Biscuit Christmas Tree

Biscuit Christmas Tree by The Fat Foodie

The chatter about Christmas has been well upon us since the start of October, so it’s given me quite a lot of time to think about what I like to cook around Christmastime. I tend to always make a Christmas  cake at the end of November, albeit a FODMAP friendly version that’s very light on the dried fruit, but not everyone enjoys fruit cake so it’s nice to have an alternative to hand when people come to visit, such as this biscuit Christmas tree.

Initially, this bake might look complicated, but I can assure you, it really isn’t. It’s just layers of decorated biscuit that are stacked on top of one another. I cut my star templates out of different sizes of card and just cut out my biscuit shapes with a knife before transferring them onto a greaseproof-papered baking tray, but you can actually buy star-shaped biscuit cutters in varying sizes that will cut out the different sized biscuits to make this tree.

I really like the visual impact of this stunning biscuit Christmas tree which makes it a real dessert centre point for the dining table after a family meal, but it also tastes great too. The chocolate biscuits are generously decorated with rich dark chocolate, so you really feel as though you’re eating a proper chocolate biscuit and the fruity Skittle ‘baubles’ which adorn the tips of the tree’s ‘branches’ make every mouthful taste like fruity chocolate.

The additional Maltesers which hold each level of the tree up from one another also add a delicious crunch to the biscuit layers, but because Maltesers aren’t vegan you could use vegan marshmallows if you’d prefer. Also Maltesers aren’t gluten-free because they’re made from barley, so although you might get away with eating a couple if you’re on the low FODMAP diet, if you’re celiac you’ll need to use an alternative sweetie, such as marshmallows, to hold the biscuit levels up. Let’s not kid the troops, my friends, this biscuit Christmas tree isn’t the healthiest thing you could eat, but it’s certainly a lovely festive treat to have at Christmastime!

Ingredients:

200g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

100g custard powder

100g caster sugar

A pinch of salt

2 tbsps of cocoa powder

140g butter (or coconut oil)

1-2 tbsps water

For decoration:

100g dark chocolate

A bag of Skittles

A large bag of Maltesers (or vegan marshmallows)

Method:

Cut out six paper star templates, ranging from large to small and keep to one side. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Melt your butter and then simply put all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix it all together.

Add as much water as necessary to bring the mixture together into a firm dough and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Once the dough is cold, roll it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper until it is around half a centimetre thick.

Using your templates or star-shaped biscuit cutters, cut out your stars and place them on the baking trays. (You might need to re-roll the biscuit dough to get enough dough to cut out all of the stars.)

Important note! The biscuits are very delicate when they’re freshly baked, but they go hard once they’re cool, so leave them to completely cool down on the baking trays before you remove them.

Bake in the oven for 12-14 mins and then leave them to cool on the baking trays until they are completely cold.

Once they’re cold decorate them with melted chocolate and Skittles and place three Maltesers or vegan marshmallows in the centre of the five largest biscuits.

Once the chocolate has hardened, stack the biscuits on top of each other, from the largest to the smallest, and serve.

Biscuit Christmas Tree by The Fat Foodie

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Gingerbread People (makes 12-14)

Gingerbread People by The Fat Foodie

At Christmas time you can’t beat munching delicious gender-neutral biscuit gingerbread people. I just love the fragrant Christmassy warmth that ginger brings to biscuit dough. I might be a bit odd in this respect, but I don’t like my gingerbread to be really hard. There’s nothing worse than hurting your gums on a piece of overly-hard biscuit, so I much prefer a gentle, crumblier, but still robust biscuit texture. This is achieved by using custard powder in the mix, which also adds a vanilla flavour to the gingerbread people.

Gingerbread men date back centuries, to the extent that Elizabeth I served them to her guests way back in the 16th century, and their appeal has never waned. I like the fact that they’ve become synonymous with Christmas now though and I never fail to smile when I see them for sale.

However, they’re actually really easy to make yourself, requiring little more than mixing a biscuit dough, baking it and decorating the gingerbread people with whatever sweeties you fancy. I think they’re particularly great to bake with children because kids never fail to love making their own version of how they think the gingerbread people should look.

