3 Minute Chocolate Muffin Recipe

Yes, that’s right, three minutes, in the microwave. And fantastically easy. You will need some very deep mugs or you will make a real mess of your microwave, but that is it, other than a tablespoon and teaspoon measure.  I don’t think they can be very good for you, but that is not what these are about.  They are about needing a chocolate hit, right now.  The recipe I used said they are five minute muffins, but it can take a little longer than two minutes to get it all together in the mug.

These muffins are not keepers, they are throw it together and eat whilst still warm. Allrecipes says they are for breakfast, I think they are better when you are a little worse for wear and wanting to satisfy your sweet tooth! That was the case for us anyway the two times I have made these, terrible photos I’m afraid as it was late, and I’d had one or two glasses of vino! I think that is a testament to how easy these are though, if you can do it merry, anybody can do it!

Use white plain flour if you don’t have any wholemeal, it still works.

The ingredients are per muffin.

Ingredients

4 tbsp wholemeal plain flour
4 tbsp demerera sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp chocolate chips (optional)
2 tbsp whisked egg , and (this is roughly one medium egg which is what I used)
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp sunflower oil
few drops vanilla extract

Method

There is no method! Literally put everything into the mug, stir it up well. It should be about two thirds full. Take a pinch of sugar and sprinkle over the tops. These are very tall Eurodisney mugs, the first time I made these I thought a smaller mug would be ok and it overflowed!

Microwave on high for three minutes, keep an eye on them as you may need to stop it a few seconds early. It will be sticky and bubbly.

Let the muffin stand for ten minutes before turning out onto a plate, or five and grab a spoon and eat it from the mug!  A liberal drizzle of double cream adds to the sin, and the taste!

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Fruity Granola / Muesli Recipe

Holy cow, who’d have thought eating healthily could ever taste this good?

I am not much of a breakfast person, I hardly ever eat cereal, and I am finding myself looking forward to it, the OH and I are even tucking into a bowl after dinner instead of dessert! Our preference is to eat it with a sweetened natural yoghurt(I found a good pouring one), flavoured yoghurts will also be good, as will orange juice or milk.  I used to buy boxes of muesli and oaty cereals from time to time, never again! And I will be able to change this every time by putting in different nuts (think pecans, walnuts, maybe even unsalted peanuts, as well as almonds and hazlenuts) and there are a multitude of dried fruits available. I would have put some dried apricots in this but my youngest has just polished them off!

I got lucky and a stall had set up in the shopping centre round the corner with baskets of dried fruit, use what you can find with both the fruit and nuts, but use roughly half the weight of the oats in fruit. You use about a third in weight of nuts to the weight of oats, so all in there is about 1800g of the finished cereal.

A recipe I used for inspiration used a measuring jug for the wet and dry ingredients, so I have also used  one in the ingredient list. This can be very roughly measured and it won’t hurt it.

The cinnamon in this is incredible, the smell and taste is just amazing, and the watered down syrup sweetens the oats beautifully. I have even been dipping in and nibbling on it dry when a little peckish!

Ingredients

1000 g / 1000 ml porridge oats
200 g / 200 ml sunflower seeds
100g / 150 ml hazlenuts
100 g / 150 ml roasted whole almonds
100 g / 150 ml dried cherries
150 g / dried figs
120 g raisins
100 g dried papaya
100g / 200ml dried mixed fruit(containing pinapple, coconut, papaya, raisins)
100 ml water
100 ml  golden syrup
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Method

  • Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 6 / 200 degC / 400 degF.
  • Mix together the syrup, water, oil and cinnamon.
  • Roughly chop the nuts.  In a large bowl add the oats, seeds and nuts, stir the liquid well and pour all over, then mix it through the oats well.
  • In an oven tray, spread the coated oats and nuts evenly. Pop into the oven for roughly twenty five minutes. Check regularly, and stir and mix well every five minutes or so, you do not want any parts to burn. You are aiming for  light golden, barely cooked.
  • While the oats are in the oven, chop any larger fruit into smaller chunks. Put all the fruit into the large bowl.
  • As soon as the oats come out of the oven, place them back in  the bowl with the fruit, mix well, and leave to cool, before storing in artight containers.

