Crisp little cookies packed with milk & white chocolate chunks
One of the things that makes me happiest is a big baking project. Whether it’s a birthday, researching recipes for this blog, a celebration cake or a big family party (for recipes from our recent engagement do, click here and here), I love everything about the process from planning it all in and thinking up new ideas through experimenting in the kitchen to the look on peoples’ faces when they taste my food.
When people ask about our upcoming wedding, one of the first things they always want to know is whether I’ll be baking my own cake. Although it’s something I did initially consider, I’ve since explained my reasons against the idea so many times that I’m pretty positive that I’ve made the right decision not to. Continue reading
Peanut butter and jam. A classic combination of salty and sweet, crunchy and smooth, fruit and nut. A mixture which shouldn’t really work, but somehow really does. Continue reading
Brutti ma buoni – ‘ugly but good’ hazelnut meringue biscuits
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Despite this age old idiom, evaluating things by their appearance is sadly second nature in so many circumstances in life. Appearance influences the big decisions – it is said that in an interview, you have just seven seconds to make a good impression – but also the little ones: the quality of an apple, the content of a book, how delicious a dessert is going to be.
I’ve talked before on this blog about the pitfalls of style over substance when it comes to food. Incredible wedding cakes covered with beautifully crafted decorations concealing bland or dry sponge; slicks of sauce on a plate so small as to make little contribution to flavour; an artfully placed sprig of mint that you have to push to one side without eating.
Sweet, crisp & rich with dark brown sugar – a homemade version of the US staple
When we were little, one of my brother’s best friends was Canadian.
Coming from another country, there were numerous things about this boy which we found fascinating: his Mum made incredible chocolate chip cookies on a regular basis (I’ve explained before that mine was more of the raisin and apple offering inclination); his family had a BBQ the size of a small car in their back garden (which they’d brave even in winter weather to cook the most incredible slabs of meat on); at nine years old his school had never allowed him to use a knife to eat with (bizarre, but true). Continue reading
Dulce de leche ice cream sandwiched between soft chocolate cookies
Visiting a new bakery is one of my favourite things in the world. There’s the smell, seeping out of the doors and into the surrounding street; yeast and warmth, toasty sweetness, the scent of burnt sugar. Then there’s the sound: busy bakers chatting with customers; slicing crusty loaves; sliding purchases into crinkled paper bags. The soft sound of teeth meeting flaky pastry.
Eyes definitely bigger than my stomach and thinking, perhaps, I could try a little taste of everything, I’ll then drink in the feast in front of me: lines of loaves stacked against a bare brick wall, tiers of incredible cakes, trays of pastries issuing forth from the oven and, further forward, a cabinet of sweets and treats, biscuits on offer in every imaginable shape and size.
Chewy, crispy cookies rich with chocolate chunks & Speculoos spread
Have you ever discovered something new, only to become more than slightly obsessed with it?
When I was nine, we moved to a bigger house a few streets away from the one I’d grown up in. There were grand plans to build a beautiful kitchen/dining room extension (which is now in place, and the absolute heart of the household), but when we first arrived we had to make do with a teeny tiny kitchen that was actually smaller than our old one. Continue reading
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.
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.
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
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