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Melting Moments – Children’s Party Oat Biscuits

Things haven’t really changed much. For Julie and Lucie, a birthday party without Melting Moments isn’t complete. Who would have thought, as I discovered recently on Julie’s 18th?

Melting Moments Oat Biscuits

Of all the treats that have come out of this kitchen, Melting Moments, these little buttery oat biscuits, have somehow created that memory that’s rekindled each year round.

This was the very first recipe I made completely on my own when I was growing up in Scotland. It was from The Brownie Cookbook. I’ve no idea where it disappeared to, but I’d copied it down with Mum for my Brownie Badge and somehow it stayed as a family birthday favourite. I see there’s still a Brownie-Guide cookbook but I hate to think how old my edition must have been! I’ve just hit 50, so I’ve had a few melting moments recently too – especially with Julie turning 18!

Melting Moments easy oat cookies for birthdays

A last-minute 18th birthday party amongst her friends before the BAC exams hit recently, I offered to help Julie out with making pizza, macarons, and her favourite giant birthday éclairs with strawberries and elderflower cream (recipe is in Teatime in Paris!).

With bubbly it was a real adult party – until she realised we’d forgotten the Melting Moments! I was already melting in the kitchen with unusually high temperatures and the oven wasn’t helping.

Sure enough, Julie was checking out our splattered, tattered recipe sheet to get rolling her favourite little buttery biscuits in oats. Why is rolling the best part? Because, even at 18 they apparently love to get their palms sticky, rolling these dainties into little balls, flattening them quickly and pressing in cranberries or better still, glacé cherries.

Melting Moments oat cookies

Press in dried cranberries just before baking

I particularly adore the glacé cherries, as we buy them cheaply by the kilo in Provence, near my parents-in-law’s house in Saignon.  Did you know that Apt is the world capital of glacé fruits (candied fruits) and so every time we visit, I stock up on crystallised fruits from cherries, orange peel, to ginger.

Please ensure they’re good quality and sticky wet, as dried out ones at the back of the cupboard are just not the same!

Melting Moments

Even Papa wanted to put the cherries on top!

Melting Moments

This is an updated recipe from my original post published in 2011 – especially as, over the years, we don’t have an overly sweet tooth so we’ve lowered the sugar content again since. I was asked for this oat recipe by Hamlyns Oats of Scotland, who are kindly sharing this amongst their “Oat Cuisine Recipes” on their website in conjunction with the Perfect Porridge Giveaway.

Melting Moments

PIN me – let’s party!

Have you made them yet? In 30 minutes, you’ll discover why they’re called melting moments.

Have you made any of the recipes from le blog or fancy making this recipe for Melting Moments?  Please do leave a comment below – or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons. I’d love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook.

 

Melting Moments

Melting Moments Oat Biscuits

5 from 7 votes
Melting Moments
Melting Moments - Oat Biscuits
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Melt-in-the-mouth buttery oat biscuits, rolled in oats and topped with bits of glacé cherry - perfect for making with children and sharing with the adults.

Servings: 30 biscuits
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 100 g (3.5oz) butter softened
  • 55 g (2oz) caster sugar
  • 1 small organic egg (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • 100 g (3.5oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 50 g (2oz) fine oatmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • medium porridge oats for rolling
  • 4 glacé cherries or dried cranberries for decoration Cut into fine bits
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour, oatmeal, baking powder and mix well.

  2. Roll walnut size pieces of the mixture into balls, and roll each one in the oat flakes.
  3. Place them on baking trays covered in baking paper or on a silicone mat, flattening slightly each one with the finger, then place 1/4 glacé cherry on each (or any other candied fruit; candied orange peel is good, too.)

  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown then cool on a wire rack.

Recipe Notes

I used to make this with egg, but as so little is added, I often omit it and the biscuits are just as good! Melting Moments can also be rolled in desiccated coconut.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Melting Moments Recipe

Matrimonial Cake – Oaty Shortbread Date Squares

Are you looking for perfect date ideas? As it’s wedding season upon us soon, I can’t think of a better lovable treat to serve than this sticky Matrimonial Cake, or oaty shortbread date squares.

