Entry 44: Molten Chocolate Cookies

Hello Koala fans, its been a while, hasn’t it?

Things have been gathering pace recently in other parts of my life. I’m applying for a job in Bournemouth, which may lead to a permanent place, the possibility of a new flat and hopefully a new kitchen that I can work out of. In addition, I’m going to be starting a course on psychotherapy and counselling at the local college in Poole. It will involve a lot of homework and will be pretty difficult for me, both academically and for personal reasons. Essentially I’m going to have my nose in a book for a long time to come and I don’t know what kind of impact it will have on the blog.

Some take it a little more literally than others.

Some take it a little more literally than others.

I didn’t have a lot of time to get ingredients together for this week’s episode, so I decided to have a rummage around in my ingredient cupboard to see what I had, and then hopefully match it to a recipe from one of my books. One thing I did have a lot of in my cupboard was chocolate.

"We're going to make something really cool with this!"

“We’re going to make something really cool with this!”

I took another look at the book the Koala was wedged in earlier. In it, there was a recipe for “chocolate flush” cookies. These cookies blur the boundary between what could be classed as a biscuit and a brownie and have this wonderful appearance that reminds me of shattered earth and rivers of lava. Hence why I tend to think of them as molten cookies.

Sugar, butter, flour....I can't help but feel we're missing a key ingredient for these things.

Sugar, butter, flour….Wait, where’s the chocolate gone?

I couldn’t find an online equivalent for these, so I’ll jot the recipe down for your consumption:

  • * 200g milk chocolate
  • * 90g unsalted butter
  • * 110g caster sugar
  • * 3 eggs
  • * 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • * 215g plain flour
  • * 25g cocoa powder
  • * Half teaspoon of baking powder
  • * pinch of salt

There’s some interesting things to note on this list. The cookies use an unusually large amount of chocolate, as opposed to more typical chocolate cookies and biscuits, which would instead have more cocoa powder. The relatively small amount of baking powder also means they don’t rise much, giving them quite a dense texture. Speaking of dense…

So that's what happened to the chocolate then.

“Does this mean we have to sacrifice our chocolate pyramid?”

The first step is to melt the chocolate and butter together over a low heat. As usual, you need to make sure you do this over a saucepan of water, without letting the chocolate bowl touch the boiling water. Slowly stir in the sugar.

I can't find the bit in the recipe about "bubbling ominously" though.

I can’t find the bit in the recipe about “bubbling ominously” though.

While the mixture is still warm but *not* boiling, the eggs need to be added. If you add them one by one while mixing in between, it makes their consistency a lot more even and for these cookies, this is critical. The temperature is also important as you don’t want to cook the eggs in the melted chocolate mixture. So – warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla to the mix as well.

The dry ingredients being mixed together.

Stirring is hard when you’re perched over the rim of a bowl.

The next bit is a little more straightforward and just involves combining the dry ingredients, which is to say the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt until you have something that looks like the picture above. While the recipe in the book states to add the chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients, I chose to do it the other way around – adding small amounts of the dry mix to the chocolate and stirring frequently. The risk of doing it the other way is that it tend to clump together and needs a lot more stirring to even out. Once everything is combined, it needs to sit in the fridge for an hour or so to chill completely until firm. Finally, set your oven to Gas Mark 3, 160*C, 325*F or whichever arcane temperature scale you prefer and put small balls of the cookie mix on to a baking tray. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, so that you’re looking for smooth areas with the little fissures running through them.

What is it with you three and knives? oO

What is it with you three and knives? oO

The high chocolate content of these cookies means that they do spread out far, so make sure the mixture balls are well spaced on the baking tray or the above happens. Despite not being particularly neat, the cookies turned out quite well. A little rich for me but they went down well with the folks at work. No one was really sure whether they were cookies or brownies but they certainly vanished quickly.

The cookies in small, medium, large and Koala sized portions.

The cookies in small, medium, large and Koala sized portions.

