Strawberry and Coffee Biscuit Trifle

strawberry coffee gateau

Stawberry and Coffee Biscuit Trifle, photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

You will need:

2 packets Nice Biscuits
4 tablespoons instant coffee
2 cups boiling water
1 vanilla pod
100g butter
80g sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 punnets strawberries
500ml whipping cream

strawberry coffee gateau 2

Use an electric mixer to beat the cream.  Remove from the bowl and mix in the seeds from a vanilla pod.  Keep aside.

Place the water in a saucepan with the remaining vanilla pod and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the coffee powder, mix with a large spoon, then add the cocoa powder and brandy.

Place the softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until the mixture is white and fluffy.

Fold in the whipped cream and vanilla.  Place the cream mixture in a piping bag and keep aside.

Slice the strawberries.

Assemble the trifle by dipping the ‘Nice’ Biscuits into the coffee mixture and line the bottom of the container.

Work neatly and pipe a layer of the cream mixture.  Flatten with a spoon, then top with a layer of sliced strawberries.

Repeat with a layer of coffee-soaked ‘Nice’ biscuits, a layer of the cream mixture and strawberries until you have used all your ingredients.

I usually fill up the whole bowl with these layers, but due to time constraints of live tv, I finished off with a layer of strawberries before we reached the top and had lots of left overs to make more trifles !

Cover with cling film and Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

Trade Enquiries

Rimus Trading Agency  for Nice Biscuits by Regal, President Butter and Cream

Good Earth Distributors for pure vanilla pods and raw cocoa powder

Big Fresh  Mosta for all my fresh fruit and vegetables

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Its lavender Sunday …

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Weekends are for baking and today I look out at the garden with its abundance of flora, foliage so very green at the peak of its life cycle, so fertile before the strong heat of the summer hits us.

I love anything that involves cooking from the garden and i am going through a phase of wishing to try everything i see to re-discover all that has been forgotten. In the heart of the Mediterranean, the flavor of our produce is amazing. It is so easy to cultivate cuttings, sometimes even with no roots. The soil yearns to nurture anything that comes into contact with it, roots feed on those unique properties of the Mediterranean earth, while all that is visible above the ground is blessed with the magical rays of sun bestowed to us here, shining on our produce until everything brims with flavor.

I walk through the garden and graze, full of curiousity. It is not a practice to be encouraged as i am often told off about the danger of possibly nibbling on something poisonous but it has become a habit and one which i thoroughly enjoy.

And that is why the cuisine of this region is so popular all over the world. The vibrancy of the food is reflected not only in the color but also in flavors that remain alive until they reach our plate giving our meals depth and character even when food is barely cooked and eaten in the most simple way.

Here we have no need to construct edibile towers, no need to splatter meaningless sauces on plates because the beauty of our food exists in its natural form, its taste, beautiful from imperfections left undisguised, the gift of nature allowed to bloom on our tables as it was meant to be with not too much human manipulation, just a knowledge of combining flavors.

Natural ingredients from this region are superior and food is for cooking, tasting, savoring, a feast for all the senses. Food here is a joy to celebrate, requiring no building sites on our plates, just a blend of flavors that will make an impact and bring to life the most jaded palate.

Each day here we are invited to partake in the celebration of sharing the fruit of our land, a privilege we have received merely by happening to be here, at the right place and at the right time, whatever the reason is that has brought us here…it is a privilege that deserves appreciation.

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And this weekend I also baked Hazlenut and Lavender Shortbread Biscuits

I cut lavender from the garden and made some lavender sugar which i have stored in a jar.

To make the lavender sugar, i blitzed together 2 spoons of lavender buds and a couple of leaves with two cups of sugar, giving a ratio of 1 tablespoon to 1 cup.
The taste is divine but i think the color can be improved and I will prepare another jar to compare, without the leaves and without blitzing the ingredients. Just storing them together in an air tight jar and allowing the lavender oil to infuse with the sugar. Drying the lavender before storing would give it a longer shelf life and prevent it from sticking together.

