Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Salted Caramel Filling

Now that I live away from home I really look forward to visiting my parents. We have always had a special relationship and I view them just as much my friends as my parents. When I walk through the door it’s like being enveloped in a big warm hug, well usually it involves multiple big warm hugs and lots of slobbery kisses from one three-legged rascal dog. When I come home, I try never to come empty handed because I know by the time I leave the next day I will usually have a bag full of extra groceries that Mum ‘just happened to have’ and useful bits and bobs (like a toolbox) that Dad ‘thought might come in handy’. How do you thank two people who have taken care of you since before you were even in the world and keep doing so every single day?

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Salted Caramel Filling | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

My  answer is cookies (or cake, or slice – you get the point). I bring my offering to the door of the people who have loved me longest and best because that is all I can do in the face of this enormous love.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Salted Caramel Filling | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Last weekend I brought these buttery chocolate chip shortbread sandwiches along on Saturday night for a treat for the three of us (Chris was out with the boys). I usually enjoy a firmer shortbread but these were slightly softer and oh so cocoa-y. There are only eight ingredients (or six if you don’t need it to be gluten free) in this easy to make shortbread and you will love the fact that you can make the shortbread dough up to a month ahead of time, and freeze it for when you need it. Chilling the dough has the purpose of ensuring the cookies are flaky because of the solidified buttery pockets inside the dough, and also means that you have cookies on hand whenever you require them. On second thought, that could be dangerous knowledge. Like the fact that freezer brownies taste even better. Now that you know it, you can’t forget it.

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The bitter-sweet shortbread was the perfect foil to the sweet salted caramel filling inside. Speaking of the filling. I could eat this off a spoon by itself. I may have eaten it off the spoon by itself at one point. It’s so easy to make too: I took the caramel from my Salted Peanut Caramel Chocolate Slice, omitted the peanuts, cooled it to room temperature, and then spread it generously between these biscuits. And then I ate them. Well, my fair share at least.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Salted Caramel Filling | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Salted Caramel Filling

Makes 10 sandwich cookies | Gluten Free | Egg Free | Adapted from BBC Good Food

Note: if you do not require these to be gluten free, you can substitute 200 grams (~1 1/2 cups) plain flour for the almond meal, white rice flour and buckwheat flour.

Storage: Unbaked dough can be wrapped carefully in clingwrap and frozen for up to a month. Baked and filled cookies can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 175 grams (3/4 cup) butter, softened
  • 85 grams (1/3 cup + 1 tbs) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 50 grams (1/3 cup) white rice flour
  • 50 grams (1/2 cup) almond meal
  • 100 grams (3/4 cup + 1 tbs) buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the caramel

  • 400 gram tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup + 1 tbs) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl using either a wooden spoon or a handheld mixer beat together butter, caster sugar, and until creamy and smooth.
  2. Whisk together cocoa powder, white rice flour, almond meal and buckwheat flour and add to creamed mixture. Mix in well.
  3. Add chocolate chips and incorporate into dough. This will be quite stiff so you may have to use your hands to get the chocolate chips fully incorporated.
  4. Split the dough in half. Roll each into 5 cm round logs and wrap tightly in baking paper and clingwrap. Chill for at least an hour or up to 3 days.
  5. Once dough has chilled, preheat oven to 160C (320F) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  6. Slice dough into 1 cm thick rounds and place on baking trays leaving 5-6 cm between to allow for slight spreading.
  7. Place cookies in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will still be quite soft so allow them to cool completely on their trays before spreading with salted caramel and sandwiching together.

To make the caramel:

  1. place sweetened condensed milk, golden syrup, and butter into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir until butter is melted and caramel is golden brown in colour and thickened slightly.
  2. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla essence and salt.
  3. Pour into a heatproof container and allow to cool to room temperature before using to sandwich cookies together.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Salted Caramel Filling | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chocolate Peanut Cookies (gluten free)

Do you listen to the radio? Are you a Top 40 fan? An alternative station faithful? Do you make cool playlists that are the hit at parties far and wide: are you that friend who always knows what’s next?

I do not listen to the radio. I rely on the years of exposure to Mum’s choice in music (50s-80s and heavy on the saxophone solos), Jess’s iPhone playlists when we are in the car, and Chris’s latest obsessions, to inform my music choices. When I do have to listen to the radio, that is, when I have forgotten to plug my iPhone into the car with a preloaded podcast, I often fall back on news and information heavy stations like Radio National or classical music stations. I am not a cool kid. When I listen to music at home I turn to the classics: Edith Piaf, Dean Martin, Cher… My point is, I am not the person you come to when you need a musical recommendation. I am, however, the person you come to when you are in need of a cookie recommendation.