Matrimonial Cake or Date Squares

I’ve baffled even myself as to why I haven’t made these oaty date squares until recently. Granny called the recipe “Matrimonial Cake” and it was my personal favourite of all of my childhood baking with her and Auntie Shirley in Musselburgh. There was only one problem and so it comes with a warning to you: it’s so blooming addictive!

By now, if I’m able to control myself like the French women with sumptuous Parisian macarons, Lemon Passion Meringue tarts, Strawberry & Elderflower éclairs, double chocolate tartlets, buttery financiers and Madeleines (all in Teatime in Paris), plus the likes of palets bretons butter biscuits, I can safely make Granny’s Matrimonial Cake and leave it sitting in the box for up to a week.

Right?

Wrong.

matrimonial cake Scottish wedding

It’s hard to believe it’s already two weeks ago that I was back in Scotland celebrating Lindsay and Eddie’s wedding in Edinburgh.

matrimonial Cake Scottish wedding dancing

My cousin, Lindsay, is the life and soul of every family party and at Christmas time, before you know it after Auntie Catherine lights up her homemade Figgy Pudding with brandy, there’s no snoozing by the fire; you can pretty much guarantee being put into a team as Lindsay puts on the entertainment for the rest of the evening with a whole variety of party games, quizzes and prizes. Eddie, you’re in for a most fun-loving life together and wish you both matrimonial bliss for a long, healthy and happy vie à deux en amoureux.

As they say in Scotland, “lang may yer lum reek” (long may your chimney smoke)!

matrimonial Cake in the snow

Back home in France – as the honeymooners had found the sunshine – we were unexpectedly snowed in. For the first time in five years, Paris was briefly coated in a giant duvet of snow and with the girls’ lycée closed, it meant I turned to Granny’s Black Book of Scottish Recipes for our golden sunshine in the cosy kitchen.

Thinking of the wedding, it had to be Matrimonial Cake! As the recipe calls for cups, I’ve double- checked the quantities in more modernised measurements in grams and ounces and, as always, reduced the sugar slightly.

 

Why is it called Matrimonial Cake?

Goodness knows why the recipe is called “Matrimonial Cake”. Do you know of its origins? If you do, then please leave a comment below this post – I’d love to hear from you! All I know is that it’s popular in Canada, with some Canadians mentioning that the recipe originally came from Scotland.

This is when I wish I could have asked Granny tons of questions today, as this recipe probably has a lot more to it than meets the eye. All I know is that before life with Grandpa, she’d left Scotland and lived in Canada for about 3 years with a most adventurous life as nanny to five children of a business tycoon of a canning factory, originally from Kinlochleven in Scotland. Mr & Mrs Stewart loved entertaining and while travelling in their private plane, Granny had full control of their children, taking them on holiday, baking, sewing etc. and keeping up with the glamorous life.

matrimonial cake

When she baked these date squares with us, who knows what was running in her mind of memories? Questions were taboo back in these days but knowing just this now, I’d be dying to know the children’s names. Were they named after her own 5 children later: Ronald, Shirley, Irene, June and Catherine?

So, Matrimonial Cake looks like it came from her previous life in Canada. Its name is probably just because it was served at weddings at some time. It’s ideal for a winter wedding, as dates are easy to keep in store. My theory is that it’s simply so deliciously addictive that it had to be kept for weddings or special occasions – what do you think?

Whatever its origins, this Matrimonial Cake is just as addictive as I remember it and Lucie is pleading we make it again. We have a good excuse, as tomorrow Antoine’s cousin is coming over with her fiancé for a goûter before we see them at their French wedding during the next holidays near Paris. More matrimonial cake bliss is ahead…

matrimonial cake or date squares

Matrimonial Cake: The Recipe

Granny mentions using lemon juice so I’m sticking with it – and even added a bit more which made the date paste turn a bit pinkish in colour but I loved this, as it ended up being rather appropriate for Valentine’s Day, too. I see in other Canadian recipes that they use orange juice instead plus even some zest but I prefer keeping it simple as I remember it. If you feel some zest coming on, then go for it!

Once the delicious shortbread-like oat crumble is pressed in to the bottom of the tin and spread with the date paste, just drop on the crumble topping and only gently pat it down so that the effect is still a bit crumbly on top.

