Every office that I have ever worked in has implemented the ‘bring in cakes on your birthday’ rule. As it happens, I am a big fan of this rule. I like eating cakes and it means that there are usually cakes available for my consumption, free of charge, at least once a fortnight. By the time my birthday comes I tend to feel so indebted for all the cakes I have eaten throughout the year that I end up going crazy and spending a fortune on a wide selection of cream cakes, chocolate torts, tiramisus and the like. I see it as my duty to buy more cakes than can possibly be consumed in a single day.
A rule that I am much less fond of however is the ‘bring sweets back from your holiday’ rule. First, the last thing I want to worry about on holiday is remembering to buy sweets. Second, by the time I get to the airport I have inevitably spent all my money and third, the sweets other people bring back from their foreign jaunts are almost always inedible.
It seems that there is no limit to the weird and wonderful things that people think it is acceptable to bring back from holiday. If you are lucky you get the reliable, fail-safe, Toblerone or Lindt, if you are unlucky you get a bag of beef jerky (this has actually happened) or the dreaded Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses which sit in the kitchen for weeks on end until the cleaner finally puts them out of their misery. The middle ground is a couple of M&S mini-tubs purchased on the way into work and accompanied by a witty email suggesting that they are a local delicacy in whatever country the holiday goer has just returned from.
If it was up to me I would scrap holiday sweets and focus on birthday cakes. Quality over quantity!
Having just spent a fortnight in Vietnam, it was very clear to me that there were no local treats which would be acceptable to pass off as holiday sweets and so I decided to go off piste and bake instead.
Having not being near a kitchen for 17 days, I was really excited about getting my bake on. On the plane home I plotted out a recipe for some chewy chocolate chip cookies and, following a swift visit to my local supermarket, I was ready to get baking. Thankfully the end result turned out to be fabulous and I got a big thumbs up at work.
The cookies don’t take long to make but you will need to refrigerate the dough for 90 minutes after you have made it, so make sure you leave yourself a couple of hours.
- 200g melted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ½ teaspoons on vanilla extract
- 300g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
- 50g white caster sugar
- 200g brown caster sugar
- 150g dark chocolate chips
- 25ml whole milk
- 150g milk chocolate chips
These are really simple to make. You will need to pre-heat the oven to 180ºC and line a large flat baking tray with parchment. Then:
1. Add the sugar to the melted butter and whisk (with an electric whisk) for a couple of minutes.
2. Whisk the egg, milk and vanilla extract together and add this to the butter mixture.
3. Whisk for another minute.
4. Add the flour and bicarbonate of soda to the mixture and whisk slowly until it is incorporated.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips (don’t worry if it looks like there are loads) and leave the mixture to chill in the fridge for 90 minutes. This will make sure that the cookies are nice and soft and that the mixture doesn’t spread too far when you bake them.
6. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of mixture onto the baking tray for each cookie leaving the dollops around 10 cm apart as the cookies will spread out whilst cooking. You will have to cook them in batches as you will find that each baking tray will only fit about 6 cookies.
7. Bake the cookies for 12 – 13 minutes, until they are slightly golden around the edge. Keep a close eye on the oven from around the 10 minute mark because overcooking will be a disaster and destroy that all important gooey texture.
8. Once baked, place the cookies on a cooling rack.
This recipe should make around 24 cookies and if you are able to resist them for long enough they will retain their gooeyness for at least 3 days in an airtight container.
Once you have mastered this recipe and got a feel for the quantities of wet and dry ingredients you can play around with it to make any type of cookie. Peanut butter, triple chocolate, oatmeal and raisin ….. the cookie world is your oyster!
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