Fat Rascals

The Recipe: My cousin Laura's rendition of an old-fashioned biscuit from Yorkshire in the north of England, peppered with dried currants. The dough is mixed by hand (so, hey, no mixer required!) and rolls out so easily. At Christmas, I especially like to make Fat Rascals in small star shapes just a bite or two big.

But first, let me tell you a story about a boy on my street. Would cookies help, even a little?

Fat Rascals ♥ KitchenParade.com, a classic English biscuit cookie. The dough is mixed by hand, no mixer required! It rolls easily, try star shapes for Christmas, rounds for year-round treats.

Mornings, I watch a boy trudge up the street on his way to school.

He’s maybe nine. His backpack hangs low, his head bends downward. Delaying the inevitable, he kicks at leaves, a rock, the curb.

Afternoons, I watch the same-but-different boy head down the street toward home. His steps are quick, his shoulders thrown back, his face lifts to the sun. Still heavy, the backpack now bounces.

School may be hard for this man-in-the-making. Perhaps his classmates tease or the learning comes slowly.

But my own wish for the nameless one is that his lively homeward steps mean he will be welcomed by both real and cookie hugs.

Maybe someday I’ll meet him on the street with cookies and together we’ll walk home so his mom can be sure it’s okay for him to eat them.

Maybe then, we’ll become cookie friends and he’ll wave to the window as he passes, both directions, knowing his way is watched.

ALANNA's TIPS We're so accustomed to our "power tools" in the kitchen that it feels weird – not hard, just weird – to mix a bowl of cookies by hand. But don't switch to a mixer, Fat Rascals turn out sturdy but tender cookies when mixed by hand, just you, a bowl and your fingers. In my kitchen, it takes about an hour for small cubes of butter to reach a working temperature. This dough is really easy to manage, it mixes easily, it rolls easily, it just handles so well! But hmmm ... I'm also thinking that you could shape the dough into a roll, then cut it in rounds. I need to try this "slice and bake" version! Raisins may be substituted for currants but are sweeter and larger. So if you use raisins, make the two-inch rounds or choose a larger cut-out. But honestly, once you start baking with currants instead of raisins, you just might not go back. While the butter comes to room temperature, I like to soak the currants in 3 tablespoons of the milk – except that I don't always use milk! Apple cider works, I suspect for grown-up cookies, sherry would work beautifully too. Before I had a kitchen scale, I lightly aerated flour with a spoon to counteract the natural settling. You’ll use up to 25 percent less flour and the results will be noticeably lighter! I love-love-love to roll out cookie dough with powdered sugar instead of flour! Look for lots more tips like this in Holiday Baking Tips from a Certifiable Cookie-Baking Fiend!
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

FAT RASCALS

Mix, roll and cut: 20 minutes
Bake: 30 – 40 minutes
Makes 20 two-inch round cookies or about 40 small stars
  • 3 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 375g
  • 3/4 cup (150g) dark brown sugar
  • 1-1/8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup (8oz/228g/2 sticks) salted butter, cut in small cubes, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (120g) dried currants
  • 3 – 6 tablespoons milk or another liquid
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling

Heat oven to 400F/200C.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. With your fingers, rub the butter into the dry mixture until crumbly, first smashing each cube with flour between the pads of your fingers.

Stir in the currants and enough milk (start with 3 tablespoons, add more as needed) to produce a soft dough. Gather the dough in your hands to form a ball. There's no need to chill the dough before rolling it out.

Lightly dust a flat work surface with powdered sugar. With a rolling pin or a glass bottle, roll the dough into a disc about 1/3-inch thick. Cut the dough in two-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or use small cookie cutters. Gently re-gather and re-roll the scraps but do know, these cookies will not be quite so pretty and may bake off differently.

Arrange the cookies an inch apart (this allows for a little spreading) on a baking sheet lined with parchment. If there are any errant currants sticking out of the cookies, gently remove them since they'll burn.

Bake until golden, in my oven that means about 11 minutes but your timing will vary, based on the temperature of the dough (colder takes longer), the thickness of the cookies (thicker will take longer), the size of the cookies (larger take longer), the weight of the baking sheet (heavier takes longer). The cookies are done when the edges and bottoms turn golden but the centers remain slightly soft. Let the cookies cool for about five minutes before gently removing from the baking sheet to finish cooling on a rack.

FAT RASCALS? What a funny name for a cookie! My recipe comes from my cousin Laura, she shared it in our family cookbook way back in 2002. I just thought it was an unusual – but memorable, yes? – name and kept baking. Since then, I've learned that Fat Rascals are a treat best known in the north of England in the Yorkshire region – except that the Yorkshire biscuits are more like scones. Laura's (and now my and, well, YOUR) Fat Rascals are decidedly cookies, a crisp shortbread-like cookie, but with a touch of caramel flavor (that's the brown sugar at work) and spice (that's the cinnamon). So good, a real favorite!
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Small Cookie: 97 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 12mg Cholesterol; 64mg Sodium; 13g Carb; 0g Fiber; 6g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 4

More After-School Treats for Kids

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Gum Drop Cookies Molasses Cookies Banana Oatmeal Cookies
~ more cookie recipes ~

My Favorite Christmas Cut-Out Cookies

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Family Shortbread Chocolate Shortbread Cookies No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies

I loved this ... post as well as recipe. I hope you did walk him home. xoxo

8/01/2006
 
I was so touched by the story of the little boy and his dejection in the a.m. and his joy in the p.m., possibly going home to cookies and a hug.

Thank you, I live in the country, and have no one that walks by my window. They are all at their corners or in front of their farm roads waiting for the school bus. One of the very few disadvantages of living in the country.

But I do remember my childhood and teen years in walking the two or so miles in Minnesota weather and having my busy Mom handing me hot chocolate in cold weather or popcorn as a treat when I walked in the door. It didn't happen every day, but often enough to give me a special feeling, as the oldest, for a few minutes of her time.

Thank you for helping me re-live the memory. It was a semi-sweet memory as she has now been gone for 7 years and I can no longer tell her how much it meant to a girl growing up, and now 66 years old.
 
For the longest time, I dreaded school too - it always helped when Mom left me little treats in my lunchbox!
 
What a touching story about the little boy, dejected in the morning on his way to school, and happy coming home. School is not a happy place for so many little boys. They are not developmentally equipped for so many of the demands that the public schools make of them. I was a school social worker for many years, and always loved my so-called "bad boys," who were nothing more than active little boys who needed plenty of free play out of doors, and the opportunity to learn actively.

I can't believe that I have posted 3 comments in a row on one blog! Never happens. Great, well-written blog.
 
Susan, Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, yes, three times in a row! I can tell, you're after cookie recipes.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna