Sunday, October 15, 2006


So, you want to say ‘Thank You’ or ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘Welcome’ or maybe just ‘Hello’ or ‘Mid-morning break!’. And you want to not just say it, but bake it. What could be better than a batch of homemade cookies?

Who can not like cookies?

(Not that I had anything in particular to say, just certain ingredients to use that lent themselves to cookie-cooking. But as soon as I had made them I thought, what a good little gift these would make... )

These particular cookies are from The Cook’s Book – one of those books with big photos of clear, numbered steps to perfection that almost makes you feel anything in the world – buying a house, finding a husband, upholstering chairs, solving the middle east crisis - should be perfectly simple if you just follow the nice, ordered steps properly.

Well, whilst this is obviously not the case, happily the cookies, although they don’t look much like the picture, do look strikingly gorgeous, once all steps have been properly adhered to. It’s just a matter of a simple dough mixture, which is chilled and then sliced. Maybe 20, 30 minutes to make, and 10-12 to bake.

This recipe makes about 30 large-ish cookies – plenty for giving and sharing. The original recipe was the chocolate-nut version, but I’ve included the other two varieties I tried – Chocolate Orange and Orange and Blueberry. The blueberry ones (below), due to more moist berries and less dry nuts, were a bit moister, cakier than the others. Still delicious, but in a less cookiesome way.

Cookies - Three Ways

150g (5½ oz) butter
1 tsp salt
240g (8½ oz) light muscovado sugar
2 eggs
225g (8 oz) flour (I found you needed actually a little bit more than this – experiment until the dough sticks; it doesn’t need to be dry but not too gloopy)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For Choc-Nut variation
120g (4oz) chopped nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamias, whatever you fancy)
240g (8½ oz) really good chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids – I used Green and Black’s cooking chocolate)

For Choc-Orange variation
Finely grated zest of two large oranges
240g (8½ oz) really good chocolate

For Orange-Blue variation
Finely grated zest of two large oranges
Two handfuls of frozen blueberries

1. Cream the butter, sugar and salt together until light and fluffy
2. Mix in the eggs one at a time until well combined
3. At the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and which ever of the additional bits you are using (chocolate etc. )
4. When it is mixed into a dough scrape it into a ball with your hands then roll out into a sausage shape about 5cm in diameter
5. Wrap in foil or cling film and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours (you can leave it overnight if you want to prepare a day ahead)
6. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
7. Cut the dough into 1cm thick slices, put on a greased tray and bake for 10-12 minutes until just golden brown
8. Cool on a rack

NB - The first batch I made I had no bicarb, and they came out pretty crunchy. The second, with bicarb were more spongy and soft. Neither had that perfect balance the book described of being ‘crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle’ so I’d advise on adjusting your bicarb and baking powder levels – less for those who like a little crunch and more for those of you in the soft cookie camp.

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