****

As I mentioned at the start of the blog, life is becoming pretty manic for me at the moment, so the koalas and I are going to take a break for a while. I have some time off at the end of August that I might be able to use for some baking. In the meantime, we’re going to take it easy for a month or so and be back in September refreshed and ready to go again. Until then, take care folks and we’ll see you soon. ❤

Entry 24: This Website Uses Cookies

Hi Koala fans!

It’s really surprising that it’s taken this long but this week we’re attempting cookies for the first time. Cookies have always been something of an oddity for me. There’s the sort you get in large packets in supermarkets, which tend to be rock solid and not very appetising. Then you have the other sort, “American style” cookies which are softer and the size of dinner plates. Because cookies generally aren’t very complicated, we’re going to add an extra challenge – a timer!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/crunchypeanutbutterc_87012

The recipe claimed these can be made in under 30 minutes, which is rather fortunate as I planned to make them for my classmates and had a very limited amount of time to make them before class started.

"You know, you *could* try getting out of bed earlier..."

“You know, you *could* try getting out of bed earlier…”

As you can just about see in the photo, the clock is currently at 11:30. I preheated the oven to 180*C but aside from that, there was no other preparation.

"Gentlemen, start your ovens!"

“Gentlemen, start your ovens!”

The recipe measured everything in tablespoons but given that my class is pretty large, I decided to triple the amount of ingredients. The prospect of counting out 24 tablespoons worth of flour sounded both boring and extremely time consuming; and time was not on our side for this:

310g of plain flour...

310g of plain flour…

and clock is now at 11:35. I made something of a mistake with the next step, which was adding the butter. The recipe very specifically says the butter should be softened and it didn’t really spend much time between the fridge and the bowl.

By chopping up the butter, it'll make it easier to kneed into the dough.

By chopping up the butter, it’ll make it easier to kneed into the dough.

Or at least that was the theory. I tipped the flour in and added the 6 tbsp of caster sugar and three egg yolks. Cracking the eggs, separating the yolk from the white; it’s all very fussy. Someone really should invent eggs that either just yolks or just egg whites. It’d make things so much easier, despite being biologically unlikely.

"Tick tock...."

“Tick tock….”

As my assistant helpfully reminded me, we were at 20 minutes and we still hadn’t added everything yet. Clock is now 11:47 and I need to leave for class by 12:15….

Peanut butter. Beloved by raccoons in classic 80's TV shows.

“OWWWW!”

Well, perhaps in future you’ll learn not to stick your face in the bowl when I’m trying to stir. Clock is now at 11:53.

"Is it me or is this "dough" not looking very doughy?"

“Is it me or is this “dough” not looking very doughy?”

Despite mixing the ingredients for several minutes, the dough was not binding together very well and I was running out of time. I had added three egg yolks as per the recipe (remember, we were working with 3 times of everything) and I took a gamble and added another three. It seemed a little better but not quite there. I decided to try a change of tack. Previously on here, when the Koala and I have attempted pastry, I’ve always been very careful not to over-kneed the pastry because otherwise it comes out rock solid, as it did with the peach tart. For the cookies, I went the other way – squishing the dough together firmly with my very thoroughly cleaned hands and after a few more minutes and a bag full of chocolate chips:

"Hey! How about we just whack this with a rolling pin a few times and have the world's largest cookie?"

“Hey! How about we just whack this with a rolling pin a few times and have the world’s largest cookie?”

Tempting though my assistants suggestion was, I suspect it would have needed a century to bake properly. I tore off small sections of the dough and pressed them into a biscuit shape. There was enough for 16 very large cookies and after 10 minutes in the oven they were ready:

The finished cookies!

The finished cookies!

Total elapsed time: 63 minutes.

Part of the reason the baking took longer was due to my oven. The outer edges don’t tend to bake properly so rather than putting two trays in together, I went with one in the centre, waited for the cookies to bake, then added the next tray. It took longer but it was worth it. The finished cookies seemed to go down pretty well with the class according to the feedback I received. The peanut butter taste could maybe have been a little stronger but over all, I’m quite pleased with them.