Friday 22 April 2011

GF Tim Tams, Hot Cross Buns and Haggis Pizza

Greeting on this Good Friday.  Although we call it "good" Friday, it doesn't seem appropriate to say happy Good Friday.  It is a day for quiet and reflection so it seems a day for a rambling post about the week.

GF Tim Tams

I made a batch of GF Tim Tams on the weekend for E's birthday lunch.  If you are not Australian, Tim Tams might not mean a lot to you but there they are a beloved chocolate biscuit (cookie to the Americans).  They are similar but not the same as Penguin biscuits in the UK.  In fact the Tim Tam was based on them.  The Tim Tam was named after a race horse and has given rise to the popularity of the strange tradition: the Tim Tam Slam.

A few months back, Lisa tried her hand at GF Tim Tams.  I was determined to try them out for my celiac sister and niece.  When we decided to have the family around for E's birthday, it seemed the right opportunity.  Now I don't actually eat a lot of Tim Tams, now that I can.  When I was young I yearned after them but my mum made her own bikkies.  It's a case of the grass being greener over the other side of the fence.  So I knew my sister, Susie, would love to eat one.  Grace, my niece, on the other hand has been celiac since she was about 2 years old and has no memories of food with gluten.

I regret to say that my GF Tim Tam experiment was not the success I'd hoped it might be.  I followed Lisa's directions and have written an approximate recipe below.  After reading the ingredients of the Tim Tam I modified the filling a bit, using chocolate, butter and a little golden syrup, rather than cream and chocolate spread.

All went well until I unwisely substituted butter for coconut oil and consequently my chocolate was too thick to dip properly.  After talking to my mum, I assume this was why the melted chocolate didn't thin as it should.  But doesn't chocolate always melt into a liquid rather than a thick sludge (albeit a tasty sludge)?  Even when I microwaved it more to make sure it was hot enough, it just got thicker - and it didn't help to add more butter either.  Ironically when I melted equal parts of chocolate and butter for the filling, it was far too liquid for my needs.

Nevertheless, Susie was delighted.  There is so much chocolate and butter in the recipe that it can't taste too bad.  I wondered if the gluten free tea biscuits were too crunchy.  They are great biscuits (excellent for grubs and hedgehog) but didn't yield when bitten so the filling would ooze out the sides.  I found one other Tim Tam recipe online which included a recipe for chocolate biscuits but not GF.  Makes me think that maybe if I was serious about the recipe I could make some biscuits.  The bought ones make it far easier though.  I feel I have made a good start and will let you know if I attempt them again.

Haggis Pizza

When I told Sylvia that I was making Pizza for dinner during the week, a big smile lit up her face.  It was on the actual day of E's birthday.  A few weeks back he had told me that his family in Scotland had eaten haggis pizza for dinner.  It sounded easy enough to make at home.  I told him I would make it for his birthday.  It was not difficult but it was time-consuming.  Fortunately I made it on a day I wasn't working. 

I am not giving a recipe here because it is merely a matter of bringing together recipes I have previously posted.  I made wholemeal mashed potato pizza bases, spread on some tomato sauce like this one (but with zucchini and carrot), sprinkled on some of this vegetarian haggis.  I had meant to mash some neeps (turnip in Scotland aka swede or rutabaga) to make it a haggis, neeps and tatties pizza.  But I was running out of time.  Instead I remembered I had forgotten to add mushrooms to the haggis, so I sprinkled some chopped mushroom and capsicum, and grated some mozzarella cheese on top.

This was a success!  We loved the haggis on the pizza.  It was tasty, full of texture and nutrients.  I even managed to make a nice green side salad.  Sylvia didn't have haggis on hers but she loved helping to sprinkle (or dump) the toppings on the pizzas. We now have some leftover haggis that I think might become nachos for when we watch Will and Kate's wedding.

Hot Cross Buns

I made a birthday cake for E on the weekend (to come soon) and an apple cake to take to a friend's so I didn't make an extra cake on his birthday.  Instead, we had a special birthday Hot Cross Bun (see pic at top of the post).  I am not a huge fan of all the substandard chocolate in easter eggs but I love hot cross buns (HCBs) and have been baking them every year for some time.

This year I added a bit of wholemeal flour to the HCBs which worked well.  My major crisis point was also my epiphany.  It came when I found I was out of the baking paper I usually use to make a disposable piping bag for the crosses.  In seeking alternatives, I found that filling a plastic bag with batter and snipping a hole in the corner is a lot easier way to pipe crosses.

