Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beetroot Heart Cookies

Valentine's is around the corner, and these sweet beetroot heart cookies make an easy-to-bake treat to share not only with your significant other, but also with loved ones, children, and as a gift to friends. What's more, they are naturally coloured with a little beetroot in the dough, to give a pretty pink hue without any unnecessary artificial food colouring. 

Last year my sister and I held a little Valentine's party for the whole family, and made these strawberry and watermelon fruit kabobs. So I kind of wanted to go down the same route again this year by making a Valentine's treat that somehow used a naturally red or pink shade. Don't worry if you aren't a fan of beetroot - you really won't be able to taste it in these cookies at all. (Unless of course you are die-hard beetroot fan like me and know what to taste-out for!) The whole recipe comes together within a mere few minutes, and the cookies only take about seven minutes to bake. The dough itself, once ready, is actually a much deeper pink in colour but as they bake the cookies turn into a lighter cherry blossom shade. 

This a great little recipe to make if you aren't a fan of the super bright kitschy Valentine's desserts that tend to be popular on Pinterest at this time of year (not to say I am not a fan of them either!). Rather its a more homely, comforting, and easy to bake Valentine's treat. Because really, as long as its pink and has hearts involved, what else is Valentine's about?!

Beetroot Heart Cookies
Makes 30

2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
2 tbsp raw beetroot, finely grated
Heart cookie cutter

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and grease and line a baking tray with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder and set aside. 
2. Cream together the butter and caster sugar in another bowl, until well combined. Add the egg and mix well, then add the grated beetroot and mix again. 
3. Gradually add the flour in half a cup at a time, mixing until a dough begins to form. The dough should be firm with only a slight stickiness. 
4. Chill dough in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Remove and on a lightly floured board or surface, roll out the dough to a quarter inch. Using cookie cutter, cut out hearts and place on lined tray, being careful not to stretch the shape.
5. Bake for 7-9 minutes, keeping an eye so as to not to let them brown. 
6. Leave to cool before eating, and store in an airtight container for upto a week. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Baked Chocolate Marshmallow Apples

The new year in Dubai brought with it some much cooler weather than we are used to for the Emirates. Having the luxury of warm/hot weather for pretty much ten months of the year means the unexpected cold can be a little unnerving. At least for me. I find I'm much more productive when the sun is out, even if I am just in the house. 

Anyway, its definitely had me craving hot drinks, warm soups and simple baked desserts like this recipe for baked chocolate marshmallow apples. And I can't tell you how deliciously perfect this dessert is for a cold winters day. 

I have never been one for baked apple desserts, but I just loved the addition of chocolate and marshmallows here. Its so simple, and yet served hot was just the thing I needed. I added a few cinnamon chips to my recipe, although this is not neccessary,  as the cinnamon powder at the end provides the warm spice. One apple serves two people which makes it a great dessert to share with a significant other as well. 

Next time I'll be pairing it with ice cream! 

Baked Chocolate Marshmallow Apples
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 2 servings

1 medium apple
2 large marshmallows, 1 quartered and 1 halved
2 tsps good quality dark chocolate, chopped
Cinnamon chips (if desired)
2 tbsps unsalted butter
1 tbsp water
Cinnamon powder

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Halve each apple lengthwise, and using a a knife carefully cut and scoop out the seeds, making a crater in each half. You can also use a spoon or melon baller instead.
2. Fill each half with a marshmallow quarter, and 1 teaspoon of the chopped chocolate. Add a few cinnamon chips if desired. 
3. Spoon half a tablespoon of butter over the chocolate, and place apple halves in a baking dish. Add the water and remaining butter into the dish. 
4. Bake apple halves for 25-30 minutes, until a paring knife cuts through the apple easily. 
5. Set the oven to broil or grill, and place the marshmallow halves onto each apple, until golden brown. 
6. Serve hot drizzled with juices and a sprinkling of cinnamon powder. 
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