Malt-Easter chocolate chip cookies

This Easter was a sad one for me – I didn’t receive a single egg!

Sure, I may have told people that I was trying to be healthy and cut down on sugar, but still… it’s Easter!

On Easter Monday I went out to see if I could find any bargain reduced eggs and treat myself. I don’t know why Easter egg chocolate is better than normal chocolate, but it definitely is…

As it happened, there weren’t any actual eggs (apart from One Direction ones, wonder why no one bought those…) but what Tesco did have to offer my was half-price bags of Malteaster Bunnies – and so the idea for these cookies was born.

The dough on its own is delicious, with Ovaltine powder to give it a distinctive malty taste, but the two bags of massacred bunnies plus a bar of milk chocolate chopped and added to the mix really make these a Malteser-lover’s delight.

My first batch didn’t go entirely to plan, they spread too thinly and were a little oily, but I think I must have measured something incorrectly as the second batch turned out fine, with only 10g less butter difference to the first.

They are still quite thin cookies, falling into the soft and chewy rather than thick and cake category, but I liked them and they went down well with my taste testers at work too.

You could make these at any time of year – just swap the seasonal bunnies for one of those Malteser bars and it should work fine. Actual Maltesers I always find go chewy when baked, but feel free to experiment and let me know how it goes!

Malt-Easter chocolate chip cookies (basic cookie recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups)

  • 105g unsalted butter
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 medium egg
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g (two sachets) Ovaltine powder
  • 2 bags (around 100g) Malteaster Bunnies, chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped

Chop the butter into cubes then add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy, this will take a couple of minutes. Add the vanilla bean paste and the egg and beat again until well combined, then sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and Ovaltine and beat once again until it all comes together. Fold in the chopped chocolate and bunnies, then chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Divide the dough into equal-sized balls – I got 14, weighing 45g each. Chill again while you pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan) and then place spaced out on a baking sheet, 6 at a time. Bake for around 10 minutes, until just starting to crisp around the edges. Leave to cool on the baking sheet – if you try and move them while hot they’ll break and you’ll be forced into eating warm gooey cookie dough, and no one wants that…

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

I’m entering these cookies into Choclette’s We Should Cocoa challenge, this month hosted by Rachel who chose Easter as the theme. They’re a great way of using up any sad looking bunnies leftover from the weekend!

Black bottom cupcakes

Black bottom cupcakes

I first saw black bottom cupcakes somewhere in the blogosphere, or perhaps on Pinterest, I can’t quite remember – but I do remember thinking cheesecake baked into cupcakes had to be amazing, and they immediately earned a spot on my to-bake list.

Quite a while after first seeing them, I found out that the recipe came from the Hummingbird Bakery, and when I visited the Soho branch in the summer, black bottom was my friend’s cupcake of choice,  so I got to try my first bite.

The real thing…

It was every bit as good as it sounds, and the cream cheese icing makes it – over the top for sure, but absolutely delicious.

When my lovely colleague leant me Hummingbird’s first cookbook and I spotted the recipe for black bottom cupcakes, I knew the time had come to try making them for myself.

Unfortunately, although these look ok, I was actually quite disappointed with how they turned out. Everyone who tried them liked them, but having tried one from the bakery I could tell they weren’t up to scratch.

The chocolate cake batter was very thick, which I expected, but it baked up a little on the dry side. The cheesecake mix on the other hand was very thin, so rather than swirling into the cake it just sat in a layer on top, which I don’t think it how it’s supposed to work.

The icing I can’t fault, but Hummingbird’s cream cheese frosting is my all-time favourite, and has never let me down.

I am very willing to accept that the reason these didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped could be baker error rather than a fault with the recipe, so I may have to try it again – but in all likelihood, I’ll probably just wait until the next time I’m in London and buy one instead…

I won’t write up the recipe as I didn’t change a thing, and they obviously didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but if you want to have a go you can either buy the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook or check it out on the Delicious Magazine website.

Biscoff chocolate chip cookie showdown

Biscoff chocolate chip cookie showdown

I’m just going to come right out and say it – I have an addiction.

