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Biscotti

Every home should permanently have a jar of Biscotti in the kitchen! Best biscuits ever to nibble or dunk in coffee or as the Italians do, in sherry or wine! Thanks to the clever Italians!
New style biscotti are light, crisp and irresistible and have gained popularity worldwide! These Italian “biscuits” were traditionally hard and dry and to become palatable, they were dipped into dessert wine or after dinner cappuccino. Currently many delightful variations are made which can be nibbled on as is, at any time of the day! And best of all, they are not difficult to make at home!

Continue reading Biscotti

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Romany Creams

Once you have tasted this home-made version of these classic cookies, you will always ensure that you bake and stock up on them for holidays, etc.

250 g Stork bake margarine
250 ml/210 g castor sugar
500 ml/280 g cake flour
5 ml baking powder
60 ml cocoa powder
375 ml/120 g desiccated coconut
2.5 ml salt
5 ml vanilla essence
15 ml milk

Filling
100 g dark/milk chocolate

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 ℃.
  2. Line baking trays with Wizbake baking sheets or grease with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the batter hook.  Mix until the dough holds together.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes until the biscuits have spread out slightly and are just firm.
  5. Cool the biscuits on the baking trays until firm and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the chocolate filling, break the chocolate into a bowl and place over the steam of simmering water to melt or cover and microwave on MEDIUM for 1 to 2 minutes or until completely soft if tested with the tip of a teaspoon.
  7. Sandwich the cookies together with the chocolate and place on a cooling rack until completely set.

30 sandwiched biscuits.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster, Art of Cooking recipe book, p. 735.

romanycreams

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Ginger Biscuits

These crisp and spicy biscuits are equally good with the last cup of after-dinner coffee of dipped in a glass of milk.   This recipe is egg and lactose free for those with allergies.  I doubled the recipe as I know the cookie jar won’t stay full for long!

370 g butter, room temperature
200 ml sugar
125 ml golden syrup
10 ml vanilla essence
10 ml ground cinnamon
5 ml ground cloves
15 ml ground ginger
5 ml grated nutmeg
10 ml bicarb of soda
560 g/1000 ml cake flour
150 ml extra sugar

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix until the dough holds together.
  2. Remove from the bowl and knead lightly by hand until quite smooth.
  3. Roll the dough into a neat log about 40 mm in diameter. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Alternatively, gather the dough into a ball and cover it with cling wrap or place it in a ziplock bag and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to bake, remove the dough log from the fridge and slice it into thin biscuits about 5 mm thick.
  6. Press both sides of the biscuits into the extra sugar before placing it 20 mm on a baking tray lined with a Wizbake baking sheet.
  7. If using the dough ball, remove it from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes or until it is soft enough to handle.  Roll the dough out thinly and cut into fancy shapes with floured cookie cutters.  Re-roll the excess dough and cut out again until all the dough is used.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C and bake the biscuits 12 to 15 minutes or until cracked, dry and an attractive golden brown colour. Do not over-bake the biscuits as the flavour and appearance will be impaired.  The biscuits will become firm after cooling.
  9. Life the biscuits off the baking trays with a spatula and allow to cool on a cooling rack before storing it in an airtight container.

50 to 100 biscuits, depending on size

Recipe by Carolié de Koster’s Art of Cooking recipe book p. 734.

Art of Cooking - Ginger biscuits-p. 734

GingerbreadMen

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Mexican Wedding Cookies

Fancy festive Mexican biscuits made for special occasions.

250 g/250 ml butter, slightly softened
100 g/125 ml sugar
280 g/500 ml cake flour
5 ml ground cinnamon
7 ml vanilla essence
± 15 ml water
100 g/250 ml pecan nuts, coarsely chopped
± 125 ml icing sugar to coat

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C and line 2 large baking trays and with Wizbake baking sheets.
  2. Place the butter or margarine and sugar in a mixing bowl and  beat until creamed.
  3. Add the flour, cinnamon, vanilla and nuts and mix until a dough is formed, adding a few drops water as necessary to bind the dough.
  4. Break off walnut size portions of dough and roll into little ropes as thick as a little finger and with slightly tapered ends. Form into crescents and place onto baking trays.
  5. Alternatively, roll into walnut-sized balls.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. Cool until firm and dust and coat with icing sugar.
  8. Store in airtight containers for up to a month.