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The combination of dough and mix-ins seems infinite to me. A whole orchestra of flavours and textures at my fingertips. I am the composer, the conductor and the soloist. While I know I will never write a symphony, I am certain that I can keep conducting sweet treats from my kitchen for many years to come.

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These cookies were born from the flavours of one of my new addictions: Mayver’s Organic Peanut & Cacao Spread. I blame my blog friend Jennifer from Milk and Honey for introducing me to its intense chocolate and peanut flavour. With this as my background tempo (is that a real music term?) I set about layering on the other notes: salted peanuts, chocolate chips, brown sugar. In the end these all came together in a tangle of salty sweet chunky perfection. These are similar in texture to my Chocolate Chip Pebble Cookies, but the taste of the Cacao Spread comes through in the dough. They are a cakey cookie, a brownie in more portable biscuit form, studded with milk chocolate chips and moreish salted peanuts. Maybe not worthy of Mozart (I am working up the courage to attempt gluten free pastry Wolfgang), but welcome on the side of plate while listening to whatever pleases your ears.

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Chocolate Peanut Cookies

Gluten Free | Makes approximately 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 80 grams butter, softened
  • 80 grams Mayver’s Organic Peanut & Cacao Spread at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 90 grams buckwheat flour
  • 75 grams sorghum flour
  • 70 grams brown rice flour
  • 40 grams cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper. Set aside until required.
  2. In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, peanut and cacao spread, brown sugar, caster sugar and vanilla essence. Beat until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and beat until well incorporated and smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add whisked flours to egg mixture and beat until combined. This is a dry dough so watch out for pockets of flour.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and salted peanuts.
  7. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheets, leave a few centimetres between dough balls for spreading. Press down lightly on top to flatten slightly.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Rotate trays halfway through cooking time. Cookies are done when the edges are firm to the touch.
  9. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
  10. Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or wrapped well and frozen for up to 2 months.

Chocolate Peanut Cookies 3

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies

I gave you a smoothie on Monday and a confession of my gluttony over the weekend. These cookies are the reason I needed to start the week on a lighter note. Not too long after they had come out of the oven I had already greedily gobbled one down while the caramel chips were still slightly molten. Then of course, I had to try one when they were cooler and I was taking photos, which turned into two because I had crowded the photos and I needed to keep my strength up while shooting (obviously).

Then there was the cookie that I had to eat later in the afternoon just to see if the crunchy, sweet, snappable texture was good enough to share with all of you. And, it was.

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies | Thoroughly Nourished Life

These cookies taste like comfort to me. They taste like rainy days and big cups of tea and thick delicious books and woolly socks. They aren’t delicate, lacy, fancy cookies. These are nubbled with caramel chips and oats. They are the size of the palm of your hand (or bigger if you’d like). They are a cookie to dunk into a cup of tea, to hold in one hand for nibbling while the rain pours down outside and you snuggle under a blanket on the couch.

That’s how I plan to eat them next time anyway. This time I gobbled them greedily. I snapped each biscuit into thirds and ate them while standing over the kitchen counter while I was making a salad for lunch. It’s not irony, it’s reality, balance. Next time I plan to be more restrained, but this time, greed was good. I have also heard reports that these are delicious with a scoop of ice cream on top (note: this wasn’t me, I didn’t have any leftover to experiment with).

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies

Note: I used Freedom Foods Quick Oats in this recipe. They are guaranteed wheat free, which works for my belly. If you are a coeliac, please consult your doctor for advice on whether oats are appropriate for you, or simply leave the oats out. If you do not require this smoothie to be gluten free, you can use traditional rolled oats in this recipe for the same flavour.

Wheat-free. Makes 18-20 cookies.

 Ingredients

  • 100 grams butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 grams sorghum flour
  • 50 grams buckwheat flour
  • 40 grams white rice flour
  • 1 cup wheat-free quick oats
  • 3/4 cup caramel chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line three cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together baking powder, baking sodar, salt, cinnamon, sorghum flour, buckwheat flour, and white rice flour.
  3. In a medium size mixing bowl beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. I used a wooden spoon, you could use a handheld mixer instead.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.
  5. Dump in flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add oats and caramel chips and mix until distributed.
  6. Chill dough for approximately an hour. This makes all the difference to the final product.
  7. Drop rounded tablespoons of chilled mixture onto prepared cookie sheets. Leave about 5cm between each mound because these biscuits will spread.
  8. Place cookie sheets into the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are golden around the edges. Swap position of trays half way through baking time.
  9. Remove from oven, place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely (if they last that long).

