Romany Creams (South African Oreos)

Romany Creams are to South Africans what Oreos are to Americans. The difference is that Romany creams are much better! Romany creams are crunchy chocolate coconut biscuits that are sandwiched together with a layer of chocolate, not frosting. It's the real chocolate middle that makes the difference.
We never had much money when I was a child growing up in South Africa, so my mother often made us treats as it was cheaper than buying them. This is one of the many treats I enjoyed in my childhood and this is the first time I've made them. My husband has never tried them (he's not South African) so I thought now would be a good time for him to get a taste. Needless to say they have been an absolute hit. I took them to a weekly class I attend and everybody loved them.

About the recipe- This recipe is actually adjustable, if you want it to be. You can use coconut thread instead of desiccated coconut if you want it more coco-nutty. Increase the amount of cocoa if you want it more chocolatey. You can use any chocolate you fancy, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, even peppermint chocolate if you are that way inclined. You will most definitely need vegetable oil to make this biscuit work. Unfortunately New Zealand conditions cause the mixture to be quite dry, so the oil will be needed to counteract that.

Romany Creams
Makes 40 biscuits
200g Castor Sugar
250g Butter, softened
2 Eggs, medium size
580g White Flour
30g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
260g Desiccated Coconut
250g Chocolate of your choice (I used a block of Whittakers Milk Chocolate)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.You can do this by hand or in a mixer.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat in between additions. Make sure it is well combined.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
Add this to your butter mixture, along with the coconut and combine well. At this point you will have a fairly stiff dough. Add a little vegetable oil, such as sunflower oil, to make the mixture more workable. Test by rolling a bit of the mixture into a ball, if it holds its shape then you are good to go!

Now mold the dough into little balls and place on a lined baking sheet. The size of the biscuit is completely up to you. Traditionally they were made walnut sized, however I feel that is too small, so I doubled the size of mine!

Flatten out the balls with a fork. Scrape the top of each biscuit with a fork to rough it up a bit. This just adds a nice texture and visual effect. If you don't have time then just flatten them out.

Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. The bigger the biscuit the longer it will take to bake. These biscuits rise slight and they don't spread out like most cookies do, so you wont be able to tell when they are done, just by looking.

When you take them out of the oven they should be firm, with a slight soft center. Leave them on a cooling rack to cool. Do not leave them on a board or plate to cool. Because of the oil and butter in it, it will go soggy. We want crunchy, not soggy!

Once biscuits are completely cool, and I do mean completely cool, melt your chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Using a butter knife or palette knife, spread the chocolate onto the biscuits and sandwich together. Leave to cool before devouring. 

My biscuits were quite large so I didn't sandwich them. I did however put two layers of chocolate on them!



Pistachio and Cranberry Shortbread

I make shortbread often. Literally everybody loves it. This recipe is basic and is definitely fail safe. You can keep the shortbread plain or flavour it with spice or nuts/fruit like I have.

Pistachio and Cranberry Shortbread
Makes approx 40 biscuits
250g Butter, softened
1 cup Icing Sugar
1 cup Corn Flour
2 cups Flour, standard
75g Pistachios (chopped)
75g Dried Cranberries (chopped)


Cream butter and sugar until smooth.
Sift your flour and cornflour together and then add it to the butter mixture. Mix to form a dough.
Add the pistachios and cranberries to the tough and knead it a little.
On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to a 0.5cm thickness.
Cut out the dough with a cookie cutter and prick with a fork.
Bake at 150 degrees celsius for 30 minutes. Don't let it go golden brown. It should still be pale in colour. Cool on wire rack before storing in an airtight container..