Ginger and pistachio oat biscuits

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You know those times when you just do completely stupid things? Absentmindedly going about your business, then realising the major mistake you just made? I’m generally a fairly switched-on person, but the other day my brain was evidently on holidays.

It was Wednesday, and I was baking a belated birthday cake for my sister. It was a dairy-free version of this red wine pear, polenta and ricotta cake recipe (which was pretty rad), and I’d spent all day labouring over what to use instead of ricotta. Would tofutti do the trick? Or maybe I could make my own ricotta out of various strange ingredients? I decided on firm silken tofu, and was pretty stoked to find it was a brilliant substitute. Due to my recent quest to avoid processed foods, I had even made a special trip to the shops to buy nuttlex.

After several hours in the kitchen, I was pretty pleased with the results. Success! In the morning however, as I opened the microwave, I discovered 125g of re-solidified nuttlex in a glass jug. My heart sank a little as I realised that my brilliant culinary creation of the previous night was less than perfect, being deprived of a somewhat essential ingredient. On a more positive note, the cake suddenly seemed a little bit less unhealthy. Silver lining?

To make a long story short, I now had a jug of nuttlex without a use, and I don’t really use it much in baking anyway so I was a bit lost. But necessity is the mother of invention, and I was quite pleased to prove this adage to be true.

And here is the result! I took to the kitchen armed with my nuttlex and half a bag of Food Forest pistachios I had found in the cupboard, with a vague plan to make biscuits. Add in a little bit of inspiration from the August issue of Bona Food on making your own flour, and I was set. I can tell this one was a baking victory, as my family has been nibbling away all day. Hurrah!

Ginger and pistachio oat biscuits

Makes approximately 20 biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
125g margarine/butter/nuttlex, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios (approx)

Preheat oven to 180C, and line a tray with baking paper.

Blitz the oats in a food processor until it resembles flour. Place back in a measuring cup and add plain flour to make up 1 1/2 cups in total (- for me this was was about 3/4 cup plain flour).

Place flours in a large mixing bowl, and add baking powder, soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Chop pistachios and add them to the dry ingredients, then mix it all together with a whisk.

Add sugar to melted butter and mix together, then add to dry ingredients. Mix it all together with a spoon. Make 2-teaspoon sized balls of mixture, then flatten and place on prepared tray, leaving adequate space for them to spread. Bake for around 20 minutes, then allow to cool and harden up.

Yum!

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Ginger pumpkin brownies.

I wrote a post last year (here) about ginger pumpkin brownies. After posting a photo on facebook yesterday of some I baked for a friend, a few peeps have asked for the recipe. This is good because I really should have posted it in the first place. So thanks friends for the motivation!

This recipe comes courtesy of Frankie Magazine, via my wonderful friend Gail.

Though I have only ever made it using happy eggs (the kind that come from happy, useful and valued home chickens), I don’t doubt you could make the recipe vegan with your preferred egg replacement (mine is the chia egg).

I also replace butter with a non-dairy alternative; usually nuttlex, but I think coconut oil would work well too (virgin, NOT extra-virgin).

This recipe also has the greatest method for melting chocolate I have ever encountered. Such a win.

Happy baking, friends :)

Ginger pumpkin brownies

250g peeled, seeded pumpkin, chopped into chunks
250g butter (or alternative), diced
250g dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
3 eggs
250g caster sugar
150g wholemeal spelt flour – kind to wheat sensitive tummies (I just use regular wholemeal)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup crystallised ginger**, roughly chopped

**I think this is a pretty good recipe for crystallised ginger, but feel free to use whatever method you like.

Steam or boil the pumpkin until tender, then mash to a smooth puree. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a brownie pan (about 20cm x 30cm).

Put the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and melt gently by putting it into the warming oven. Keep an eye on it – t will take 5 – 10 minutes. This is a stress free, easy way of melting chocolate without having to worry about double boilers and the like. Let it cool slightly to room temperature.

Beat the eggs and sugar together until combined and thick, then beat in the cooled chocolate and butter. Add the pumpkin and stir to combine. Sift over the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and throw in ginger, then fold in gently. Don’t be too enthusiastic: you want it mixed, not beaten to death.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minuts. Timing is everything with brownies – you want them firm at the edges, but still slightly wobbly in the middle. Leave them in the tin to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack before cutting into bars or squares as you see fit.

Dust with icing sugar if you please.