Friday, 14 May 2010

I&R and cookies

When I read the title of the post on Liz's blog, I had to agree: a man that bakes at home can be seen as something unusual or amazing. When I see a man willingly doing the ironing or cleaning after cooking, that'll be the day I've seen them all.

Then a doubt started forming in my mind: hang on a second, a colleague? A colleague that has previously baked some insanely delicious brownies? That got to be James!

Yes, it's James and after having my doubt cleared away by Liz and James himself, a second doubt arrived: mmmh, is he trying to replace me as "cookie master"? Oh I know, I know: life goes on, I don't work there anymore, they still need to eat sweets and it's very irrational and cruel of me to demand of them to survive on the apples Chris brings in (that generally balance out those KFC take-outs or pub lunches, now that I recall) or the Morrison's donuts, but hey! Beth's round table is my queendom! Hands off!

I shared some jokes about it with Beth, Vasi and James, but afterwards, my mind kept going back to the cookies. You see, before going to the States, I never had eaten any cookie and that's because to me the word "cookie" has always identified one specific type of sweet treat, the kind that looks like these:

Cookies

Having always used the British word "biscuit", I've always thought of cookie as a type of biscuit, while a bit of research here and there on the internet taught me that the difference have to deal with American English and British English and that cookie is something, biscuit something else and even biscotti is not only the Italian plural noun, but how the cantuccini are called in North America. Furthermore the origins of the word cookie is Dutch. 

I remember I bought my first cookie in the cafeteria at Motorola: I saw them on display, and I thought that they were just like the one I saw in the movie. Well, that was the over whole general impression I had of US in the first days of my staying: everything looked like in the movie, kid mowing the lawn and rifle stall in the middle of Walmart included. So I had to buy the cookie and give it a try: it was edible but not delicious, with a distinctive industrial e-number after-taste that, once kicked in, didn't leave no matter the amount of water and tea I drank afterward.

Home-made cookies, on the other hand, are a whole different matter. The traditional chocolate-chip is my favourite, I'm quite a traditionalist; however, if I feel a bit blue, I might indulge in a double chocolate chip cookie.
The recipe James gave to Liz is perhaps a bit high on the calories count, sugar, fat and all the rest, but it is definitely interesting, something I never really tried.
So, with all the rain and thunderstorms of the past days (and today doesn't look any better), my queendom at stake, and a recipe I so wanted to try, it was just a matter of time and getting the ingredients before I gave it a go and bake some. Not a long time as yesterday morning I went to the supermarket and by the time Sara was back from nursery, the chocolate-chip cookies were ready on the table for her afternoon snack.

Chocolate-chip cookies

So here is the recipe, blatantly copied and pasted from Liz's blog, with just some tiny changes in red.

Ingredients:
100g condensed milk (yep, condensed milk! I've used it when I made fudge but never for cookies)
350g self raising flour (sifted)
225g unsalted butter (softened)
225g caster sugar
175g good quality chocolate (cut into chunks)
(it works quite well with 200 g as well: I was so busy explaining my mum about cookies, biscuits and biscotti that I didn't realize I had chopped 2 whole chocolate bars, I couldn't throw it away, could I?)

(Makes about 20 cookies.)
Cream the butter and sugar together. Softening the butter really helps here, it's a right pain otherwise.

Now add the flour, condensed milk and chocolate. You'll need a big mixing bowl for this as it makes quite a lot of mixture. It also takes a surprising amount of effort but it's worth it. I'm not sure if the dough is supposed to be eaten but it tastes almost as good as the finished cookies.

Roll the mixture into a thick sausage shape, about 12 inches long (that would be 30 cm), and wrap it in clingfilm. Store it in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill. Alternatively you can keep it in the freezer and have cookies whenever you like. (That's what I did, but baked them straight after 30 mins)

To bake, cut slices and pop them onto a greaseproof baking tray (I cover mine in baking paper as the chocolate gets everywhere) and put them in a pre heated oven at about 180 degrees (160 for a fan oven). They take 12 to 14 minutes apparently but generally take them out when they've just started to brown.

Once finished leave them to cool before moving them as they tend to be very soft and fall apart easily. The recipe reckons they keep for about a week in an air-tight container. I've had cookies made from frozen dough and they're still really good.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post of course. I like to see how you handle the subject of James' cookies -- much more thoughtful and historical than I do. I'm so glad you made them -- yours look much better than his. Of course no one can bake better than you do, I hope you aren't worried.

    Love your blog (when I can read it, of course, since don't know any Italian). x

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