Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my favourite cookie recipe, modified and improved over the years.  For a while it was sold commercially as the base of the ‘cookie dough’ dessert option at the luxury boutique hotel I owned/managed for three years.  These days is a very popular choice for Pot Luck events.

Makes about 12 good sized cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 200g margarine
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
  • 300g plain flour, sifted
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 220g Chocolate chunks (easy to make totally vegan using vegan chocolate)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Cream margarine and sugar together in a mixer, until light and fluffy
  3. Slowly add sifted flour & baking powder to the butter mix, to form a dough
  4. Add the chocolate chunks to the dough, and mix slowly and carefully
  5. If making larger cookies, roll into golf size balls, arrange on paper on a cookie tray, and press down slightly.  Otherwise divide the mix into about 12.
  6. Cook for 12-15 minutes in the middle of the pre-heated oven.
  7. Transfer to a cooling rack, and then store in an airtight container when cool.

Notes:

  • In my experience, the best chocolate chunks are actually half a ‘square’ of regular chocolate bars, like ‘Whitakers, Dairy Milk, etc.’.  This way you end up with cubes of chocolate around 1cm square (which are much nicer to eat within the cookie).  Chocolate drops are just a bit too small, melt too much during cooking, and so become more of a background total flavour rather than a satisfying chocolate hit in most bites of the cookies.
  • The cookies do not need cooking for quite as long as you may expect.  If they’re just going golden brown, they’ll still be quite soft when getting out of the oven, but they’ll firm up nicely when cooling after a few minutes out of the oven on a cooling tray.
  • Particularly when you’re making multiple batches of cookies, always place the raw dough onto a cool baking/cookie sheet, rather than one recently fresh out of a hot oven.  If you put it onto a hot baking tray, it starts to melt the margarine element before the flour starts cooking and binding, so you end up with very thin merged cookies that really aren’t so good.
  • You can prepare larger amounts of ingredients in advance, and then freeze the raw cookie dough in batches to bake later.  To defrost, just move it from the freezer to the fridge the day before baking, and use as you would normally.  Or if you just want to make giant cookies one at a time on demand, just freeze individually wrapped portions, pre-flattened to size & shape.  You can also just make it up to a couple of days in advance, and store in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

Cookie Dough to Share – Boutique Hotel Style

‘Cookie dough to share’ at the hotel was around 100g of raw mix, topped with four scoops of ice-cream, about half a tub of then freshly whipped cream, fresh chocolate shavings, and a quick decorative lattice of melted chocolate as a type of sauce and decoration.

Each ‘cookie dough’ was cooked from frozen (a pre-wrapped portion, made in advance, weighed, shaped, and then individually wrapped in clingfilm before freezing), for 12 minutes into a commercial pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C.

It was pulled out just before it started going brown, transferred to a cool deep serving plate, topped quickly with the cold ingredients in a stylised way, and then served immediately.

It was always greatly enjoyed by the hotel guests.

Lentil, Carrot & Onion Soup

lentil soup

This is another of my favourite soup recipes, very warming, very filling, and very moorish.  Best served with some good hunks of fresh wholemeal bread.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion (corsely chopped)
  • 1 carrot (corsely grated)
  • a small sprinkling of chilli flakes
  • 250 grams (1 cup) split red lentils
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 750ml (3 cups) vegetable stock

Method:

  • Fry the chopped onion in a little oil/butter to soften until just turning golden.
  • Add the spices, the carrot, hot stock, and lentils, and stir well.
  • Put the lid on, and keep it on (otherwise you’ll need to add up to a litre more of water)
  • Bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer for around 10-15 minutes
  • Enjoy!

