Dark and white chocolate straws are like cheese straws except with chocolate. What’s not to like? The base of these is an unsweetened cocoa pastry topped with a mixture of chopped chocolate. The sweetness really comes from the white chocolate, and the time in the oven caramelises the sugar in the white chocolate to give an almost burnt sweetness.

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These chocolate and orange rugelach cookies are a twist on a traditional Jewish Sweet treat. They look a little bit like croissant, but I can’t profess to be in any way expert about it’s origins. They are, as I understand, still very popular treats within the Jewish community, although my version steers away from the more traditional spice and nut fillings.

Choc and orange rugelach

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Biscuits PolaroidThese lemon and sesame seed biscuits were born of good intention and circumstances. I had planned a visit to some friends who are working tirelessly (and harder than I think I ever will) to renovate a new home. I had planned something along the chocolate line but my intentions were not strong enough to bear a walk in the rain to the shops, so I decided to be creative with what I had in stock.

I had a lemon and all the basics of baking (flour, butter, sugar and eggs). I am sure that some philosophical baker must, at some point, pondered how that this is all you need for greatness (in baking terms at least). I couldn`t resist the addition of some sesame seeds.(Maybe I amn`t philosophical enough) I had black sesame ice cream on a trip to Vancouver last year and it`s brilliance has influenced my cooking every since. Sesame has the ability to work perfectly in sweet and savoury dishes. Hence lemon and sesame seed biscuits were born.

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There are few pleasures greater in life than getting a lovely crunchy biscuit on the side of your coffee. (Ok, there may be a few greater pleasures!). We commonly call them biscotti, but they are also known as cantuccini. I believe that the latter means coffee bread while the former refers to biscuits that would have traditionally been baked twice.

I know that some people don’t enjoy this type of biscuit, citing it as too hard but I think dipped in coffee, that the nuts and crunch are really delicious. I chose chopped hazelnuts and walnuts for this recipe because I quite like to have little bits of nut distributed throughout the biscuit, as well as the lovely whole chunks of walnut.
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I was in Vancouver over the summertime and while I was there, I saw a hilarious greeting card. It read ’A birthday cake without wheat is rarely a treat’. My mother avoids lactose while my sister can’t eat gluten. My father needs a chocolate free diet. One by one all these things are manageable, but when combined, it requires some baking research and planning. I am grateful they can all eat eggs and nuts.

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Cookies are a pretty straight forward option for gluten free or dairy free baking. They don’t need to rise so the missing gluten isn’t that important. I really like the flavour and texture that coconut oil lends. Plus it is that bit healthier than butter! (I am trying to find a bright side of a family who reject my dairy and wheat filled baked goodness!). With the growing numbers of people who have dietary restrictions, every baker needs a few recipes like this under their belt!

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