Welcome to the dark side. We have cookies.

I wish I could tell you that there is some kind of story as to why I made these cookies. Some kind of tale about visiting friends, sharing a biccie over a cup of tea; a true soul bonding moment.

No such luck, my dear reader. It comes down to my two favourite things. Gluttony and obsession. Once I happened across this recipe, I could think of nothing else until I made them. I mean, it’s caramel, with nutella, in a chocolate chic chip cookie. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of, if my dreams were anything like this. Which, let’s be honest, they are.

It goes without saying that these are most certainly a sometimes food.

h5CD5FA0B

They’re playing jump rope with that fine line between you and diabetes. But what’s the point in life if you can’t enjoy a sugar bomb once in a while? One that’s not worth living, that’s what. So go ahead.

Salted Caramel & Nutella Stuffed Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Top With Cinnamon

1/2 cup (110g) butter
1 1/2 cups (350g) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (55g) cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
100g milk or dark chocolate chips
flaky salt, for sprinkling
Nutella
15-16 caramel-filled chocolates (or whatever flavour you like – mint would also be excellent)

Preheat the oven to 180*c. Line a cookie tray with baking paper.

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from heat and add the brown sugar and eggs, stirring to combine. Add the cocoa, salt and baking powder, then the flour, stirring well to combine. Carefully fold in the chocolate chips.

20140115-193527.jpg

Take about 1 tbsp of dough, flatten it into a disc; take 1 piece of caramel chocolate, dunk it in the Nutella, then wrap the cookie dough around the chocolate.

20140115-193557.jpg

Place on the cookie tray, then gently press flat with your palm (but don’t crush the chocolate). Sprinkle the cookies with flaky salt, then bake for 8-10 minutes.

20140115-193544.jpg

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

20140115-193724.jpg

Sometimes dreams come true

Everyone has their weakness. 

Some can’t leave a bottle of wine unfinished, while Pringles come with a warning literally printed on the can. I know a woman who ate a whole wheel of cheese to herself in two sittings and gave herself kidney stones. Actually, that’s probably an example of what not to do. I think there’s a 12 step program for that. One of my many weaknesses are cookies. Please, do not leave Tim Tams near me if you want them to live to see another day. 

Like many bakers, I’m  always on the hunt for what is our Holy Grail: The perfect chocolate chip cookie.

This is not that recipe, not today.

What it is, however, is a glutton’s dream. A giant cookie, as a cake. With peanut butter icing. And extra chocolate chips for good health measure.

I’ve always found it odd that recipes include measurements for chocolate chips. Let’s be honest, it’s usually a whole packet, minus whatever gets eaten during the cooking process. 

You’re welcome, world. 

If your cake worked like mine, it took nearly twice as long to cook as the instructions said. Maybe don’t do what I did, which is constantly open the door to check on it, because it then also sank. If your cake does do both of those things, then relax because icing hides all sins, and no one will stop eating long enough to care. 

Overloaded Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

From Sprinkle Bakes

Cookie Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips – use a mix of milk, dark and white (and peanut butter chips, if you can find them)

Peanut butter frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups icing sugar
pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons milk

Extra chocolate chips, chopped, to decorate
Peanuts, chopped, to decorate

Preheat oven to 180° C. Grease a cake tine and line with baking paper.

Beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the vanilla. In a seperate bowl, combine the sifted flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add the flour mix to the butter and sugar mix, and combine until a batter forms. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin, spreading evenly.

IMG_7469

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes (though mine took 40, keep an eye on it), or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then leave on a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake cools, make the icing.

Beat together the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl. Add the salt and icing sugar, beating until well mixed. Add the milk, a splash at a time, until it comes together and is smooth.

Ice the top of the cake, and decorate with chopped peanuts and chocolate chips.

IMG_7471

Australia: A study in numbers and biscuits

Australia. Lets crunch some numbers!

