I have never been very interested in baking sweet biscuits (or cookies) – not the type that are just butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Too dry, too hard and too plain. I prefer them to have chocolate, caramel, nuts, fruit, spices, oats etc - like bought biscuits – tim tams, chocolate digestives, tunnocks caramel wafers. I’ve been trying to think back to the biscuits my mum made when I was a child. She made ginger biscuits, anzacs and yo-yos which were nice but not as good as her cakes and slices.
But recently I have fallen in love with home made chocolate chip cookies. They are small, transportable and full of chocolate. I love them chewy and dense with oats, and they are so ready to accommodate any texture or flavour I fancy. As I have said before, I have a great cookbook by Gwen Steege, called The Search for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. This book is filled with the entries into a chocolate chip cookie competition in the USA. The huge range of recipes has helped me to experiment with different ideas that interest me.
One of the ingredients I have been keen to try in choc chip cookies is molasses. I love the dark mysterious bitterness of molasses. But my recent cookie baking has been for people with unknown tastes and I haven’t dared to venture too far into investigative cooking.
Chocolate chip cookies make good presents. I made a huge batch of over 100 at easter which I gave to my family as presents and also put in the freezer for snacks – they are great to take to work for that inevitable mid-morning munchies moment. This stash recently came to an end.
I looked to Gwen Steege’s book for a new recipe to try. I found one called Molasses-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. As well as having them for snacks, I wanted to take some to a friend, Will, who has just moved into a new house. I hope Will will be fine with some molasses but I did leave out the raisins as I didn’t think he would be keen on these. And if he really doesn’t like them, at least he has something to offer others visiting his new abode.
These cookies were not quite what I expected. They were dark and spicy. In fact they reminded me of gingerbread, which delighted me because I have been longing to make a chocolate gingerbread. I add some orange zest because the taste was so heavy but I think next time I might like some currants in the recipe.
They spread a lot when they cooked and were quite flat with lacy bubbles. I was a little disconcerted to find that the recipe directed me to let them cool on the tray. I have one big baking sheet that I usually lift hot cookies off so I can put the next batch in the oven straight away. The first batch were on baking paper so I was able to slide the baking paper with cookies off and start on the second lot. While the next batch were in the oven I was being impatient and lifted the cookies onto a wire rack when they were lukewarm. But I thought I could get by without baking paper for the second batch and cool them completely. Big mistake! Once cold and hard they were very hard to get off the baking sheet and I ended up with a pile of crumbly cookies and lots of broken bits. I have amended these directions in my recipe below.
Gingerbread Choc Chip Cookies
(adapted from recipe by Mrs Harriet A Kemp of Seattle)
Makes 4 dozen
½ cup SF white flour (or plain flour plus tsp of baking powder)
1 cup plain wholemeal flour
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp lemon salt (or salt)
1 tsp linseed meal (flaxseed meal)
1 cup castor sugar
185g (¾ cup) butter
¼ cup dark molasses
¾ cup quick cooking rolled oats
¼ cup sunflower seeds (generous)
1 generous cup dark choc chips
Zest of one orange
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cream butter. Add egg and cream with butter. If you don’t have electric beaters or opt to do it by hand like me then you might need to add a spoon of flour to stop it curdling – makes a world of difference. The recipe says 2 minutes but I just did it til it seemed nicely creamy. Add remaining ingredients. The dough is quite sticky and a beautiful deep nutty brown colour.
Drop teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. These biscuits will spread so give them a little space. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 10-20 minutes. When lukewarm, lift onto wire rack to cool completely.
On the Stereo
The Love Songs of Burt Bacharach: Various Artists