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shortbread with dried cranberries

I’ve been umm-ing and ahh-ing over whether or not to post this recipe for cranberry shortbread. You see, it’s super duper, it’s fab, it’s melt-in-your-mouth taste-tastic, mate. But only for one day. 

Next day… meh, not so much – the problem being that this cookie goes soft very quickly. Think it’s all the icing sugar, which isn’t exactly keeping to the traditional ingredients for shortbread. Just goes to show that you shouldn’t mess with perfection. 

It’s also a little bit annoying as I was hoping to make them for a friend’s wedding later in the year – cos, oh yeah, cranberry shortbread hearts would be super cute and spot on for the occasion. And it was my wedding anniversary last week, so I was thinking, ‘Oooh, cunning plan… test out the recipe, celebrate with results at the same time, then write it up for the blog and include moving tribute to husband’. Yeah, there goes another super cute (but quite likely nauseating) idea out the window. Count yourself lucky – the way this cookie turned out has saved you from reams of gushy prose and a feeling in your tummy that isn’t so much butterflies as dry heaving. Hey, there’s always next year 😉  

But still, despite all that, if you feel the urge for shortbread and know you’re going to eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven…

Dried Cranberry Shortbread Hearts from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

Makes about 12

You’ll need:

1 cup/2 sticks/225g unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sifted icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted plain flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 325F/170C with a rack positioned in the centre of the oven. Put the butter, sugar, vanilla, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir together with a wooden spoon until combined but not too creamy. Stir in the dried cranberries.

2. Press the dough evenly into an 8-inch square baking tin. Bake until firm and golden brown – around 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack – about another 20 minutes.

3. Run a knife around the edges, remove the shortbread from the tin and transfer to a work surface. Cut out the hearts with a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Trim any stray bits of cranberry hanging off the edges (that is such a Martha-esque thing to think about).

Cookie can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days, according to this recipe. OH NO THEY BLOODY CAN’T!

On another note – don’t bother cutting these into hearts unless you’re set on the idea for reasons of cuteness. It wastes a lot of shortbread – although it does create the perfect excuse to nibble away at the cut-offs and crumbs…

little crunchy-chewy chocolate cookies

I’m going to be elsewhere for the next week on a work trip but (fingers crossed) I’m hoping that at some point I’ll have a bit of free time to sneak out and take a few pictures 🙂

In the meantime, here’s a small-but-perfectly-formed chocolate biscuit of delight – crispy on the outside, a tiny bit chewy on the inside and completely wonderful all the way through. I’m going to take a little stash with me to nibble throughout the plane flight…

See you all in a week’s time 🙂  

Chocolate biscuits from The Perfect Cookbook by David Herbert

You’ll need:

125g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
125g unsalted butter, chopped
1 large egg
1 cup lightly-packed light brown sugar
1 and 1/4 cups self, raising flour, sifted

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of hot water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and sugar with a wooden spoon until combined.

4. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Add the sifted flour and mix until smooth and thick. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

5. Roll teaspoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on the oven trays, allowing 5cm between each for the biscuits to spread while cooking.

6. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the biscuits are firm to the touch and the tops have wrinkled slightly. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Cook’s notes

The recipe suggests this makes about 24 to 30. I think I managed about 40 odd.

David suggest good variations of stirring through a cup of chocolate chips for a bit of extra indulgence or drizzling the finished biscuits with melted dark, milk or white chocolate. I was too impatient to try any of those options!

Last night I couldn’t stop thinking about cookies – more specifically, chocolate chip cookies. Don’t know why but I got all twitchy around 10pm last night and had to make a batch. So, with my favourite baking book in hand, I marched into the kitchen like a woman possessed and this was the result:

Crispy round the edges and a little bit chewy in the middle, with big chocolate chunks melting slightly into the vanilla-scented dough… Just what I was after. (I was going to say, ‘Just what the doctor ordered,’ but I don’t think that cookies are an approved medical treatment. Yet.)

Mr. B waited for the shortest amount of time possible after they came out of the oven before crumbling warm cookies over homemade vanilla icecream (thanks again, David Lebovitz). Oh wow, that was good.

He was supposed to take the rest round to his mum’s house today on the way to work (Mr. B, not Mr Lebovitz) – but the tub is still on the kitchen worktop. I think this means he doesn’t want to share. And, secretly, neither do I…

Chocolate chip cookies from Baking – From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 45 cookies

You’ll need:

2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips (about 2 cups)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper

2. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.

3. Working with a stand or hand-held mixer, beat the butter until smooth (about 1 minute). Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well blended.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Beat in the vanilla too.
5. Using a rubber spatula (or reduce the mixer speed to low), add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. Then add the chocolate chips and the nuts.

6. Spoon the dough in slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each spoonful.

7. Bake the cookies – one sheet at a time – and rotating the sheet at the midway point – for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are brown around the edges – they may still be a little soft in the middle.

8. Pull the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully, using a wide metal spatula, transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Cook’s notes

Doh, I forgot to add the nuts. That’s what you get for late-night baking.

I used a mixture of plain chocolate and Green & Black’s Mayan Gold – a spicy orange chocolate that added a little fillip to the flavour.

A slightly rounded tablespoon of dough may not look like much on the baking sheet but be warned – these babies spread. I added a bit more dough to the first batch in the oven, convinced that the amount specified would produce teeny cookies. I ended up with several mutant ‘figure-of-8’-shaped ones instead. Still tasted good though 🙂

Dorie notes that the dough stores well in the fridge for 3 days or that you can freeze it. Even in full cookie-craving mode there’s no way we could get through a whole batch. (Forty-five in one sitting? Maybe another day…) So I’ve taken her advice by freezing individual portions on a tray and bagging them when solid, ready for the next time I want cookies late at night.

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I'm short of stature (a family trait) but big of appetite (also a family trait). If you're reading this then you're probably big of appetite too. Or a member of my family (hello Mum).
June 2017
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