Sunday, 10 August 2008

Black and white cockney leit-motifs

As I have pointed out before the cockney leit-motif of "have a banana" has seeped into the cookie experience in Our Lovely Flat. Now I cannot make the aforementioned baked item without N and I referring to it as a ba-cookie, not only is it a ba-cookie, but it is said using the tone of the song, you know what I mean, I know you're doing it in your head now. Once it's there it just can't be removed, which is much the same as the wish to make ba-cookies. The idea gets into my head and cannot be shifted until I've got a batch cooling and the bowls soaking in the washing up. It's a dangerous situation.

I can't remember how ba-cookies came up this week, but they did. I think because I was craving something sweet and N asked if we had any biscuits in the house. Needless to say we didn't - why would I buy some when I could use not having them as an excuse to get the mixing bowls out?! - but that put the itch in my mind. I had spotted a recipe for white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies on a blog I read. I'm not one to usually fancy cookies - as you will have seen I am much more likely to make muffins or cakes - but the recipe tempted me. I think I liked the idea of a pure white cookie, with the sweetness of the chocolate and buttery nuts. Then N got the ba-cookie idea in my head and I knew the inevitable was going to happen.

I stopped at a fruit and nut stall whilst in town on Thursday to pick up the nuts and was distracted by the fact that they had dried sour cherries. Now I LOVE cherries, and dried sour ones are so delicious. I have fond memories of first discovering them in Italy on a market near Florence. I could eat them by the handful all day. When I saw them I just couldn't resist, I had to buy some. As I was asking for them an idea suddenly popped into my head, I could make dark cookies with cherries in too! Then I would have black and white ba-cookies to accompany our trip to the Oval to watch the cricket.

So suddenly I had managed to persuade myself to once again bake at the weekend, and to make not one thing, but two. So much for my "eat less baked things over summer" resolution, so much for my "only bake on baking day" idea. Black and white ba-cookies it was.

I found a recipe for dark chocolate cookies and adapted it to suit the cherries (adding
melted chocolate to the batter as well as cocoa to make it darker and richer, and adding large chunks of dark chocolate along with the cherries so match the idea of the white chocolate and nut recipe). I then adapted the white chocolate and nut recipe to use plain (rather than roasted and salted) macadamia nuts, to cut down on the salt in the recipe.

Although both ba-cookies turned out well it was the white chocola
te and macadamia nut that were the real winners. They were perfectly indulgent, yet not too sickly - a worry I have with white chocolate. They also coped well with being stored, whereas the dark ba-cookies became slightly too chewy after a day in a tupperware. I think this was because the batter was too dry, N pointed out that if they had rum in they'd be much better so next time I will be dutifully soaking the cherries in rum! The darker ba-cookies were a slightly larger batch so I have frozen a bunch of them and plan on serving them warm with a rum sauce at some point in the future. I'm sure that'll help them be more moist!

Here are the recipe's I used for the ba-cookies:

I made really large ba-cookies, so my baking times were almost double those for the tablespoon sized ones:

White chocolate and macadamia nut ba-cookies.

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup light muscovado sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate, chopped into large chunks
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 180C

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

Beat butter and both sugars until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. Add flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in white chocolate and macadamia nuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, on two ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking. With wide spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Dark chocolate and sour cherry ba-cookies:

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup golden caster sugar
1 egg
1 ounce melted dark chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 chopped dark chocolate
3/4 cup dried sour cherries (feel free to soak these in rum overnight!)

Preheat oven to 180C, line two baking sheets with parchment.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, vanilla and melted chocolate until combined. Slowly blend in the flour mixture until combined, stir in the cherries and chocolate. If the batter is too stiff add a little milk to thin it slightly - or if you're using rum soaked cherries add a very little milk and a little rum!

Place tablespoons of dough a few inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes; until cracks form on the top of the cookies.

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