Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread

Well, we certainly have our ‘Indian Summer’. It is a gloriously sunny day, with a gentle breeze blowing, stopping the late summer air turning stuffy. Windows are open and I can only imagine how many days like today we have left, this year. In celebration of the beautiful weather I decided to make some Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread, to have, sitting in the sun, with a cup of tea.

FF Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread
Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread perfect with a cup of tea.

I love the month of September, as summer’s hold loosens and hazy, low sunlight filters through the trees. Sitting in the garden, simply listening to the birds, or watching the bees and butterflies busily go about their way. It really is the month where it’s warm enough to still enjoy being outside, without piling on the layers.

FF Crunch Vanilla Shortbread
Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread perfect picnic food!

Of course this delicious Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread can and should be enjoyed anytime of the year. It just feels very luxurious to sit outside, mid September, with the sun warming my face and my cup of tea not getting cold!!

FF Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread
Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread perfect to make and take to work.

Whilst I have other shortbread recipes here and here, my Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread is a traditional version. By that I mean it follows the 3-2-1 rule. 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter and 1 part sugar. However, I have added a tiny pinch of salt and some vanilla bean extract. I adore the flavour of vanilla and in this shortbread it tempers the sweetness of the demerera sugar and balances the caramel flavours.

FF Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread
Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread a delightful treat.

For ease, this shortbread is baked in a tin, where it is simply pressed in and baked. No rolling out, chilling or cutting out required. It took less than 10 minutes to prepare and a further 30 minutes to bake. If you have visitors turn up, out of the blue, you could easily have this baking in the oven, by the time your guests have been settled and the kettle put on!

Sometimes it’s nice to have a simple recipe to hand, for when the occasion arises.

Recipe: Makes Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread

185g/6oz Unsalted Butter – plus a little extra for greasing the tin

75g/3oz Demerera Sugar – plus 1tsp for sprinkling on top

1tsp Vanilla Bean Paste – I use Nielsen-Massey

1/8th tsp Salt – I use Maldon

270g/9oz Plain White Flour

Method: Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan, gas mark 5

  • Add the sugar, butter, salt and vanilla extract to a bowl.
  • Beat until the butter is pale and creamy.
  • Add the flour and mix with a spoon until you have a dough.
  • Line a lightly buttered, 20cm x 28cm x 5cm (8″ x 11″ x 2″) swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
  • Tip the shortbread dough into the tin and press gently with your fingers until the dough completely covers the tin base evenly.
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Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread dough ready to be docked and sprinkled with sugar before baking.
  • Dock the shortbread dough with a fork – this will prevent it from rising too much during baking.
  • Sprinkle over the reserved teaspoon of sugar. This really does make the shortbread sparkle once baked.
  • Place the tin in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden and has a set crumb.
  • Once baked remove the shortbread from the oven.
  • Score a line halfway through the length of the cooked shortbread, then score 7 strips – creating 14 Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread fingers.
  • Allow the shortbread to cool in the tin.
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Golden Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread scored and cooling.
  • Scoring the shortbread whilst it is hot makes it much easier to break into fingers once cooled. I’ll be honest I did have a couple of shortbread fingers break, they were my testers 😉.
  • Once cooled lift the shortbread out of the tin, using the baking parchment and break into individual fingers.

Store the shortbread in an airtight tin for up to 5 days, if it lasts that long!

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Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread see how it sparkles in the sunlight.

Serve this deliciously Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread with a good cup of tea or coffee. That said, these shortbread fingers would also pair very nicely with my Very Vanilla Ice Cream.

If you have enjoyed the recipe for Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread you make also like these:

Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies

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Vanilla Fudge Chocolate Brownies.

Cherry Bakewell Cookies

FF Crunch Vanilla Shortbread
Cherry Bakewell Cookies

Chocolate Heart Cookies

FF Crunchy Vanilla Shortbread
Chocolate Heart Cookies.

I hope you are enjoying the last of the summer wherever you are.

