One of the many cook books in my collection is the beautiful, but sadly rarely used, A Piece of Cake by Leila Lindholm. As the title suggests it’s full of gorgeous sweet treats, biscuits, cakes, tarts, muffins and breads. It is one of the most flicked through books in my collection, but to date I’ve only cooked a couple of things out of it. Lindholm has set out this book so that in lots of cases there is a basic recipe and then several variations on that recipe. This is both a genius idea and what puts me off using the book. The problem for me is that if I’m using one of the variations you have to flick between the main recipe and the variation, adding and subtracting ingredients, or changing the method here and there. I find it confusing and it does seem to lead to me making mistakes. Practically what I should do is always try the basic recipe first, get the hang of that and then the variation should come more easily. But it’s always one of the options that tempts me the most.
One recipe I have mastered though, with all it’s variations is the four different chocolate chip cookies. It’s the first recipe in the book and a hard one to go past. These are definitely my favourite all time chocolate chip cookie. They’re not your standard chunky cookie, in fact they seem to be decidedly like a biscuit (as we would call them in Australia) than a cookie at all. To me cookie is big and thick, while these are delicate, thin, melt-in-your-mouth buttery biscuits.
The standard recipe is a basic dark chocolate chip (though you could use milk chocolate) and the other three variations are white chocolate and ginger, dark chocolate and orange and chocolate and peanut. All are delicious, though the white chocolate and ginger isn’t quite so child-friendly…. which is perhaps its best quality! Another great advantage to this recipe is that you can make up a big batch of the dough (dividing to make up the different variations if you wanted), roll it into the sausage shape and freeze it for when you need biscuits at a later date. They only take ten minutes in the oven so you could have a batch cooked and ready to eat in the time it takes to make a pot of tea!
125g unsalted butter, softened
90g demerara sugar (although I tend to use whatever sugar I have, white, brown or demerara, it all works)
90g plain flour
20g rolled oats
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g good quality dark chocolate
zest of 1 lime (I omit this if I don’t have one on hand)
Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric beater until light and creamy. Add the egg.
Mix the flour, rolled oats, baking powder and salt together and then add to the dough. I add the dry ingredient mix to the butter, sugar and egg in the mixer and let the machine do the work.
Chop the chocolate coarsely (though not too coarsely as then it is hard to chop the dough up at the end) and mix into the dough with the lime zest. Again I do this in the machine.
Shape the dough into a roll 5cm thick and roll it up in cling film or greaseproof paper. Put it in the freezer for 30 minutes (or until you’re ready to cook the biscuits).
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cut the roll into slices 1cm thick and put them on a tray lines with baking paper.
Bake the cookies in the centre of the oven for about 10mins or until golden. Watch them, they cook quickly and will brown too much around the edges if the oven is too hot. (As usual my oven is fairly unreliable so mine didn’t brown as evenly as they did in my old oven, but they still tasted wonderful.)
And for the variations….
1. White Chocolate and Ginger
Replace the dark chocolate with white chocolate and add the a 3.5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated, when you mix the butter and sugar at the start of the recipe.
2. Chocolate Chip Orange Cookies
Replace the rolled oats with desiccated coconut and replace the lime zest with orange zest.
3. Chocolate Chip Peanut Cookies
Add 75g chopped salted peanuts with the other dry ingredients.
This recipe makes about 25 cookies (or biscuits!) if you can keep little hands out of the bowl.