Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

I woke up this morning to the white blankness of thick mist, and sight of hundreds of dew-jewelled spiderwebs that had been spun overnight. Very fitting for the morning post-Halloween.

With the refreshingly brisk November air (it’s November now, how time flies!) is the comforting contrast of the sweet warmth that comes from cookies baking away in the oven. Magical how a bowl of ingredients transforms into a pile of freshly baked cookies, crunchy outside with just the right amount of chew, interspersed with lightly toasted milk chocolate chunks.

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My crappy oven doesn’t do this delicious batter justice, and the cookies baked looking somewhat anaemic, so I baked a second batch in my parents’ (much better) oven and snapped a few photos afterwards.

P1070198I tried a few variations with the basic batter – one with white chocolate and cranberry, another with toasted ground hazelnuts – and really, my favourite has to be this milk chocolate version. I’m a milk chocolate girl through and through, and although there’s a time and a place for dark chocolate, this cookie isn’t one.

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Eat whilst admiring adorable fuzzy plushies online. I’m in denial about being a mature, fully-fledged adult, yes I know. Seriously, how could anybody say no to this?

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Very Good Chocolate Chip Cookies

Why are the simplest bakes sometimes the most difficult? For instance, let’s take chocolate chip cookies. It seems like it should be simple. However, despite having dozens of favourite recipes for all kinds of other cookies, chocolate-chip nirvana still escapes my tenacious grasp.

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I’ve spent years trying to figure it out. Trawling through the heavy masses of internet cookie wisdom, trying all kind of tricks and techniques. Baking immediately, to baking after resting the dough for 24 hours. Brown sugar versus caster sugar. Strong flour, spelt flour, rice flour, cornflour. English, French, Danish butter. Salted or unsalted?

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Heston Blumenthal’s recipe has been on my radar for a long time. It differs from most other chocolate chip cookie recipes by Heston’s trademark uber-precise instructions, and the added step of making your own golden syrup chocolate chips.  

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I baked them, and found they were good cookies, with a perfect texture. Crisp exteriors and desirably chewy centre.

However, they’re faffy. Making your own chocolate chips takes ages. You make a ganache, freeze it into useable firmness, and chop it into squares. When you want cookies now, waiting a couple of hours for the ganache to freeze solid is a bit of a test in delayed gratification. I found the chocolate ganache nuggets didn’t seem to add much to the finished cookies either. Finding little hard nuggets of chocolate is one my favourite parts of cookie-chomping, and chocolate ganache stays unexcitingly soft at room temperature.

I thought the ingredients could do with a bit of tinkering too. The cookies were a bit too sweet, and I needed a glass of water after polishing one off. So of course, I baked them again, tweaking the original recipe to my own tastes, reducing the sugar and replacing the fancy homemade chocolate chips with ordinary chopped up chocolate.

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They were just glorious. Fresh out of the oven with golden crispy edges and a soft, dense middle rich with melted chocolate chips. No need for chilling, or special ingredients – just lovely cookies when you want them.

My sweet tooth seems to be fading as I age, or these are just very sweet cookies. I reduced the quantity of sugar from 260g to 200g, but I think I could probably push it down further to 160g without any loss of flavour.

I ended up with an awful lot of cookies after these experiments, so took a big batch into work. They got scarfed down in about an hour. I went to check on their progress and was stunned to see that nothing remained but a crumpled foil wrapper and the cake tin lid hanging sideways off the counter. Always a good sign, although slightly alarming how voracious everybody’s appetites were.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Heston Blumenthal at Home

Makes 12

  • 115g salted butter
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 egg
  • 220g plain flour (I used a mixture of plain flour and spelt flour)
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 125g milk/dark chocolate, chopped into chips

Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Prepare 2 baking trays.

Beat the butter and sugar together until combined, then beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and coffee powder together. Add to the rest of the ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. Stir in the milk chocolate chips. Scoop into 12 balls, then bake for 8-10 minutes until golden around the edges. Leave to rest for a few minutes before transferring onto a cooling rack.

Hazelnut Butter and Milk Chocolate Cookies

Imagine those delicious chocolate pralines, the ones that always disappear first in any luxury chocolate selection box. Then imagine them transformed into a crispy, chewy, nutty cookie, generously studded with moreish, melting chunks of milky chocolate.

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As well as a lot of chocolate, there’s quite a cookie theme going on this month. These were inspired by the peanut butter cookies I made last year. I had a big stash of hazelnuts left over from 2014, so I got out my mini-blender, and blasted a bag of roasted nuts into a nut butter, ready to make into something to nibble on.

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The batter for the cookie dough was quick and easy to make. I mixed it up after dinner, then popped the mixing bowl in the fridge to rest overnight. The next day, I scooped out the dough, and hey presto! Freshly baked cookies.

I mixed in milk chocolate chips, but you could easily go with dark chocolate, or even more hazelnuts to ramp up the nutty flavours even more.

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Hazelnut Butter and Milk Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Makes 10-12 cookies

  • 110g lightly salted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 90g light brown sugar
  • 120g hazelnut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 170g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g milk chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 170˚C.

