Mint & Chocolate Shortbread Biscuits

Mint and Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Mint and chocolate are a classic combination, and here they meet in a crumbly and buttery shortbread biscuit. Oh my!

This time I only used dark chocolate when garnishing the biscuits, and added some mint extract to the chocolate. Plain chocolate would work just fine too, and the addition of white chocolate would be wonderful. Prettier! Even more chocolate!

Mint & Chocolate Shortbread Biscuits (30-36 biscuits)

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons peppermint extract (or mint extract)
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
green food colouring, to taste (or to sight, really!)

For garnishing:
dark chocolate
white chocolate
peppermint or mint extract (optional)

Cream together the butter and the caster sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg. Stir in the peppermint extract.
In another bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add to the sugar mixture; stir to combine.
Add food colouring until the dough turns the desired shade of green, a drop or two at a time, mixing well. (If your food colouring is anything like mine, you will likely use several drops – I think I ended up with close to a teaspoon! So feel free to add 2-3 drops on the first round. :-) )
Roll the dough into a log: the diameter of the log will be the diameter of your cookies. To get about 30 cookies, you should aim for a log 4-5 cm in diameter. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 200 C. Line cookie sheets with baking paper.
Slice the log into 0,5-1 cm slices and place slices on cookie sheets.
Bake for 7-9 minutes in the preheated oven, or until just getting lightly golden at the edges. (A bit tricky to gauge as the biscuits are green, so you might want to bake a test biscuit first!)
Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
When the biscuits have cooled, melt chocolate (and mix in a few drops of peppermint extract, if using).
Drizzle the biscuits with the melted white and/or dark chocolate – or dunk half of each biscuit in chocolate, or cover the entire biscuit with dark chocolate and drizzle some white chocolate on top, or vice versa. Whatever takes your fancy!

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So What IS My Excuse?

Soo, a bunch of fitness females have taken to posting pictures of their six-packs and tight buttocks with the accusatory caption “What’s your excuse?” superimposed on them (and some of them have even made little humans, all by themselves, and added them to the picture, because it makes these women even more remarkable! Squee!). Because, as you know, absolutely everyone in the world is actually dying to have abs like that and the thing stopping them is the fact that they are lazy, fat gits who make up excuses. (I’m also almost equally amused by those people who call this “fat shaming” –as if the only alternative to this is being horribly overweight. Oy.)


Dear fit darlings, I’m not sure how to put this politely so I’m going to be blunt (it’s not as if you are the embodiment of tact either). I would not want to look like you. I’m sorry, but to me the whole sculpted, defined muscle thing makes people look like balloon animals. I understand it’s the result of hard work and discipline and goes with the territory if you’re seriously into sports and fitness, and I totally respect that. But, for Pete’s sake, even you have to understand that you’re taking it to the extreme and that it is entirely possible to be fit and healthy without looking like a balloon animal. You’re effectively trying to make people feel guilty for not being you. I have absolutely no idea in which alternative reality this would be considered inspirational.


Let’s make this simple. We’re all different and we all make choices based on what interests us and what is important to us. Our choices become our actions and decisions regarding where we invest our time and energy. As surprising as it might seem to these fitness fanatics, evaluating the state of my arse in the mirror on a daily basis does not even make my Top 100 list of Things To Care About In This Life. There are books to read, rants to write, cats to rescue, cakes to bake: all this and a myriad of other things are more interesting to me than the general appearance of my arse, or indeed, abdomen.


It’s not an excuse. It’s a choice. Now go and be happy with your choice, your muscles and fitness and remarkable self-discipline, and quit being a judgmental, condescending ass.


If you’ll excuse me, I shall now go and produce a picture of a smug woman holding a PhD certificate with the text “What’s your excuse?” superimposed on it, and see how that goes down.


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Caramel Apple Muffins

These humble looking muffins are hands down the most delicious apple recipe I made this autumn. This butterscotch-flavoured muffin, chock full of apple bits, contains an extra treat: a caramel heart. It took a few tries to perfect the recipe – turns out that if the caramel sauce is not thick enough, it will just melt into the batter, for example! But, all is well that ends well, and I very much enjoyed eating all the previous versions of this recipe too!

I suppose one could play with frostings to make the muffins prettier, but they’re so rich and good as-is that I never got around to trying a frosting with them.


Caramel Apple Muffins (12 muffins)

Caramel sauce:
7 tablespoons heavy cream (100 ml – or 1/2 cup minus 1 tbls)
7 tablespoons brown sugar (100 ml – or 1/2 cup minus 1 tbls)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup or treacle
1 ¼ cups buttermilk (or equal parts milk and plain yogurt)
90 g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1 ½ cups chopped apples

To make caramel sauce: Place cream, sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Bring gently to boil, stirring. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes.

You want a thick sauce – but keep in mind that the sauce thickens further as it cools and you want end to up with spoonable goo, not a solid lump (I did that once! ;-) )! Drag a spoon across the bottom of the pan: you should be able to see the bottom for a second or so before the thickened mixture closes in on itself and covers the bottom again.

When the sauce is ready, remove from heat and mix in vanilla. Allow to cool.
To make muffins:
Preheat oven to 220 C. Prepare a 12-hole muffin pan: either grease or line with muffin liners.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla sugar.
In another bowl, combine brown sugar, treacle, buttermilk, melted butter and egg.
Pour wet mixture on top of the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
Fold in chopped apples.
Drop a heaping tablespoonful of the batter in each hole of the muffin pan. Using a teaspoon, fashion a little “nest” in the batter for the caramel sauce in each muffin. Divide the caramel sauce between the muffins.
Top with the remaining batter. Try to make sure that the batter covers the caramel sauce – it might still bubble out of a few of the muffins so consider protecting the bottom of your oven! My caramel sauce has only ever spread across the muffin pan, but it never hurts to be prepared, eh?
Place muffin pan in the preheated oven and lower oven temperature to 180 C. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden and test done.

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Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

A very, very rich chocolate cheesecake – like a dark chocolate truffle! Use high-quality, high-cocoa chocolates for this one and I guarantee that you will not miss the frosting. A little piece goes a long way!

As a side note, I couldn’t use by far the best photo I took, because there was a cat hair sticking out of the cake in that one. Oy. The joys of cooking with cats. ;-) So here is a runner-up photo, sans the feline touch!



Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Bars (24-32 bars)


350 g vanilla cream filled chocolate biscuits
90 g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt

225 g bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt’s 80% cocoa)
225 g semisweet chocolate (53% cocoa in this one for me)
450 g cream cheese, softened (at room temperature)
315 ml white granulated sugar
200 g sour cream (at room temperature)
4 large eggs (at room temperature)

Preheat oven to 175 C. Line a 23 cm x 33 cm (9” x 13”) pan with foil and butter the foil.
To make crust: Process biscuits into crumbs in a food processor. Add melted butter and salt and mix until crumbs are evenly moistened.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press down to form a crust, covering the bottom of the pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until set.
To make filling: On top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Allow to cool a little.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy.
Add sour cream and mix well.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing just until incorporated.
Add melted chocolate and mix until smooth.
Pour the filling evenly over the crust; smooth the top.
Bake in the preheated oven until the sides of the cake puff up a little but the center is still a bit wobbly – 25-30 minutes. Thou Shalt Not Overbake.
Allow to cool on a wire rack before transferring to the fridge – refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

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