This will keep for a few weeks, if it lasts that long!

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Tomato and Bread Soup Recipe

This soup is amazing, just a handful of ingredients, and the main stars of the dish are over ripe tomatoes and stale bread that some crazy people would bin! I love peasant food, it can be some of the most satisfying and tasty food you will come across, and all for pennies, rather than pounds. Europeans have some fantastic recipes for using just a few things and bringing it together into something superb. This soup has its foundations in Italy, where bread is never binned. I made it for the first time about ten days ago when the fruit and vegetable shop I use had a big bag of mixed, very ripe, tomatoes for the grand total of fifty cents. I took one look at it and thought “mmm soup”. I had some leftover homemade bread that was only really fit for breadcrumbing so this recipe was perfect, and the family adored it. I had been thinking about making Ribollita or Minestrone, but wanted something that required less effort, and this is incredibly easy. There was genuine excitement when they saw me come home with another bag of tomatoes yesterday for fifty cents, knowing what would be the outcome!

This soup needs the tastiest tomatoes you can find, try to find ripe ones on the vine, plum tomatoes, mix the varieties up and maybe get lucky with reduced to clear at the supermarket, they can have blemishes, be soft and squidgy, but stay clear of the “salad” ones they sell as they are bland, the deeper the colour the better. This is the time for going to your local farm shop really.  Chop off any mouldy bits but the rest can go in, I lost the tops off two of the tomatoes in the bag, but the rest, although some were very soft, were absolutely fine.  A trick I learnt a while back is that if you have tomatoes on the vine actually putting the vine in and removing before serving will add taste.

This gives four to six  generous bowls.

Ingredients

One and a half kilos of fresh tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
150 g / stale (or fresh!) white bread
a small bunch basil (one to two tablespoons once chopped)
20g freshly grated parmesan
a glug of olive oil
salt and pepper
500-750 ml chicken stock (or vegetable)

Method

  • Roughly chop the tomatoes into smallish pieces, and put it all into a big bowl. Liberally season with salt and pepper and stir it well. This will help get maximum taste from the tomatoes. Leave for about ten minutes.
  • Finely chop the garlic, and put a good glug of oil into a large saucepan (approximately two to three tablespoons),  put the pan over a medium heat and warm the oil up and add the garlic. You want it to sizzle but not furiously. Stir constantly for about one minute to the point where the garlic is just starting to colour.
  • Add the tomatoes and all the juice they have produced from seasoning and bring the pan up to the boil. Reduce to a medium heat and stir every couple of minutes for about ten minutes until the tomatoes have all softened.
  • Add 500ml stock, and roughly chop the bread up into small pieces, then add the bread to the pan. Make sure it is all submerged and stirred through.
  • Cook on a low heat for about half an hour until you can see that the bread has mostly broken up and become  a part of the soup, adding a bit more stock if it seems too thick during this time. At this point you could give it a rough blend, it should be thick and not entirely lump free though. Or you could break any larger lumps up with your spoon.
  • Chop the basil and add, and add the grated parmesan. Stir well. Have a taste and season further if it needs it.

Serve, grate a little more parmesan over the surface, and enjoy!

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Candied Peel Recipe

I’ve been working on a Hot Cross Bun recipe, and had run out of candied peel that I bought ages ago, the Sundora brand is a good one if you need back up supplies, I have a mountain of peel from this batch so the fact I couldn’t find any in the shops here isn’t a problem!  As much as possible I try to limit the things I ask people visiting us for to items I really can’t make or find here, and this recipe is pretty easy, it just takes a while to do.

Quite a few recipes say to let these dry somewhere for a few days, I can’t afford to do that here or the ants will get a treat so I followed one recipe that said to put the oven on a really low setting and pop them in to dry off. Dusting them in sugar was also a really good idea.

