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Almond butter and dark chocolate ganache cookies

14 May 2017

I would go so far as to assert that my quest for the perfect cookie is not incomparable to those taken by Odysseus or King Arthur (although admittedly far more gluttonous). This may seem a big claim to make, but I have spent years trying to find and make the perfect cookie, and still do not feel entirely satisfied with the results.

Why? Because the perfect cookie should be soft but also crispy. It should melt in the mouth but have enough chew and texture too. It should be buttery and delicious yet not spongy. It should look wrinkled and sunken and decadent without being unbaked and stodgy. And then there's the flavouring and fillings - a list for another time perhaps.

This batch totally won out on the sunken wrinkle factor. I used my very favourite almond butter by Pip & Nut to replace part of the flour, which gives these cookies a delicious nutty flavour and sticky texture too. I love using ganache chips in place of regular chocolate; they melt into the dough and is totally worth the extra effort.
THE INGREDIENTS
75g dark chocolate (70% minimum)
50g double cream
100g unsalted butter, softened
125g dark brown sugar
75g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
125g almond butter
Flakey sea salt

THE RECIPE
For the ganache chips, finely chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Warm the cream to scalding point, then pour over the chocolate. Leave it to sit for 5 minutes, then stir just until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth and shiny. Line a tray with clingfilm, then spread the ganache over the top. Place in the fridge and allow to set. 

Once the ganache is set, heat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with paper. Place the softened butter and the sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until pale and fluffy, then add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat until completely incorporated. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the almond butter and mix through. Roughly chop the set ganache into pieces, then add to the cookie dough and gently combine by hand using a metal spoon. 

Use two teaspoons to spoon the cookies onto the trays. Each cookie should have about 2 large tsps of dough. Use a pallet knife to flatten the cookies a little, then sprinkle with flakey sea salt. They will spread in the oven so just place 3 to 4 cookies on each tray.

Bake in the oven for 9-11 minutes, until the cookies have spread, risen and sunk again, and are just golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray for 10 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to firm up fully. Repeat this process until all the dough has been used up - yo can reuse the baking parchment, and should get around 30 cookies from the dough.
This post was written in affiliation with Pip & Nut, but all views are - as always - entirely my own.

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Banana buckwheat bread {gluten free}

1 May 2017

My friend Ronnie makes the best banana bread that I have ever tasted. Ron is modest and maintains that the recipe isn't hers - from memory, it came from a friend of her aunties, and has been tweaked by every interlinking baker whose hands it has passed through. Irregardless of its origin, here we are a decade later and I'm yet to taste anything that even comes close.

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Chocolate cardamom thumbprint cookies

22 April 2017

Thumbprint cookies - small, short biscuits filled with a little well of deliciousness - are my absolute favourite. They're small enough to pull off rich, strong flavours - so small, in fact, that it's totally fine to eat two or three (read: ten) in one sitting.

I've made thumbprint cookies before using peanut butter and jam (you can find my recipe here), and have been meaning to try out a chocolate version ever since. Chocolate and cardamom are so delicious together; cardamom brings a warm, citrusy flavour that cuts through the richness and can also make cheaper chocolates taste expensive. Win win, no?

I've had a little staycation this week, and have been loving having a little more time to experiment in the kitchen. Spring has well and truly sprung in London too. I have cookies and I have sunshine, and life feels sweet.

These cookies are dainty and decadent enough to be given as a gift. Wrap them up in baking paper and ribbon for the perfect edible treat.
 THE INGREDIENTS
110g unsalted butter, softened
40g caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp for rolling
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract 
80g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
75g dark chocolate
50g double cream
4 cardamom pods
Maldon sea salt

THE RECIPE
Heat the oven to 170°C / 150°C fan and line a baking tray with parchment. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, milk and vanilla and beat until smooth. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, fine salt and ground cardamom. Add to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined. Roll into walnut sized, small balls using the palms of your hand. Spoon the extra caster sugar onto a plate, then roll the cookie dough in it until it is completely covered. 

Transfer to the prepared tray, and continue until all the mixture has been rolled. Use the end of a wooden spoon to create an indent in the centre of each cookie. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, turning the tray around after 5 minutes so that all the biscuits cook evenly. Once the cookies are baked, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

While the cookies are baking, make the ganache. Finely chop the chocolate, then transfer to a heat proof bowl. Put the cream in a small saucepan with the cardamom pods. Bring it to scalding point, but do not let it boil. Discard the cardamom pods, then pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Leave it to sit without stirring for 10 minutes, then stir gently until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.

Transfer the ganache to a piping bag. Fill the indents of each cookie with the ganache, piping a smooth circle at the top.

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