These gingerbread people are gluten-free and dairy-free and they’re delicious. They have just the right amount of ginger in them and their texture is not too hard, but delightfully crisp. I chose to decorate mine with dark chocolate because I’m a chocolate fiend, but you can just use icing sugar if you’d prefer, and you can top them with whatever sweeties you think will work best. They’re just the perfect little people for biting the heads off.

Ingredients:

200g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

100g custard powder

1 tsp xanthan gum

70g brown sugar

30g golden syrup

A pinch of salt

1 tbsp of dried ginger

140g coconut oil (or butter)

1-2 tbsps water

For decoration:

100g dark chocolate or icing

Sweeties, such as gum drops or Smarties (I used Skittles)

Method:

Have a gingerbread person cutter at hand and keep to one side.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6 and put greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

Melt your coconut oil and then simply put all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix it all together.

Add as much water as is necessary to bring the mixture together into a dough and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Once the dough is cold, roll it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper until it is around half a centimetre thick.

Cut out your gingerbread people and place them on the baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 12-14 mins and then leave them to cool on the baking tray until they are completely cold.

Once they’re cold decorate them with piped melted chocolate (disposable piping bags are really useful) or icing and sweeties.

Gingerbread People by The Fat Foodie

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Empire Biscuits (makes 14)

Empire Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

Empire biscuits are very popular in Britain, particularly in Scotland, but they actually originated in Germany and were known as ‘Linzer biscuits’ and ‘Deutsch biscuits’. After World War One, in Britain their name was changed to ‘Empire biscuits’ and that’s how they’ve stayed ever since. In Ireland instead of serving them topped with a glacé cherry they decorate theirs with a sprinkling of desiccated coconut, which I think sounds delicious!

Empire biscuits are a great low FODMAP biscuit option because their structure is comprised of  shortbread (which is really easy to make gluten-free and remains tasty) and the toppings are FODMAP friendly too, so you can’t go wrong with them really. Also, if a single halved glacé cherry would cause you issues then you could use the desiccated coconut option to decorate them instead.

I added a teaspoon of lemon extract to my biscuit dough because I think that the sharp, zingy lemon oil provides a delicious contrast with the sweet taste of the strawberry jam, but it’s entirely optional and if you choose to leave it out of your empire biscuits they won’t suffer in the taste department at all.

These low FODMAP empire biscuits are very easy to make and don’t require much time at all to produce, but they’re very rewarding in taste due to their crisp, sweet, buttery shortbread rounds that are generously sandwiched between good quality strawberry jam and topped with soft, sweet icing sugar. It’s no wonder they’re so popular throughout the country!

Ingredients for the biscuits:

100g cornflour

150g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

95g icing sugar

125g butter (or non-dairy alternative)

1 tsp lemon extract (optional)

2 tbsps cold water

To decorate:

Strawberry jam

100g icing sugar

7 halved glacé cherries (or desiccated coconut)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper and have a rolling pin and a round biscuit cutter at hand.

Place all of the biscuit ingredients (except the water) in a mixing bowl and rub the ingredients together until it has the texture of fine sand.

Add the water and form a smooth dough.

Roll the biscuit dough out on a clean work surface and cut out an even number of biscuits.

Place the biscuits on a greaseproofed baking tray and bake them in the oven for 12-15 mins or until they are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Put your icing sugar in a small bowl and add a little water at a time to make a thick icing for decorating your biscuits.

Once the biscuits are cool, spread strawberry jam onto half of the biscuits and coat the other half of the biscuits in icing sugar and top them with either a glacé cherry or a sprinkling of desiccated coconut.

Once the icing has set, sandwich the biscuits together and serve.

Empire Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

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Langues de Chat Biscuits (makes 16)

Langues de Chat Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

A few weeks ago I was having a leisurely mooch in TK Maxx’s kitchen and homeware department when I came across this interesting baking tray that was priced at £1. I couldn’t resist that bargain because I could think of a number of uses for it, so I bought it and brought it home.

