Sunday, 26 May 2013
Hottest Home Baker Challenge Week 2: Vegan Afghan Biscuits
The challenge this week was to bake 3 things in 2 hours that would appeal to children and be suitable to sell at a school gala. The contestants had to bake their first item in 45 mins. If you didn't see the show, you can watch it on demand here.
I decided to just make one item in 45 minutes. To help me decide what to bake, I conducted a some quick market research with my ready-made focus group a.k.a. my class of Year 2 (aged 6-7) children. I asked them what baking they would buy at a gala. After quite an animated discussion (lesson for next time - make the topic of discussion edible and all children will be engaged!), the most popular turned out to be cookies with coloured icing and sprinkles or lollies on top. Cake pops and cupcakes came in a close second, but I didn't think I would be able to make and decorate them in 45 mins. I considered shortbread or gingerbread men (one girl in my class said she only liked "gingerbread ladies, not gingerbread men"!), but settled on a New Zealand classic - Afghan Biscuits. Alex needed something to take to work for a morning tea on Monday and I thought I could adapt Afghans to make them appeal to kids as well as adults.
The recipe I used is adapted from the Edmonds cookbook and is below. It is a quick and easy recipe and makes a lovely rich and chocolatey biscuit.
The only change I made to the adults version was to top them with almonds as I didn't have any walnuts. The kids versions were topped with raspberry icing (made with icing sugar, raspberry essence and a bit of water - sickly sweet but bright enough to appeal to kids I think) and rainbow sprinkles.
Vegan Afghan Biscuits
(Makes 18 biscuits)
175g vegan margarine (I used Olivani)
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 1/4 c white flour
1/2 c cocoa
1 1/2 c cornflakes
Walnut halves to decorate
Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C. Grease an oven tray. Cream margarine and sugar together until it lightens in colour and is fluffy. Beat in sifted flour and cocoa to make a stiff dough. Check the dough holds together by pressing a small handful of crumbs together. If it is too crumbly, add a tablespoon or two of soy milk to the dough. Add cornflakes and mix through evenly. Roll tablespoonsful of mixture into balls and put on greased tray. Flatten slightly with the back of a fork. They do not spread during cooking, so you can place them close together. Bake for 12-15 mins. Cool on tray for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling racks. When cold ice with chocolate icing (see recipe below) and press a walnut half into the icing.
2 c icing sugar
2 heaped tbsp cocoa
2 tsp vegan margarine
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1-2 tbsp hot water
Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Put margarine, vanilla and 1tbsp water into a small bowl or mug and stir until margarine is melted (it may help to microwave it for 10 seconds or so). Pour into the icing sugar and cocoa. Stir to make a spreadable icing, adding more water (a tsp at a time) to get desired consistency.