I shall remember to look back at these photographs, in the midst of winter, to remind me of the warmth of the sun in summer.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast. Why not check on elderly neighbours, just pop in to make sure they have enough to drink and maybe stay for a cuppa and a natter? You could always take some home baked treats round?

Food always tastes better when it is shared.

Sammie xx

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Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet

The smell of Summer. Sun tan lotion, seaside air and luscious seasonal fruits. Ok, I accept that the fruits in this Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet are not necessarily grown in this country, although they are cheaper and more readily available during the summer.

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Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet so good.

Making your own Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet is so worth it. Forget about the adverts telling you that ‘you’re worth it’ this is a delicious, good for you treat, that tastes of fruit heaven!

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Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet will make your tastebuds come alive!

The marriage between the flavours will make your tastebuds sing in harmony.

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Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet a delicious alternative to ice cream.

There are a couple of steps needed to prepare the fruit for this sorbet, but they are absolutely worth it to extract every drop of flavour from the fruit.

Once the fruit is prepped it is then cooked for a short time. This breaks down the pineapple and separates the passionfruit seeds from their surrounding juice. The cooked fruit mixture is then sieved, to remove the very crunchy seeds. A quick whizz with an immersion blender, or liquidiser, cool and your sorbet is ready to be churned.

FF Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet
Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet so worth making.

This sorbet tastes of Summer. Light, intensely fruity, sweet – but not overly so and with a colour to brighten the dullest of days.

A light dessert or a delightful palette cleanser between courses for a more formal meal.

The mangos I bought for this recipe spent a few days on our sunny lounge window ledge ripening up, in fact they were warm when I prepared them. The passionfruit were smooth skinned when bought and ripened to a prune-like wrinkling of the skin. To test if a pineapple is ripe I suggest smelling it. If it smells of pineapple then it’s ripe.

Recipe: Makes 1L Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet

6 Passion Fruit

2 Large Mango

1 Medium Pineapple

400mls Water

100g/4oz Sugar

Optional – see note at the end – Orange Blossom Water 1/4tsp – I suggest Nielsen-Massey

Method: Ensure the frozen compartment of your ice cream maker has been in the deep freeze overnight or according to manufacturers instructions.

  • Scoop the contents of the 6 passion fruit into a large heavy based saucepan. Squeezing the empty skins to ensure every drop of precious juice is used.
  • Next prepare the mangos. Cut down either side of the central stone, you will have three pieces. Take a fleshy side of the mango and score into three pieces using a sharp knife. With the blade flat to the skin, run the knife along each third, releasing a long slither of juicy, ripe mango. Repeat for the other side. Place the mango slices into the saucepan. Hold the central flesh and skin covered stone over the saucepan and squeeze as hard as you can. Scrape all of the pulp and juice from your hand into the pan.
  • Prepare the pineapple by cutting off the green spiky top and the flat base. Cut the pineapple into half and then divide each half into 3 sections. Cut down the outside of the central hard core – it will be the point of the pineapple. As with the mango, lay the blade flat between the fruit and the skin and slice to separate the two. Chop the pineapple into large chunks and add to the saucepan. Squeeze the skin and the hard core pieces over the saucepan to extracte as much juice as possible.
  • Pour the water over the fruit.
  • Add the sugar and turn the heat on to high under the pan.
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Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet
  • Once the contents of the pan have started to bubble reduce the heat to medium, keep an eye on the fruit to ensure it doesn’t boil over.
  • Continue cooking for 20 minutes.
  • Carefully remove a spoonful of liquid from the saucepan, allow to cool and taste. The flavour should be pure fruit, not watered down and not super sweet – just as if you had eaten a slice of ripe mango. If the flavour is a little weak, continue cooking for a further 10 minutes and taste again.
  • When you are happy with the tropical fruit flavour, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  • Place a sieve over a large bowl.
  • Carefully pour the hot fruit mixture into the bowl through the sieve.
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This is going to become the most Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet.
  • Using a strong dessert spoon press all of the fruit through the sieve. Occasionally clearing the underside of the sieve with a clean spoon, so that all the fruit pulp and juice goes into the bowl below.
  • This takes about 10 minutes to get it to this stage.
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Pips and pulp left in the sieve, all the flavour is in the bowl.
  • I did taste the remaining pulp and although crunchy it was pretty flavourless, that said you could still have it swirled through yoghurt for breakfast.
  • If you have an immersion blender or liquidiser, blend the resulting lumpy liquid until velvety smooth.
  • Place the bowl on a trivet, to aid cooling air circulation and cover with a net food tent, or cling film to stop flies having a taste!
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Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet cooling.
  • Allow the sorbet liquid to cool and then place in the fridge to chill.
  • Once chilled set up your ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.
  • Transfer the sorbet liquid to a jug, this makes pouring the liquid into the frozen chamber much easier.
  • With the machine churning pour the sorbet liquid into the ice cream maker and churn until slushy like.
  • Stop the machine, remove the paddle and scoop/pour the slushy mixture into a freezer proof, resealable tub.
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Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet so full of fruity flavour.
  • Pop the lid on and place in the deep freeze, generally I leave ice creams and sorbets overnight, until frozen through.

