Since I’ve not been out and about shooting sport for the last six weeks, I’ve been keeping myself occupied with baking. Having watched episodes of The Great British Bake-Off, I’ve been inspired to experiment with cooking things that I’ve not previously tackled. Cooking is not something that I have much time for, but recuperation has given me time to fill, and rather than sit and watch a lot of daytime TV, I have messed about in the kitchen.
One of the things I decided to try was cookies. I’ve tried in the past and not had satisfactory results. I found one recipe that made tasty but rather pancake like cookies that spread during baking. I decided to try to find an alternative and via trusty Google, came across Felicity Cloake via The Guardian website. A lot of recipes that originate from America have measurements in ‘cups’ which I find baffling. How big is a cup? I prefer the ounce or gram recipe so I can weigh ingredients properly.
So, with acknowledgement to the website I found the recipe, here are the details:
120g salted butter, at room temperature
75g light brown sugar
75g granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
240g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
170g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Sea salt flakes (optional)
1. Using a wooden spoon, or (even better) a food mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until just combined. Add the vanilla extract, then the egg, and beat in well.
2. Sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda, then use a spoon to add to the mixture, stirring until it just comes together into a dough. Fold in the chocolate pieces, then chill overnight, or for up to 72 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper, and divide the mixture into golf-ball sized rounds, spacing them well apart. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden, but not browned.
4. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt if using, and allow to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes, before moving to a wire rack to cool completely – or scoffing immediately.
The combination of granulated and soft brown sugar is a common one: the former presumably adding crunch, the latter a caramel flavour. Some recipes use caster sugar and soft brown sugar rather than granulated – but I found I like the crunch the larger grains give the biscuit edges. This recipe uses LIGHT soft brown sugar, and previously recipes I’ve used call for DARK soft brown sugar. Fortunately I had both in the store cupboard. Most recipes use plain flour, but the American recipes sometimes use strong bread flour. This recipe uses Bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent. Baking powder gives a lighter texture, but cookies need a bit of density. I used unsalted butter as I had some in the fridge and I don’t think it made a huge difference to the taste. Some recipes use melted butter for a chewier cookies, but I found the creaming method, using my handheld beater, worked really well. I used Waitrose plain chocolate chunks which were chunkier than the usual baking chocolate drops. I chilled the dough overnight in the fridge, and it made it firmer and so spread less during cooking.
So now, just about right to taste the fruits of my labours with a cafetiere of my favourite ground coffee. YUM.