Buttery Pecan and Vanilla Shortbread

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I’ve  be deliberating what to do with some pecans I had in the cupboard and the last of my light brown sugar I bought in Mauritius, until I spotted the hubby eyeing up the shortbread at a local food festival we went to yesterday. The hubby is super supportive of all my wild career ideas and adventures, so I just feel he deserves a treat or two, and with that in mind I’ve baked and my Buttery Pecan and Vanilla Shortbread is ready to be devoured.

If you would like to treat someone you love with these delicious treats here’s the recipe

Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 110g light brown sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 175g plain flour
  • 50g toasted pecans, ground
  • 110g cornflour
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds
    Pinch of salt

Method

In a bowl cream together the sugar, vanilla and butter until fluffy and pale.

Sieve the cornflour and plain four together, add the ground pecans and salt, combine with the butter mixture until a soft dough is formed.

Roll out the dough between two sheets of cling film to a desired thickness. I attempted to roll to 3 cm but the dough was soft, I got a bit giddy and ended up with wonky levels. (A tip here would be to chill the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up the dough.)

Once rolled out cut in your desired shapes and place on a lined baking sheet.

Place in the. fridge to chill for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 170c/160c fan

Place the shortbread trays in the oven and bake for 20 mins or until lightly golden, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Sprinkle with a little sugar and enjoy the buttery, crumbly texture.

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clementine, chocolate, and date m’hencha…an alternative christmas treat.

 

As I’m twiddling my thumbs until I start my new job next week, I’ve been looking at what ingredients I’ve got hanging about the kitchen and what deliciousness I can make. I first came across a recipe for M’hencha a couple of years ago but didn’t make it, although I was interested in making one at some point. Then this year I bought a date and orange one, it was delicious, the m’hencha was just on another level and for the last couple of months it’s been at the back of my mind that I need to make one. So I did and it turns out it’s really easy to make, which could be a little dangerous.

The dish served today is a spiced clementine, date and chocolate m’hencha, otherwise known as a snake cake from morocco. This M’hencha is a mix of nuts, dates, spices, and chocolate encased is crisp phyllo pastry, dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon. I’m really pleased with my first attempt and think it makes a rather nice alternative to a mince pie or piece of Christmas cake. I’ll definitely be making this later in the month for the festivities and I hope you do too.

Clementine, Chocolate and Date M'hencha
clementine, chocolate and date m’hencha

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 12 sheets phyllo pastry
  • 150ml clementine juice
  • Zest of 4 clementines
  • 200g date paste
  • 165g almonds
  • 50g pistachios, shelled
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 100g vanilla sugar
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 tsp green cardamom, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cloves, ground
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted

Decoration

  • 2 tsp icing sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon, ground

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180c

Grease and line a 10-inch cake tin

In a food processor place the clementine juice, zest, almonds, pistachios, cocoa powder,  date paste, vanilla sugar, icing sugar, egg white, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and orange blossom water, pulse the mixture to get a textured paste and place in a bowl.

To assemble the pastry, melt the butter and lay out a large length of cling wrap.

Unwrap the phyllo pastry, placing 4 sheets each over lapping short ends on top of the cling wrap.

Using a pastry brush work quickly and brush the pastry with the melted butter, ensure you brush between the over lapping edges. Then place a sheet of pastry over each of the buttered layer and repeat with the rest of the phyllo, making sure the top layer is also buttered.

Take the m’hencha filling; make a line of filling along the longest edge of the pastry nearest to you.

Using the cling wrap to help you start to turn the edge of the pastry over the filling and continue to roll, remove the cling film and discard.

Ensure the pastry seam is on the underside of the rolled pastry, brush with the remaining butter and gently coil the pastry around itself, at the end tuck the pastry slightly under the coil, place in the cake tin and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool in the tin.

When cooled, remove from the tin and dust with the icing sugar and cinnamon. Serve on its own or with some whipped cream and a mint tea.

 

lemon and keralan vanilla drizzle cake

Left to my own devices on a gloomy Sunday afternoon my attentions focus on baking, it’s also a welcomed distraction from doing my accounts!  

Now, I’m not one for fancy cakes except for my Persian Orange Cake of course, I tend to opt for plain cakes such as this Lemon and Keralan Vanilla Drizzle Cake. So to brighten up my day  I decided to make a lemon drizzle cake and as I’ve got an abundance of 1st grade Keralan vanilla beans, I couldn’t resist adding this spice to the mix. The results of which have been very satisfying.

So why vanilla pods from Kerala ? 


Well when I visited a little while ago, I say a little while ago but my first encounter with Keralan Vanilla was while I was in Kerala 14 years ago. I thought the vanilla vines were most unusual just growing in gardens, certainly not the usual plant in the gardens of Wales, thats for sure. The memory has always stuck with me and so too my obsession for Kerala. Last year on one of my regular visits to the state, I was introduced to a spice merchant and somehow ended up returning home with 10 kilos of spice at no cost and 1/2 kilo Keralan vanilla pods at a ridiculously low cost. I was so struck but it’s quality, heady aroma and complexed flavour, I fell back in love with the spice that I had previously taken for granted using Madagascan varieties. I still have a fair bit of vanilla left and amazingly the pods are still sticky, plump, flexible pods with an intense in flavour and aroma. 


Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 45-55 mins

Serves 8-10 

Ingredients:

For the cake

3 eggs, free range/organic 

75g unsalted butter, melted 

200gm vanilla caster sugar 

75g plain full fat yoghurt

200g plain flour, sieved

1tsp baking powder

2 unwaxed lemons, juice and zest

1 Keralan vanilla pod, seeds

For the icing:

80g icing sugar, sieved

1 lemon

1/2 Keralan vanilla pod seeds

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160c if fan assisted, or 170c without a fan.

Grease and line a 1 pound loaf tin.

In a bowl add the lemon juice, sugar and vanilla seeds mix with a spoon to dissolve the sugar. 

In a food mixer bowl add the eggs and whisk until a little fluffy, then add the sugar mix, melted butter and yoghurt, whisk again until combined.

Remove the bowl from the food processor and add the flour and baking powder, fold in gently with a metal spoon.

Pour the cake batter into the lined tin and cook in the oven for 45-55 minutes. Do the cake test with a skewer after 45 minutes, if it’s not clean, cook for a further 5-10 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin

In a bowl combine the icing sugar, vanilla and lemon juice, mix until smooth.

After 10 minutes pour the icing over the cake, while it’s still in the tin.

Leave the cake to cool completely then remove from the tin. 
Notes

If you would just like a lemon drizzle cake just leave out the vanilla.