To serve, remove the sorbet from the freezer 15-20 minutes to allow to soften slightly.

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Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet the perfect way to end a meal.

For me, this is the perfect dessert after a hot spicy meal such as a curry or my Chunky Chilli. The cool, fruity sorbet, soothing on your tastebuds.

This is the perfect sorbet to make if you happen upon marked down fruit in the market or shops. It will keep for 3 months in the deep freeze and brighten a dull Winter’s day.

If you have enjoyed the recipe for my Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet here are some others you may also like:

Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream

FF Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet
Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream

Dark Chocolate Chip Vanilla Ice Cream

FF Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet
Dark Chocolate Chip Vanilla Ice Cream

Lemon Ripple Ice Cream

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Lemon Ripple Ice Cream

 

I love creating, experimenting, tasting and testing different recipes. If you love mangos but aren’t a fan of pineapple, add more mango and leave the pineapple out.

Being allergic to oranges, means I always have to double check when I buy anything labelled ‘tropical’. Making my own Refreshing Tropical Fruit Sorbet means I know exactly what has gone into it. By all means adjust the sugar quantity if your fruit is sweeter, or riper. That’s why it is important to taste the liquid from the pan, remembering all the flavours will be dulled slightly by the freezing process.

I hope I have inspired you to get creative in your kitchens. Cooking should be fun. Combining flavours, adding a little something here or there, I hope that you take my recipes, try them and then change them to suit your tastes. I very much suspect a drop or two of orange blossom water would work very well in this recipe. But then I’ll never know 😉

Sammie xx

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Muesli Flapjack Squares

Muesli Flapjack Squares are THE answer to rushed mornings and missed breakfasts. Make these at the weekend and you’ve got brekkie covered for the whole week. Ooh and did I mention they’re gluten free too!

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Muesli Flapjack Squares delicious and full of good things for your body.

Most people I know don’t have hours of time to spare in the mornings, during the week. They know breakfast is THE most important meal of the day, so in a bid to give their body something they grab a latte and coffee shop choccie muffin on the way to work. Then wonder why they are starving again by 10am if not sooner.

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Muesli Flapjack Squares are great food on the go.

One of these Muesli Flapjack Squares will keep you going until lunchtime!

Now eating one of these delicious Muesli Flapjack Squares isn’t the same as sitting down with a bowl of muesli, or a plate of wholemeal toast and homemade jam and a cup of coffee. But, they are a whole lot better both for your body and you wallet, than the take out option.

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Muesli Flapjack Squares so easy to make.

Flapjacks do contain both sugar and butter, as do the take out muffins. I have tried to reduce both and even tried to switch to honey, but, unfortunately I haven’t cracked that recipe code yet.

