Well before the Great British Bake Off, there was a daytime cookery programme on television called ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’. The premise of the show was to pair celebrity chefs up with contestants who would present them with a bag of mystery ingredients; each chef then had just 20 minutes to make something from scratch for/with the help of their contestant, using said ingredients.
Whilst watching the programme, I would always ponder what I'd take along in my bag if I were ever on the show. Invariably I’d settle upon ingredients that I knew would give the chefs no other option than to make something sweet and, ideally, chocolaty. I mean come on, 20 minutes for a top chef to make something especially for you - surely it would be bonkerdom to want them to make anything other than a dessert!
Anyhoo, a few months ago a very lovely friend of mine came over for dinner and I was reminded of ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ because, rather than conforming to the norm and bringing flowers or a box of chocolates (not that I would ever object to receiving either of those things should you be so inclined), my friend brought me ingredients. As I pulled each thing out of the bag, I contemplated what I could make with it, as though I myself were one of the famous chefs (humour me here) on the show once so beloved by me. The pièce de resistance of all the ingredients was a jar of Speculoos: a delicious Belgian biscuit-spread made from crushed, spiced biscuits, with a sort of gingerbread-like or caramelised taste to it.
After a couple of months of research and deliberation (this is not a matter to be taken lightly people!) I opted to use the spread to bake Speculoos, banana and chocolate chunk cookies. I liked these cookies. I liked them a lot. They’re warm and earthy and comforting with a crisp outside and a chewy interior – as cookie-like as a cookie should be.
Note: When I first baked these, I found the banana overpowered the Speculoos a little so in the recipe below, I’ve toned down the banana and increased the biscuit spread:unsalted butter ratio so that you really get a hit of the spices.
Makes about 26 medium-sized cookies
- 85g unsalted butter, melted
- 8 tbsp Speculoos
- 165g light brown sugar
- 105g granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk (from a large egg)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ripe banana (medium size), roughly mashed
- 300g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 200g plain chocolate (40% cocoa), chopped into chunks
Beat the melted butter, Speculoos and two sugars together in a large bowl until combined (I used a handheld electric whisk but a wooden spoon will work just as well).
Next, beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract before adding in the mashed banana and beating again.
Sift the flour and baking soda together then add in thirds to the wet ingredients, mixing until it is all incorporated and you have a cookie dough consistency.
Finally, add in chocolate chips.
At this point, ideally refrigerate the dough for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight, so that you get a chewier cookie at the end of the baking process.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 160C (fan) and line two flat baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Shape the dough into roughly the size of a golf ball and place on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart from each other. If you’re using two baking sheets, all the cookies will not fit on at the same time, so you will need to shape and bake them in two batches.
Bake for 12 minutes, until the edges are golden and the middles are puffy.