Normally, my will power is pretty good. A cake can be sat under a dome, and I can walk right by. A bar of chocolate can be open, I’ll eat 4 squares and leave it at that.

When it comes to Biscoff though (or Lotus caramelised biscuit spread to be precise), I go weak. I buy a jar, use half in a recipe, then within a few days the rest has been eaten by the spoonful.

Because of this, I decided that from now on whenever I open a jar for a recipe, I need to use it all at once. And that seemed like as good a reason as any to carry out a biscoff chocolate chip cookie comparison – a test of two very different recipes, to see which would turn out the best.

First up was one I bookmarked a white ago from Averie Cooks, for Softbatch Cookie Butter Brown Sugar Cookies. These didn’t have chocolate chips, but looked thick, puffy and delicious – surely the addition of chocolate could only make things better…

This recipe doesn’t use any butter, and only brown sugar, which naturally resulted in a darker cookie with a more toffee-like taste. It also adds extra cinnamon, which boosts the flavour of the Biscoff and is definitely a worthwhile addition.

My biggest issue with these was that the dough was very oily and not the easiest to work with, but the oiliness does disappear once they’re baked.

The first batch I baked were a little overdone, and ended up slightly on the crisp side, but they actually softened over the next couple of days, and the second batch cooked for a minute less were perfect.

The second recipe was this one, from Buttercream Fanatic. It uses a mix of butter and Biscoff, and combines light brown sugar with caster sugar. I didn’t bother rolling them in sugar, and couldn’t get cinnamon chips so used all chocolate (although I can only imagine how awesome they’d be with extra cinnamon).

This version baked a lot softer an chewier, and are much lighter in colour as you can see. I’m still a bit undecided on which look the best – the chocolate chips stand out more in these, but the darkness of the first ones reminds me of gingernuts, which I love…

Both of these cookies have their merits, and I liked them both. My dad preferred Buttercream Fanatic’s, my uncle liked Averie’s, and both batches that I took into work disappeared pretty swiftly!

I think my ideal Biscoff cookie might actually be a combination of both, using Buttercream Fanatic’s base recipe, but with all brown sugar and added cinnamon. I also think a combination of white and dark chocolate would work better than milk – which sounds like a pretty good excuse to make them again!

Biscoff chocolate chip cookie 1 (adapted from Averie Cooks)

  • 260g smooth caramelised biscuit spread
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 10g cornflour
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped

Beat the Biscoff, egg, vanilla paste and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (apparently over-beating can cause oiliness, so maybe that’s where I went wrong). Sift together the flour, cinnamon, bicarb and salt and then fold into the mixture. Finally, mix in the chopped chocolate and then roll into balls – I got 18 out of this batch, and weighed them so they were all the same. Flatten the balls down a little, and then chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Place spaced out on a baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 8-9 minutes, or until the tops are just beginning to set – DON”T OVERBAKE! Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Biscoff chocolate chip cookie 2 (adapted from Buttercream Fanatic)

  • 55g butter
  • 100g smooth caramelised biscuit spread
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 75g milk chocolate, chopped

Beat together the butter and Biscoff, then add in both sugars and continue to beat until well mixed. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again, then sift together the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt and fold into the batter. Stir in the chopped chocolate, then either roll into balls if you can, or chill in the fridge first to firm it up a little, which is what I had to do. I got 12 cookies out of this batch.

The recipe says you don’t have to chill these, but I did to be on the safe side. Once chilled, place spaced out on a baking sheet, flatten down a little, and then bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for approximately 10 minutes – they take longer than the first recipe, but you still don’t want to overcook them. Leave to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Triple chocolate cookies

Triple chocolate cookies

When it comes to eating shop-bought snacks and baked goods, I can be very particular – if I’m going to splurge on calories and sugar it has to be worth it, and more often than not anything that comes in a packet isn’t.

At my work we have a fairly well stocked biscuit tin, but it’s very rare that I’ll have anything from it as I just don’t see biscuits as a worthwhile indulgence. I also think there’s something slightly disturbing about a biscuit that has a shelf life of months, if not years – I dread to think what’s in it that keeps it fresh!