Oatmeal Caramel Cookies | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Snickerdoodles

I feel that we are all friends here at Thoroughly Nourished Life, and so I feel as if I owe you an explanation, and some cookies. Let’s start with the explanation. I am the type of friend who thinks most explanations are best coupled with sweet treats. Glucose fuels the brain after all.

This past week was super awesome busy followed by an enforced period of rest. Most of the busyness was good, and some was business busyness. The enforced period of rest included me, an 8-hour long iron infusion drip (accompanied by lovely nurses and terrible pay TV), being taken care of by my darling boyfriend (best cure for post-treatment woosies) and two days on the couch watching Harry Potter movies with the occasional break for gluten-free Oreos and decorating our Christmas tree. So friends, that is where I have been. On adventures of a different kind.

Now, onto the cookies. On occasions where I am forced to spend long periods of time sitting still, which is something that as a twenty-six year old woman I am still not very good at, I divert the extra brain activity that usually gets burned up by fidgeting/walking/running/cooking into thinking about what I am going to bake next. Lately, given that it is the beginning of the festive season and all, I get to thinking about cookies. I have cookies on the brain from my sunrise run to my sunset snuggles. And I need to share these thoughts of cookies with my Thoroughly Nourished Friends so that you can make them for your loved ones and get the season off to a sweet start.

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These Snickerdoodles have long been a family favourite. My sister makes amazing Snickerdoodle cookies, we’ve both been known to rock out the spiciest sweet Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with accompanying cream cheese frosting, and so when searching for the place to start my Christmas baking there was no hesitation in my mind. These Snickerdoodles are my riff on the classic. I replaced some of the plain flour with almond meal for a chewier, denser cookie, and added some mixed spice (or pumpkin spice for my US readers) to the usual cinnamon sugar coating.

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Snickerdoodles

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies. Makes about 28 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 200 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar, extra
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

Method

  1. In a medium size bowl whisk together plain flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Place butter, 1 1/2 cups caster sugar, and vanilla essence into a large bowl. Using handheld mixer on medium-high beat until light and fluffy. This will take about 2-3 minutes if your butter is nice and soft.
  3. Add eggs to butter and beat well.
  4. Slow mixer to low and gradually incorporate flour mix. Once completely incorporated cover bowl with plastic wrap and cool dough in refrigerator for 45 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 170C (338F) and line three large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  6. Whisk together 2 tablespoons caster sugar, ground cinnamon, and mixed spice in a small bowl.
  7. Take generous tablespoons of Snickerdoodle dough and roll into balls. Work quickly as the butter in the dough will begin to melt with the heat of your hands. Place balls of dough into the sugar and spice mixture and roll around to coat completely. Place on prepared cookie sheets.
  8. Repeat with remaining dough. Leave plenty of room between balls of dough because Snickerdoodles spread substantially during baking.
  9. Place trays in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Switch trays around halfway through baking time.
  10. Once cooked remove from oven and cool on racks.

Hungry for more cookie recipes? Try Coffee-Vanilla Sandwich Cookies for holiday morning tea, or perhaps some Mocha Pecan Biscotti for early Christmas gifts.

Sweet Potato, Pecan, and White Chocolate Cookies

I have dreams about a little cottage built just for two. A place where a common dream, our extraordinary shared dream, can take root and with the nourishment of time, hard work, and patience, reach into the sky with strong branches. He will keep us safe and entertained. I will stand at the stove and transform the harvest into the bounty of the table. He will roll up his sleeves and plunge his hands into the hot soapy water cleaning up after me. We will lie in our feather bed while the starlight streams in and talk, laugh, and dream late into the night. I will leave early on weekend mornings and return to his side sweaty and smiling. We will invite the crowd and company of friends and family. Fill the rooms with chatter and laughter and big ideas in the celebration of the small, exquisite, fragile things. The door and our hearts will always be open to those who call. Our little corner of the world dedicated to creating a future together. Our space to grow, learn, work, become, rest, share, shelter, and love.

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There will be clinking plates and crystal glasses as our friends crowd into the house and pile around a table groaning with good things to eat. We will share what we have been given, and take pleasure in the food and our family of friends and loved ones. Laughter, and noise, and sharing, and ‘oh did you taste this yet?’ will fill the little space with the sweet music of familiarity.

