Episode 53: Care Package Cookies

At the top of the episode I talk about a few things I’ve been listening to recently, and a few things I ate on holiday in Slovenia.

Whether you want to send biscuits to family or friends, or to raise money like I’ve been doing, these are three recipes I’ve found reliable and delicious!

My rather obvious tip is to use the smallest parcels you can so they don’t bounce around too much in transit. My more practically-minded partner showed me that just cutting straight down each corner with a pair of scissors can help create a shallower parcel. I’ve refined the sending process as well by using sealable compostable sandwich bags, which I can write on with Sharpie, and honeycomb paper, which is fully recyclable and doesn’t use a load of space to store as it goes quite a long way.

I’ve included my huge quantities so you don’t have to do the maths yourself if you want to send loads, but you may need to bring together the dough by hand towards the end of the mixing, unless you have a very large stand mixer!

The other biscuit I’ve been sending to people I’ve covered before. It’s an all-butter Black Cocoa Chocolate Sablé with Freeze-Dried Raspberries, from episode 50.

Olia Hercules’s Ukrainian ‘Berlin’ Curd Cheese Biscuits

Golden and beautiful

There’s a recipe here, which takes liberties in my view by using ‘minor’ adaptations of adding orange zest and vanilla, which I feel is totally unnecessary. The key flavour is the curd cheese, which is milky, light, slightly acidic and rich all at the same time. The only adaptations I’ve made are to make it slightly easier for my clumsy self to get an even coating of sugar. I even used an eastern European margarine, so as not to cloud the flavour of the cheese.

KEEPING QUALITIES: Obviously this is very important when sending biscuits in the post! Olia says they keep for a week, but I beg to differ. I reckon they keep well for a few days. After a few days they aren’t so good, so I’d recommend refreshing them in a moderate oven (350F/ 180C / 160C fan) for a few minutes. I send them first class so the recipient should get them the next day or, at the latest, the day after. Another trick you could try (though I admit I haven’t) is freezing them and sending them frozen so they thaw out en route).

To make around 18-20:

  • 80g margarine
  • 200g fresh acid-set curd cheese: syr, sir, twaróg, tvorog, quarg, farmer’s cheese. (Ricotta isn’t quite the same I’m afraid, it’s wetter and less acidic and most quark is a bit too acidic.)
  • 200g plain/ all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 50g-75gish granulated sugar, or as much as you need for an even coating on three sides (all will be explained)
  • A small splash of milk or water, for brushing – say about a tablespoon

To make around 45-50:

  • 200g margarine
  • 500g fresh acid-set curd cheese (see above)
  • 500g plain/ all purpose flour
  • A couple of pinches of salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150-200gish granulated sugar, or as much as you need for an even coating
  1. Mix the margarine and cheese together in a bowl. Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix together.
  2. Knead the dough briefly, wrap or cover and chill for 30 minutes or up to a few hours. This is primarily to allow the flour to absorb the moisture evenly. It will also make them slightly easier to roll out. If you live in a hot climate this is particularly important to stop the margarine melting.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F / 160C fan. Line a large baking sheet/ cookie sheet.
  4. Flour the work surface well. Roll the dough thinly to about 1/8 inch / 2mm. Stamp out 4 inch/ 10cm circles. Offcuts can be re-rolled and stamped.
  5. Pour the sugar into a shallow plate. Put the milk or water into a small bowl and get a pastry brush at the ready. Brush a semi-circle of dough with the milk or water, then dip into the sugar, then fold the dipped side into the middle. Repeat with one side of the folded dough. Finally, brush one side of the dough (which is not in a quarter-fold) and dip again. Place, dipped side-up, on the baking tray. Pop them in the fridge for 20 minutes if your kitchen is warm.
  6. Space the biscuits out a little, they spread a bit but not loads. Bake for around 30-35 minutes until golden all over.

Soft Cocoa and Vanilla Abbracci

These abbracci are a hybrid in more than one way. It’s two doughs ‘hugging’ each other. But it’s also a take on my favourite shop-bought Mulino Bianco abbracci, but with a texture more like the delicate, melt-in-the-mouth Austrian/German vanillekipferl (vanilla crescents) thanks to the ground almonds and icing sugar. These aren’t really sweet and have a subtle texture and flavour, which I think is sometimes nicer than a massive hit of richness.

