Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Chewy or Crunchy??

There's nothing quite like the smell of freshly home made cookies to welcome you when you walk through the front door. There is something so comforting, so soothing and so tempting about them, like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders just for a few moments while you bite into the warm, chewy, chocolatey treat.

Cookies are universal comfort food that I don't think anyone would pass up...from cookies and milk before bed, to a delicious offering for visitors, to home made gifts or just a cup of tea and a cookie mid morning, or mid afternoon...or any time of the day really (let's be honest, when would you pass up on a homemade cookie?!). They make us feel better when we are down, they make us feel appreciated if someone has made the effort to bake for us, and they give us a little energy boost when we need's the ideal remedy for that afternoon slump at work!! And they are so simple to make!!

They are also so versatile, I doubt you could find a person who doesn't have their favourite flavour, or indeed someone who claims not to like cookies at all!! They lend themselves so well to an array of flavours; there's chocolate of course, whichever chocolate you choose, oatmeal and raisin, apple and cinnamon, ginger, blueberry and almond, apple and sultana, or even just the humble butter cookie. The list is endless, and it's a vehicle that you can use to try out different combinations of ingredients.

Quite apart from the flavours added to the cookie, there is the question of texture. Are you a crunchy person or a squidgy person? Do you like them crispy on the outside and chewy inside, or do you prefer a harder, crunchier treat? Sugar and cooking time are the key when deciding this. More white sugar will make them crispier, and more brown will make them chewier, so a combination of these can create a cookie to your taste. But slightly more importantly in my opinion is the cooking time. Often we are tempted to leave them in the oven until they are completely golden as this is so aesthetically pleasing, however this will result in a very crispy crunchy cookie that although lovely, is not to my taste. For a softer cookie, you must be brave and take them out when they are only just browning around the edges, and are still soft to the touch. They may look uncooked, but they will continue to cook as they cool, and the result is a beautifully soft and chewy cookie.

So here is a recipe I tried out on the weekend, it's a combination of white and demerera sugar (although it probably would have benefited from some soft brown sugar for an even more chewy texture). Also, I say chocoalte chunks here as I have an aversion to the 'chocolate chips' you can buy in a bag...they taste suspiciously un-chocolatey, and if you're going to bake chocolate chip cookies, you should probably be able to taste the chocolate!!!

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

280g caster sugar
170g demerera sugar
225g unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
450g plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder (this makes for quite an airy cookie, if you want a denser texture, reduce this amount)
3/4 tsp salt
as many chocolate chunks as you can squeeze in!!
Beat the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy.
Add the vanilla essence and eggs one at a time.
Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl.
Add the flour mix to the wet mix gradually and combine until you have a fairly sturdy cookie does take some elbow grease!!
Add your chocoalte chunks, then make balls about 1 1/2 inches in size and place on a baking tray. Be sure to leave space between them as they will spread when they are cooking.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until they are just about browning around the edges, but still look a little undercooked, then be brave and take them out!!!!
Leave to cool, then eat eat eat!!!

These lasted quite well when wrapped in cling film, and were perfect with a cup of tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon!


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