Home to:
22,620,600 people
8 of the 10 most venomous snakes
4th richest woman in the world
3 of the world’s most livable cities
3 of the world’s top 50 beaches
160 kinds of shark (these last two are clearly related)
4 of the best restaurants

Then of course, there are the things that instantly scream ‘Aussie’.
Our sporting prowess. Current losing streak.
Vegemite.
Stubbies. In both short and beer form.
Hoges.

From there, we can break it down further. Our stories, told by Bryce Courtney, Tim Winton, May Gibbs, Kate Grenville and Caroline Overington. Growing up, my favourite was John Marsden. Tomorrow When The War Began was the first series to completely consume me; I loved it. I badgered my dad into taking me to the book store the day it was published, and didn’t leave my room until is was finished.

Of all the details to stick in my head, I remember very clearly how the characters specifically requested Iced Vovos to be dropped to them by possible rescuers. Of all things, WHY Iced Vovos? To be fair, I’d never had one, so what would I know?

IMG_5956

Iced Vovos are a magical, magical biscuit. Your life will be changed, just like mine. Like Tim Tams, the are uniquely Australian. And awesome. 

 

Arnott’s Iced Vovo Tart

From Good Taste Magazine

Base
100g Iced Vovo biscuits
150g plain sweet biscuits (I used Marie ones)
130g unsalted butter

Marshmallow layer
150g pink marshmallows
1 tbsp milk
200ml thick cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry Jam
2 gelatine leaves
125g frozen raspberries
80ml water
1 tbsp caster sugar

Topping
400ml thick cream
2 drops pink food dye
1 tbsp coconut flakes

To make the base, process (or bash with a rolling pin the biscuits to a fine crumb. Melt the butter, and combine with the biscuit crumbs. Grease a tart tin with a removable base, then firmly press the biscuits into the base of the tin. Place it in the fridge for an hour to firm.

IMG_5954

For the marshmallow layer, over medium heat in a small saucepan, stir the marshmallows and milk until they are smooth. Transfer into a bowl, and stir occasionally for 6 minutes, until cooled slightly. Beat together the cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Mix half the cream into the melted mallows, folding to combine. Add the rest of the cream and fold together. Spread the mixture over the tart pan, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

IMG_5959

Jam time! Throw the raspberries, water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, until the raspberries are super soft, and the sugar is dissolved  Remove from heat and set aside. Place the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water for 4 minutes or so to soften (but not go mushy, like I did the first time), squeeze out any excess water, then into the raspberry mix, stirring until dissolved. Press the raspberry mix through a fine sieve, discarding the seeds, and reserving the jam. Leave the jam for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cool. Pour the jam evenly over the marshmallow, and then back into the fridge until set.


IMG_5965

To make the topping, beat together the cream and colouring until it forms firm (but not stiff) peaks.  Spoon into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle, and pipe two long rows along the edge of the tart, then sprinkle with coconut.

IMG_5967

Keep in the fridge until ready to serve, to keep it firm and easy to cut. Trust me, It goes soft and gooey really quickly.

IMG_5975

IMG_5973

Oh, and happy Australia Day.

Write this down, you may be quizzed later.

Everyone has their own rules to get by with in life.
Look both ways before crossing the street.
Wait an hour after eating before swimming.
Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
Don’t pat animals with sneaky eyes  (that one has saved me more than once. Thanks Billy Connolly!)
One of my own rules is always be nice to the receptionist.

One upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away; I was an administration assistant. It was a job that I reveled in; my first real job outside of high school. Even though a large part of my job description was stuffing envelopes, I loved it.
I learned many things in that job.
For example, always follow the account managers on a night out, they always foot the bill. Always have a chocolate stash in your drawers; it comes in handy when someone needs a fix at 3pm (and someone always needs a fix). Learn the names of the new staff, it makes them less nervous on their first day. The wonders of a corporate gifts at Christmas. It was a magical time.
I also learnt that, while one may be ‘just a receptionist’, there is much power wielded in that role.
The company sales reps who didn’t remember to bring Krispy Kreme doughnuts got put on the dreaded red eye flight home. When people need sneaky favours, information or someone to cover for them, you’re the first place they come.