I wasn’t sure how my limes were going to fare with this, the answer is that they are slightly crisper than the oranges and lemons, but good all the same. Use a mixture of fruits, oranges are a staple, as are lemons, but if you have a grapefruit try it, Waitrose’s recipe say use a pomelo (Asian fruit cousin of the grapefruit), as long as it is citrus, go with it!

Some recipes want you to remove all the pith from the skins, this one from Waitrose did not, and I like the plumpness that resulted from leaving it, once you’ve simmered the skins until soft there really is no bitterness left, and it makes it easy and less time consuming. Don’t panic when you see how long the recipe says this takes, you spend a few minutes taking the skins off the fruit, then they simmer away and you can get on with something else, you have to check on them every now and then when in the syrup but this is not labour intensive. I finished my peel off a different way to this recipe, and used this for guidance.

If you fancy making something out of this, they are yummy dipped in dark chocolate!

I used 3 oranges, 2 lemons and 2 limes and still got at least 500 grams, should keep me going for a little while, if I can keep the children away from it!  The only other ingredient is sugar, and water, how easy is that?

You will need 600 grams of sugar for the syrup, plus roughly another 200g for coating.

Method

  • Aiming to just take the skin and leave the fruit behind, with a good sharp knife take the tops and bottoms off the fruit, and then work around the fruit, taking the skin off in slices. Check the undersides and remove any fruit you took with it.
  • In a mid sized saucepan place all the skin and plenty of water. Simmer the peel for about forty five minutes until the skin is soft. Apparently this can take up to ninety minutes depending on the fruit so keep an eye on it and keep the water topped up. I tested the softness by taking a piece out and seeing if I could break the skin easily with my finger nail.  Drain the peel.
  • Rinse the pan and then add the 600 grams of sugar, and 300ml water. Heat while stirring until the sugar has melted and then add the peel, there should be enough syrup to fully cover all of it. Simmer on a low heat, occasionally pressing the top peel down, until nearly all the syrup has been absorbed / reduced. This will take anything up to two hours forty five minutes.
  • Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 2 / 150 degC / 300 degF.  Line a tray with greaseproof paper, and place the remaining sugar into a bowl.  Using tongs as the peel is in very hot syrup, put a few bits of peel into the sugar, coat it and place on the lined tray. Do this with all the peel, topping up the sugar if needed.
  • Pop the tray into the oven to dry out the fruit, this should take about an hour, check on them every twenty minutes or so to make sure they don’t brown or burn.  Take them out of the oven and cool.
  • Once cool, scrape any excess sugar from them and bag up or put into clean, sterilised jars. The peel will keep for several weeks.

With the peeled fruit I made a sorbet to use it up!

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Super soft and fluffy Hot Cross Buns Recipe


Back in the days when you couldn’t get Hot Cross Buns all year round, and before supermarkets made things so hard for the small producer, I remember getting them just before Easter from your local bakers, the spicy smell could literally force you to enter from across the street and buy a bag full, they were beautifully soft and almost bread roll like in consistency, when you would tear into a warm, fresh one and it was moist without having to butter them, you would see the nuggets of candied peel and plump fruit nestled in the spicy roll, and they were slightly domed with their golden tops glazed and sticky, there was nothing artificial about the taste either. Oh, and they had crosses on them! No, they might not keep for days on end(as they weren’t rammed full of preservatives) but when they tasted as good as they did, they were hugely unlikely to be hanging around. Dan Lepard’s website has a blog (it’s a little on the dated side but may still help those needing to buy some) on where to buy some of the best,(I believe Greggs actually do a reasonable one) and his stout version of the HCB looks great, but here in Spain black beer is expensive, so I have been on the trail for the best recipes. I don’t like currants in my Hot Cross Bun so used raisins-feel free to use a mix of dried fruit, I prefer my fruit to be as soft and plump as possible so I really liked his method of soaking the fruit in a good black tea, and it really was great in the final result. Some people adapted his soft roll recipe with success which I am already a fan of, so when I found a recipe I wanted to use I adapted it further using some of the foundations of that recipe.

