Monday 7 May 2012

Chocolate chunk cookies

Twinny and I were reflecting yesterday on how, 10 years ago, we never would have predicted the turns our lives have taken.  We’ve both been very, very fortunate in many respects, but things don’t always work out the way you expect them to and I’m afraid the one thing I have learnt is that life is hard; not only that, but it gets harder the older one gets.  Not really a nugget of wisdom that’s going to help you, I know, but hey,  it's true so steel yourself for it and don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The reason for our moment of philosophical reflection is because we recently lost someone very dear to us.  My grandmother was 94.  The fact that she lived to such a ripe old age didn’t make losing her any easier.  It’s difficult to know what to do at a time like this, so I channelled my grief into the one thing that gives me comfort however hard life is: baking.  I don’t know why I chose chocolate chip cookies, I suppose I just wanted something that I knew would provide comfort and warmth when eating.  These did the trick.

The Guardian's food writer Felicity Cloake claims to have the 'perfect chocolate chip cookie' recipe on her 'how to cook the perfect...' series.  The problem is, Felicity's idea of the perfect cookie is that it should be of the non-chewy variety, and on this matter, I must disagree.  Luckily for me, the cook Signe Johansen is on my side and has her own recipe for a perfect chocolate chip cookie that is chewy, which can be found on her blog, Scandilicious.  I tweaked it slightly for a higher chocolate:cookie dough ratio and by chilling the dough overnight to get an even softer, chewier end product.  Here it is.

Adapted from Signe Jonasen's Scandilicious
Makes 18-22 cookies, depending on size (I got 22 pretty large cookies from my mix)

  • 300g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 180g butter, melted
  • 200g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 1 large egg and one large egg yolk
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate (70%) + 150g semi-sweet choc (Bourneville) chopped into small chunks
Preheat the oven to 160 C.  Line two or three baking sheets with baking parchment and set aside.
Sieve the flour and bicarb of soda together into a bowl (as usual, I sieved three times).
Using an electric whisk, whisk the melted butter together with the sugars and then add the large egg, extra yolk and vanilla paste to the mixture. Whisk again.
Add the flour and beat the mixture for a good three or four minutes to stretch the strands of gluten.
Add the chocolate chunks and fold in, making sure they are distributed evenly throughout the cookie dough.
Chill the dough in the fridge for approximately 12 hours (if you don’t have the patience for this, even a couple of hours of chilling will help, but you don’t have to, it just means a less chewy cookie).
Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, scoop chunks of dough.  Roll the chunks lightly with your hands into roundish balls and place on the baking sheets, spacing about 5 cm apart (they will spread).
Bake for around 15 minutes until the cookies are golden.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheets (helps keep their chewy consistency). Store in a tin.