Some of my favourite things in life:
- Nutty chocolate
- Rubbing my face on my cat’s soft fur
- The Walker Brothers’ pop masterpiece “make it easy on yourself”
Because breaking up IS hard to do and it’s even harder when it’s your country breaking up with Europe, I’ve been listening to a lot of sad pop songs recently. I’m not even going to pretend I see both sides here because I DON’T have to be balanced and I DON’T have to see the Brexiteer side of the argument because I fully believe it to be TOTAL BALLS.
The rancid cherry on top of this week’s shit-cake of Brexit tomfoolery was the British Embassy’s outreach event to British Nationals in Hamburg. All very nice but fundamentally a little pointless given we don’t know what’s happening. I left feeling despondent and a little tearful. And in possession of a very smart free “GREAT Britain” pen which didn’t actually work. What a metaphor.
So, in times like this I turn to old favourites, and none more favourite than the excellent Dan Lepard, whose Short and Sweet remains one of my favourite ever baking books. Despite the lack of numerous pictures, its clarity and economy of expression remains a high bar for many baking writers.
The following is freely adapted from Lepard’s “Double Chocolate Chunk cookies” which Lepard rather cheekily suggests combining with vanilla ice cream to turn into a super-decadent ice-cream sandwich. He suggests dark brown sugar, more chocolate, no nuts and a thorough creaming period for the butter and sugar, which is generally good advice but frankly can be a right old Pain In The Arse and results in a SUPER dark cookie which is quite crumbly. My method creates a rather denser cookie, but one you can do in seconds in the food processor instead of bothering with creaming, and is (I like to think) all the better for it. Stashed away in the freezer in a well-wrapped log of baking paper and foil, these cookies cook in under 10 minutes when you’re in severe need of cheering up.
Dark Choco-Nut comfort cookies
Because Brexit sucks and you need a treat – makes about 18
NOTE: this is a recipe best done ahead of time and stashed away for a COOKIE EMERGENCY, as the mixture cooks best from frozen.
125g softened, salted butter
175g soft brown sugar (dark or light – doesn’t really matter – don’t tell Dan!)
25g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
175g plain flour
25g cocoa powder (the darker and richer the better)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 x 280g nutty chocolate bar, chopped into nice small chunks – ideally an ethical dark chocolate and almond like Tonys Chocolonely, but a fruit-and-nut bar of any description will do. It’s your cookie hankering – you do you!
- Do yourself a favour and do this in a food processor* – pop in the butter and whizz until soft and creamy. You wont get a LOAD of air into this but give it a good whizz.
- Stir in the sugars and whizz until well mixed in and the sugar doesn’t look too grainy. Add the extract and egg and give it a tiny whizz to mix these in.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate, then dump in the processor and whizz together until nicely blended. Then tip in the chocolate and pulse until nicely distributed.
- Here’s the fun bit. Take a nice length of baking paper and dollop the soft dough along the middle. Jiggle into an approximate fat sausage shape and wrap up, twisting each end firmly. Wrap in a length of foil and pop into the freezer.** They’ll stay here quite happily for up to 3 months.
- When the munchies attack, take the log out of the freezer and slice off cookies around a quarter of an inch thick. Place on a baking tray lined with paper and pop in a preheated oven at 170C for around 9 minutes.
- As these are dark brown cookies, the standard advice to wait until “golden brown” is fucking USELESS. Instead, wait until they look tempting and puffed, and no longer wet-looking on top. Underbaked is ALWAYS better than over.
- When you reckon they’re ready, take out of the oven and let them firm up on the tray for 2 minutes, before removing to a rack to cool. They should be firm to the bite with a tempting amount of “give”. Delicious with milky tea, eaten while shouting at the news.
*If this is too bougie and you’re doing this in a bowl with a spoon, that’s fine too. Just make sure the butter is lovely and soft to give your arm a break!
**If you MUST, then you can chill the mixture for around 30 min in the fridge and place tbsps onto a warm baking sheet and cook straight away, but the cookies will be rather flat.