Makes about 24 biscuits, depending on size.

Variation
Place sesame seeds onto a shallow plate, coat the balls with seeds and roll between the palms of the hands into little ropes before placing them onto baking trays.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

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Florentines

A Florentine biscuit is a French pastry that is erroneously attributed to Italian cuisine. The Florentine was first made in France at the Palace of Versailles by the king’s top pastry chefs for visiting in-laws, the Medici family of Florence.  Due to these close ties to Florence, it is not surprising that the French named this popular delicacy after the capital of Tuscany, Italy.  Florentines are made of nuts (most typically hazel and almond) and candied cherries mixed with sugar or honey and butter and baked in the oven.  They are often coated on the bottom with chocolate. Other types of candied fruit are used as well.  This recipe is a simplified version of authentic florentines.

200 g flaked almonds, toasted or 100 g each flaked almonds and hazelnuts
30 g butter, melted
2 large egg whites or 60 ml cream
100 g icing sugar
30 ml cake flour
60 ml red or green glacé cherries, finely chopped (optional)
60 ml raisins (optional)

Garnish
100 g white, milk or dark chocolate, melted

  1. Toast the almonds in a dry pan on a medium heat until light brown.  Watch them carefully as they burn very easily!  Transfer the almonds to a plate to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with Wizbake baking sheets.
  3. Combine the butter, egg whites, icing sugar and flour in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  4. Add the glace cherries and/or raisins if used, as well as the toasted almonds and mix well.
  5. Spoon 20 to 30 heaps of batter onto the baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden. Set the baking trays aside to allow the biscuits to harden and cool completely.
  7. Serve as is or brush melted chocolate on the underside of the biscuits.  Use a fork and make a wavy line on each biscuit.  Alternatively drizzle melted chocolate over the biscuits.  Set the biscuits aside until the chocolate has set.
  8. Store the biscuits in an airtight container between layers of baking paper to prevent sticking.

16 to 20 biscuits.
Florentines

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Flourless Peanut Butter Biscuits

Also known as “miracle” cookies, these cookies only have three ingredients, are quick to make and they are also gluten-free.

2 large eggs
5o0 ml sugar
500 ml peanut butter, smooth or crunchy is good
2.5 ml vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 º C and line two baking trays with Wizbake baking sheets.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the peanut butter and mix until quite smooth.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough into small balls and place it onto the baking tray allowing room for spreading.
  6. Use a fork and press a pattern onto the biscuits.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool a few minutes on the tray before placing onto a cooling rack.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

24 cookies.

Peanut-ButterBiscuits

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Gluten-free Biscotti With Brazil Nuts

These light and delicious biscuits are trendy and nutritious. Enjoy as is or dip in coffee or sweet dessert wine such as sherry as the Italians do!

1 cup (250 ml) Brazil nuts (see Note)
½ cup (125 ml) egg white (4 -5)
¾ cup /150 g (175 ml) sugar
½ tsp (2.5 ml) vanilla essence
¾ cup (185 ml) gluten free flour
pinch salt

  1. Line the base and sides of a loaf tin (280 x 110 x 65 mm or 225 x 125 x 80 mm) with baking paper and grease well with butter or cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the balloon whisk and beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add the sugar gradually and whip until thick and glossy as for meringue. Beat in the vanilla essence.
  4. Add the flour, salt and nuts and fold in very lightly with the whisk or a large spoon only until combined with the egg white. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake about 25 minutes or until firm and golden. Cool, loosen, turn out and cool completely.
  5. Preheat the oven to 100°C.
  6. Slice the loaf with an electric or sharp serrated knife into 5 mm slices and arrange flat on a baking tray.
  7. Return to the oven and dry out for about 20 minutes, turning over once until crisp and dry.
  8. Place a spoon in the door if necessary to keep it slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Cool and store in airtight containers.

About 30 biscotti, depending on size.

Note  The nuts used may be one kind only or a mixture of 2 to 3 kinds. This may include blanched almonds, shelled toasted pistachio nuts (salt rubbed off if salted) toasted and shelled hazelnuts or unsalted cashew nuts or pecan nuts.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.

BrazilNutBiscotti

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Brazil Nut and Cherry Rusks

A baked sponge base is cut into fingers and dried out (biscotti-style) to make delicious but no too sweet spongy biscuits to nibble on or dip into tea or coffee.