My holy grail of HCB’s taught me a fair bit, the most important being that yeast doesn’t get on with spice, or fruit, as in it doesn’t do its funky thing and make dough rise much. With this in mind I wanted to find a recipe that gave the yeast as much of a head start as possible before adding it to the all important hindrances! Beginning the process with a yeast starter is a great way of doing this. This is where you give the yeast a little liquid, flour and sugar and let it bubble and froth away for half an hour or so, before adding it to the bulk of the ingredients. And I have to say, there isn’t a trace of heaviness to these, they swell and rise beautifully, although mostly in the oven, and you certainly don’t need to butter them to enjoy fully. I have just eaten one for breakfast from a batch I made two days ago and stored in an airtight container, it was only just starting to need buttering. As I am trying in vain to diet I will be refraining from buttering, but I think the quantity of butter and milk in these will keep that from being a problem.

I have worked this recipe with both fresh and dried yeast, dried yeast seems to work slower (and won’t produce a spongelike consistency, more of a creamy yogurt thickness) during the starter process and it doesn’t rise as much while proving but it catches up in the oven (I now have 24 HCB’s as I did a batch of each yesterday to see how they compare!), and I think the dried version results in a slightly heavier bun. Side by side though you can’t really tell, as you can see here(the fresh yeast is on the left)-

I may have super sensitive taste buds as I can taste the fresh yeast which has never happened in bread I’ve baked, so I may have to reduce the quantity of yeast in the recipe and give it a longer period to prove. I will do another batch before Easter with 10 grams and let you know the result!

The recipe takes several hours from start to finish, but this can be broken up, I have made some notes at the bottom.

Ingredients

For the starter sponge

1 medium egg, beaten
55 g  / 2 oz plain strong flour
100 ml /  3 3/4 fl oz warm water
15 g / 2/3 oz fresh yeast OR 2 level teaspoons dried active yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar

For the dough

454 g / 1 lb plain strong flour, plus extra for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons mixed spice
zest of one lemon and one orange
85 g / 3 1/2 oz caster sugar
85 g / 3 1/2 oz butter, melted
120 ml / 4 fl oz milk, plus a dash more for brushing
175 g / 6 oz dried fruit – I used raisins *
80 g / 3 oz  Candied Peel.  Make your own or buy the best you can find – Sundora is a good brand.
a good black tea bag, I used Assam as I didnt have one, just as good.

For the crosses

2 tablespoons plain flour, 1 tablespoon caster sugar, 3 tablespoons water mixed to form a thick paste

For glazing

Either use a sugar syrup(50g of sugar boiled up with 100ml water for a few minutes) or approximately 2 tablespoons warmed apricot jam.

Method

  • First off, boil a kettle, make up about 250ml / half a pint of tea and soak your raisins or mixed dried fruit.
  • For the starter, in a medium bowl add an egg and whisk, then add 100 ml warm water, crumble in the yeast, stir well to encorporate it, then add the flour and sugar. Make sure it is well mixed, then cover and leave for about half an hour somewhere warm, but not hot. When you come back to it the starter will look really puffed up and frothy. Give it a little longer if it is being slow! This photo shows the fresh yeast on the left, dried on the right. (the dried version looks really sad in comparison!)

