After a huge semester that felt like way more than a meagre twelve weeks as well as three exams and one final essay, I am finally free! At least for this semester. The feeling after you finish that last exam is incredible, absolutely perfect and amazing as well as slightly worrisome all at the same time as I'm sure most of you know already. Now there is a whole month ahead of me to do all the baking, catching up with friends, sleeping in, reading and whatever else takes my fancy! Along with all the other holidays, I know it will be all over in a blink of an eye and so every second will be savoured and appreciated with as much enjoyment as if I was eating a hot bowl of oats on a frosty winter morning (which, of course, I will be doing often this week).
So yes, hello world! Back to wonderful long days, mixing and melting and cooking and baking my way through a whole month of awesomeness. It feels so good to be back in the kitchen, back to enjoying my time without feeling guilty and thinking about how I should really be studying.
This week, these holidays, this very blog will start off with a classic, Chocolate Chip Cookies but with an added twist. I wanted to make some cookies for my cousins, so decided to make Peanut Butter Cookies with chocolate chips. After flicking through my many cookbooks I found a recipe for gluten free cookies. After being slightly alarmed at the lack of any type of flour in the recipe, I decided to give it a gamble and try it anyway. It was simple and easy to make, almost deceptively easy, and we all found out why after the cookies came out of the oven. The lack of flour made them incredibly rich and sweet, having everyone reaching for a cup of strong coffee or cold milk lickety split.
I am undecided on whether these Peanut Butter Cookies are a change for the better or the worse, but until I find a way to make these cookies less sweet and rich, I'll stick to my normal never fail chocolate chip cookie recipe. This is one of the first cookies I have ever made, and they have since been used for everything from 'Sorry cookies,' 'Thank you cookies,' 'Congratulations cookies,' 'Therapeutic baking cookies,' to 'Nothing better to do at the moment and I want the smell of something baking in the oven cookies.' But if you see a box of these at your doorstep, it is usually because I've done something I am terribly sorry about!
Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Bake by Alison Thompson
This is a particularly rich recipe, it could probably do with a few tablespoons of plain flour to give it a less dense and sugary texture. If you would like to keep it as a gluten free recipe, add gluten free flour instead of plain flour. I will update soon if I attempt this recipe again, otherwise, read the following recipe for awesome old school Choc Chip Cookies.
400g crunchy peanut butter
180g dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 160°C fan-forced and line two oven trays with baking paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixture with a paddle attachment, combine the peanut butter, egg and sugar on low speed until well combined. Alternatively, it is an easy task to combine them in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Add in the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
Roll the mixture into walnut sized balls and place on a baking tray 3cm apart. Flatten down slightly with either a fork or fingertips. Do not worry if the cookies are placed closely together, they will not spread too much during baking.
Bake the cookies for 12 minutes and they should be firm to touch (if you press it too hard it will leave a large indent as someone found out, but take them out of the oven and they will harden up as they cool down). Cool on the baking trays or on a wire rack.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Bake by The Australian Women's Weekly
I love love love this recipe, they're buttery, soft, gooey and textural, yet still melt in your mouth at the same time. The original uses roasted walnuts, but I'm sure lots of other nuts would work just as well. The biggest tip would be to make sure the butter is at room temperature, it should be soft but not liquid as it will spread too much in the oven if the butter is not at the right temperature. If the butter is too cold the ingredients will not blend well.
Although you can use an electric mixer, mixing by hand feels more relaxing personally, and I like being able to feel the mixture changing as I stir the bowl as well. Another tip is to definitely use roughly chopped chocolate, instead of chocolate chips. Chopping a block of chocolate creates little shavings flecked throughout the cookie as well as larger chunks which melt and turn into molten happiness in the oven.
125g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 (75g) cup caster sugar
1/3 (75g) cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 (150g) cup plain flour
1 (150g) cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g dark eating chocolate, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup (50g) coarsely chopped roasted pecans
Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced and line two oven trays with baking paper.
Beat butter, extract, sugars and egg in a small bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Move the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the sifted flour and soda until combined. Add in the chocolate and nuts and mix until well combined.
Place even tablespoons of the mixture on to the tray about 5cm apart. There is no need to push down on these cookies as they will spread in the oven so allow space between cookies for this.
Bake cookies for 13-15 minutes (again, these will be soft when you take them out of the oven and then firm up after a few minutes). Cool on trays.