The one type of biscuits I do like, although still buy very rarely, is cookies. As in the big, chewy, American-style ones, that come from the bakery section rather than the biscuit aisle , or, my absolute favourite, from Millies Cookies.

Even with those I’m still pretty fussy though – I like standard chocolate chip cookies, milk, white or dark, but definitely not anything fancy like toffee or rolos or smarties, and definitely not double or triple chocolate. Nope, plain flavour dough all the way, get those sinister looking dark cookies out of here right now, they’re not for me. No way.

Until now.

I made these on the request of the pony, who complained that I’d never made chocolate cookies with chocolate dough. As most of what I bake is eaten by him anyway, I thought it was a reasonable enough request, and after the success of the thick and chewy cookies I made a few weeks ago decided to use a recipe from Edd Kimber’s ‘The Boy Who Bakes’, adapting chocolate and cherry cookies to be chocolate and more chocolate cookies.

I was fully expecting to be pretty indifferent about these, but I was so wrong. I think, maybe, they are the best cookies I have made to date, beating every one of the plain flavour dough recipes I’ve tried.

These cookies are addictive – I initially halved the recipe to make 12 cookies, but had to mix up another batch just two days later when they’d all been eaten (I ate two, the pony ten…)

I honestly can’t recommend this recipe strongly enough – even if you think you wont like them, you will! Promise!

Triple chocolate cookies (adapted from The Boy Who Bakes)

Makes 12, but you’ll probably want to double, or triple, or quadruple it…

  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 50g unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 medium egg
  • 65g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 75g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 50g white chocolate, chopped

Beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy – because it’s quite a high ratio of sugar to butter this will take a few minutes, but stick with it. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb, cinnamon and salt and fold into the mixture. Stir in the melted chocolate, then finally add in the chopped dark and white chocolate, folding until the chocolate is evenly distributed. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film and chill for at least an hour, to make the cookies easier to shape.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (mine were about 40g each) and roll into balls. Place six of the balls spaced a couple inches apart on a lined baking sheet, then bake at 180 degrees for around 13 minutes, or until the dough has spread and cracked and is just starting to crisp around the edges. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for as long as you can, then dive in and enjoy.

The Boy Who Bakes chocolate chip cookies

Boy Who Bakes chocolate chip cookies

One of the books I was gifted this Christmas was ‘The Boy Who Bakes‘, the first title by Great British Bake Off winner Edd Kimber.

The book has a good mix of cakes, cookies, tarts and other treats, with what I think is quite an American feel to it, but choosing what to make first wasn’t a difficult decision – it had to be the ‘thick and chewy’ chocolate chip cookies, as I am forever searching for the perfect recipe to produce bakery-style, puffy, chewy, chocolatey cookies.

Edd’s recipe is definitely one of the best I’ve tried, the only negative being that the were ever so slightly greasy looking when they came out of the oven, possibly as the dough has a higher proportion of butter than some of the others I’ve tried.

I actually scaled down the amount of chocolate from the original recipe and in my opinion they were still plenty chocolatey enough, but I think Edd’s recipe is from the New York Times cookie school of thought where the dough should be merely enough to hold together the chunks of chocolate, rather than the star of the show.

I also added in a teaspoonful of ground ginger, which I think really lifted the flavour – it wasn’t enough to turn it into a ginger flavoured cookie, but it definitely made a difference.

Although these were close to perfect cookies (and the pony even asked for me to make them again, which doesn’t happen often) the white chocolate and cranberry cookies I made from a Table for Two recipe is still the best dough I’ve tried so far – there could be better out there though, so the search continues!

The Boy Who Bakes chocolate chip cookies

Makes around 24

  • 110g light brown sugar
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped

Stir the two sugars together in a large bowl, then add the butter and beat to combine (you don’t need to get it as light and fluffy as if you were baking a sponge, it just needs to come together). Add the egg and vanilla and beat again, then sift in the flour, ginger, salt and baking powder and stir into the mix. Finally add the chopped chocolate, fold in, and then wrap the ball of dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, divide the dough into equal sized balls – if I remember rightly mine were around 30g each, half the size recommended in the recipe but I think you would have to be especially gluttonous to want a cookie that big! Place fairly well spaced out on a baking sheet, and bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until golden and just starting to crisp around the edges. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Delicious fresh from the oven, but also still good after a couple of days.

