Last week, Atticus’s homework was about measuring. The instruction sheet came with a couple of ideas and baking was one of them. In all fairness, I do not need any encouragement to bake with the kids. I will quite happily turn pretty much any homework, assignment or gift into something I can make with the kids. However, my husband suggested it might be nice if I planned to do something else with him as their extracurricular activities are rather saturated with cooking. After my initial reaction of how dare he ruin my fun? I began to see that he may well have a point. For once, I am really hoping that he doesn’t decide to read this article as I find it very difficult to admit to him in person that he was right! So to have material for Atticus’s homework the kids had a game of long jump in the hallway. It was loud and jumpy and thoroughly enjoyable until Seb and I collided heads. I tell you the truth, my head hurt for a good 3 days after that bump. Seb told me he was fine not long after the bump and insisted everyday when I asked him if his head hurt that it didn’t. Mine, however, was throbbing… It must be that I just don’t bounce back the way I used to in my younger years…
Despite having enough material for the homework, I really couldn’t pass up an opportunity to cook with Atticus alone. When asked, he said he wanted to make some chocolate biscuits with raisins. So I was racking my brain and focused on these biscuits. When I was thinking about them and the ingredients, chocolate, dried fruit and nuts and it reminded me of when my dad told me he always used to call Topic Bars squirrel poo bars. I mentioned to Atticus as a joke that they could be called Squirrel Poo Biscuits because they were brown and contained fruit and nuts which would all likely be present in a squirrel’s poo. This was clearly the funniest thing I had said in along time and I should have guessed that he would be unwilling to call them Chocolate Fruit and Nut Clusters after that! Please don’t let the name of these put you off making them though, they are really yummy!
- 100g dark chocolate
- 100g milk chocolate
- 60g butter or margarine
- 1tbsp golden syrup
- 200g nuts (we used a mixture of peanuts, walnuts and almonds). If you want you can toast the nuts before you start, but it isn’t absolutely necessary, it just adds a bit of depth to the flavour.
- 150g dried fruit (we used half raisins and half dried cranberries)
- 40g plain flour
- 2tbsp unsweetened cocoa
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 170°c or 150°c fan and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or greaseproof paper.
- Put half of the chocolate (we put the milk in, but you could do the dark or half and half) in a heatproof bowl with the butter and golden syrup and put on a pan on gently simmering water until it has all melted and is smooth.
- Chop or bash (we bashed with the end of the rolling pin in a large bowl) the rest of the chocolate and place in a large bowl
- Bash the nuts into smaller pieces. You can do this in small batches with a pestle and mortar or in a bag or large sturdy bowl with the end of a rolling pin.
- Put the nuts into the same bowl as the chocolate and sieve the flour and cocoa into that bowl too and mix to combine.
- Add the melted chocolate mixture to the bowl and mix so that the flour mixture is completely coated with the melted chocolate.
- Take tablespoons of the mixture and put them onto the baking sheets ensuring there is a gap of at least 3cm between each one.
- Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Don’t be tempted to move these when they are warm as they will be very fragile. Allow them to cool for 30 minutes or so before transferring to a cooling rack and sprinkling with icing sugar.
These biscuits will last for 2-3 days in an airtight container. Ours lasted about half that time and were enjoyed by kids, parents and grandparents alike. My note to myself from this baking experience is that baking with just one of the kids is a thoroughly enjoyable activity as they get to do everything and I get to talk to just them and hear more about their day without a sibling interrupting them. This was so very precious to me in a busy week where I nearly missed out on the opportunity of hearing his perspective on life.