Monday, December 3, 2012

A Tasmanian Holiday + Oat Shortbread with Chocolate Drizzle and Sea Salt

Get ready for a mega-long post.

This week, I've been in Tasmania.  Family trip #I've-completely-lost-count.  Hobart, Swansea and Launceston.  Because I now have a blog as an outlet for my ramblings with which I can do whatever I like, I thought I would share some photos.  If you're only interested in the recipe, skip on ahead, I promise I don't mind.

Pictures don't lie.  Tasmania is indeed a really beautiful country, especially when the weather is good.  We were pretty lucky this time round to have decent weather filled with blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  It did rain a little on Thursday, but not enough to dampen our spirits.  

Natural scenery is one of the main reasons Tasmania attracts tourists, and on our trip I saw an abundance of fields and forests, flowers and bees, cows and horses, sheep and goats.  We must have passed by fifty farms during our long car drives from city to city.  For a city girl like me, it still feels exciting to see an old fashioned farm with sheep lazing in the paddock, black and white cows grazing grass and glossy chestnut horses peering at us over wired fences.  

Food, though, is never far away from my mind - I do have a food blog for a reason, after all.  There was tons of seafood, from fish and chips eaten at the pier to famous curry scallop pies to smoked trout with caviar in a fine dining restaurant to a fresh seafood dinner eaten in the quiet seaside town of Swansea.

And naturally, there was dessert.  I fell in love with the homey rustic-looking cafe Daci & Daci Bakery in Hobart with walls lined with freshly baked bread and glass cases piled with tarts and cakes of all descriptions.  A slice of humbleberry pie at a berry farm, along with freshly made raspberry and blueberry ice cream, completely made my day.  And a visit to the lavender farm rang true with buzzing bees, sweet scents and shades of pale purple as well as food all laced with lavender - we had lavender scones, lavender ice cream (in a beautiful indigo-violet shade) and earl grey lavender tea, served fittingly in a purple pot.

That is a snippet of my Tasmanian holiday, I hope I haven't bored you with too many pictures!  And onward with the recipe...

These were the cookies that I meant to take with me on the plane, but ran out of time to make.  So I compromised and made them when I got back.  Generally, I like to make baked goods of the portable variety to bring with me if I'm travelling long distance - be it road trip, plane trip, boat trip (which hasn't happened yet.  Does anyone own a boat and would like to take me sailing?  I'll bring cookies).

This shortbread would definitely have traveled well; it's firm and filling, holds well on its own, and is able to sustain you through those random hunger cravings that are inevitable when travelling (I hope this isn't just me).  You can skip the chocolate drizzle on top if you think it's too messy, but once the chocolate sets it packs up neatly.  I really recommend going the extra mile and melting the chocolate, it pairs perfectly with the oats.

These cookies remind me of Digestives, which I loved to munch on as a kid.  They're like a more sophisticated version of an oatmeal cookie, which I think is one of those baked goods that just scream homemade comfort, and leaves you feeling nourished and content.

Don't just think it's a typical oatmeal cookie, though - it also has all the classic shortbread qualities: buttery crumbling in your mouth at the first bite and begging to be eaten with a mug of tea or coffee.  The oats + chocolate + sea salt combination is one that I would definitely use again.  I hope you'll try these cookies, even if you're not planning a trip any time soon, they'll let you feel comforted and satisfied just where you are.

Oat Shortbread with Dark Chocolate Drizzle and Sea Salt
Adapted from Sweet Amandine
Makes about 20 cookies

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (plus extra)
1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup raw sugar (plus extra)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
70g good quality dark chocolate (about 70% cacao)
Flaked sea salt

Put the oats into a food processor and pulse until powdery.  If there are some large flakes of oats still in there that's fine, leave them in for texture.  Pour the oat flour into a bowl and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar in the food processor.  Add the vanilla and egg and process until combined.  Add the oat flour, flour, salt and nutmeg and process until a dough is formed - it will be very sticky.

On a piece of baking/parchment paper, sprinkle on a small handful of rolled oats and raw sugar.  Turn the cookie dough onto the lined surface and roll into a log, using the baking paper to help form a shape.  The oats and sugar should coat the outside of the log.  Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (you can refrigerate it overnight as well).

Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Take the cold log out of the fridge and slice off coins of cookies a little less than 1/2 inch thick.  Place on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until golden and firm.  Take out of the oven and place on a rack to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over a double boiler.  Cut a tiny corner off a small ziplock bag and pour the chocolate in (letting it cool a little first. Put the ziplock in a tall glass to make transferring the chocolate easier).  Zigzag the chocolate over the cooled shortbread and sprinkle immediately with a small pinch of sea salt.  Wait about 20-30 minutes for the chocolate to set (I put it in the freezer for about 5 minutes just to speed it up).  Enjoy with tea or coffee.


  1. Oooooh, these look so good! I bet the oaty shortbread would be the exact right combo of hearty and buttery. I've got some smoked salt kicking around, and I'm thinking that would go perfectly with the oats and the dark chocolate. Definitely trying this recipe out! The photos from Tasmania are gorgeous too - although I've spent a lot of time in New Zealand and a little in Australia, I've never made it down there. One day!

    1. Smoked salt would definitely add a more exotic twist to these cookies, I bet it would turn out wonderful! And Tasmania is really worth a visit - although perhaps a little further into December so you get the chance to go berry picking and see the lavender fields in full bloom as well.

  2. Tasmania looks beautiful. What is that blue ice cream? I love oatcakes and these look great with the addition of chocolate and sea salt!

    1. The blue ice cream is actually lavender ice cream, which was surprisingly good - the lavender flavor was mild and wasn't too overwhelming. I absolutely loved the color!


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