Monday, 7 September 2009

Chocolate cookies and pizza


It was a busy weekend. A superhero birthday party, a birthday brunch and then father’s day. E spent lots of time with Sylvia, playing and changing nappies and giggling. But no more than he does most weekends. I made him a nice dinner but I don’t need an excuse to cook for him.

In fact, it is my cooking that gives E more time with Sylvia than he might otherwise have. I seem to spend many evenings saying can you just hold her while I …. Of course he never complains about spending time with his wee treasure. Yet another benefit of blogging!

The excellent food we had yesterday made me very grateful for blogging. I baked two things I might not have made without my blog. Chocolate cut out cookies and pizza. Baking cookies while pizza dough rose filled the kitchen and the house with homeliness.

I have avoided cut out biscuits or cookies (I usually say biscuits which is more Australian but because I like the name of these – Best Ever Chocolate Cut Out Cookies – I will use cookies today.) The idea of having to wait for cookie dough to cool in the fridge and then roll it out did not appeal and the end result always seemed to dry and crunchy for me who prefers soft cakes. I am more comfortable making ugly chunky cookies than making them elegant morsels with pretty designs.

I recently found some Australian animal cookie cutters that seemed just the thing for easily making pretty cookies to parade on my blog. The gingerbread recipe I made was so delicious and soft (for cut out cookies) that I have made it three times in the last month. Not just for me. I have given them away as presents and taken them to social gatherings. This recipe has given me back my cut out cookies mojo. It reminds me of the fun of playdough. I am sure Sylvia will enjoy making and eating these cookies one day.

When I posted the gingerbread recipe, I looked around at other cut out cookie recipes and listed them on my blog to remind me. After helping out with superhero biscuits at
Quin’s party on Friday I had some tubes of chocolate fudge icing leftover. I thought I could use them up by decorating some more biscuits. These chocolate cut out cookies had been beckoning me and I was easily able to find them through my link on my blog. The dough was very soft and sticky but it was worth it.

The cookies were exceedingly good. Terribly moreish. Dark and devilishly chocolatey. In fact E, who spends his life telling me not to bake chocolate goods, said he liked them more than the gingerbreads. He love their buttery flavour and softness. I have new gingerbread cutters that are cute but have a tendency towards decapitation. I tried decorating the little gingerbread men with the fudge icing and found the tubes too hard to pipe with but when I gave E a plate of my dodgy attempts he gobbled them up. These are the sort of cookies I feel like telling someone to take away from me because I can’t resist the temptation. Luckily I had been out for a swim yesterday.

As well as the cookies there was pizza. I was partly inspired to make this by a
comment by Maybelle’s Mom, who said they have pizza once a week. I haven’t baked with yeast for ages – well not since last year – and have been itching to do so. Pizza seemed like a good way to ease back into it – although Spring is not a good time to try and get back into bread baking, which is a winter activity for me. But I love a good pizza.

When you eat pizza on bases bought from the shops you forget how good a home made one is. I wanted to try a wholemeal one but wasn’t feeling brave so I revisited Isa’s pizza base that I had blogged before. I tried stretching the dough with my hands rather than rolling it out with a rolling pin. For the toppings I was quite keen to try something different. I had some leftover roast potato and pumpkin to use up (NB I didn’t use them all on the pizza so I made a great soup today with roast potato and pumpkin, onion, garlic, carrot and stock).

Both pizzas had a sauce made up from what I could see around the kitchen – tomato paste, pumpkin puree (rejected by Sylvia), garlic, walnut oil, olive oil, lemon juice and fresh basil. The first pizza had this sauce, roast pumpkin, thin asparagus, marinated feta cheese and a drizzle of the marinade oil. The second pizza had the sauce, grated mozzarella, roast potato, thinly sliced red capsicum and more grated mozzarella. Both were delicious.