Granny didn’t use much crumble on top (if you like a lot then increase the crumble recipe but the magic is the recipe below) which meant that you could still see the date nectar underneath and the crumble was more of a slightly sparse hint – which is why we craved even more.

matrimonial cake (date squares)

Baking with Dates from the Pantry

If you love dates, then you’ll also love these Date and Apple Bran Muffins, another inspiration from Granny’s recipes.

Don’t have dates?

No worries if you don’t even have dates. Make matrimonial cake with prunes and add some orange zest. The combination is wonderful – I even have a prune, orange and Armagnac recipe for macarons in my first book, Mad About Macarons!

matrimonial cake or date squares recipe from Granny's selection of Scottish recipes

Like the recipe? Have something to say about it? Just even want to say hello? I love hearing from you – it’s my motivation to keep this blog going as I don’t monetise it. So, don’t be shy and leave a reply below… thank you!

5 from 14 votes
Matrimonial Cake or Date Squares
Matrimonial Cake - Oaty Shortbread Date Squares
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

Matrimonial Cake that Granny used to make. Whether it's Canadian or Scottish, the result is just as delicious: dates sandwiched in an oat shortbread crumble crust.

Course: Snack, teatime
Cuisine: Canadian, Scottish
Servings: 10 people (calories for 2 squares each @70g)
Calories: 275 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Date Filling
  • 255 g (9 oz) Pitted dates either in a block or separate in packets
  • 110 ml (4 fl oz) boiling water
  • 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 lemon juice only
Oat Shortbread
  • 110 g (4 oz) butter (unsalted) softened
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) soft light brown sugar
  • 90 g (3 oz) porridge oats
  • 120 g (4 oz) plain flour all-purpose
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 good pinch salt (fleur de sel)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla powder)
Instructions
For the Date Filling:
  1. In a saucepan, cook together all the ingredients except the lemon juice.  Cook gently until soft (about 20 minutes). It's ready when the dates soften into a paste. (If you prefer having a perfectly smooth paste, then blitz it for a few seconds in a food processor.)  Set aside to cool then add the lemon juice.

For the Oat Shortbread Crumble:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F/Gas 4 and grease a baking tin (I use a 27x19cm tin) with either butter or spray with baking oil.

  2. Cream the butter and sugar together either by hand using a wooden spoon or better, in a food mixer/processor.

  3. Add oats, flour, soda and vanilla until well combined.

  4. Press no more than half of the mixture into the greased baking tin - either with your fingers or using a flat spatula to make the bottom layer even and thin. Spread on the date paste using a spatula and smooth it out until even.

  5. Top with the oaty shortbread crumbs and gently pat it on top to keep it in place but not too much - it's better to have a crumbly look to the light topping. 

  6. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the oats are lightly toasted.

  7. Cool on a wire rack then place in the fridge for about 30 minutes, remove from the tin and cut into squares - or bars, if you prefer.

Recipe Notes

Like macarons, this is even better eaten next day - and the next and next...

Store up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge. Best eaten at room temperature so remove from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving.

Don't have dates? Then replace dates with prunes and add the zest of an orange.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

Matrimonial Cake Date Squares

 

Healthy Breakfast Bran Muffins

The upside of last week’s heavy rainfall in Paris is that it has been ideal weather to bake some healthy breakfast bran muffins. They’ve made me rather nostalgic for Scotland, thinking of baking with my granny. Although these muffins may sound pretty ordinary, they’re packed with oats, apple, spices, dates or golden sultana raisins – and low on sugar too.

Healthy Breakfast Bran Muffins

At this time of year I’m always looking for ways to bring a smile to my teenagers’ faces in the mornings. Let’s face it, it’s easy to get on that downward spiral of fatigue with a general lack of winter sunlight, the girls’ mock lycée exams and crescendo-ing snatched snooze alarms before reluctantly pushing aside the duvet (sound familiar?). We’ve needed to cheer up by starting the day with quick and easy comfort food that’s a bit nostalgic. Baking up a batch of these warmed healthy breakfast bran muffins with dates and apple has added a wee smile on my face too, thinking of Granny.

First let me show you some bright and cheery Scottish heather, snapped in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens over the weekend, then my French heather back in the garden, just after I got home, just west of Paris. There, that’s a sunshine fix for us – now for the muffins!

scottish heather Edinburgh

Bran Muffin Inspiration

Looking for some cheery nostalgia, I brought out Granny’s Black Book of Scottish recipes again. I took it as a sign as the book opened directly at page 43, with Miss Adams’ recipe for Bran Muffins.

