Post-Easter Smash Cookies

We’ve reached that post-Easter lull, where the food, festivities and bank holidays are over and normal life has resumed. I get so excited about collecting all the chocolate, but I am TERRIBLE at eating Easter Eggs! There is a stash in the corner of my kitchen of half eaten chocolate shells, and even a few unopened eggs still in their shiny foil wrapping. I’m lucky to receive so many from generous friends and family, but I struggle to have more than a nibble without getting a bit bored of the overwhelming sweetness.

For years I have been using up my leftover Easter chocolate in the form I love most – baking. My grandma actually got wise to the fact that I melt most chocolate I’m given into bakes years ago, so has resorted to giving me bars of cooking chocolate at Easter instead of an egg. I find having a few clever recipes up your sleeve that can use up odds and ends really useful. These cookies are a recipe I turn to week after week, adding handfuls of whatever I’ve got leftover to create deliciously different biscuits every time.

This recipe is a twist on my cookie recipe from my recipe book, Twist. I spent months trying and testing all manner of cookie recipes, combining ideas and methods until I’d settled on what I think is the perfect cookie (and I’m picky, so I don’t use this term lightly!). I use a combination of caster sugar and soft light brown sugar so the dough takes on a caramel-like sweetness from the molasses in the brown sugar but also holds together well. I also use both plain and strong plain flour, finding that the extra gluten in the strong plain gives the cookies another level of chewiness.

Chilling the dough is a really important step, as it allows the butter to solidify which means your cookies will spread more slowly when baked, which is what creates that gooey melt-in-the-mouth softness that we crave from a good cookie. I often freeze a few shaped balls of cookie dough too, as they always taste best fresh and you can bake them from frozen (15-17 minutes at 160oC fan). Use an ice-cream scoop to get perfectly circular cookies every time!


Post-Easter Smash Cookies

Adapted from Twist: Creative Ideas to Reinvent Your Baking

Makes 15 large cookies

Ingredients:

150g plain flour

100g strong plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

140g butter, softened

120g light brown sugar

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

100g-150g broken Easter chocolate (I used a mixture of mini eggs and chocolate eggs)

1. In a large bowl, beat together the soft butter with both the sugars using a wooden spoon. Beat the mixture until they are well combined, but there is no need for it to be light and fluffy.

2. Add the vanilla extract and egg to the butter mixture and beat again until all the ingredients are smooth.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. You need the raising agents to be evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough so they all get the same rise, so make sure they are well mixed.

4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and fold using a spatula until a stiff dough forms. Mix in the easter chocolate last, until well combined. 

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes (up to 72 hours for optimum flavour and texture). Preheat the oven to 170oC. Grease and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper or a silicon baking sheet.

6. Use a small or large ice-cream scoop (a teaspoon or tablespoon will work too, but won’t be as regularly shaped) to form balls of dough and place onto the trays, leaving enough space for each to spread out. Try not to roll the balls of dough, as the ragged top created by the scoop will give the cookies the traditional cracked surface.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the mixture has spread out and browned around the edges. Remove from the oven - they should look undercooked in the middle - and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

 

St Patrick's Day - Irish Potato Farls

Happy St. Patricks Day! I hope you're all celebrating with hearty Irish food, Shamrocks and pints of Guinness.

I visited Northern Ireland a couple of months ago in the bitterly cold November months and had a fabulous time learning about the culture and doing a few cake themed events with the charity Tearfund who I work closely with. We did events in different churches across NI in both Holywood and Portglenone, where I had the pleasure of meeting Ireland's-own bake off star Andrew Smyth's family. We raised a phenomenal amount of money (enough to provide 30,000 meals for hungry people!) and it was a privilege to be able to spread the message of Tearfund's amazing work and what needs to be done to make life better for those experiencing drought and famine. We have a few more Cakes, Bakes and Faith tour dates booked for this summer across the UK - follow me on Twitter for more information. Our next event is Kingston on the 22nd March, tickets are available here.

I ended my trip with a tourist day up to the northern coast and visited Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-A-Rede Rope bridge - both absolutely breathtaking places. I'd thoroughly recommend spending time there and hope to go back (maybe in the summer when it is a little warmer!).

Martha NI

The food in NI is divine and the people I met were so passionate about letting me experience the very best. I tried cinnamon scones (fresh and warm, dripping with butter!), Hot Toddy, Potato Farls and Wheaten bread - all so interesting and different.

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My favourite was potato farls. Incredible, soft potato dough triangles fried in butter; what's not to like? I've created my own recipe for Waitrose, served up with a green herb butter. They are super easy to make and go perfectly with a full-english or a bowl of soup.

Recipe below or in the Waitrose Weekend paper this week (18th-25th March).

Ingredients

FOR THE HERB BUTTER
100g butter, at room temperature
½ x 25g pack parsley, finely chopped
½ x 25g pack chives, finely chopped

FOR THE POTATO FARLS
400g floury potatoes, such as King Edward
50g butter
50g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
Butter, for frying
 

Method

1. First make the herb butter. Beat the soft butter with the chopped herbs in a small bowl. Season, then roll up tightly into a sausage shape in a sheet of clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.

2. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and chop them into small chunks. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the potatoes until they are tender – this should take around 10-15 minutes.

3. When the potatoes are soft, drain and allow them to air-dry in a colander for a couple of minutes. When dry to the touch, tip into a large bowl and mash the potatoes until no lumps remain. Add the butter to the mashed potatoes and mix until melted and combined.

4. Add the flour and baking powder to the potato mix, and stir until the mixture comes together as a dough. Season generously and stir again. Tip out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes until the dough is smooth and soft. Divide into 3 equal-sized pieces.

5. Roll each portion of dough out into a circle around 1cm thick and then cut into quarters. Melt a knob of butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then fry the farls, 4 at a time, for 3 minutes on each side or until browned and crisp on the outside. Repeat with the remaining farls. Serve hot with the herb butter spread liberally over the top.
 

 

Bollywood Bars

I first tasted this delicious version of rocky road in my favourite bakery in Southwold. It’s not where you might expect to encounter Bollywood-themed bakes, but it was a happy surprise discovery for me. This is my attempt to do justice to the avours of India which that Two Magpies managed so well. I've incorporated ground cardamom and chilli powder into the white chocolate base to give it a kick that, whilst unexpected, works wonderfully with the creamy white chocolate.

Bollywood Bar

This is a recipe from my first recipe book, Twist. Buy a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twist-Creative-Ideas-Reinvent-Baking/dp/0008168261


Bollywood Bars

Makes 14 bars


Source: http://www.foyles.co.uk/Blog-Martha-Collis...