It has also been pleasing this year to see that my recipe worked well for vegan bloggers, Mel and Danni.  But I am surprised they don't make them with crosses.  I make my crosses thick and chewy because I love them. So I thought I would find out a bit more about why we have crosses on our buns.  The obvious answer is that they represent Jesus Christ dying on the cross.  Yet there is often more to a Christian ritual.  In this case, the crosses are believed to have be marked on buns by Saxons in honour of the goddess Eostre, and that the crosses represent the four quarters of the moon.  You can find out more about the history of Hot Cross Buns at Historical Foods or read Oliver Thring Consider the Hot Cross Bun History.

I have enjoyed some hot cross bun posts this year:
Other Food

We have had other food this week.  Bangers & mash,  stir fry, dumplings, fruit balls.  I tried a fig and raspberry smoothie that didn't quite work.  I added spinach but it needed banana for the right texture.  It didn't help that my hand held blender needs to be replaced.  I might have done so this week if the shops weren't so horribly busy.  Instead I used my food processor which just wasn't the same.

E opened an easter egg this afternoon but there hasn't been too much chocolate after the GF tim tams.  We did buy one trashy treat that delighted E because it was just the sort of thing that his mum would buy for him: Cadbury's mini eggs chocolate nest cakes.  Soft chocolate cake with butter cream and easter eggs on top.  No nutritional value but lots of comfort and seasonal cheer.  If you like this sort of thing you might enjoy this ode to Cadbury creme eggs.

Lastly, I thought I would share a few Easter recipes that I have seen on blogs lately.  So many good ideas for alternatives to Easter eggs.
Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Cookbooks update and easy roast dinner
This time two years ago: WTSIM ... Retro Parkin
This time three years ago: HoTM French Toast with Fruit

GF Homemade Tim Tams (Work in Progress)
adapted from Bike Bake and Blog
makes about 14

100g milk chocolate
100g butter
1 tsp golden syrup
1 packet of Freelicious gluten free tea biscuits
400g milk chocolate, for dipping
1 tsp coconut oil

Place chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a heatproof bowl and melt in the microwave (or on the stovetop if you prefer).  Sit in the fridge until sludgy rather than liquid - I think I left it there about 30 minutes but more would be better.  Beat with electric beaters to fluff it up a little.

Lay half the biscuits on a lined tray.  Divide up dollops of the mixture evenly between the biscuits.  Place the remaining biscuits on top of each dollop and press down gently.  Place in the fridge for 1-2 hours to firm up.

Once biscuits are cool, melt dipping chocolate and coconut oil until smooth and runny (see notes about about my troubles with this).  Use a couple of forks to dip in each biscuit sandwich.  Return to lined tray and sit in fridge to firm up.

On the Stereo:
The Collection: ELO


  1. Wowzer, your home made tim tams looks delish! i could devour a whole plate right about now.

  2. Oh no!! Sorry your Tim tams didn't work out as expected? What brand of choc did you use? I used cadbury and had no choc thick/ dipping issues ?!

  3. thanks vegie bug - you think you could but did I tell you just how rich they are!!!

    thanks lisa - not your fault - I used cadbury too - my mum said perhaps I needed copha so I though your coconut oil might have been better than my butter - did you do it on the stovetop or microwave? Great idea for a gf treat - thanks!

  4. I love the look of your haggis pizza! Have been meaning to give your haggis recipe a go so perhaps I'll try it out on a pizza soon.

    Made some more HCB's with the crosses today. They actually didn't seem quite right without them and I was much happier with the batch today. :D

  5. Well, I hope you have a GOOD Good Friday--full of reflection, quiet, and whatever else will help rejuvenate you for the rest of the year. :)

    And wow, you've been busy! Those Tim Tams look amazing. I was hoping for a cookie (biscuit) recipe as well so I could adapt them for the ACD. But you just know I'm going to have to try it myself, right? ;) Happy Belated Birthday to E! Looks like the man had a feast. I remember reading about your serendipitous haggis pizza last year and still haven't tried it myself. . . still on my list! Maybe over the 2011 holiday. . . !! :D

  6. I love your GF Tim Tams, even though the chocolate turned out to be a little think. Tim Tams are simply wonderful, but it's something that I can't really eat because I will break out in rash. I'm looking forward to your future attempts:)

  7. How long has it been since I have been able to do a Tim Tam Slam!!! Love 'em ... especially when the limited edition white chooclate ones were around. Bliss! Love the home made idea, pure genius.