  • In a large bowl add the flour for the dough, the salt and spice, and mix. Add the sugar, the zest of the lemon and orange, then pour in the melted butter and milk into the middle. Begin to mix this in before adding the starter. Mix well until you have a slightly sticky dough, then turn out onto a well floured surface.
  • Knead well for about ten minutes until the dough is no longer sticking to everything (add more flour to the surface as you go when it sticks) and is elastic and smooth.
  • Drain and squeeze the moisture from the fruit. Very finely chop the candied peel.
  • Pat the dough out to a thick rectangular shape and place the candied peel and fruit into the middle. Fold the edges over, and then knead until all the fruit is well mixed through the dough.  Make sure the mixing bowl is cleaned out (or that you had scraped all the dough out for kneading), pop the dough back in and rest the for an hour covered.
  • Bring the dough back out onto a lightly floured surface and knead again for a few minutes, before covering and resting for a further thirty minutes.
  • Now for making the rolls. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking tray with a deep lip.  Turn out the dough, knock out the air and separate into 12 even pieces.  Roll in your hands until they are round, and slightly flattened.  Deeply score a cross in them with a very sharp knife(don’t worry if your crosses don’t look perfect), and place into the tray with a little space between them.
  • Cover and let them swell up for an hour. Don’t worry if they don’t swell much. Get your oven preheated to gas mark 8 / 240 degC / 475 degF.
  • With a pastry brush, dab a little milk onto the buns.  Make sure your paste is thick and lump free(add a little more flour/sugar if needed-taste wise it will be floury but sweet). Put the cross paste into a freezer bag, squeeze it into one corner and let any excess air out,  twist the bag at the top of the paste and snip a tiny hole in the corner. With a steady hand follow the crosses made when you scored them with a knife.

Be fairly thick in your piping, going over it twice if necessary.

  • Pop into the oven for twenty to twenty five minutes. After ten minutes if they are browning too quickly reduce the heat to gas 7 / 220 deg C / 450 degF, mine were and if you brown them too much too quickly you will get too much of a crust and a doughy middle.
  • When they are straight out of the oven, get a pastry brush and glaze with your jam or syrup. After much deliberation (and 4 batches!) I have decided I prefer a jam glaze!

  • Allow to mostly cool in the tray before removing, tearing them apart and cooling on a rack. Eaten warm out of the oven is by far the best time for these babies though!

Footnotes

Once you have shaped the buns you could wrap the tray in cling film and put them in the fridge, I had to with batch number one for about 4-5 hours as I had run out of time and had to go to work. Give them an hour minimum to come up to room temperature. This leads me to believe they could be left overnight and baked fresh in the morning. I have also left the dough in the fridge for the second prove for a few hours as, again, I had to go to work. Give it half an hour or so to come up to room temperature and then roll into the buns. Oh to be a full time food writer!

*I made a batch with some glace cherries for some children that don’t like dried fruit and they were wonderful, you won’t need as much as the fruit though, 100g is plenty for it.

Spice wise, I like it quite strong, and two teaspoons mentioned in many recipes wasn’t enough, so I use three. If you like it subtle, go with two.  Now to make Stollen….

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Gorgeously moist Vanilla Cake with white chocolate buttercream icing recipe

This cake  is a real winner(hence no photos taken without a big wedge taken out of it when it had set!), none of that sandy, breadcrumb like consistency here! Its basis is an American 1-2-3-4 cake, with a little taken from a vanilla cake on the bbc food website.

I have been practicing this cake for my youngest daughter’s birthday next week, and also making one with the five year old I look after, who is becoming quite the little cook, she wanted to make one for her Daddy as it is Father’s Day in Spain. It’s easy to bake, doesn’t need much levelling off and tastes wonderful! If I could give some advice it would be to bake the cakes and wrap for a day before icing, when freshly baked it can be a challenge to ice without breaking! Buttercream icing is a very good place to start if you’re a novice, if you want to adorn and make it pretty you can use a piping bag (a star tip is possibly the easiest to use), top with fruit as I did with my first attempt-

(hides any imperfections well, I had iced this too thick for our liking too which became obvious when we sliced it!)

Still good even when rustic looking though!

Or take a look at this birthday bug cake on the bbc website for inspiration.  I am a total beginner at icing, my second cake was far better and I found it much easier, so I think having a practice session first if you’re a beginner will gain skills and confidence.