What I have done is taken a fabulous gluten free, muesli mix made by Delicious Alchemy and turned it into the gluten free Muesli Flapjack Squares. So yes you’ll get the initial sugar hit and a wee bit of caffeine from the dark chocolate, but instead of the post sugar slump, the oats, seeds and dried fruit will start slowly releasing their energy – sustaining you until lunch.

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My lunch today was one of these and a banana!

With everything made in one bowl, a little mixing, 20 minutes in the oven, cool then swirl on some chocolate, these can easily made by anyone.

If buying a different muesli from the one suggested ensure that it has no added sugar, salt or fat and of course, that it’s gluten free if you have dietary intolerances.

Recipe: Makes 12 Muesli Flapjack Squares

225g/8oz Unsalted Butter

100g/4oz Light Soft Brown Sugar

100g/4oz Golden Syrup – light corn syrup

425g/15oz Muesli – I used Delicious Alchemy

100g/4oz Chopped Dried Fruit – I used mango and apricots (dried)

Method: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4

  • Line a 8″ x 11″  20cm x 28cm Swiss roll, or 2″ deep baking tin with baking parchment. I have found it unnecessary to grease my tin prior to lining, however, using a little butter in the corners, should help the parchment to stick without fully greasing the tin.
  • In a large heatproof and microwaveable bowl add the butter and then sugar.
  • Place in the microwave a heat on low until the butter is just melted.
  • Once melted remove from the microwave and add the golden syrup. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is well mixed.
  • Add the muesli and chopped, dried fruit.
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Now to get mixing!
  • Next stir everything together until it is all covered in the glossy butter mixture.
  • Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and press flat and even using the back of a dessert spoon.
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Pressed evenly into the tin, ready for the oven.
  • Place in the centre of the oven and bake for exactly 20 minutes.
  • Once the baking time is up remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.
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Muesli Flapjack Squares beautifully baked and golden.
  • When cooled lift the flapjack slab from the tin on to a board.
  • Cut into 12 even squares (if you look mine aren’t that even – oops)!
  • Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof, microwaveable bowl until almost melted. Remove and stir until completely melted.
  • Drizzle over the squares, or fill a small piping bag and pipe hearts on each square.
Muesli Flapjack Squares
Beautifully decorated with a heart.

During hot weather it might be worth popping the Muesli Flapjack Squares into the fridge for an hour. This will set the chocolate and really firm up the bars.

I like to wrap them in baking parchment for packed lunches, cling film and foil work well too.

Store them in an airtight container. I use an old biscuit tin and separate layers with baking parchment.

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Muesli Flapjack Squares a great solution to breakfast.

Give yourself a pat on the back knowing you have breakfast sorted for the week!!

If you have enjoyed these Muesli Flapjack Squares you may also like these:

Double Cherry Drizzle Oat Bars

FF Muesli Flapjack Squares
Double Cherry Drizzle Oat Bars a delicious oat biscuit base topped with cherry sponge.

Macacdamia Apricot Flapjacks

FF Muesli Flapjack Squares
Macadamia Apricot Flapjacks another delicious flapjack bar.

Lemon Drizzle Cake Bars

FF Muesli Flapjack Squares
Lemon Drizzle Cake Bars with a layer of lemon curd on top of an oat biscuit base.

All of the recipes above are easy to make and are fabulous food on the go. Ideal for packed lunches, picnics, or simply having something on hand at home that easily fits in a tin.

I deliberately left nuts out of this recipe so that more people on a restricted diet can enjoy it. I’ve also successfully switched butter for coconut oil in my Coconut Almond Date Flapjacks, which would make this recipe suitable for those with lactose intolerance.

It is my intention to make as many recipes as possible versatile, so that those with dietary restrictions can also have fun feasting!

Sammie xx

Delicious Alchemy provided the muesli mix for me to try. All opinions, views, content and photographs are my own. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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