  8. All of your food looks delicious as always! I love the idea of haggis on pizza, but then pizza always sounds good to me! The HCB look great - I haven't bothered this year due to lack of freezer storage space, but seeing everyone elses is making me jealous!

    I can just imagine Sylvia enjoying helping out with your pizza making. I hope you get a new hand blender soon - they're indispensable aren't they, and that you all have a good Easter holiday.

  9. Happy Easter Johanna and family. Your HCB look good and the haggis pizza sounds interesting. I can say with definitiveness that I've never seen that before! Thanks for the shoutout :)

  10. Johanna,
    Methinks you had a problem with your chocolate seizing, or at least it sounds so from your description. I used to have, in Australia, a great chocolate cookbook with an extended discussion of this. Not having it with me, I'll have to refer you to this website
    which describes the phenomenon. It is always disheartening when it happens, but it is a good reminder to treat chocolate with the reverence and respect that it deserves. Next time I'm in town, let's try the homemade Tim Tam again...

  11. Can I come over for Easter lunch, Johanna? You know I've been wanting your haggis creations ever since I first heard them, and I'd happily eat the excess chocolate-coconut-mixture. E can keep the rest of those Cadbury cakes though ;)

  12. There is so much good food in this post! Those tim tams look absolutely delicious...I'm perfectly okay with super thick chocolate :P

  13. Thanks Mel - the haggis pizza is great - and I think I like the crosses on the buns because they make they particular to this time of year - without them they could be made at any time of year - but they are easier with the plastic bag for piping!

    Thanks Ricki - life is busy but it is worth finding the time for haggis pizza - will let you know if I find a bikkie/cookie recipe for the GF tim tams - though am not as good with experiments as you are

    Thanks Kayla - ooh it is not worth eating tim tams if they give you a rash - will keep you posted about any recipe developments

    Thanks Chele - love all the new versions of tim tams though I think the original is still the best - not sure you could do the slam with these ones though I think Lisa might have done so

    Thanks C - I empathise about freezer storage - feeling the pinch there too and have to fit tubs of stock in my freezer after making them today - argh! and I agree about the hand held blender - i use mine heaps so will buy a new one as soon as the school holiday craziness subsides at the shops

    Thanks Lorraine - I only heard of haggis pizzas a few weeks back but if you search the web it seems there are quite a few about (in Scotland I guess)

    Thanks Yaz - I think my chocolate seized after I tried to reheat it but not the first time - though I will read the link to check - and I did it twice - will be happy to try this with you - do you think we can find a good gf biscuit recipe?

    Thanks Hannah - of course you can come over - nut roast is out of the oven waiting for tomorrow (and it is GF too) - haggis is in the freezer and we might even have a bit of the chocolate mix still in the fridge - you could just help yourself :-)

    Thanks Joanne - everyone loved the tim tams but I only managed to cover half of mine because the chocolate was so thick - oops!

  14. Those Tim Tams are a must have for me! Thank you so much for posting it, as I lust after them and can't buy them here in Sweden.

    I was going to suggest the same as your mum - a bit of copha rather than the butter, though that should not have caused the chocolate to go gluggy as you were making it. Usually that happens if it comes in contact with water (even a drop or two can stuff it up) or you heat it too long. I'd suggest the copha only in order to keep the chocolate nice and shiny.

  15. You made Tim Tams? I love it! they look good and you can never have too much chocolate and butter. Also loving your hot cross buns - I had good intentions to make some, but ran out of time.

  16. Gluten free Tim Tams - that's inspiring. I've got to be a bit more strict with the no wheat thing and really appreciate it when recipes like this are shared.

  17. You made tim tams! How cool are you. Tim Tam slam, there are worse ways to spend any afternoon :-)
    (thanks for the link back too.)

  18. Sorry to hear about the Tim Tam experiment not going as you'd hoped! When I've used chocolate chips (instead of a bar of squares of chocolate), it can get more easily messed up - like it doesn't melt into a nice smooth liquid, instead it can be kind of chunky. Or maybe it was just overheated? I would love to try that haggis pizza!


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