Real Bourbon Biscuits

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Bourbon biscuits . . . with a hint of the strong stuff

When it comes to biscuits (of the British variety, not their soft, scone-like American counterpart), some brands do exactly what they say on the tin, while others are a little more elusive with their identity. Custard Creams are sandwiched together with – you guessed it – a layer of custardy cream, Jammy Dodgers filled with jam, and while their abilities to aid the breakdown of food may not be proven scientific fact, there is something soothingly simple about a plain Digestive biscuit that more than justifies its name.

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Brown Butter & Buckwheat Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Chewy brown butter cookies packed with thick milk chocolate chunks

Brown butter is a baker’s best friend. If I had a pound for every recipe I’d read extolling the virtues of this simple ingredient since I’ve been blogging, I’d be a very rich little loaf. Until fairly recently I’d always thought of it as a savoury thing, the foaming beurre noisette surrounding a piece of white fish or flavoured with sage and poured over pasta; I’m only just starting to understand the joy of stirring it into biscuits, cakes, cookies and muffins to ramp up the flavour and add to their intensity.

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Marbled Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Marbled chocolate chunk cookies – two different doughs swirled together for maximum chocolate impact

What is it that makes grown adults go all gooey over chocolate chip cookies? Plain, humble and based on the most basic of ingredients, they are nonetheless held on something of a pedestal by people all over the world. Pop those three simple words into Google and you’ll return no fewer than 32 million pages, while professional chefs, journalists and home bakers alike appear to be on a constant quest to find the perfect recipe.

Perhaps it’s sheer simplicity that gives the cookie its clout. Anyone can make at batch in their comfort of their kitchen, and even if  your technique and timing is little out, it’s hard to go completely wrong with what is essentially a slab of chocolate, butter and sugar combined. The nostalgia element is also key – mere mention of a chocolate chip cookie conjures up images of wholesome fun, of sunny afternoon snacks, comforting kitchens and reaching into a giant all-American fridge-freezer for that vital glass of cold, cold milk. Continue reading

Gianduja ice cream chocolate chip cookie sandwiches

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Hazelnut heaven: creamy gianduja ice cream sandwiched between chewy chocolate chip cookies

What could be better than a scoop of gianduja ice cream, velvet-smooth and creamy with sweet chocolate undertones and the richness of roasted hazelnuts?

If you’re an ice cream purist, not much. But if you enjoy the sweet things in life on a scale of decadence just tipping into over-indulgence, I’d suggest trying a scoop of gianduja ice cream sandwiched between two crispy, chewy chocolate chip cookies. It’s heaven. Or as close as you’re going to get through a mouthful of frozen dessert anyway. Continue reading

Chunky chocolate, raisin & walnut cookies

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The perfect chocolate chunk cookie?

A couple of weeks ago I posted the results of my recent quest for the perfect chocolate chunk cookie. Dense and chewy, with a crispy edge and large dark chocolate chunks, these giant cookies were definitely up there. But perfection isn’t a finite thing, and yesterday I decided to rustle up another batch, using the lessons I’d learnt from last time round.

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The perfect chocolate chunk cookie

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The perfect chocolate chunk cookie?

If I had a pound for every blog post out there talking about the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, I would be a very rich girl. Whether it’s UK bloggers lamenting the lack of good recipes using metric measurements, or US bloggers vying for the ultimate ‘just like Mom used to make’ recipe, chocolate chip cookie chat is definitely a hot topic on the baking agenda of the blogosphere.

And not without good reason. There’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into  thick, chewy American style cookie, soft in the middle, crispy and buttery round the edges and studded with bittersweet chocolate chunks. We’re not talking ‘dip in your tea and nibble appreciatively’ British style biscuit here, this is a full on super-sweet indulgence best enjoyed with a complete lack of guilt and a giant glass of cold milk.

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Balls of delicious cookie dough

I recently made a batch of crispy chewy oatmeal and raisin cookies. Oaty, nutty and possibly slightly too worthy, they got me thinking about other cookie recipes to try, and I began my search for the ultimate chocolate chunk cookie recipe (note chunk, not chip – I think coarse chunks of chopped dark chocolate deliver a far superior cookie to their oversweet, manufactured cousin the chip).

After trawling my favourite foodie sites, I was delighted to find that a fellow blogger had already done most of the legwork for me. I arrived at Signe Johansen’s blog Scandilicious through Google search and will definitely be returning to read her simple, beautiful compilation of recipes and foodie thoughts. Signe’s ‘quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie’ took her on a journey through baking books and tweets, allowing her to incorporate tips from various seasoned bakers while weeding out any strange or over-the-top suggestions. The result is the recipe below, which I knew I had to try as soon as I saw her pictures.

