Saturday, 24 July 2010

Langue de Cheshire Chat

Inspired by Rebecca at The Thrifty Chick, I spent Sunday afternoon in front of a sewing machine, mending and altering a pile of clothes that I’d been meaning to tackle for a while. While working away, I had a craving for biscuits (quite unlike me; I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth) and my other half leapt to my rescue. The result was so lovely that he’s earned a guest-blogging spot of sorts!

In his words: "These are a slightly over-the-top variation on the French classic – being Cheshire cat's tongues because they're longer, curlier, more chocolate-y, ginger-y and nutty versions of the original. Designed to bring a smile to your face…!"

These are delicious served with vanilla ice cream, or even as an indulgent accompaniment to the plum, cherry and apple mini-crumbles which will follow shortly.

Ingredients (makes approx. 10 large biscuits):
60g butter
60g caster sugar
30g flaked almonds
25g dark chocolate, broken into very small chunks
5g crystallized ginger
Teaspoon vanilla extract
Two tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream (you may wish to use an alternative liqueur flavour, e.g. Cointreau or Grand Marnier for a slight orangey zing)
2 egg whites
80g plain flour

Equipment: piping nozzle, baking paper, rolling pin, string or rubber bands

Pre-heat the oven to 190˚C.

Put the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and melt then fold in the sugar and stir through to a golden liquid. Next, add the chocolate and mix through to a golden-chocolatey mix. Add the vanilla extract, ginger and Bailey's and stir in.

Turn off the heat, then fold in flaked almonds and ensure they are thoroughly mixed through. Add the egg whites and stir the mixture to become a thicker curd then add the flour and continue to beat to a firm paste.

Transfer the paste to a pastry bag and Pipe through with a medium star tip into long thin strips on the baking paper, leaving at least 5cm between each (they will spread out during baking). Try to keep them as straight and narrow as possible; about 15cm x 1cm would be perfect. Typically you may fit 5 in parallel on a baking tray, each taking up the full depth of the tray – and will probably need two baking trays, or bake in two batches.

Bake in the oven for approximately 9 minutes until a dark treacle-y gold colour, then remove and transfer baking paper with biscuits on it to a flat work surface. Once it they stop bubbling, quickly lay another sheet of baking paper over the top, then flip the sandwiched biscuits-within-paper upside down.

Use the rolling pin to roll up the biscuits lengthways within the paper, turning them into large curls (having flipped them upside down means the normal 'up' side is on the outside of the curl). Use string or rubber bands to hold paper in shape – the rolling pin can be removed.

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