This recipe largely comes from the Bakerella site and her Moist Yellow Cake (I have no idea if using butter flavouring adds anything to the recipe as it is not something I’ve ever come across), however I used half natural yogurt, half milk for the cup of liquid quantity, as I had seen a lot of people use buttermilk or yogurt in their vanilla cakes to add extra moisture. I have found her timings a little off in regards to my oven, but as most of us know, ovens can vary an awful lot in their temperatures, and I think as long as you check towards the end of the baking times(don’t open the oven door any more than is absolutely essential though!) a few minutes either side should be expected.  Bakerella uses three 8 inch cake pans, I used two 8 inch (20cm) loose bottomed Prestige tins. And even though they are non-stick I still lined the bottom and sides with baking paper, just to be sure!

Whether you choose to just fill your cake with buttercream icing or to add a thin layer of fruit filling is up to you, I had some amazing strawberry jam I made a couple of weeks ago using this recipe as a template which I blitzed down to a puree and it worked beautifully. Three to four tablespoons should be plenty.

Cake Ingredients

225g / 8oz/ 1 cup butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 2 cups white sugar
360g / 12oz / 3 cups self raising flour (or plain flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder)
4 eggs at room temperature
125g pot of natural yogurt and 115-120ml /4 fl oz milk -adding up to one cup total ( or 240 ml / 8 fl oz milk)
half a tablespoon(7 ml) vanilla extract

Sugar syrup

50g vanilla sugar, or caster sugar if you don’t have any, and 50ml water

Buttercream Icing

175g / 6 oz / 3/4 cup butter at room temperature
500g / 1 lb 2 oz  icing sugar (sorry I didn’t measure this in cups I just realised!)
up to 3 tablespoons of milk, or condensed milk if you happen to have any!
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Optional-100g white chocolate, melted

Method

  • Grease (and line if you err on the side of caution like me!) your cake tins.
  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 180 degC, 350 deg F.
  • Cream the butter until smooth, add the sugar and cream until the sugar is really well incorporated for several minutes. This is best done with an electric mixer, unless you have immense arm muscles!
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla extract.
  • Bit by bit, alternately add the flour and milk and yogurt mixture, ending with flour.
  • Divide evenly into your tins, and knock gently on your worktop to even out the mixture.

  • Pop in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. These were the given times, mine took 35 minutes. Test with a cocktail stick through the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean they are ready to come out. They should be a light golden colour.
  • Cool for five to ten minutes, then remove from the tins and wrap, whilst still warm, in plenty of cling film, this helps keep in maximum moisture.
  • Make up the sugar syrup before you ice the cakes. Place the sugar and water in a pan, bring to the boil and simmer until the sugar is completely melted.
  • When you are ready to ice, level off the tops of the cakes with a very sharp or serrated knife. Using a pastry brush, dip in the syrup and gently brush the surfaces of the cakes. This should help stop crumbs trying to invade your icing job!
  • Make up the buttercream- work the butter in a big bowl with a spoon or electric mixer on its lowest setting until it has softened, then mix in the icing sugar, one cup at a  time. Add the vanilla, the milk one spoonful at a time, and the melted white chocolate if you are using(definitely a worthy addition, the icing went on so much easier, and the taste-scrummy!), the consistency should be thick yet creamy, you want it to hold its form and stay put on the sides yet be soft enough to spread without breaking the cake.
  • Put one cake onto your cake stand. I don’t have a cake stand-I put some cling film over the cake tin base, and found something I could rest it onto that was sturdy and smaller in diameter (a small round oven dish!)than the cake bottom, it isn’t perfect but it works! Spread some jam if you are using it onto the top of the first cake on the stand. Don’t go all the way to the edge otherwise you will end up with jam in your icing, and don’t put any more than a thin layer on.
  • Spread a thin layer of icing onto one side of cake number two, and gently flip it icing side down onto the jammed cake.
  • Now to ice the top of the cake. Be fairly generous and use a firm spatula. (be ingenious here, use a clean plastic ruler or something similar rather than go buy something new).