4 large eggs
1 cup (250 ml) white sugar
½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt
2 cups (500 ml) cake flour
1 Tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
1/3 cup (75 ml) brazil nuts cut up into slivers
1/3 cup (75 ml ) red glace cherries, finely chopped
½ cup (125 ml) sunflower or light olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a large baking tray (± 38 x 28 cm) with baking paper and grease well with butter or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Beat together the eggs, sugar and salt very well for at least 5 minutes until thick and pale yellow.
  3. Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, nuts and cherries over the mixture and beat gently just until combined.
  4. Add the oil, water and flavouring and mix lightly.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, spread evenly and bake about 20 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
  6. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and cut into± 3 cm wide strips lengthwise and then crosswise into fingers ± 7 cm in length.
  7. Arrange the biscotti slightly apart onto baking trays and dry out for about  3 hours at 100 ºC until crisp and dry.
  8. Place a spoon in the oven door to keep it ajar and allow moisture to escape while drying.
  9. Cool and store airtight.

Makes approx 60 sponge fingers (± 3 cm x 8 cm)

Recipe by Carolie de Koster.

Brazil nut and cherry biscotti fingers

 

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Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Rusks

The simplicity of the method for these outstanding rusks is most appealing.

1 kg self-raising flour
100 g / 125 ml sugar
5 ml salt
100 g/175 ml chocolate chips OR 1 x 100 g slab of chocolate, coarsely chopped
100 g macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs
750 ml cream
± 250 ml additional buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C and grease 2 loaf tins (26 cm) generously with butter. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
  2. Beat together the eggs and 750 ml cream and reserve 30 ml to glaze the rusks.
  3. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and mix lightly while adding enough of the remaining cream or buttermilk to form a dough which is just comfortable to handle –  neither firm nor soft.
  4. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead lightly for a few minutes until smooth.  Pinch off golf-ball size portions, roll into slightly elongated shapes and pack in neat rows, just touching comfortably into the greased tins.
  5. Mix the reserved egg and cream with a little extra water and brush over the tops of the rusks to glaze.
  6. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and firm and a metal skewer comes out clean if inserted into the centre of the baked loaf.
  7. Cool in the tins for a few minutes and turn out carefully onto a cooling rack.  Turn over and cool at least 2 hours before separating into rusks with the tongs of a fork – for a natural appearance.
  8. Pack loosely on baking trays and dry out in the oven at 60 °C for 5to 6 hours with a spoon positioned in such a way that the door remains slightly open while drying to allow moisture to escape. When quite dry, cool and pack in airtight containers to store for up to a month.

Makes about 100 average rusks.

Note Turn down the heat slightly if the top browns too much or too soon and cover loosely with aluminium foil.

Variations 

Plain rusks
Omit nuts and chocolate, use 200 g / 250 ml sugar and add 10 ml aniseed if preferred.

Seeded Rusks
Omit chocolate and nuts, use 200g / 250 ml sugar and add ± 250 ml combined  seeds (sesame, poppy, sunflower and linseeds) to the dry ingredients.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.

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Bran Rusks With Nuts, Seeds & Fruit

Start the day with these crunchy, tasty, health rusks. Dunk into tea or coffee or use to nibble on at any time of the day.

1½ – 2 cups (375 – 500ml) sugar
4 ½ cups (1,125ml) cake flour
4 ½ cups (1,125ml) digestive bran
2 tbsp (30ml) baking powder
1 ½ tsp (7,5ml) salt
¼ – ½ cup (60 – 125ml) seedless raisins (optional
1 cup (250ml) sunflower seeds
½ cup (125ml) pumpkin seeds
½ cup (125ml) linseeds and / or sesame seeds
½ cup (125ml) coarsely chopped nuts such as brazils, pecans or walnuts
400 g butter or margarine, melted but not hot
2 tsp (10ml) bicarbonate of soda
¼ cup (60ml) vinegar
1½ cups (625ml) milk

  1. Grease a large roasting dish (40 x 30 cm) with butter or margarine and pre-heat the oven to 180 ºC.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
  3. Mix the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and add to the dry ingredients together with the melted butter. Mix well and turn out into the oven baking tray.
  4. Bake the rusks about 45 minutes or until firm to the touch and nicely browned but not too dark or dry.
  5. Allow to cool a few minutes before cutting into fingers.
  6. Pack slightly apart onto a baking tray and place into the oven with the door slightly open to allow moisture to escape. Keep the door open with a spoon if necessary.
  7. Dry out the rusks in a very cool oven set between 70 ºC for 5 to 6 hours or until completely dry.
  8. Store in airtight containers.

