Since my last post about the lovely parcel sent to me by Hotel Chocolat I have been putting my samples to good use. This post is about the first two recipes I tried - both for chocolate chip cookies. When I first saw the chocolate drops in my parcel cookies were the first thing that sprang to mind so I searched through my recipe books for some new inspiration. The recipes I settled on are fairly similar but I thought I try them both anyway. I've been meaning to try the Books for Cooks one for ages and Rachel Allen's peanut butter version sounded really appealing. I was also interested to compare the two different methods for making them with one batch being cooked straight away and the other stored in cling film in the fridge over night before being sliced up and cooked.
So, first up is the Books for Cooks version which were cooked straight away. I found these spread quite a lot which resulted in them having quite thin edges (compared to batch number two below). Nevertheless they tasted really good although I would say they probably didn't need quite so much chocolate in them.
Sarah's Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from a recipe by Sarah Benjamin in The Book for Cooks Collection Volume 6)
150g/5oz plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
125g/4oz/1 stick butter, softened
125g/4oz soft brown sugar
50g/1 3/4oz caster sugar
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
175g/6oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used my Hotel Chocolat 70% Dark Chocolate Drops)
1) Heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment
2) Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Beat the butter, sugars and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg with a tablespoon of flour. Add the remaining flour mixture in three batches, blending until the mixture forms a dough. Fold in the chopped chocolate.
3) Drop tablespoons of the cookie dough on the baking parchment lined baking sheets, leaving at least two inches between each one as they will spread.
4) It's best to cook one baking sheet at a time but if you do bake them together be sure to rotate the baking sheets half way through the cooking time. Bake until the cookies are just slightly coloured on top and golden around the edges, about 10-12 minutes. They should be baked until just set - if you over back them the cookies will end up crunchy rather than chewy.
5) Place the baking sheet on a wire rack for a few minutes to allow the cookies to cool slightly and firm up a little, then transfer the cookies to the wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 30 cookies
Next up, Rachel Allen's Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies. For this batch I followed Rachel's suggestion to wrap the cookie dough in cling film and store it in the fridge until needed. I found this to be a brilliant method and ideal if you if you don't have much time to prepare the cookies right before you need them. All the work can be done a day or more in advance and on the day all you need to do is slice up the cookies and bake as usual. The other benefit, as you can see below, is that you get much neater looking cookies!
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
(adapted from Food for Living by Rachel Allen)
200g/7oz crunchy peanut butter
200g/7oz butter, softened
250g/9oz light muscovado or soft light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g/9oz chocolate, chopped (I used my Hotel Chocolat 40% Milk Chocolate Drops)
350g/12oz plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1) Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4
2) In a large bowl beat the peanut butter, soft butter, sugar and vanilla extract until soft and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the chocolate. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and stir to mix.
3) Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of the dough in your hands to form balls, then place them spaced apart on baking trays (there is no need to grease or line them). *
4) Bake in the oven for 12-16 minutes until light golden in colour. Carefully lift them off the trays when cooked and place on a wire rack to cool.
* Alternatively (as I did), roll the dough into a log about 2cm in diameter. Roll up in cling film and place in the fridge. When ready to cook, unwrap the log and cut into slices about 8mm thick. Place on the baking trays and cook as above. The dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can cut slices from the frozen dough and cook straight away.
Makes about 60 cookies