Now that I am no longer in that role, I still make it a rule to be good to the admin team. Not only are they lovely girls, but they are rarely thanked for the job that they do.

I made these for the girls in my office for Friday afternoon tea, as a way of saying thanks ladies x
The result is a gorgeously chewy slice that will be a crowd favourite for ages to come.

Salted Caramel Cookie Bars

From Two Peas and Their Pod

ingredients:

2 1/8 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
135g butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
280g caramel squares, unwrapped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Sea salt, for sprinkling over caramel and bars

1. Preheat oven to 160*c. Line a slice pan with baking paper.

2. Mix together flour, bicarb soda and salt in a bowl.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted butter and sugar together. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla until thoroughly combined and smooth Slowly add the flour mix, until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips.

4. Combine the caramels and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds.

5. Press half of the cookie mixture into the slice pan. Pour caramel (don’t let it cool) over the top. Sprinkle generously with sea salt.

Carefully smooth the second half of the cookie mix over the caramel.

6.Bake until the top s golden brown, around 30 minutes. Allow bars to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

Gettin’ baked.

There’s no easy way to put this, so I’m just going to come out and say it.

I hate Christmas. It’s all a major hassle that I can’t say I see the point of.

But.
What I do love, is Christmas food. What’s not to love? Roast meats, cold seafood, crisp stone fruits, candy canes, chocolate… Sorry, I’ve just drooled all over my keyboard.

When I heard about a charity event involving The Smith Family, I had to get on board.
A party for disadvantaged kids, featuring caroling by some of Perth’s hottest local music acts, presents donated by local businesses. Oh, and cookies by me. To all, a good night.

So, for the kids, I made these.
One batch of sugary chocolatey madness, a batch of christmas scented, buttery goodness. The shortbread smells like heaven while baking, and the cookies have the best tasting batter I’ve ever had. Resisting the urge to eat the lot with a spoon takes some serious willpower.
Good luck with that.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

Adapted from Bakers Royale

Ingredients:

2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
ž cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
ž teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 ½ cup sliced Snickers, (roughly one bag of mini size Snickers)
1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

Heat oven to 190 degrees C. Line bake sheet with parchment paper.

Place flour and baking soda together in a bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.

Place 10 tablespoons butter in a pan over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking and using the handle of pan to swirl the butter around in the skillet. Swirl butter constantly until it becomes a dark golden brown in color and gives off a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 6 tablespoons of butter into hot butter until completely melted.

(Before and after)

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to brown butter mixture and whisk until fully incorporated. Add eggs and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Rest mixture for 3 minutes, then whisk for another 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using sturdy rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Spoon out approximately two heaping tablespoons of dough and flatten it into a round disc. Place a Snickers slice on top. Fold edges over Snickers to seal it in. Place cookies 2 inches apart on baking paper lined trays.

Bake cookies 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, about 10 to 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool cookies.

I also made:

Brown Sugar Shortbread
Adapted from BHG

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (see note)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups plain flour

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, apple pie spice, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Gradually beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. (I used a cookie cutter).
Sprinkle with a little sugar, if you like.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

Note: You can buy apple pie spice, or you can make your own really easily with 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp cardamom (makes a teaspoon worth of spice mix).

The boys from Tame Impala ate my cookies, and liked them. May have squealed like a little girl. And the kids, well, they loved them too. Career highlight? I think so!

Giving Thanks, with Cookie

According to the interwebs, it’s Thanksgiving in the US of A at present.
So I’m band-wagoning, and giving thanks. That’s how this thing works, right?

It has to be said, I’m extraordinarily lucky.
I’ve been doing this whole food blog thing for a month now. That’s a month of:

  • being up all hours pouring over books or finishing posts
  •  ripping recipes from magazines
  •  slapping friends who make the mistake of thinking they can eat what they’ve ordered before I’ve had the chance to take pictures of it (who do they think they are?!)
  •  dragging people to places they didn’t want to go (sorry Blair) just because it’s somewhere I read about, and that’s my prerogative
  • bizarre food cravings or recipe  obsessions
  • my poor housemates coming home to a hurricane-ravaged kitchen, with a mad-scientist Bri demanding to know why you just won’t set/bake/thicken/reduce/do my bidding?