Makes about 50 rusks depending on size.

The rusks in the photo below are ready to be cut into fingers.  It was made with a halved recipe in a large bread pan (40 cm x 12 cm).

Nutty Bran & Seed Rusks

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Sunflower, Oat & Cranberry Biscuits

A delicious nut-free biscuit that is definitely worth a try!

125 g butter, room temperature
125 ml honey
1 extra large egg
2.5 ml vanilla essence
500 ml oats
250 ml wholewheat flour/Nutty Wheat
2.5 ml bicarbonate of soda
2.5 ml cinnamon
A pinch of salt
180 ml Montagu cranberries
250 ml Montagu sunflower seeds
90 g white chocolate, melted

  1. Beat together the butter and honey for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 more minute or until smooth.
  3. Combine oats, flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Add the cranberries and sunflower seeds and mix until well combined.
  5. Shape into walnut sized balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Use a fork to flatten slightly.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 175°C for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.
  7. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
  8. Drizzle with melted chocolate and set aside until the chocolate has set.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 30

Variations:

  • Use chopped apricots or pears instead of cranberries
  • Drizzle with dark chocolate instead of white chocolate.

montagu 009

Recipe and photo supplied by Montagu Dried Fruit & Nuts.

 

 

 

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Pecan & Apricot Shortbread

The addition of fruit and nuts in this recipe makes this shortbread extra tasty!

250 g butter, room temperature
250 ml icing sugar
125 ml corn flour
1 extra large egg yolk
2.5 ml vanilla essence
625 ml cake flour
5 ml baking powder
A pinch of salt
100 g Montagu royal apricots, finely chopped
100 g Montagu pecan nuts, finely chopped
Icing sugar for dusting

  1. Use an electric hand mixer and beat the butter until light in colour.
  2. Sift the icing sugar and corn flour together. Add little by little to the butter and beat well after each addition.
  3. Add the egg yolk and vanilla essence and blend in.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  5. Add to the butter mixture together with the apricots and pecan nuts and mix until well combined.
  6. Press mixture together to form a ball of dough. Refrigerate to firm.
  7. Roll into small balls and place on baking sheets lined with baking paper.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
  10. Dust with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 60

Variations: Use almonds instead of pecan nuts and chopped nectarines or figs instead of apricots.

montagu 003

Recipe and photo supplied by Montagu Dried Fruit & Nuts.

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Almond Cantucinni/Biscotti

Enjoy as is or dip in coffee or sweet dessert wine such as sherry as the Italians do!

200 g raw almonds
100 g butter, room temperature
375 ml sugar
3 large eggs
2.5 ml vanilla extract
5 ml baking powder
2.5 ml salt
600 ml cake flour (you might need a little less or more)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with a Wizbake baking sheet.
  2. Dry-fry the almonds in a single layer in a saucepan for a few minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer in a large mixing bowl.  Set it aside.
  4. Add the eggs and essence to the mixing bowl and mix well.
  5. Add the baking powder, salt, almonds and about two cups of the flour and mix well.  The dough should be the consistency of play dough.  Only add more flour if necessary.
  6. Transfer the dough to the baking tray and flatten the dough with floured hands or a spatula  to a thickness of 1 cm.
  7. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the dough is golden and just beginning to crack on top.
  8. Remove from the oven, and using a serrated knife, slice into individual biscuits on the diagonal, about 1.5 cm thick.
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 100°C.
  10. Place cut side up back onto the baking tray, return it to the oven and dry out for about 40 minutes, turning over once, until crisp and dry.
  11. Place a spoon in the door if necessary to keep it slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape.
  12. Cool and store in airtight containers.

Variation
The nuts used may be one kind only or a mixture of 2 – 3 kinds of natural nuts which may include almonds, pistachio nuts, Brazil nuts, cashew or pecan nuts.  Or use chocolate chips!

AlmondBiscotti2

AlmondBiscotti

 

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Wheat-free Rusks or Biscotti

This light and delicious sponge base can be baked as sponge cake layers, as cup cakes or cut into fingers and dried out to make low-fat rusks or biscotti-style biscuits.  Add any typical  ingredients to flavour the biscotti. A combination of 75 ml chopped pecan nuts or sunflower seeds and red cherries makes a delicious biscuit cum rusk.      

