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.

 

Old Fashioned Nice Biscuits

Am I the only one who wasn't aware that Nice biscuits are coconut flavoured? A childhood spent eating them out of battered biscuit tins and I never knew. 

I've been doing some work and research on old-fashioned biscuits for Reading's Year of Culture. Huntley and Palmers was once the biggest biscuit factory in the world - most biscuits seem to stem back to it including Iced Gems, Gingernuts and many others. They are based in Reading, so I spoke at an event and shared biscuits with ex-factory workers and people with fond memories of the company. 

Whilst testing recipes from the Huntley and Palmers collection, I tried my hand at Nice biscuits (accompanied by endless puns based around the word 'Nice'). Whilst being very simple and plain looking, this homemade version carries big coconut flavour and melts in the mouth. Pronouced 'Nice' or 'Neice', we will never know, but I can certainly vouch that the are nice!

Nice biscuits:

Ingredients:

50g desiccated coconut, plus more for sprinkling

110g caster sugar

225g butter, at room temperature

200g plain flour

100g corn flour

2 tablespoons caster sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees fan and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour, corn flour and coconut pieces until a dough forms, and then chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Roll out the dough to a 1cm thickness and use a square fluted cutter to cut out biscuits. Reroll the dough to get as many biscuits as you can. Arrange on the baking tray, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool, then keep the biscuits in an airtight tin for up to one week.