The Bluebell Informant – Guest #Recipe Post by Nick Tingley

Today I’m mixing 2 of my favourite things; books and baking and I’m delighted to welcome Nick Tingley to Bookboodle to share with us his recipe for Maple and Almond Cookies  which features in his novel The Bluebell Informant.  Without further ado, onto Nick to give us a little insight into his character Evelyn’s hobby!  Do read on for cookie recipes, info on the book and where to download for free!

NICK SAYS..

The tiniest details are what makes a truly engaging character. This is particularly true of the main character of my debut crime novel, The Bluebell Informant – Detective Sergeant Evelyn Giles.

It took me a while to realise that Giles was a baker, but when I did it, everything else made total sense. This is a detective who is brilliant and intelligent, moral and incorruptible, and willing to go the extra mile to solve whatever case is put in front of her. So it made sense to me that she would have a hobby that she pursued with the same unshakeable determination – that hobby is baking.

Although we only see Giles baking for a few moments in the opening chapter of The Bluebell Informant (after all, she can’t take a break from fleeing across the countryside with an important witness to stop and whip up a couple of flapjacks, can she?), it is one of the few moments that I feel we see Giles at her happiest.

And it was during my research for Giles that I accidentally created a recipe for some great, chewy, maple and almond cookies (that’s right, I used book research as an excuse to make cookies)! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did “researching” them…

What you will need:

These amounts will make somewhere around three-dozen cookies, depending on how much almond you’d like in the mixture, although they are perfectly good without.

190g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 medium egg
100g margarine
220g dark soft sugar
125ml maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
35g chopped or flaked almonds
50g desiccated coconut

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/ Gas Mark 5 and prepare your baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and cream the margarine and sugar together until it looks airy.
  3. Then beat in the egg, syrup and vanilla extract until it’s all mixed nicely together.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together and then add it little-by-little to the creamed mixture, giving it a good stir after each addition.
  5. Once all the flour has been added, add the desiccated coconut and almonds. At this point, you can alter the recipe to suit your taste. If you want your cookies to be less chewy, replace the coconut with another 40g of almonds instead – likewise if you don’t want almonds, replace that with an additional 25g of desiccated coconut.
  6. Spoon the mixture on to the baking tray with a tablespoon so that each cookie is roughly 5cm apart.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and leave on a wire rack to cool.

And that’s it. The whole batch should take about half an hour to make. Have a try yourself and let me know what you think.

Maybe you could bake a batch and enjoy them whilst reading The Bluebell Informant – it’s free to download, so you really have nothing to lose.

You can connect with Nick via his website, Twitter or Facebook

Download The Bluebell Informant for FREE at » Amazon «

About the book

How do you catch a killer who is already dead?

One year ago, the Bluebell Killer killed his last victim. He was shot and killed, leaving behind a legacy of twenty corpses and a name that people will fear for years to come…

A year later, a man is shot in the back of the head and left in a field of bluebells.
Is it a mugging gone wrong? A copycat killer? Or is the Bluebell Killer still out there, waiting to pounce on his next victim?

For DS Evelyn Giles the solution is simple – it’s just another dirty politician caught committing an unforgiveable crime. But with the evidence stacking up against him, Giles’ suspect has one more surprise in store for her…
And his words will throw everything she knows into question…

‘It’s not over yet.’

The past is coming back to haunt DS Giles. She’s already sacrificed much for the lie. The only question is how much more will she suffer for the truth?

Thanks again to Nick for sharing his baking expertise and insight into his character Evelyn Giles.  I’ve downloaded my copy of The Bluebell Informant and look forward to trying the biscuit recipe also!

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Gingerbread Men

If you’re a regular reader of my Novice Baker posts then you’ll know how fussy my daughter is when it comes to bakes and cakes.  She is however a firm Gingerbread fan so I had a go at some Gingerbread Men which I baked and we decorated together!  Ahhhhh xx

What you need:

For the biscuits
350g plain flour plus extra for rolling outimage
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g butter
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
175g light soft brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 egg

For decoration
Writing icing and cake decorations (i.e silver balls)

What you do:

  1. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.gingerbread-men

  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

  4. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.

  5. I suggest baking for 10 -12 minutes max as this leaves them slightly soft which we preferred.  Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. gingerbread-men

  6. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations as required.  gingerbread-men

    You’re never too old to enjoy decorating your biscuits!gingerbread-men

    Until next time….Happy Baking!

Bourbon Biscuits

So it was week two on the Great British Bake off last week and my daughter wanted me to bake her some biscuits.  One of her favourites are Bourbon Biscuits, for those of you not familiar with these, unfortunately they’re not a whiskey flavoured biscuit but a chocolate sandwich biscuit.  I found this recipe on the Good Housekeeping website.