Only Granny would have known who Miss Adams was, as I can’t find any family members who had heard of her.  In any case, it was the perfect time to make these healthy breakfast bran muffins, as I’ve just discovered Hamlyn’s of Scotland’s new Oats and Bran. It took me right back to the time my Mum used to make bran muffins using a well-known breakfast cereal but when I checked the company’s website, it wasn’t up there – but who knew that Granny had a recipe?

Breakfast bran muffins

Granny’s handwritten recipe for Bran Muffins and Hamlyn’s Porridge Oats & Bran

So bring on these deliciously moist Breakfast Bran muffins, adapted from Granny’s Black Recipe Book with added healthy oats, dates and apple – and using weights (grams/ounces) to volume (cups).

Healthy Breakfast Bran Muffins

Find Us Some Dates

Incidentally, if you’re curious why I always use weights rather than volume, see my post on measuring your baking here. And if you’re not curious and use cups, then I thoroughly recommend you read it now, as it will change the way you bake.  It’s not as important for making easy muffin recipes like this one, but boy – you can’t make macarons, fancy cakes consistently well, or French patisserie without digital scales!

As you can see from Miss Adams’ recipe, granny suggested using dates. I love that squidgy concoction.  She often mixed dates with apple in her recipes, so I added the apple in these too for old times’ sake.

healthy breakfast oat date muffins

Moist Muffin Recipe Low on Sugar

The apple makes the bran muffins extra moist and with the dates’ natural sweetness, there’s no need to add anything to them. If you make the muffins the night before, just warm them slightly to serve for breakfast.

healthy breakfast bran muffins

Healthy breakfast bran muffins

Healthy Festive Muffins with Gingerbread Spice

To turn these oat muffins into festive treats, just add a teaspoon of gingerbread spice.

Gingerbread-apple-oat-muffins

Healthy Breakfast Bran Muffins

5 from 6 votes
Breakfast Bran Muffins
Healthy Breakfast Bran Muffins with Oats, Dates & Apple
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

Irresistibly moist bran muffins with oats, dates and apple for a delicious healthy start to the day. Add apple spice or gingerbread spice at Christmas to make them a festive treat.

Course: Breakfast, Snack, teatime
Cuisine: American, British, Scottish
Servings: 9
Calories: 153 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 100 g / 3.5oz plain flour all-purpose
  • 50 g / 1.75oz porridge oats with bran (Hamlyn's) or oats with 1 tbsp wheat bran
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt fleur de sel
  • 1 organic egg
  • 100 ml / 3.5fl oz milk
  • 70 g /2.5oz butter (unsalted) melted
  • 50 g /1.75oz soft dark brown sugar (Muscovado)
  • 100 g /3.5oz soft dates (Medjool) roughly chopped (or golden raisins)
  • 50 g /1.75oz apple finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp mixed/apple spice (or 1tsp gingerbread spice)
  • 1 tbsp porridge oats for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (180°C fan); Gas 6.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats with bran, baking powder and salt. Add the dates and apple (and apple spice if using) and coat in the flour mix.
  3. In another smaller bowl, beat the egg with the milk, melted butter and sugar. Mix together then add to the dry flour ingredients, stirring well until the batter is smooth.
  4. Spoon the mixture into paper cases inserted in buttered muffin tins (or directly into silicone muffin moulds). Fill ¾ of the way up.
  5. Sprinkle with a few porridge oats and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Leave to cool completely for about 10 minutes before taking out of the tin.
Recipe Notes

Best served fresh on the day but for busy bakers, make the night before and store in an airtight container once cool.

Variations: Instead of 100g dates, mix 50/50 of dates and sultanas. Another variation is to replace the dates with soft dried apricots – particularly the organic dark ones.

Christmas Version: Add gingerbread spice to make them into Gingerbread Apple Muffins!

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post but was thrilled to receive Scottish Porridge Oats & Bran from Hamlyns of Scotland in return for this recipe in their ‘Oat Cuisine’ collection (I wish I’d thought of that one!)

Macaroon Jam Tarts

Not to be confused with coconut and egg white macaroons – or macarons – but these retro tarts are a taste of Scotland!