Chocolate chip banana cake with peanut butter icing

Bit of a mouthful of a title, apologies! But it does what it says on the tin – this is a moist, delicious banana cake, studded with dark chocolate chips, and topped with a peanut butter buttercream that required all of my strength not to eat straight from the bowl.

I know banana and peanut butter is a popular combination, but it’s one I hadn’t tried up until now – mostly because I spent 23 years of my life thinking peanut butter was disgusting. If only I’d realised all it needed was sugar to become amazing!

It’s a combination I’ll definitely be using again, and throwing chocolate chips into the mix can only ever make things better…

On another note, I found out today that I’ve been included in Woman and Home Magazine’s top 100 food blogs – I literally have no idea how this has happened or why they chose me, but I am pretty excited! Thanks Woman and Home, and congrats to all the other fab blogs that have made the list.

Chocolate chip banana cake with peanut butter icing (cake adapted from Levi Roots Food for Friends, icing my own)

  • 115g butter
  • 140g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 medium bananas
  • 4 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 100g chocolate chips

For the icing:

  • 35g butter
  • 50g peanut butter
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • Cocoa powder to dust

Start by roasting the bananas, in their skins, for 10-15 minutes – this will make them really soft and easy to mash. Peel and mash in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the cinnamon, bananas and yoghurt, then fold in the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips. Pour into an 8″ round greased and lined cake tin, then bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, beat together the butter an peanut butter until no lumps remain, then gradually add in the icing sugar. If the mixture gets too thick, add a tablespoon of milk – use your judgement to get it to the right consistency. This doesn’t make a huge amount of icing – I thought it was enough, but doubling it would be no bad thing I’m sure!

EDIT – If you’re wondering what’s on top of the cake, it’s a dusting of cocoa powder which I forgot to mention when first writing this! Not really necessary, but I thought it looked rather nice 🙂

Chocolate chip sticky buns

After the success of feeding the pony cheese and leek rolls for breakfast, I decided a sweet version needed to be made – and when I saw these incredible looking chocolate chip sticky buns on An American Cupcake in London, I had to make them straight away.

These rolls have a quadruple chocolate hit – chocolate sugar inside, chocolate chips inside, chocolate glaze, and more chocolate chips sprinkled on top.

The dough was great and turned out light and fluffy, and the chocolatey-ness pleased the pony (although I think I’m a bit of a traditionalist and would choose cinnamon rolls if they were for me). I found the quantity of chocolate sugar quite a lot, so I kept half back for the glaze which worked out well.

The recipe says it makes six rolls, but I made eight and they were still rather sizeable, and I reckon you could probably go up to ten and still get a decent size – depends how hungry you get at breakfast I guess!

Chocolate chip sticky buns (adapted from An American Cupcake in London)

Makes 6-10 rolls

For the dough

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 14g fast action dried yeast
  • 125ml warm water
  • 125ml milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 480g plain flour

Sprinkle the yeast and 1 tsp sugar into the warm water and leave to proof for 10 minutes. Heat the milk and 50g sugar in a suacepan, then add in the butter and salt. In a large bowl, measure out 180g of the flour and stir in the yeast water, milk mixture and eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon and gradually add the rest of the flour until it comes together into a soft dough, knead for 5 minutes then leave in a warm place to proof for an hour and a half.

For the filling and glaze

  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 135g light brown sugar
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 120g butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup

Once the dough has risen, knock back then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 20″ by 16″. Spread about 50g of the butter all over the dough, then mix the cocoa and sugar together and sprinkle half on top of the butter, then scatter 3/4 of the chocolate chips over that. Roll up from one of the shorter ends of the rectangle, finishing with the seam underneath, then cut into 1″ wide slices and place on a greased baking tray, with a bit of space in between.

Leave for another hour to rise again. Make the glaze by heading the remaining sugar and cocoa mix, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan until everything has melted, then pour on top of the rolls.

Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until well risen and springy to the touch. Scatter the remaining chocolate chips on top, and serve warm.