2 large eggs
125 ml sugar
2 ml salt
2 ml vanilla essence
200 ml self-raising rice flour
50 ml oil
125 ml boiling water
100 ml flaked almonds, toasted and roughly chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.  Grease a 28 x 20 cm ovenproof dish or a Swiss roll style tin well with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar, salt and essence in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer until pale yellow and spongy.
  3. Combine the rice flour and baking powder in a second mixing bowl and add it to the egg mixture.  Mix only until combined.
  4. Add the oil and water and stir to make a runny batter.
  5. Pour the prepared batter into the prepared dish or tin and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
  6. Set aside to cool in the tin before transferring it to a cutting board.  Cut into fingers with a serrated or electric knife.
  7. Dry the rusks or biscotti out in the oven at 60 ºC for 3 to 4 hours.  Set aside to cool and store in an airtight container.

Makes about 30 fingers.

Notes
You can also use 200 ml rice flour and 10 ml baking powder if you cannot find self-raising rice flour.

——-

 

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Best-ever Buttermilk Rusks

A delightful recipe for a light, soft-crumbed rusk, passed down through the generations.  Good to enjoy any time of day – as is or South African style, dipped into tea or coffee!

1 kg cake flour
300 g/375 ml sugar
7,5 ml salt
15 bicarb of soda
15 ml aniseed (optional)
250 g butter (room temperature)
500 ml buttermilk (room temperature)
3 large eggs, (room temperature)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Grease two medium-large baking trays (40 x 28cm) generously with butter.
  2. Place the flour, sugar, salt, aniseed if used and butter in a large mixing bowl and rub together lightly until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Combine the buttermilk and eggs and add to a well in the dry ingredients.  Mix well with both hands until a smooth soft dough is formed.
  4. Divide the dough between the tins and press evenly into the tins or roll with a floured rolling pin.  Cut into fingers.
  5. Bake at 180°C for about 20 – 25 minutes or until lightly browned and firm if tested with the fingertips. Take care not to bake until too dark brown or too dry.
  6. Remove from the oven, cool a while and cut through the dividing lines into fingers.
  7. Lift out and place onto a baking tray, slightly apart.
  8. Dry out in the oven (with a spoon placed into the oven door if necessary to allow moisture to evaporate) at 60 – 80 °C for 5 – 6 hours or until completely dried out.
  9. Cool and store in airtight containers.

Makes about 100 rusks depending on the size of the rusks fingers.

Variations

Chocolate Chip / Nutty Chocolate Chip Rusks
Add about 250 ml – 500 ml chocolate chips or chocolate vermicelli or 250 ml of each chocolate chips and chopped pecans, cashews or mixed nuts to the dough – with or without the aniseed as preferred. For  a hint of spiciness add 3 ml cinnamon as well.

Light Bran Rusk Fingers
Replace the self-raising flour with bran rich self-raising flour.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from Art Of Cooking page 723.

Best Ever Buttermilk Rusks p. 723
Best Ever Buttermilk Rusks p. 723
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Cinnamon & Sesame Crescent Biscuits

These biscuits are good to nibble at any time of the day but also ideal to use as “saucer” biscuits with good coffee or tea.

1 cup (250 ml) ground almonds
½ cup (125 ml) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) cake flour or gluten free flour
¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cinnamon
½ cup (125 ml/125 g) butter (room temperature)
1 tsp (2.5 ml) almond or vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
a little extra flour
± ½ cup (125 ml) sesame seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC and line two baking trays with Wizbake baking sheets.
  2. Combine the almonds, sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and add the butter, almond or vanilla extract and egg.
  3. Mix and knead, adding a little extra flour as necessary to make the dough firm enough to handle. Pinch of small portions (about 24 walnut size) of dough and roll into balls.
  4. Place sesame seeds onto a shallow plate, coat the balls with seeds and roll between the palms of the hands into cylindrical shapes about 5 cm long.  Add more seeds if necessary.
  5. Place the biscuits side by side onto the baking tray, twist into crescents and bake about 20 minutes or until firm and golden brown.
  6. Cool a few minutes before placing onto a cooling rack to cool.

Makes about 24 biscuits, depending on size.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster.

SesameCrescents