Beat the butters and sugars together, then add the egg and vanilla extract. Finally beat in the flours, bicarbonate of soda, and the chocolate chips.

Use an ice-cream scoop to transfer balls of cookie dough onto 2-3 baking trays. Keep plenty of space between each cookie as they will spread! Bake in the oven for approximately 12 minutes. Leave to cool before transferring onto a cooling rack.

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

There are a lot of pretty damn good cookie recipes out there, and this chocolate one by Dan Lepard is no exception. These cookies are comfortingly weighty in the palm of your hand, and are absolutely choc-a-block crammed full of dark chocolate chunks, melting into tiny rivulets and puddles that you just want to lick off.

Very lightly adapted from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet, they pack a fantastic chocolatey punch. In my case, a slightly boozy aftertaste too, thanks to my homemade vanilla extract, which is currently approximately 50% vodka, 49.999% brandy, and 0.001% vanilla seeds. Tis no bad thing. Hic.

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It was dark when I baked these (being a January weekday) so here’s a quick iPhone snap.

I keep meaning to bake more from Short and Sweet as Dan Lepard’s recipes tend to be so reliable and produce great results. For instance, the ratio of ingredients here is incredibly similar to that of Dorie Greenspan/Pierre Hermé’s Korova cookies. I didn’t get along with that cookie recipe at all, which resulted in epic cookie spreadage, but this one worked beautifully.

Anyways, super happy I have a tub filled with these to keep me going for the rest of the working week (and weekend) yum!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 150g dark brown sugar
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small egg
  • 175g strong white flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Beat the butter together with the sugars and vanilla extract until creamy. Then mix in the egg, followed by the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the chocolate chunks, then roll into balls with your hands, then place on a baking tray, well spaced apart, and bake for around 14 minutes until puffed and starting to colour at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on a tray before transferring onto a cooling rack.

Chocolate Stuffed Cookies

I’ve also got a little confession to make. Despite my previous protests, I’ve actually made it all the way to Season 4 of Game of Thrones. It’s still a little too gory for me, but a lot more watchable than I gave it credit for at the beginning, and I definitely prefer it to the books. Also, despite my previous assertions, I have seen cakes crop up a few times, although their association with the inspid Sansa doesn’t go a long way with me.

Anyway, today’s post is not about Sansa’s favourite lemon cakes, but a particular favourite of mine – palm-sized cookies, stuffed full of chocolate. If you have a mild addiction to Ben’s Cookies, these will provide you with some respite.

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Based on a Hummingbird Bakery recipe, they’re almost like brownies in a cookie, rich and utterly delicious.

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They more than made up for my iffy week of commuting. Driving to work everyday is proving a massive pain in the backside. Prior to this year I had never driven in London before, and considered myself a pretty decent driver. I guess driving in the Big Smoke is a whole different kettle of fish. After being slapped with two parking tickets and several near-misses, I was starting to wonder whether I should be on the roads at all!

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Oh for the days when I could walk everywhere! I guess London has its ups and downs. I don’t have the luxury of walking everywhere anymore, but I do have some yummy cookies to keep me company whilst I fume in the rush hour traffic jams.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

I love that the sun is still out when I get home from work these days. It’s even inspiring me to do more exercise after my long commute. I can go out, destress, bask in that last bit of evening sun, then the purpley hours of twilight, and come back to savour these nutty, chocolate-stuffed cookies.

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These are based on the much-loved Hummingbird Bakery peanut butter cookies. I’ve swapped a few things around, halving the recipe, reducing the sugar (I found the originals too sweet), throwing in some wholemeal flour, and upping the chocolate. There can never too much chocolate in a cookie 😉

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Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 12 big cookies

  • 110g butter
  • 120g peanut butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 80g wholemeal flour
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g dark chocolate, chopped coarsely

Preheat the oven to 170˚C.

Beat the butters and sugars together, then add the egg and vanilla extract. Finally beat in the flours, bicarbonate of soda, and the chocolate chips.

Use an ice-cream scoop to transfer balls of cookie dough onto 2-3 baking trays. Keep plenty of space between each cookie as they will spread! Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Leave to cool before transferring onto a cooling rack.

Valentine Sugar Cookies

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!

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Regardless of whether you are coupled-up, single or even in a polygamous five-way….this is THE best time of the year for kitsch baking. Cover everything with hearts, pink icing, glitter and rejoice. January is over, the worst of the Winter blues is past. Spring is coming!

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Biscuits store well in a tin, and always go down well in a crowd. I had a lot of leftover lemon sugar cookie dough from Christmas and I wanted originally to make some biscuits that I could sandwich together with raspberry jam. However, I completely ruined the first batch of biscuits by a) burning them and b) letting them get totally stuck to the baking sheet. So, there weren’t quite enough left biscuits left for sandwiching purposes. On the bright side, I got the chance to test out my new food colouring from Squires Kitchen.

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This shade here is Poinsetta, and I think it’s pretty spot on!

It seems I am inherently unable to go totally OTT when it comes to decorations; I rather like the contrast of bright red icing and plain lemon biscuit. The rest of the sprinkles, sparkles, and sugar flowers might have to wait until next time.

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