Vanilla chai biscuits.

A few years ago I travelled to India. Of all the things I brought back with me, possibly the coolest but least-useful items were wooden stamps.

On the odd occasion, I’ve felt really creative and dusted them off to create stamped gift cards or decorated book covers and such. But I have never been so excited when I thought of using them to stamp food. “Such genius!” I told myself, as my mind raced with possibilities.

I have to confess that stamping biscuits has quite possibly become my new favourite activity. I thought that a vanilla chai flavour would be quite fitting for the Indian stamps, though the flavour seems somewhat less important than the fact that these just look really cool! The biscuits themselves are flavoured with spices, with the vanilla flavour coming from the icing on their bottoms.

Might I suggest enjoying these with a cup of tea?

Vanilla chai biscuits

1 egg white
1 egg yolk
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup olive oil (or other oil)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
approx 10 cardamon seeds, ground (or a small pinch of ground cardamon)
1 tablespoon ginger powder
1 cup plain flour

1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
dash of water

Preheat oven to 180C.

Whisk the egg white until fluffy, then add in sugar. Whisk the yolk with the oil, then add to the egg white along with the spices.

Fold in the flour until combined.

Roll teaspoon-sized quantities of dough into balls, then space evenly on a lined baking tray. If you have a stamp, now is the time to get funky. Push the stamp into the balls of dough to flatten. If you don’t have a stamp, try using a fork or a spoon.

Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until solid and turning golden. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar, vanilla essence, and enough water to form a just-runny mixture (which will fall from a spoon, but not in a continuous stream).

Cool the biscuits briefly, then dip the base of each in an icing mixture. Allow to dry on a cooling rack. Tasty!




Chai kousa (dogwood) jam

Firstly, I realise this blog has been completely neglected for several months. I have often thought of the posts I could be making, but the practicality of travelling and blogging just wasn’t there. But I am back now, and I have an exciting culinary adventure to share!

I’ve been going for walks every morning since I’ve been home. It’s a fantastic way to start the day, and having the opportunity to observe the changing seasons around you is quite amazing. I recently noticed a peculiar looking fruit tree growing on the verge not far from home. Perplexed, I googled, but of course trying to find the name of a plant by searching “rough skinned fruit” is rather like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except you don’t know what a needle looks like. So I called upon the help facebook, and of course, it provided. I was informed that this strange fruit was a Cornus kousa or Korean Dogwood, and that yes, it is edible.

And so, I dragged my mother along with me to glean the fruit from the tree, in clear view of all traffic heading to the nearby town to buy their fruit from the supermarket. There was surprisingly little fruit in the end, but back at home I set about making jam. I had read that others had attempted to make jams and jellies from dogwood with varying levels of success. I have to admit that this is perhaps not as tasty as a rich raspberry or plum jam, but as an experiment, I am rather pleased with the results.

The taste of the kousa is very subtle, and when jammed, was a tad astringent (probably because I was using some unripe fruit). I decided this wasn’t going to be the most delicious conserve, so added some extra ingredients to spice it up a bit. Note that you would have to adjust the quantities depending on how much fruit you have, keeping the fruit and sugar in a 1:1 ratio (unless you’d like it less sweet – that’s okay too!) This recipe made 2 and a half large jars. Probably just enough I think, given that I still can’t determine whether eating this fruit is good or bad for you :)

Chai kousa (dogwood) jam

950g kousa, quartered
950g white sugar
1 stick cinnamon
0.5 – 1cm fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
5 cloves
3 cardamon pods, bruised

Place fruit and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until all sugar is melted and fruit softens. Add spices and ginger and continue stirring until liquid begins to boil.

Turn heat down to low, and simmer. Mash fruit with a masher to extract more juice, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.

To test when the jam is ready, place a teaspoon of liquid on a cold plate. If it’s ready, it should be pretty viscous and not spread far on the plate.

Next, separate the liquid from the solids (seeds, spices, skin) by pouring through a strainer, or loosely woven muslin. I only had a tiny strainer, so did this in batches.

The remnants...

Reheat the liquid, and pour into sterilised jars.