A Langues de Chat Baking Tray

I didn’t know what the baking tray was intended for, but I’m a member of a great Facebook group called The Cook’s Community Forum so I posted a photo of the baking tray up in the group and asked if anyone knew what its true purpose was. I couldn’t believe the number of responses it got, with over 90 people chiming in with their opinions! Quite a few said it was for baking eclairs, but the vast majority (most of whom tended to be professional chefs) said it was for making French Langues de Chat biscuits, aka Cat’s Tongue biscuits.

Although the name might not sound particularly appetising let me firmly assure you that the biscuits themselves most certainly are! Langues de chat biscuits are soft egg and butter based bakes that fall somewhere in the middle between a sponge and a biscuit. They’re very light and go wonderfully with a cuppa. One Langues de Chat biscuit is a low FODMAP serving portion.

Langues de chat biscuits take no time at all to make and they bake very fast too, so they’re ideal for creating in a hurry. You might not want to go to the expense of buying a Langues de Chat biscuit mould (you could use any shaped baking tray you fancied really), but I’d really recommend it because it ensures that your bakes come out in the perfect shape. You could also dip each end in melted chocolate if you would like to make them fancier, but whether you serve them plain or decorated, they’re a delicious treat.

Ingredients:

250g unsalted butter

250g sugar

8 egg whites

350g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/170°C Fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and grease and flour your Langues de Chat mould.

Measure your butter, sugar and vanilla into a mixing bowl and, using an electric whisk, cream it together until it is pale and fluffy.

Add the flour and mix again.

Whisk your egg whites in a jug until they are firm and then fold the egg whites into the biscuit mixture.

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the mixture into your moulds. (I use disposable piping bags and it makes life a lot easier!) If you’re just using a baking tray, line it with greaseproof paper or a silicone mat and pipe 7cm strips of the biscuit mixture onto the tray, leaving a generous gap between each because they will spread.

Bake the langues de chat in the oven for about 10 mins or until the biscuits are just lightly golden brown. Leave to cool and then serve.

Langues de Chat Biscuits by The Fat Foodie

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American Pancakes

American Pancakes by The Fat Foodie

Sometimes on a Sunday morning it’s nice to push the boat out and make something for breakfast that’s a bit more time consuming than usual, but well worth it in terms of taste. For me, American pancakes fall into that category. I could eat pancakes any time of the day, any day of the week, but they are a bit of a faff-on to make from scratch because of the time it takes to cook them. However, these American pancakes take no time at all thanks to being able to chuck all of the ingredients into a jug and whisk them together before simply frying them.

I made my American pancakes with brown gluten-free flour and they turned out really well, with none of the dryness that so often accompanies that type of flour. The pancakes came out of the frying pan nice and fluffy and bouncy, just as you’d expect from an American pancake made with normal wheat flour.

Due to the fact that it was Sunday I felt it was essential to serve these pancakes with crisp rashers of bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup, but I also chopped up some ripe fruit and served it on the side. It’s all about balance, right?  😉

If you fancy making yourself a treat for breakfast I’d highly recommend these American pancakes. You can serve them however you like, the chopped fresh fruit with vanilla yogurt was a delicious option, but my favourite topping was the smoked bacon rashers which were crisped up under the grill and then perched atop my pancake stack and were liberally coated in real Canadian maple syrup. It’s heaven on a plate really.

Ingredients:

200g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)

1 tsp baking powder

40g sugar

2 eggs

150ml rice milk

Butter or vegetable oil (for frying the pancakes)

Method:

Put all of your ingredients into a jug and use an electric whisk (or some serious elbow grease) to mix it all together. Leave the mix to rest for 10 mins.

Put your pancake pan or frying pan on a medium heat and add a tsp of butter or a dash of oil and let it heat up.

Once it’s hot, add 3-4 tbsps of pancake mixture into the centre of your pancake pan or frying pan and let it cook. Once a lot of bubbles have begun to appear on the top of your pancake you can gently flip it over to cook the other side.

Cook your pancakes until they are golden brown and then remove them from the pancake pan or frying pan and keep them warm in the oven until you’ve finished booking the whole batch.

Serve with crispy bacon, maple syrup, fruit, yogurt etc.

American Pancakes by The Fat Foodie

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