Other variations:

For a creamier soup (now my preferred taste), after cooking, put about half the hot soup in a blender (or a large bowl for one of those hand blender things), and process to a smooth liquid.  Then put this back in with the chunkier soup mix, and enjoy 🙂

Banana Victoria Sponge (Egg Free)

Ingredients:

  • 175g – margarine
  • 175g – caster sugar
  • 150g – Natural Yoghurt
  • 2 ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 250g – Plain Flour
  • 5 tsp – Baking Powder

Icing:

  • Strawberry jam & Freshly whipped cream

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to around 180 degrees Centigrade (350F)
  2. Prepare two non-stick 8 inch round cake pans (or grease and line if not using non-stick)
  3. In a mixer if you have one, (or a large bowl if not), combine the sugar and margarine until creamy.
  4. Add the yoghurt and mashed bananas, and mix well.
  5. Add the sifted flour & baking powder, and fold in carefully.
  6. Split between the two tins (around 500g of mix per tin)
  7. Bake for around 40 minutes (until a skewer inserted into the middle, comes out clean).  Ideally leave in the oven to cool with the door open (to help reduce slight sinking).
  8. Add the middle filling when mostly cooled, and then dust lightly with icing sugar.

Notes:

  • This is a surprisingly sweet recipe, so don’t be tempted to add butter icing (like I did the first time), it’ll make it too sickly!

Printable PDF Version

Egg Free, Vegan, Moist Chocolate Cake!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Being a lacto-vegetarian for health reasons (I can’t eat eggs, or any of the meat/fish/poultry stuff), I’ve been on the lookout for a great chocolate sponge cake for a while.

This is an adapted recipe from Lisa Glanville, but as she used eggs and cup measures, I needed to find an alternative way around, plus I use weights and ml. 🙂

This recipe has proved so successfully, it’s now available and rebranded as ‘metta cake’ (‘love and kindness cake’) after being picked up by one of the volunteers at the Vipassana training center.  So after 10 days of meditation, this is one of the items to help reground the participants.

N.B., don’t be put off by the fact it’s an egg free, vegan recipe.  Everyone I’ve had try it haven’t noticed, but they all comment on how deliciously rich, moist and delicious it is!

Printable PDF version

Makes 16 adult slices.

Ingredients:

Main Cake:

  • 225g – Plain Flour
  • 75g – Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp – Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 4 1/2 tsp – Baking Powder
  • 275g – Caster Sugar
  • 1 tsp – Vanilla Essence
  • 300g – Egg Free Mayo (ie Mayola by GranoVita)
  • 250ml – water

Icing:

  • 250g – Icing Sugar
  • 4 tbls – Cocoa Powder
  • 100g – Vegan margarine
  • 1 1/2 tsp – Vanilla Essence

(you may want to multiply these icing levels, by 1.5 times, if you want to cover the cake fully more easily on the sides, middle and top).

 

Method:

Main Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to around 180 degrees Centigrade (350F)
  2. Prepare two non-stick 8 or 9 inch round cake pans (or grease and line if not using non-stick)
  3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, bicarb and baking powder, and mix lightly. Then set-aside
  4. In a mixer if you have one, (or a large bowl if not), combine the sugar, vanilla essence, and tub of egg free mayo.
  5. Mix together for a couple of minutes (but don’t be put off by the strong mayo smell.. that disappears quickly with cooking)
  6. Add the sifted dry ingredients slowly, alternating with the water, into the mixer, and combine slowly but thoroughly.
  7. Pour into the two prepared cake tins (about 550g of mix per tin), and bake for 35-40 minutes (until a skewer inserted into the middle, comes out clean).  Try not to open the oven too early though.
  8. Remove from oven, and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, before turning out onto wire cooling rack.
  9. You can eat it without the icing, but if you do want the icing, wait until it’s almost cool before adding (otherwise it melts).

Icing:

  1. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a clean mixing bowl
  2. Add the butter, and vanilla essence.
  3. Whisk thoroughly (ideally with an electric mixer on slow)..  It will seem too dry for a good few minutes, but keep with it, it will suddenly change to lovely smooth icing.
  4. Add about a third of the icing between the layers, another third on top, and the remaining icing around the sides.

 

Serving:

  • This cake seems to last 3 days without any loss to taste or texture, if kept in under cover (ie an up-turned large bowl).  I can’t tell you how much longer though, it’s always eaten pretty quickly!
  • Don’t try and eat too much too soon. It’s surprisingly rich, and very moorish, but pace yourself!
  • You could also add some thick clotted cream or rich vanilla ice-cream when serving, but it works just as well without too.