Scotch Corsican Pancakes with Chestnut Flour

Wanting something a bit different for pancake day? These Scotch Corsican Pancakes are just the thing: I’ve added a delicious Corsican twist to the classic drop scone or Scotch pancake with chestnut flour and orange.

Scotch Corsican Pancakes with chestnut flour

 

Scotch pancakes are also known as drop scones or griddle cakes.  To keep Corsican hubby happy, I came up with an Auld Alliance version, merging the two nations in a simple pancake. Here I’ve made them slightly different with the addition of chestnut flour, which is a typical rustic flour used in Corsican cuisine and easily found in our health food stores.  It just adds a nutty, rich texture and goes beautifully when paired with orange.  Serve warm with plenty of honey and/or warmed marmalade for something special. Adding a touch of Corsican liqueur just gives a subtle kick to the flavour.

For more recipes using chestnut flour or sweetened vanilla chestnut paste, check out the following:

Scotch Corsican Pancakes

FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW

Wanting something a bit different for pancake day? These Scotch Corsican Pancakes are just the thing: I’ve added a delicious Corsican twist to the classic drop scone or Scotch pancake with chestnut flour and orange. See printable recipe below.

Makes approx. 12 pancakes

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes (put your feet up & have a cup of tea..)
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

70g plain flour
45g chestnut flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
30g butter, melted
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 large organic egg
1 tbsp Corsican Chestnut Liqueur (or Grand Marnier)*
1 tsp grated zest of an unwaxed orange
120ml milk

  1. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder & salt in a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre.  Whisk in the melted butter, the egg, orange zest, the liqueur (if using*) and gradually add in the milk until thick and creamy.  Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes so that the glutens in the flour expand.  This will make your pancakes light and fluffy (which I didn’t do for the photos here.  I was in a rush to run the kids back to school at lunch and you can see they’re as flat as a pancake.  30 mins rest does make a difference).
  3. Lightly grease a griddle/pancake pan or heavy frying pan and preheat it.
  4. Cook in batches.  Drop the equivalent of 4 spoonfuls of the mixture spaced apart over medium heat for 3 minutes until bubbles rise to the surface and burst.
  5. Turn the pancakes over and cook for a further 2 minutes.

* If you don’t want to use alcohol, replace the liqueur with orange flower water.

 

Scotch Pancakes

Turn over the pancakes once you see the bubbles bursting

Scotch Corsican Pancakes

Scotch Pancakes (Drop Scones) with Corsican Chestnut Flour

 

Update: I’m still learning: I should have just lumped these Scotch Corsican Pancakes with the blethery blog post on one page. So if it’s the chatter you’re after, see le blog: Chestnuts! From Pancakes to Ice Cream to Macarons…

Scotch Corsican Pancakes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Fancy something a bit different for pancake day? These Scotch Corsican Pancakes are just the thing: I've added a Corsican twist to the classic drop scone or Scotch pancake with chestnut flour and orange.

Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: British, French, Scottish
Servings: 4 people (calorie serving: 3 each)
Calories: 350 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 70 g (2.5oz) plain flour
  • 45 g (1.5oz) chestnut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 30 g (1oz) butter melted
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1 tbsp Corsican Chestnut Liqueur or Grand Marnier*
  • 120 ml (4oz) milk
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest (unwaxed orange)
Instructions
  1. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder & salt in a large bowl.

  2. Make a well in the centre.  Whisk in the melted butter, egg, orange zest, the liqueur (if using*) and gradually add in the milk until thick and creamy.  Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes so that the glutens in the flour expand.  This will make your pancakes light and fluffy (which I didn't do for the photos here.  I was in a rush to run the kids back to school at lunch and you can see they're as flat as a pancake.  30 mins rest does make a difference).

  3. Lightly grease a griddle/pancake pan or heavy frying pan and preheat it.
  4. Cook in batches.  Drop the equivalent of 4 spoonfuls of the mixture spaced apart over medium heat for 3 minutes until bubbles rise to the surface and burst.
  5. Turn the pancakes over and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Recipe Notes

* If you don't want to use alcohol, replace the liqueur with orange flower water (fleur d'oranger).

If not eating straight away, stack on a plate and cover with a clean tea towel.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com