Cookies almost need no introduction. Small package of cheerfulness that fit into one hand(ful), in varieties of soft, crunchy, chewy. If you’re like me, you can always find room for just one more.
I haven’t baked that many cookies for this blog. There always seems to be another more exotic and/or more challenging recipe to try, and new techniques to learn. But this week, it felt like a time for cookies. Just cookies.
Maybe it’s because I had been planning a dinner party menu for 11-12 people all week. There are so many ideas whizzing around my head, it’s hard to focus one idea and build a menu around it. Dan Hong’s mapo tofu, David Thompson’s laksa from scratch, that amazing macaroni pie from The Leopard, or fesenjan? What about nibbles? Should I make bread? Make pasta? And dessert??
In the middle of this food ideas whirlpool, Mr Gander asked me to bake something for a meeting at his work. No wonder I turned to something simple, foolproof, something that says ‘happy place’.
When I first read about the cookie slab on Celia’s blog, her description stuck in my mind: “the disproportionately high chocolate content vis-à-vis flour results in a crisp wafery crust over a molten and butterscotchy centre (which sets firm by the following day).” Swoon.
Instead of a slab, I tried making a giant cookie, and covered it in hundreds and thousands (sprinkles). Compared to some recent projects, this was a cinch to make. Into the oven the cookie dough went, and began to spread and grow…
…and turned out to be even giant-er than I expected! We both feel like little kids again as we stood there, looking at this – this oversized thump of a cookie – on the cooling rack. I mean, a giant cookie bigger than your head, covered in crunchy sprinkles, and soft-fudgy-chocolaty-sweet on the inside. Exciting, right?
Apparently Mr Gander’s colleagues agreed. They cut chunks off the cookie until there was only a sliver left for Mr Gander himself, and asked for more meetings! Sadly I only got one photo before this giant cookie left our flat forever, but I have a feeling there will be another one soon. I’ve been telling my colleagues about the Adventure of the Giant Cookie, and they seem to think they would also like to have a go.
With the leftover dough, I also made normal-sized cookies – the baker’s share, if you will.
Eating cookies, with my feet up, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was re-energised to focus on the dinner party menu. Now I’m thinking a ballotine with a fesenjan-style stuffing and sauce, steamed couscous (steamed the traditional way), and a dessert from the convents of Sicily. Who would have thought a (giant) cookie is the perfect dinner party muse?
Note: the cookies spread a bit, so leave some space around the dough (especially if you are making a giant version). I slightly reduced the amount of chocolate to compensate for the sprinkles, but would have happily eaten a more chocolaty cookie. Finally, the giant cookie turned out a bit thicker and would give you more of that awesome fudgy gooey inside.
(Oh, and these photos seem to be bit blurry, I don’t know why. The cookies were too much fun not to share though, so if you could squint and pretend they are in focus? Ta.)
Cookies with fun
(adapted from the Perfect Gooey Cookie Slab from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial)
165g (approximately 1 1/4 cups) plain (AP) flour
35g (1/4 cups) bread or (bakers / strong) flour
a pinch of fine sea salt (or up to ¼ teaspoon)
120g white sugar
100g brown sugar
125g unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 large (59 grams, though I used 66 grams) egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
150g dark choc chips (54%-65% cocoa, Celia used Callebaut 54% cocoa callets)
50g very dark choc chips (70%-85% cocoa, Celia used Callebaut 70% cocoa callets)
100g choc chips (44% cocoa, Celia used Callebaut 44% cocoa baking sticks, broken into small pieces)
Optional: sprinkles such as hundreds and thousands
1. Preheat the oven to 150C (300F) with fan. For a slab, line a 31 x 14cm/12 x 5½” biscotti pan with parchment paper. If you don’t have a biscotti pan, a 20cm/8″ square pan should also work. For a giant cookie, lie a baking tray or a square tart pan. For individual cookies, line a baking tray/cookie sheet.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cold butter and sugars together, until they form a grainy paste. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, salt and sifted bicarbonate of soda. Add the chocolate to the flour. Now, tip the whole lot into the batter and mix until just incorporated (no bits of flour left).
4. For a slab or giant cookie, scrape the dough into the prepared pan, work it into the corners and flatten out the top with a spatula. Add sprinkles on top if wanted, using hands or spatula to add sprinkles to the sides of the dough. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden, being careful not to overcook it. For individual cookies, shape balls of dough between your hands, roll the balls in sprinkles until they are covered in sprinkles, and set them on the baking tray with space to spread to up to 1.5 times their size.
5. Allow the pan to cool completely on a wire rack before lifting out and cutting into pieces. It will be very gooey when hot, so don’t try to cut it too soon.