All of my friends just smile indulgently and let me have my moment of crazy. I guess they don’t mind so much, so long as I keep up my end of the bargain, and just keep the treats a’comin.
Said friends have also been incredibly supportive, saying all kinds of lovely things, proof reading posts at stupid hours.
For this, I am beyond appreciative.

So, I’m holding up my end of the bargain.
The best damn cookies.
I took them to my day job (I enjoy calling it my day job. It implies I have a night job. Like Batman. I could totally be Batman.), where they were devoured. Someone even declared them ‘ohmygodthesearethebestcookiesI’veeverhad’. At least, that’s what I think she said. She had a mouthful.

The personal pleasure I get from sharing the cookie love with others, is in the recipe prep. Crushed up Oreos.
For this, the easiest way it to put them in a ziploc bag, squeeze out all the air, and then go to town on them with a rolling-pin. I maintain it’s cheaper than therapy, and infinitely more effective. It must be said, that the air-squishing part is VERY important. Otherwise, you have what happened to me. The bag explodes, turning your kitchen into a chocolaty snow dome.
It’s also very important that you keep your fingers out of the way. Otherwise, you have what happened to me. All that beautiful therapy becomes quickly undone if you bash your fingers.

Just sayin’.

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies
Recipe from thisistolove

Yield: About 1 dozen cookies
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
85 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
½ cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with baking paper  and set aside.2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and well-combined.
3. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix until the ingredients are well-combined. Add the flour and mix on low until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the mini chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.
4. Place the Oreo cookie crumbs in a small bowl. Scoop the cookies into about 1½ to 2″ balls (the dough will be soft, don’t worry if it doesn’t scoop into a well-formed ball, the crumbs will help hold it together)and then roll in the cookie crumbs. Place the cookie balls on the baking sheet, do not squish flat. Leave plenty of space between them, they will spread. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the tops are slightly puffed.
5. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Now, if only I could get out of clean-up duty… This is getting ridiculous.

Rain, Top Smells and Apple Pie Cookies

I woke up on Tuesday at 5:30am.

This is unusual for several reasons:
1. I’m not a morning person. Like, at all. Left to my own body clock, I’m hard pressed to be awake before 11am. I worked really hard (and by really hard, I mean not at all) to earn my nickname Housecat.

2. I was woken by noise. I’m a fairly heavy sleeper. There’s a story of me sleeping through a cyclone as a kid.

Now, this noise that woke me from my glorious, heavy slumber?
Rain. Proper, fat droplet rain. The good kind.
When you consider that only 48 hours before, I woke to crystal-clear, cloudless blue skies and 35* heat, this was a remarkable turn around in weather fortunes. But, thus is Perth’s spring weather. A little on the unpredictable side.
As I lay there, I realised not only could you hear the rain, but you could smell it.
Rain would make my top 10 favourite smells, easy. And then, in that way that only happens when you’re half asleep, my brain kind of took off. Smellsmellsmell. What else do I like?
Jasmine, for one. Puppies. Onion. Garlic. Bacon. Put them together in a frying pan, and it’s my olfactory heaven. But there’s something about pulling baked goods out of the oven. Hot biscuits, pies, tarts. It’s all sugary, crumbly delightfulness, that will easily bring a grown man to his knees. And then *bam* I knew what I had to make.
Apple Pie Cookies.
It’s apple. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Sugar. It’s a pie, but it’s a biscuit. It’s basically The Best Idea Ever.
This recipe from Smitten Kitchen had caught my eye a couple of days earlier, and I couldn’t resist. And frankly, you shouldn’t either.

Now. For those of you playing at home, this is what we are getting ourselves in for:
It’s sweet (obviously), but it’s not too sweet. This is a good thing.
It’s a lot of biscuit/crust, not a lot of filling. But enough to get its point across.
It’s brilliant with a cuppa, because that’s what just about all the women I work with paired it with, and what the girls from my local cafe instantly made themselves.