For the very large quantity, I’ve found I need to do a little bit of mixing by hand. Kelly the Kitchen Aid struggles to get it even.

KEEPING QUALITIES: These last fantastically well. They’re good for at least 10 days!

Makes about 30

  • 250g plain/ all purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 230g butter, softened
  • 90g icing/ confectioner’s sugar
  • 200g ground almonds/ almond flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar (if you can get it – I particularly recommend Tosleffs)
  • 30g Dutch-processed cocoa (This is the norm in the UK. Natural would work, but would be a bit too light in flavour as we’re using a small amount)
  • 1 tbsp milk

Makes about 45-50

  • 375g plain/ all purpose flour
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 345g butter, softened
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 300g ground almonds / almond flour
  • 3 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar (I particularly recommend Torsleffs)
  • 45g Dutch-processed cocoa (This is the norm in the UK. Natural would work, but would be a bit too light in flavour as we’re using a small amount.)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until combined.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cocoa and milk. Combine.
  3. Split the dough. Remove about 420g or 630g for the very large batch. Mix the cocoa and milk together, add to the remaining dough and combine.
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or up to several hours.
  5. Split dough into little balls, about 14-16g, keeping the two flavours separate. Roll into crescents. Now press together the ends of each crescent to join them.
  6. Chill again for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan.
  7. Bake for 14 minutes. They may not look ‘done’ but we are going for a soft texture here.

Ravneet Gill’s Vegan Chocolate Sablé with Freeze-Dried Raspberries

I trialled these with black cocoa, but without dairy butter to mellow it, they were too powerfully flavoured. They’re great with ordinary Dutch-processed cocoa. I wouldn’t go with natural cocoa here because they have quite a lot of baking soda/ bicarbonate of soda (this is to make them very short in texture). This would react with the acidity of natural cocoa and make them spread a lot.

KEEPING QUALITIES: They last for ages – at least a week in an airtight container or bag.

Makes around 12

  • 75g neutral oil (I use grapeseed/ ‘vegetable oil’ as we often call it here)
  • 1 tbsp/ 15g golden syrup (another thick syrup is good if you can’t get this – try barley malt extract or perhaps dark corn syrup)
  • 70g light brown sugar
  • 4g / scant tsp bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda
  • Small pinch sea salt flakes
  • 20g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 110g plain / all purpose flour
  • 20g 70% cocoa content dark chocolate (check it’s vegan if necessary)
  • 12g freeze dried raspberries

Makes around 24

  • 150g neutral oil (I use grapeseed/ ‘vegetable oil’ as we often call it here)
  • 2 tbsp/ 30g golden syrup (another thick syrup is good if you can’t get this – try barley malt extract or perhaps dark corn syrup)
  • 140g light brown sugar
  • 8g / 2 scant tsps baking soda/ bicarbonate of soda
  • Large pinch sea salt flakes
  • 220g plain / all purpose flour
  • 40g 70% cocoa content dark chocolate (check it’s vegan if necessary)
  • 24g freeze dried raspberries
  1. Mix together the oil and golden syrup in a small bowl.
  2. Sift the brown sugar, flour and cocoa into a large bowl. (I’m not normally a sifter, but brown sugar and cocoa get clumpy and I’ve found it absolutely necessary here.) Crumble in the salt. Combine with a spoon or fork. Add the oil and golden syrup and mix together to combine. Finally, chop the chocolate really small, crumble in the freeze-dried raspberries and combine into the dough.
  3. Roll the dough the best you can into a cylinder shape, or two cylinders if you’re making a larger batch. It doesn’t behave that well but you’ll get there, don’t worry! Refrigerate for 4 hours. Freeze for 2 hours. (If you need to, you can take out of the freezer, slice then re-freeze and bake from frozen when you’re ready.)
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/ 350F / 160C fan. Slice the biscuit dough into 5mm / 1/4 inch slices. It’ll be crumbly and hard to work with. Don’t panic, just press it back together where necessary – it’ll come together in the oven. Leave space between them. Bake for 15 minutes.

Published by Kate

Home baker and now podcaster!

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