Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baking Session with Mum - Marble Shortbread and Brownies

Nowadays, I will offer to accompany my mum to the market to purchase groceries and help her out with the food preparation when she cooks. Since she is working during office hours and hardly have time to prepare meals on most days, I would always look forward to her cooking on sundays. Last Sunday was slightly different from norm as I had the rare opportunity to engage in a baking session with my mum. "Let's do cookies together". She took me by surprise when she came to me and suggested that.

When it comes to cooking, I will take on a supporting role and help prepare ingredients such as peeling onions and dicing potatoes. It was a reversal of roles for our baking session. My mum helped out with the preparation of baking ingredients instead - weighing ingredients and sifting the flour, while I did the mixing.

During the baking session, we churned out marble shortbread and fudgy brownies. The marble shortbread caught my attention when I was browsing through one of my recently bought cookie book. Most of the time, we would only think of or come across marble cakes, cheesecakes or brownies. I thought marble cookies were kind of uncommon. Usually it will bull's-eyes cookies or pinwheel cookies instead.

My mum and younger brother enjoyed the cookies. I love the crunchy-crumbly texture but thought that the taste could improve with a bit more vanilla or some orange zests to bring out the contrasts of the slight bitterness of the cocoa. These marble shortbread are quite simple to make and they store really well in my IKEA cookie jar. 

I reduced the sugar content in the brownies by a-third and the brownies baked much earlier than I expected, catching me off-guard. I had intended the brownies to be 30-40% fudgy but the batter firmed up and crumbs were almost fully developed when I was aware. Thankfully the brownies did not dry out and were still moist even though they were hardly fudgy anymore, probably 5% fudgy at most was too well done for me. This recipe is definitely a keeper as the unsweetened chocolate (vs semisweet/bittersweet chocolates) gave the brownies an intense chocolatey flavour.

Marble Shortbread ( recipe adapted from 三步骤成功做饼干 by 郭士弘)
Serving size: 20 - 25 cookies
Taste and texture: Crunchy-crumbly.
Equipment and materials:
1) Stand electric beater/ handheld electric beater or wooden spoon
2) Flour sieve
3) Measuring spoon set
4) Spatula
5) Mixing bowls
6) Wire rack
7) Baking trays/ cookie sheets
8) Baking / parchment paper

150g unsalted butter
85g icing sugar
220g cake flour
1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla extract/ essence
10g cocoa powder

Making the Cookies:
Cream butter: Beat the butter and icing sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes until butter mixture is fluffy. The butter need not be as well-creamed as that for making cakes.

Making the cookie dough: Sift in cake flour and beat on low speed to combine butter mixture and flour briefly. Stop once the dough starts to comes together. Scrape and fold in any stray flour with a spratula.

Divide the dough into two portions, one portion slightly bigger than the other. Combine the cocoa powder with the smaller dough and add the vanilla to the larger dough.

Shaping dough: Combine the plain dough and the chocolate dough. Give it some twists and turns in a irregular fashion to give it a marlbing effect. Do not overmix.

Place dough onto baking/parchment paper and roll the dough into a 1 inch (2.5cm) round log. Refrigerate or freeze until log is firm. Slice the log into rounds of about 1 cm thickness.

Baking the cookies:  Place rounds onto baking trays lined with baking/parchment paper. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and bake for 15 - 22 minutes. Once done, the cookies should be firm to the touch and will firm up further upon cooling. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before storing in air-tight containers.

1) If cookies do not firm up well after cooling. It means they are underbaked. Fret not. Simply return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 7-10 minutes, then allow to cool.
2) When cookies are cooled, pressing into the cookies will not yield any dents/ imprints.
3) Using vanilla essence might be a better choice here. I think most of my vanilla extract evaporated while baking, hence I could'nt quite taste the vanilla flavour.


  1. When I first saw the photos of the cookies, I thought they were cakes as well. Thesenare interesting!

  2. Very lovely of Aunty to offer a baking session with you since she knows you love baking so much. My guess was right all along -- you're indeed a filial and very sweet son! I always envy those who can make a good team with their parents in the kitchen. When either one of us is in the kitchen, we avoid clashing into each other. LOL! What to do with two ladies who differ in views, share a stubborn and an independent personality. Haha!

    I always love marbled bakes and steamed treats for that with each slice, the marbling effect differs. Your brownies still look good nonetheless, I remember you made some wicked ones using Yockelson's recipe long ago.

    P.S. You ain't too far away from it, gambateh in the report!

  3. I am so going to try out the marble shortbread cookies! I just did my 1st shortbread choc chip butter cookies (pheww... what a mouthful) without premix and the results are very good! So much better taste than the premix one! So, yes, this is going to be my next attempt!

    Btw, it is so nice to still be able to cook and bake with your mum. Cherish the moments! Have a lovely Sunday! :)

  4. ZY, you are so blessed to have a mom who share such a great bonding time with you. Treasure this moment.

    You are right about marble cookies, definitely unique. As for the brownies, it looks so yummilious.

  5. Marble cookies looks pretty and I'm sure they taste good. Hey I can consider this for x'mas cookie making! ;)

  6. so sweet! me and my mom are like channel 5 and channel 8. she'll do the local delights while i'll be baking the ang moh cakes =/

  7. Mum knows best! Lucky you! My compliments for the lovely shortbread and brownies.

  8. I always wanted to make marble cookies too. Your marble cookies look pretty & special.

  9. Hey Shirley,

    Yeah these cookies are interesting indeed and they do not require much effort.


    Hey Pei-lin,

    erm, i am not sure if we make a good team. there was once i almost argued with my mum when we were doing chili crabs due to differing views. haha.

    the marbling effect for these cookies are much easier to control then that of cakes. I tend to over-marble my cakes.


    Hey Jenny,

    you're doing better these days. time to say no to premixes. Cookies are quite easy to make and won't go wrong.

    yeah it is indeed fun to cook and bake with my mum. Wish I could convert her into a baking addict, haha


    Hey edith,

    It is indeed a good opportunity for bonding with her when we cook and do the market-ing

    thanks for the nice words =]

  10. hey aimei,

    These cookies look good and store well. I like the texture more than the taste. I think most of my vanilla extract evaporated while baking and hence I cant really taste the vanilla flavour. Adding more vanilla or using essence might do the trick.


    hey Jean,

    thats cool! My mum don't really do chinese stuffs. How I wish she would.


    Hey Judy and Doris,

    thanks for the kind words.

  11. Like Shirley, I too thought they were mini cakes. How unique and I love the fact that you bake with your mum. How cool is that!

  12. The cookies look really nice ! So good that you can do baking with ur mum. I never had the chance to. Coz she will freak out if I mess up her kitchen !


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