Brandy Snaps

There’s something about snow: it has superpowers. It makes the world go silent.

I’d like to rename these cookies ‘snowstorm snaps’. Not only were they baked during a Sunday morning snowstorm, but they use basic storecupboard ingredients, meaning you can bake them even when snowed in!

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Brandy Snaps
Adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies: The very best treats to bake and to share

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup golden syrup
⅓ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 160°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and ground ginger. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and golden syrup and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the flour mixture.

Drop teaspoons of batter on the prepared baking sheet. These cookies spread a lot, so leave plenty of space between them (more than 5cm). Bake until flat and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and leave to cool on baking sheet until firm, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. You can shape these before they harden if you wish: just wrap them around the handle of a wooden spoon while still flexible to form them into cigars or lay them over an upside down glass or mug to form baskets which you can fill with ice cream or fruit.

Petits Ecoliers

I’ve become a hardcore cyclist. Well, if you’re picturing Tour de France, scrap that. My version is piling on as many layers of clothes and waterproofs as I own and braving the snow in my cornflower blue town bike. Yes, it snowed here this week, and instead of walking and taking a little longer to get to work, I slept those extra five minutes and took the trusty bike. Luckily the snow didn’t stick to the road this time.

Anyways. Petits Ecoliers. They’re a very popular biscuit in France, and literally mean ‘small schoolchildren’ (which sounds creepy in English but I assure you, in French it sounds normal). I used to have them all the time as an after-school snack. The base is a simple and not-too-sweet ‘petit beurre’ biscuit, and it is topped with a generous layer of chocolate. I like calling these biscuits, as opposed to cookies, because to me they are so far removed from the typical American cookie. Crisp, square, not-too-sweet, and subtle. The epitome of Frenchness.

nb. The biscuit base was easy to make, and turned out really crisp. I think it would make a great tart crust, and plan to try it out soon!

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Recipe from here and here .

Makes about 25 biscuits.

Biscuit Base

250g flour
100g sugar
100g butter
62.5g water
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder

In a small pan, bring the butter, water, salt and sugar to a boil.

Leave to cool, stirring occasionally so that the butter does not harden on the surface. Cool until it has the consistency of a light custard.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Pour the cooled butter mixture into the flour mixture, and stir using a wooden spoon. Do not over-mix, stop mixing as soon as a smooth dough is formed. Cover with dish cloth and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of three hours (can be left overnight).

Pre-heat oven to 170°C

Remove dough from fridge and roll between two pieces of greaseproof paper until it is about 3mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut the biscuits out. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 10-15 minutes (until edges begin to turn a light golden brown).

Remove them to a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Topping

200g milk chocolate (can be replaced by dark or white chocolate if you prefer)

Break half of the chocolate up into even pieces. Place in microwave-proof bowl. Place bowl in microwave and heat on medium setting, checking every few seconds that the chocolate is not fully melted.  When it is mostly melted but a few lumps still remain, take the bowl out and stir until all lumps disappear. Leave to cool for about ten minutes so the chocolate thickens a bit. Put into a piping bag with 2mm nozzle and pipe borders on the cooled biscuits.

Break up the other half of the chocolate and repeat as above. This time, do not wait for the chocolate to cool and thicken. Immediately spoon into centre of biscuits using a small teaspoon. The borders previously piped will prevent the chocolate from leaking over the sides. Leave half an hour for the chocolate to set.

If desired, sift icing sugar over the top of a stencil to decorate.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sugar, flour, butter. It’s amazing to think that these three simple ingredients can come together to create so many different textures and tastes. Cookies, cakes, pastries, pancakes… the variety is incredible.

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I guess my love of sugar and everything sweet began at a very young age. For my fourth birthday party, my babysitter made me a castle cake made entirely out of sugar cubes piled on top of each other and stuck together with icing. She decorated it with colourful gummies (which, to me, looked like jewels) and lit candles inside it, making it glow from within. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and watched over her shoulder (mouth watering) all week as she built it in preparation for my big party. I looked forward to finally tasting my castle all week. But until the cake was brought out and everyone sang happy birthday, it hadn’t occurred to me that no one else would want to eat pure sugar. As I happily broke a chunk of sugar off and bit into it, I looked around and was surprised none of the other kids were fighting to do the same. Who wouldn’t want to eat pure sugar?? Surely that was the epitome of amazingness for anyone with a sweet tooth!

Luckily, my taste buds have developed a bit since then, and I now appreciate more flavours than just SWEET. These cookies are my ultimate chocolate chip cookie. They’re so simple, yet when baked everything combines to form something much greater than the sum of its parts. I don’t think chocolate chip cookies need very much of an introduction. These are nice and chewy, crispy on the outside, and really satisfying with a large glass of milk.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from over here and here.

½ cup butter, softened
2 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon of salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 medium egg
1 medium egg yolk
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs, vanilla and milk. Beat well. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Beat until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 72 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 160°C. Line baking tray with parchment paper.

Form dough into 2cm wide balls and place on baking tray, leaving enough space in between the cookies for them to expand. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

Remove from baking sheet and leave on wire rack to cool (or eat while still warm!)