I am still hoping I might try a wholemeal pizza base soon. I was pleased to see that Maybelle’s mom had posted her pizza dough recipe and it had mashed potato in it. I also was inspired by a few other recent posts:
What kid would not love pizza and chocolate cookies. E, being a big kid, was delighted. We watched an old war movie called Sea of Sand recently. I was amused by one scene where they use cocoa to make their faces dark when on a night raid. So not only is this recipe like playing with play dough but the cocoa is all you need for some war games! A perfect game for Father's Day.

Best Ever Chocolate Cutout Cookies
Adapted from
All Recipes

Makes about 36 x 5cm diameter cookies
  • 170g butter, softened
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cups plain white flour
  • cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
Cream butter and sugar (I softened butter from the fridge by microwaving on a low heat so I could cream it by hand rather than with electric beaters). Add egg and stir or beat till combined. Gradually add in dry ingredients to form a soft dough.

The dough was so soft I didn’t even bother making a ball with it. The recipe said to refridgerate for 2 hours but I put it in the freezer in the bowl for 30 minutes instead.

Take dough from freezer or fridge and lightly knead on a floured ball. It is so soft that you need to have your hand and board well floured but it should be quite firm from the freezer and need a little kneading to be pliable enough to roll out. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out to about 1 cm thick or less. (The recipe suggests
inch in thickness).

Use well floured cookie cutters to cut shapes (or cut shapes with a knife or use the floured rim of a drinking glass). Carefully transfer shapes to greased or lined baking trays (I line mine with baking paper.) Bake at 190 C for 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking tray for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Or you can transfer the baking paper with cookies onto the wire rack (this helps if you have more than one batch of cookies to go in the oven).

On the stereo:
Living in the Past: Jethro Tull

10 comments:

  1. you have been busy, JOhanna!

    I tried the whole-meal pizza crust once. It was nice, but for pizza I still prefer the whote dough :D

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  2. I usually use a combination of white and wholemeal for my pizza bases - works quite well. THose biscuits look delicious!!

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  3. I love the alliterative biccies! Good job finding a home for the pumpkin on your pizza. It would be perfect with the fetta.

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  4. How do you find the time? It looks delicious and I'm sure the kids loved it! :D

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  5. Chocolate bikkies always have my name all over them! They look fantastic (and one my girls can have fun with as well!)

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  6. Thanks Anh - I have only seen white bread flour which might make a difference but I have wondered about if adding some gluten flour to wholemeal might help

    Thanks Alibongo - I often use a combination of white and wholemeal so would probably try this with pizza dough

    Thanks Arwen - love a bit of alliteration! Loved the pumpkin on the pizza but I always love pumpkin

    Thanks Lorraine - the secret to finding time in my life is having E keeping sylvia amused

    Thanks Vegetation - I bet your girls would have heaps of fun with these - I will let you in on a secret - the uncooked dough tasted excellent too (shhhh, hope your girls don't find out)

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  7. Haha love the decapitated cookie! Those pizzas look so so good. You chose yummy toppings and made them look gorgeous. I love how you arranged the asparagus. And how you put pumpkin on a pizza! I've never even thought to do that. Great idea. I need to find a good whole wheat pizza dough.

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  8. Your pizzas look very professional! Good luck with the wholewheat versions. I really like the extra texture you get from using wholemeal flour.

    The little chocolate men look very cheeky and I'm glad that you're finding cut-out cookie recipes you like. I have a similar favourite chocolatey one - always goes down a treat despite being very easy.

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  9. Those cookies do look great--very, very chocolately and definitely moreish! Would love to try the pizzas too, with those great selections of toppings (I do miss pizza!).

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  10. Thanks Ashley - I love pumpkin on pizza - even better roasted - and the cookies tasted good even if decapitated :-) There are cookie cutters I have seen for gingerbread men missing heads or limbs and I think why do you need a cookie cutter to cut them off - mine fall off anyway

    Thanks Lysy - I'm looking forward to a wholemeal variation - and to making more of these chocolate cookies

    Thanks Ricki - I would miss pizza too - I can go for a long time without it and then I really need it suddenly - and it is such fun playing with topping ideas!

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