We will feast together: I will grill salmon; cover the kitchen in mess while making pasta by hand; we will stand side-by-side sneaking the last bites of stir-fry from the wok after licking our own plates clean; in the midnight munchies hours fuelled by too many glasses of wine we will clandestinely feed each other scoops of cold creamy ice cream.

And sitting on our bench will be my favourite symbol of a home filled with love: a never-empty cookie jar. These gluten free Sweet Potato, Pecan, and White Chocolate Cookies are the perfect post-work, post-gym, pre-dinner snack; or perhaps a sneaky before-he-wakes-up-for-Sunday-lunch-reading-my-book breakfast with a cup of fresh-brewed coffee; or for sharing with a loved one in the midnight hours after getting home from a dinner party.

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Sweet Potato, Pecan, and White Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

  • 140 grams buckwheat flour
  • 60 grams brown rice flour
  • 60 grams almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1/3 cup rice bran oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 215 grams (scant 1 cup) sweet potato purée
  • 100 grams toasted pecans
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (356F) and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.
  3. In large bowl beat together the eggs, caster sugar, and golden syrup with electric beaters until smooth and light.
  4. Measure in rice bran oil, vanilla, and sweet potato. Beat until well combined.
  5. Stir flour mix, pecans, and white chocolate chips into the egg and sugar mixture. Beat thoroughly.
  6. Measure mounds of cookie batter onto the lined cookie sheets (I used an ice cream scoop). Leave 5-6cm between cookies for spreading.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops of the cookies bounce back when lightly pressed.
  8. Allow to cool completely and serve to your friends and loved ones, or store them in your cookie jar for up to 4 days.

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Tell me, dear reader, what does your dream of home look like? What are the little rituals that mean home to you?

 

Comfort and Cookies

These end-of-winter days are the ones that drag the most. Showtime has come to Brisbane, the annual agriculture show called ‘The Ekka’ has swept into town: the harbinger of spring. However, showtime is always, always, accompanied by strong winds (even referred to by the weatherman/woman as ‘The Ekka’ winds), and recurring bouts of the cold. This week poor Mum succumbed to the cold, and I was able to play nurse as I have been at home most days. I find a little joy in making chicken soup, laundering the sheets, and disinfecting things, so I was more than happy to take care of Mum as much as she used to take care of my little sister and I when we got sick as little kids. Happily, Mum is making a full recovery, after telling me yesterday she was ‘happy to lie here and wallow in freakish misery’ while went out for a walk.

This morning when I woke up, I could feel a little niggle in the back of my throat that told me that despite near-obsessive levels of hand washing, clean strengthening meals (like this one – I have leftovers for tonight), and daily sunshine, I too might be experiencing what I like to call ‘temporary immune system failure’ (I don’t like the s-word, sick that is). I am not whinging here, merely providing some background to the baking that happened today. When I need comfort, when I need that something to fill an only-food-can-solve-this-problem hole – I turn to the humble chocolate chip cookie. There is something in the moistness of the crumb, the chunks of semi-sweet chocolate, and the very legend that accompanies the chocolate chip cookie that quietens the little girl that still lives inside my heart.

So I give you, the best gluten-free chocolate chip cookie I have yet to taste. Make it. Take one, sit a little while with a cup of tea and a blanket and just comfort yourself by enjoying something that tastes like what a hug feels like.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 15 large cookies, you can be more moderate with the size if you would like. But really? Does moderation apply to chocolate chip cookies?

Ingredients

  • 100 grams butter, softened
  • 100 grams brown sugar
  • 100 grams caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125 grams buckwheat flour
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 300 grams chocolate of choice, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Weigh butter and sugars into a large bowl. Add vanilla and cream all ingredients together.
  3. Crack the egg into the bowl and beat into the butter mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, salt, and baking paper.
  5. Add flour mixture to the egg and butter mix and stir until well combined.
  6. Dump in the chopped up chocolate (remember to test the chocolate first – quality control, people), and mix to distribute.
  7. Scoop out rounded tablespoons of cookie dough onto the prepared tray. Leave about 4 centimetres between the cookies as they will spread out as they bake.
  8. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes. When you remove them from the oven allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Of course, if you are like me and can’t wait for them to cool it is completely acceptable to make yourself a cup of tea and eat one straight off the tray.

Oh, yes, all better now.