives the suggestion that rather than part rice flour part all purpose you can use fully all purpose flour, so I take that amount and replace it with gluten free flour, and it turns out great every time.

I had a hard time finding plain hibiscus tea, so started out with a passionfruit hibiscus blend which was nice, then today I noticed that Dorie suggests Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea – and I had Raspberry Zinger tea in my cupboard so I thought I’d give that a whirl. It took almost 2 tea bags, so I sprinkled the rest of the tea leaves over the shortbread along with the sugar sprinkles. A whole new level of deliciousness was achieved. I’m already planning a trip to the markets where I source Celestial Seasonings here to stock up on some more.

I definitely recommend this recipe to anyone who loves tea and shortbread. It really is the perfect cookie. And it’s really quick to put together. You put the tea leaves in with the sugar and smash them about a bit. Then you add the butter and salt and cream the mixture, then the extracts, then the flour. I no longer bake this in a springform cake pan, I free form the circle of dough on a cookie sheet and roll it nice and even. I score the disc into 12 wedges completely, and use the fork prong trick along the edge. I baked this for 20 minutes at 150C and it was done just perfectly. The icing is simply icing sugar and a tablespoon of milk whisked together. Nothing fancy, it doesn’t need it. I’ll be enjoying this over the next few days with my afternoon cuppa.