I hadn’t made pastry before (CHALLENGE ACCEPTED), so I followed that part of the recipe to the letter. Except I forgot to check the pantry before I started cooking, so there was a trip to the supermarket for more flour (this recipe only needed 3 trips, win!) midway through. But that’s ok.
I like this because it lends itself to experimentation. Other fruits? Spices? What happens if we whack in a couple of chocolate chips… Oooh, I like that idea.

Here we go…

Apple Pie Cookies
Adapted (slightly) from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

Crust
2 1/2 cups plain flour, plus more for dusting surfaces, dipping fork, rolling pin
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup water, very cold

Filling
3 medium apples, whatever you like to bake with
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Few gratings fresh nutmeg
A pinch of any other spices you like in your apple pie

To finish
1 large egg

Additional stuff
A couple baking sheets covered with parchment paper
Rolling pin, pastry brush (for egg wash), fork (for crimping and dipping) and sharp knife (to make slits)
Two round cookie cutters of different sizes. I used 2 7/8-inch and 1 4/5-inch rounds. You’ll want to make sure there’s at least a 3/4-inch different in the sizes, as you’ll need the extra margin to crimp your dough.

Make your pie dough: Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas. (You’ll want to chop your butter into small bits first.) Gently stir in the ice water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Get your hands in the bowl and knead it just two or three times to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days. [Even more detailed pie dough instructions in this post, check it out!]

Meanwhile, get everything else together: Line up five small dishes. In the first one, pour some water. Leave the second one empty; you’ll use it for your apples in a bit. In the third one, mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and any other spices you like in your pie, such as a pinch of cloves. In the fourth one, place a little bit of flour to dust your surface and dip your fork for crimping. In the fifth one, whisk an egg with one teaspoon of water until smooth.

So many bowls...

On a well-floured counter, roll out your pie dough pretty thin, a little shy of 1/8-inch thick. Lift and rotate your dough as you roll it, to ensure that it rolls out evenly and so you can be sure it’s not sticking in any place. [More rolling tips here!] Use the larger of your two cookie cutters [mine was 2 7/8-inch) to cut as many rounds as you can from the dough. Transfer them to parchment-lined baking sheets and keep them in the fridge until you need them. Once you’ve finished the first packet, repeat the process with the second packet of dough

Prepare your apples: Peel your apples. Cut thin (1/8-inch thick) slices from one side of whole apple, stopping when you hit the core. Repeat on opposite side. You can get about 10 usable slices from each side of a small-medium-ish apple. OR, you could use a mandolin, which is what I did. Use the smaller of your two cookie cutters (mine was about 1 2/3 inches) to cut the apples into cute little discs that will fit inside your pie cookies. Place them in your second bowl, covering them with a few drops of lemon juice if you find that they’re browning quickly.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.

And now, assemble away! Grab your first disc of chilled dough and lightly dampen it on one side with the water. This is to help it seal. Take your first disc of apple and toss it in the cinnamon spice sugar. Place it on the damp side of the bottom disk. Place a second disc of dough on top; I found it easiest to seal it by picking the whole thing up (this is when you’ll be glad that your dough is cold and semi-firm; if it’s soft and getting sticky, chill it until it’s easy to pick up) and press the tops and bottoms around the apple with your fingers. Back on the floured counter, cut decorative slits in your “pies”. Dip your fork in the flour and use it to create a decorative crimp on the sealed edges. Brush your cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with additional spice/sugar mix. Replace on baking sheet and chill while you prepare the others.

Battle stations

Bake your apple pie cookies for 25 minutes, or until puffed and bronzed and very pie-like. (If this is your first batch, peer in at them at 20 minutes, to make sure your oven doesn’t run hot.) Transfer to a cooling rack to cool before eating them. Safety first, kids. No one likes a burnt tongue. No one.

*Trumpet fanfare*

Annnd done

If you can, serve them warm, because that’s when they are The Shizz, but they were great cold, too.
Keep them in an airtight container, provided they don’t get inhaled immediately. I’m looking at you, housemates.