"Letter 'C' Is For..."
A few weeks ago JaySon2* messaged and asked for a copy of something from the ‘Poppy Book’, our collection of notes, cuttings and print-outs of tried and tested recipes. He wanted to bake some treats for his work colleagues and knew he could rely on this one to make the right impression.
So much can be assembled and stored electronically but it’s very comforting to have access to a few real pieces of paper which have become family friends over the years. Some are dishevelled, dirty and smelly enough to count as actual family members!
The particular recipe being requested was for the cookies which I started making almost ten years ago when I was fending off the cup-cake craziness which was trending at the time.
I had printed off an Annabel Karmel recipe from BBC Good Food and it's been used very regularly - just a couple of hours notice that someone is popping round for a chat means that you have time to treat them to these on arrival. The closest recipe is now available on Annabel's site as she appears to have taken most of her work away from Auntie Beeb. You will need to join and log in for access. If that doesn't suit, an internet search will reveal loads of ideas. Choose one which tickles your taste buds' fancy. Mine contains no oaty element.
These 'White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies' follow on the same lines as most recipes. Butter, sugars, flour and eggs are your base. Baking powder, salt and vanilla essence get added here and, in this case, the chocolate is white and the fruit is dried and cranberried. Go your own way but be assured that you will end up with a batch of goodness which might seriously test your restraint!
There will be weighing, creaming, blending, folding, stirring and adding of various quantities of various ingredients. None of the processes is demanding unless your butter is not quite soft enough. This could lead to the recurrence of an old tennis war-wound such as my strained shoulder muscle... ouch! All in a good cause.
Once you have made the cookie dough you must decide on the size of your final product. My preference is for the more generous dimensions that supermarkets sell in bags of five. Therefore, I have never restricted mine to suggestions of walnut-sized lumps of dough. My balls are the size of large plums (Editor will surely revise that before publication!) Make sure there is room for relaxed expansion when placing them on a parchment covered baking tray.
The one thing you need when it's time to bake is a little bravado. Well, you do, as far as I'm concerned. That's because I like my cookies with 'squidge'. This means that the baking tray is removed from the oven before you think, believe or have any faith whatsoever that the cookies are baked! I still struggle to follow that advice but it does the trick every time. The surface is still very soft to the touch but will change to a thin sugary crust as it cools. The base should appear utterly half-baked and only just release from the parchment. After a while this resolves into the sort of texture which is close enough to eating raw cookie dough without feeling any guilt.
It depends how you like your steak really. If you have experimented with rare, medium and oops I've incinerated it, I'm sure you can achieve the cookie equivalent! Whatever your results, you will have sweet, sticky goodness of some sort to enjoy.
Oh... if there are others in the house, it might be a great idea to leave your cookies on the cooling rack for the shortest time possible! ;)
*JaySon... the numeral will tell you to which of our two initial ‘J’ sons I’m referring! Pleased, but hardly surprised, to say that his efforts were very well received next day at work.