  • When you have a layer roughly a few millimetres thick start with a fairly generous amount and apply bit by bit to the sides, smoothing it around gently. If you are too firm with it you will break cake crumbs off. Once the sides are covered return to the top and make sure it is smooth to the edges. Any leftover icing can be kept in a container in the fridge for two weeks.

Place the finished cake into the fridge for a couple of hours, or covered at room temperature for several hours to set hard. The cake will keep well for several days in an airtight container, until you slice into it(when I advise you eat it within 24-48 hours).

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Chocolate Chip Cookie baked brownie style recipe

I had a real dilemma knowing what to call this, in America they call this a Congo Bar, the website I found it on, Bakerella, calls it a brookie, we at home like crookie (said all gruff and inducing fits of giggles!), basically this is a very gorgeous, soft and chewy, big fat cookie baked in a 13 x 9 inch pan, and cut into chunks. Warm from the oven it will almost eat like cake, 24 hours in it’s deliciously chewy and cookie like. I am on an endless quest to perfect the chocolate chip cookie, I love the ones you get freshly baked from Subway or the supermarkets, this recipe has taken a good deal of the urge away. It does have a ridiculous amount of sugar in it which I think is the secret to the chewiness, it’s also really simple and they keep, if you resist them, several days in an airtight container. The things I inflict on myself to find these things out! I have made this once with very finely chopped pecans and once without, it is up to you whether you include them or not, my children prefer them without. The first time I made these I used all brown sugar, the second time I made them with half brown, half white, and it didn’t alter them much, I would say that you should not go any further than this as the brown sugar is important to the taste, it has a richer flavour than white sugar, and different consistency in baking.  Most cookie recipes however use a mixture of brown and white sugar so I felt confident in giving it a try. I would like to reduce the amount of sugar but having looked at many recipes for this they all use the same amount, so for now, I leave it to a time when I can afford to play, and just resign myself to the fact that you cannot call these healthy in any way!

See the recipe on Bakerella and her wonderful pictures and an abundance of sweet treats here. She has some interesting ideas on additions to the cookie mixture! Seeing her glorious pictures makes me want a new camera! I get a lot of envy in my searches for fantastic food.  One thing that she noticed is that somehow you get a slightly different result if you make these with a food mixer(they will be more cake like), you will get the best result if you show the mixture your love and a little elbow grease and make these with your trusty wooden spoon!

Ingredients

350g / 12oz / 2  3/4 cups plain flour

2 and a half teaspoons baking powder

half a teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

1 lb / 450g / 2 1/4 cups brown sugar (or half brown and white)

150 g / 5 oz / 2/3 cup room temperature butter

4 medium eggs , room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

320g / 11 1/2oz / 2 cups chocolate chips, plain or milk

*optional-half a cup /  handful of finely chopped pecans

Method

  • Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 4, 180 degC, 350 degF.
  • Grease and line a 9 x 13 inch tray that is at least one inch deep.
  • In one bowl sieve your flour, add the baking powder and salt(if using) and give it a little mix.
  • In a large mixing bowl mix the sugar into the butter until the two are well incorporated.

  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
  • Add the vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts, if using.  A trick I discovered when making muffins is that if you dust the chocolate chips in a little flour they shouldn’t sink to the bottom of the mix when baking.
  • Add the flour mix and stir it in well.
  • Scrape into your lined, greased pan. It will be really thick, and look pretty irrestible already (there was a small squabble over licking the bowl).

  • Bake in the oven for thirty minutes (if like my oven yours runs a little cool give it another five minutes if you test with a cocktail stick and it comes out sticky still). You are aiming for a pale gold colour, do not over bake, or you will lose the soft chewiness you are after.
  • Cool in the pan for ten minutes or so, and then get it onto a cooling rack. Chop up into pieces as big or small as you wish! I think anything from 18 to 24 pieces is good.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

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