And for the lavender and hazlenut biscuitsyou will need :

300 g plain flour
200 g butter (I reduced the butter content in mine to 150g, not the same ‘short texture’ but the flavor was unchanged)
75 g lavender sugar
1 egg
A pinch of salt
75g finely chopped hazlenuts

Preheat the oven to 160C.
Rub the flour into the sugar.
Add the hazlenuts.
Add half the sugar.
Mix and mix in the egg using.
Add cold water a spoonful at a time to bind if necessary.

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Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour. Take out.
Knead the rest of the lavender sugar together with a few more buds into the dough.

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Roll out and use a cutter to cut your cookies.

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Place on a greased oven dish.

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Sprinkle some more lavender sugar and top and top with a bud.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Don’t let the biscuits brown. Remove the tin from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing with a palate knife.
Sprinkle with some more sugar and leave them to cool completely.

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All Souls Day Traditional Almond Cookies

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A day after Halloween brings All Souls Day, a feast widely celebrated on the island with local food stores and confectioneries selling traditional bone shaped cookies with an almond meal stuffing.

The recipe for these ‘almond bones’ has been given to me by Renato Briffa, a well known pastry chef who is an expert on traditional and local sweets.

For 8 to 10 cookies, you will need :

For the pastry :

625g flour
200g butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Few drops good vanilla extract
150g water ( measured by weight not volume)
175g sugar

Tub flour and butter until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
Add the grated lemon rind, vanilla extract, sugar and finally the water and form the pastry dough.
Leave to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes to 20 minutes.

For the filling you will need :

200g ground almonds
150g sugar
Grated rind of one lemon
1 to 2 egg whites, depending on the size of the eggs.
1 egg white for brushing pastry

Mix everything together until you have the consistency similar to the pastry dough you have just made !

Making the bones ! :

Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape and leave it quite thick.
Brush the surface of the pastry with egg white.
Put some almond filling in the middle.
Roll up the pastry in the shape of a long sausage and secure edges tightly.
Cut the pastry into approximately 100g portions and shape like bones.
Bake in a hot oven at 220 C for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Take out of the oven and leave to cool !

Renato gave me a recipe for fondant icing but I cheated a little with mine. I made glacé icing by mixing a few drops of water into a bowl of confectioners sugar and stirring it until its the right consistency.

Cover the top of the cookies with white icing. Traditionally you would need to dust some flaked nuts before the icing melts. To give these cookies a Halloween touch, I sprinkled mine with orange Confetti !

Kourabiedes ! crescent cookies…. so light, so Greek….

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As blue as the Mediterranean waters …

I have very fond memories of living in Limassol when the kids were younger and we loved the local food. The bakeries were always brimming with traditional sweets and pastries and today I am making Kourabiedes.

You can have them plain or stuffed with dates and I am making the plain version today. These butter cookies have a very light texture as they are made with confectioners sugar and this recipe was given to me by my good neighbor Maria who said that her grandmother used a combination of almonds and walnuts … I have been asked by some of you about where to buy Rose Water in the USA

Although you can use a crescent shaped cutter, I prefer to mould them by hand as the finished effect is more rounded and enticing …. You simply form small balls from the dough and then make an indent with your thumb in the center of the ball and you will end up with a rounded 3-d crescent rather than a flat shape. These cookies are easy to make and ideal for cooking with the kids. If you wish to buy rose water online in the USA please click This recipe makes around 35 cookies.

You will need :

1 cup soft butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar plus extra sugar for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup ground almonds
Few drops vanilla extract
Few drops rose water if available
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Tip of a teaspoon ground cloves, do not overdo it

Cream butter in a mixing bowl
Add the sugar
Continue creaming until light and fluffy
Add the ground almonds, lemon zest, vanilla extract, rose water, crushed walnuts and cloves,
Blend in flour gradually together with salt. Mix thoroughly until it forms a soft dough.
Shape into teaspoonful balls
Indent each ball in the middle with your thumb and form a crescent shape.
Place on ungreased baking sheet
Bake at 180 C for 10 to 15 minutes
Cover the bottom of a flat plate with icing sugar.
Place cookies on top and sprinkle with more icing sugar. Turn them over so that they are fully covered.
Shake off excess icing sugar and arrange on platter.

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Rolling the crescents in sugar …

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