Chewy, crispy and not too sweet, with delicious chunks of dark chocolate, this one’s going straight to the top of my ultimate chocolate chunk cookie leader board. I think it’s going to be hard to top, but if you think you’ve got a better recipe I’d love to try it out so please get in touch!

Incredible giant chocolate chunk cookies (adapted from Signe Johansen’s blog)

Ingredients 

  • 300g plain white flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 180g salted butter, melted
  • 200g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 1 large free range egg plus one large yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa minimum, coarsely chopped

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 160 C/ 325 F. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment and set aside.
  • Sieve together the flour, baking powder and sea salt.
  • Whisk together the melted butter together with both sugars, then add the large egg, extra yolk and vanilla to the mixture. Whisk again and then stir in the flour, beating the mixture for a few minutes to stretch the gluten strands.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips. The cookie dough should feel almost dry now, like a solid lump (Signe says she wishes she’d taken  photo at this stage to illustrate, so I made sure I did!) – don’t let the chocolate chips cluster in just one part of the dough.

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  • Opinion varies on whether to chill the dough before baking or just cook straight away. I was hungry and impatient, but it was a pretty large batch of dough so I divided the mixture in two, chilling half and spooning the other half onto the tray with an ice cream scoop (To note, ice cream scoop sized dough balls result in HUGE cookies!)

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  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until the cookies are golden, the sides feel firm-ish to the touch but the centre is still quite soft. This is really important as you don’t want to overcook and lose that slight squidgy texture.

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  1. Cooling the cookies on the baking sheets helps keep their chewy consistency so I’d definitely recommend this.
  2. Once cooled, remove from the tray and serve or store in an air tight container. Yum.

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(I made the second batch of chilled dough into smaller cookies, about 2/3 of the size of the palm of my hand. The resulting cookie was chewier and crispier but I’m not sure if this was down to size difference or the fact that I’d chilled it. Not a very fair experiment but I’m not that fussed, both batches tasted incredible)

Crispy, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies

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Crispy and chewy – the perfect cookie

Oats are pretty amazing things. Packed with nutrients including vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron and more, they are a good source of protein (I can almost hear carniverous boyfriend shaking his head at this claim. Ok. A good source of protein that tastes good in cookies. Chewy chicken breast cookies just aren’t going to cut it with this little loaf). They can even help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Basically, oats are a good thing.

I first tasted Bircher Muesli several years ago on holiday in the Caribbean, and have been searching for the perfect recipe ever since. Packed with oats, fruit, and mulchy, milky goodness, it is the perfect healthy oaty breakfast. I think I may have just about cracked the perfect blend – blog post to follow soon – but in the meantime, my various attempts mean I have a big old stash of rolled oats sitting in my cupboard.

Some of them have been turned into porridge. A few more met a delicious, sticky end in my adaptation of Dan Lepard’s fudgy tahini flapjacks. And this weekend, another handful made its way into a batch of crispy, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies.

I’m quite particular when it comes to cookies. I like them big (at least the size of my palm), thick and chewy, with a slightly crispy edge. I’m not a tea drinker so I don’t care about dunkability – I want the real American doughy deal, perfect with a glass of milk and more of a delicious dessert than a flimsy biscuit. Buttery, chewy and packed with chunks of chocolate, fruit and nuts, this recipe is the answer. I slightly overcooked mine as you can see from the pictures, but follow the timings below, and they should be spot on.

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Tip: To get a thick, chewy cookie that doesn’t collape in a buttery puddle across the baking sheet when heated, chill the dough for at least 2 hours before cooking. Alternatively you could freeze the slightly flattened cookie balls and cook on demand for that ‘fresh out the oven’ warmth – they just need a few minutes longer.

Crispy, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies with walnuts

75g softened butter
85g soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg, beaten
50g wholemeal flour
1 tsp ground cinammon
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
75g rolled oats
75g raisins
50g chopped walnuts
50g chocolate chips (optional)

Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla essence and egg. If you don’t have an electric mixer you can do this by hand, but it really needs to be as smooth as possible, so a good 5-10 mins of beating is required. (healthy oats and an arm workout, this recipe is a winner!)

 

In a separate bowl whisk together the wholemeal flour, cinammon, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the rolled oats then stir into the butter and sugar mixture. Stir in the raisins, walnuts and chocolte chips if using.

Shape the dough into small rounds, flatten slightly and chill in the fridge for two hours. This is optional, but I’d recommend you be patient if you can, the results definitely are better. The dough could make anything between five and twenty cookies depending how giant you like them.

 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F. Place cookies two inches apart on a non stick baking tray. Bake for 10-15 mins until just coloured – this will give a crispy edge but a soft, doughy middle.

Leave to cool and enjoy.

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