What you need:

For the biscuit
250g/9oz plain flour, plus extra for rollingIMG_0569
125g/4oz unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
50g/2oz cocoa powder
125g/4oz caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the filling
75g/3oz unsalted butter, softened
125g/4oz icing sugar
15g/½oz cocoa powder

What you do:

  1. Put all the biscuit ingredients into a free standing mixer and mix until combined together. I used my dough hook for this and it worked perfectly. Tip the dough on to a work surface and bring together.
  2. Roll out the dough on a sheet of baking parchment, try to make it rectangular as you roll and dust your rolling pin with flour if needed.  This is quite tricky as the paper slides as you roll, you could weight the corners down or just persevere as I did.Bourbon Biscuits
  3. Trim to a 23cm x 30.5cm (9in x 12in) rectangle and cut lengthways into 3 even strips, keeping the strips together cut across them at 1 inch intervals, keeping the rectangles together. I used the end of a cocktail stick to mark the long edges of each biscuit with five dots so that they looked like a traditional Bourbon. Chill for 30 minutes, whilst chilling preheat your oven to 180°c.
  4. The original recipe says bake for 25 minutes which I did and my biscuits burnt.  I would suggest baking for 18 minutes max, remove from the oven and cut through the marks to make sure biscuits are separated. Leave to cool completely.Bourbon Biscuits
  5. When cool, make the filling by putting the butter into a large bowl and sifting in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Mix until combined.  Don’t add any liquid as the icing should be thick.
  6. Sandwich the cooled biscuits together with the chocolate filling, I tried using a piping bag but the filling was just too thick so just had to spread it over.Bourbon Biscuits

Despite the yummy chocolate filling and the perfect biscuit texture, unfortunately for me my biscuits still had that lingering burnt taste.  I hope yours turn out better.

Bourbon Biscuits

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

hummingbird bakery

Here’s another tried and tested recipe from the Hummingbird Home Sweet Home book.  It’s a very simple all in one recipe that gave delicious results; crusty on the outside, melt in your mouth soft and gooey on the inside.

 

What you need:

170g / 6oz plain flourIMG_2243
40g / 1.5oz cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
115g / 4oz unsalted butter, softened
120g / 4oz peanut butter
120g / 4oz caster sugar, plus extra for rolling
90g / 3oz soft light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 170°c and line 2-3 baking trays with greaseproof paper
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb and salt (into a bowl which is not the one you use for your freestanding mixer)
  • Using a freestanding or electric mixer cream together the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until light and fluffy
  • Add the egg and vanilla and mix well

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

  • On a slow speed slowly add the dry ingredients
  • Put the extra caster sugar into a small bowl
  • Roll the dough out into 1 inch balls and roll in the sugar
  • Place on the baking tray approx 1 1/2 inches apart
  • Bake for approx 12-15 minutes until have a crusty surface and have cracked

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

  • Cool before serving

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

Until next time….Happy Baking!

Viennese Fingers

I wanted to have a go at piping and thought these biscuits looked simple enough for a beginner piper. My Viennese Fingers are not going to win any Great British Bake Off Star Baker awards, they’re all different shapes and sizes but they still tasted good.

During baking they’ve lost their definition and the recipe I had didn’t work too well for piping either.  So if you have any advice for piping beginners do let me know in the comments because I was ready to throw this mixture at the wall.

What you need:

Piping bag with a medium star nozzleIMG_2096

100g unsalted butter, softened
25g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
1 tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp baking powder
100g milk or plain chocolate
2 – 3 tbsp. milk

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 170°c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • Beat the sugar and the butter in a freestanding mixer until soft and light
  • Add the vanilla and mix again
  • Sift the corn flour, flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • My recommendation here is to add a couple of spoons of milk to make the dough easier to pipe – this had no detrimental effect

Viennese FingersNow comes the hard bit, the bit I wrongly thought would be the fun part but actually was so stressful.  All for the sake of a biscuit!

The first nozzle I used in the first piping bag was too small,  therefore it was impossible to pipe (think bowling ball through the eye of a needle!)

Just look at this mess!

Just look at this mess!

I then had to transfer the mixture to a second bag with a larger nozzle,  but I think I overfilled the bag because the bloody thing popped!!  At this point, I chucked the mixture back in the mixing bowl and added some milk to soften it up a bit, and off I went with a third piping bag! 🙂

  • Spoon the dough into a piping bag and pipe approx. 10cm fingers onto the prepared tin
  • Bake for approx. 10 – 12 minutes until golden brown
  • Cool on a wire rack until cold

Viennese Fingers

  • Melt the chocolate in a heatproof dish over a simmering pan of water
  • Dip both ends of the biscuit into the chocolate and leave to set on the greaseproof paper

Viennese FingersDespite the absolute disastrous piping experience the biscuits turned out deliciously.  I just don’t know how I do it 😉

Just ignore how phallic they look!

Just ignore how phallic they look!

Until next time…Happy Baking!