Thursday, 18 April 2013
Spring seems to have finally, finally sprung.
I'm having to adjust to taking pictures with sunlight streaming into my kitchen instead of the beautiful muted light we've had all winter. I went out yesterday without a coat or thick scarf or boots or socks. The woollen throw has been tossed off my bed. The violets are flowering in every nook and cranny of my little garden and the buds on my apple tree are bursting open.
To celebrate, I've made cookies.
About ten years ago, mum bought a simple, magazine-style cookbook from the Australian Women's Weekly series. She spent a year working in Melbourne before I was born and I think she came across the series at that point. We've only ever made one recipe from the book: the chocolate cookies. They've evolved over the years but they're still essentially the same - thick, crispy-on-the-edges, squidgy-middled and wonderfully deep with muscavado and plenty of cocoa powder.
I've made them to say thank you. I've made them for picnics. I've made over a hundred for a catering job. I've made them when friends have come to stay. Mostly, I've made them when I really wanted a chocolate cookie.
Since I first posted about them in 2009 (they were the eighth recipe I posted on here), they've got a little lost in the archives. I wanted to talk about them again, so I thought I'd see what else you could fold through the dough. I usually use pecans with whatever other chocolate I have on hand - usually dark. So I could try a few different things, I split one batch of dough into three: Crystallized Ginger & Dark Chocolate, Double Chocolate & Walnut and Freeze Dried Raspberry & White Chocolate.
80g dark chocolate
25g crystallized ginger pieces
40g dark chocolate
30g milk chocolate
45g toasted walnuts
100g white chocolate
7g crushed freeze dried raspberries
I haven't tried baking freeze dried raspberries into anything before and sadly it didn't work here - any bits on the outside burned and I wasn't happy with the flavour (so the recipe went from whatever-you-want to nearly-whatever-you-want). Despite that, the ginger variation was great (though I might add a little more ginger next time - I was nervous as this packet seems extremely fiery) and I'm always a massive fan of the nut-chocolate combination.
What combination would you try?
(Nearly-)Whatever-You-Want Chocolate Cookies
(adapted from an Australian Women's Weekly book - I'm not sure which as I can't find the book)
125g unsalted butter
200g soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
185g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
350g of assorted chocolate, nuts etc
Preheat the oven to 160C/320F. Put the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and briefly beat to soften it up. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate, baking powder and salt and mix on the lowest setting to combine. Stir through the mix-ins. Use a couple of teaspoons to create smallish heaps of dough on a lightly greased baking sheet. Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes (12 if from frozen). Leave to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack.
The dough can be chilled for about 24 hours and frozen for a few months. I freeze formed ready-to-bake cookies on a tray then transfer them to a zippy bag. You can then bake them straight from the freezer whenever you want fresh cookies.
(Makes about 25-27 small cookies)
Three more posts about cookies/biscuits:
2012: Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
2011: Sesame Wafers
2010: Peanut Butter Biscuits