Thursday, July 7, 2011

Almond Chocolate-Chippy Biscuits

It is finally Thursday and thus my baking day. I was recently told that I need to get out more, but I do actually get out on quite a regular basis and still the highlight of my week is baking. Getting out and spending time with friends is also way up there on my enjoyable activities list of course, but is it really so bad to look forward to mixing up a batch of cookies? Besides, baking cookies makes the house smell so amazing! Right now the kitchen smells of vanilla and cinnamon and it is so good! In my opinion, while cooking a nice meal can make a place smell good and home-like, I far prefer to cover up those savoury cooking smells with something sweet. For instance, this evening I made spaghetti sauce which is all well and good but to mix up a batch of cookies and fill the apartment with the smell of baking and vanilla has made my evening, and probably my whole week. I will take them to work tomorrow to feed friends and co-workers, mostly out of the kindness of my heart but also partly because a bit of a bribe never goes amiss. These biscuits suit this function perfectly, everybody seems to love them. They have a lot of taste and they are not too sweet but they do have a little bit of chocolate because you really just can't go without and of course nuts for crunchiness.

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

125 grams butter (softened, not melted, or you could use margerine)
1 cup sugar (that's about 250 grams, for once I remembered to measure it)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup of slivered or flaked almonds (that's about 100 grams)
100 grams (or more) chopped chocolate
2 tablespoons custard powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 and 3/4 cup of plain flour (about 270 grams)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of salt

To begin with as always turn the oven on to 180 degrees celsius. Then in a large bowl place your soft butter and sugar. For biscuits I almost always use half white sugar and half soft brown sugar but anything is fine really. Using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer cream the butter until it is very well blended (for those not used to baking, to cream the mixture simply means to make it creamy, so just mix it well and you should be right).

Next we begin adding stuff to our mixture. First is the vanilla extract and the egg. The amount of vanilla can of course be varied depending on your own particular taste and the quality of vanilla. If it is cheap vanilla essence you may need more than if you have the really good natural stuff, which is much stronger. But anyway, to get to the point, add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Then throw in the chocolate and almonds and give it a good stir.

Now we must add the dry ingredients and nobody wants a big lump of flour in their biscuit so these things really should be sifted into the mixture. Add the custard powder, cocoa powder and cinnamon (these are all optional, I like the taste, custard will make it more vanilla-y and maybe a bit chewy) and the flour, baking soda and salt (absolutely not optional). Now mix it together as best you can, using your hands at the end if you must (I used to mix cookies by hand with a friend as a child, and then we would leave the rest of the baking to her mum while we went away to lick all of the mixture from our fingers).


So the mixture is ready and it is time to bake. The question is, what size do you want your cookies to be? This evening I made small biscuits, using a small teaspoon to stop me from grabbing so much dough as usual and flattening them out on the tray before baking.

 
 Now I have so many cute little cookies - they are easier to share this way. For such small cookies I baked each batch for 8 minutes and they have turned out quite crispy. For very large biscuits I would use a real handful and bake for about 15 minutes.

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