When you’re in the mood for a serious piece of chocolate biscuit nothing fits the bill better than a slice of chocolate traybake. This chocolate peppermint slice recipe came about because my Mum had given me a pack of three Fry’s Peppermint Creams that she wasn’t going to use and I figured I’d be able to make something tasty with them.
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.
I love ginger. I think it’s such a variable spice. It adds a gorgeous fragrant, warming note to curries and noodle bowls while providing a delicious-tasting background heat. However, although I more than appreciate the merits of ginger in savoury recipes, I think ginger really comes into its own when used in sweet dishes. What would an autumnal bonfire night be without thick slabs of sticky gingerbread that are topped with a creamy spreading of real butter? Or a rainy October afternoon stuck inside the house while you watch black and white old movies with a steaming hot cup of builder’s tea and a couple of gingernut biscuits lying at its side? Sheer bliss.
I live in a small village called Cambusbarron which is in Stirling, Scotland. Every summer when the sun beats its rays down and encourages nature to bloom Cambusbarron is carpeted in tiny native wild Scottish strawberries, the majority of which grow no bigger than my pinkie nail, but are blessed with the perfect combination of sugary sweet and fruity tart flavours.
Last summer I took a walk up to the old quarry behind Cambusbarron and I was astonished to discover that these tiny wild strawberries completely covered the gravelled land on the approach to the water. I couldn’t put a foot down without stepping on them, so tightly and thickly were they spread across the ground.
This year we’ve cleared a lot of unnecessary trees and shrubs from our garden (well, my Dad has cleared them for me, to be honest!) and as a result wild strawberries have sprung up all over the garden. They’re beautiful plants, providing steady, long-lasting greenery that is dotted with bright crimson coloured tiny fruits. I certainly have no intention of getting rid of them, as I would with any other invasive plant life.
When I first started seeing them appearing in the garden I resolved that I would make something with them for the website and after giving it some thought I decided on strawberry shortcakes. The shortcakes are made of two pieces of crisp, buttery lemon shortbread biscuit that sandwich a rich smooth buttercream icing that is interspersed with the tiny wild strawberries from my garden and topped with a dot more buttercream and fresh baby mint leaves. You could just use slices of fresh strawberries though, if you’re not blessed with living in Cambusbarron.
I’m absolutely over the moon with this strawberry shortcake recipe and the shortbread it’s made from is most definitely now my favourite gluten-free biscuit recipe. The soft, smooth-textured cornflour makes the biscuits really crumbly while the butter adds a lovely crisp shortness to the overall crunch of them. You’d never in a million years believe they were gluten-free. As I optimistically said to my partner after I’d tried them for the first time, “Oh my God! They’re definitely going in the cookbook!”.
Ingredients for the shortbread biscuits:
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 cold salted butter (cubed)
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp cold water
Ingredients for the buttercream icing:
50g soft butter
110g icing sugar
2 tsps of rice milk
1 tsp lemon extract
Fresh mint leaves
Preheat your oven to 210C/190C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.
Lay greaseproof paper out onto two large baking trays.
Weigh the cornflour, gluten-free flour, icing sugar, lemon extract and butter into a large mixing bowl.
Rub the butter through all of the dry ingredients until it resembles fine sand. Add the water and mix until a smooth dough is formed.
Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for half an hour. (The cold temperature makes it easier to roll out.)
In the meantime make the buttercream by putting the icing ingredients into a jug and whisking together until light and airy. Place in a piping bag.
Once the shortcake dough is cold, use a rolling pin to roll it out on a floured surface until it is approximately 1/2 a centimetre thick. (I roll it out on floured greaseproof paper so it doesn’t stick to my work surface.)
Use a biscuit cutter to stamp out your biscuits and then lay them on the greaseproofed baking trays, leaving a generous gap between each.
Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 mins or until light golden brown.
Using a fish slice to lift gently them, lay the shortcakes on a cooling rack and scatter with caster sugar.
Once the shortcakes are cool, decorate the base with dots of the buttercream icing, strawberries and fresh mint leaves and then top them with another shortcake biscuit. Serve.