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 (big) sized cookies, or 18-24 or so regular cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 200g margarine
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
  • 300g plain flour, sifted
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 200g 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 – 18 cookies.
  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 chocolate doesn’t always break evenly, so don’t worry about the irregular sizes, just put it all in the bowl.
  • 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.  So also don’t try and take them off the hot baking tray too quickly.  Just give it a few minutes on the tray, before moving onto the cooling rack.
  • 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.
  • 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 in my opinion.
  • These times are based on a regular thin metal baking tray, lined with baking parchment / paper.  If you use one of those thicker reusable silicon baking sheets instead of the paper, the cooking time may need to be extended by up to 5 minutes (depending on your oven and the silicone sheet) and this slower cooking time will also result in drier and flatter cookies.

Cookie Dough to Share – Boutique Hotel Style

‘Cookie dough to share’ at the hotel was around 100g of raw mix, topped with four balls 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.

Sunday Chocolate Cake

This is a recipe recently tried out from the ‘Green and Blacks’ Chocolate Recipes cook book, but with a few minor modifications for me (of course using egg replacement powder isn’t normally the way I try to do these things.. but this works well under the circumstances. I will work out a vegan version soon though):

Ingredients

Main cake:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 4 tbs cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 200ml milk
  • 100g margarine
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 40g vegan egg replacement powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Syrup:

  • 4 tablespoons of marmalade
  • 3 tbs lemon juice

Butter cream filling:

  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 50g margarine
  • 100g icing sugar

Icing:

  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 25g margarine

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C

‘butter and flour’ the cake tins, and/or use non-stick tins, but add baking paper to the base section

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and bicarb (from the main mix), and egg powder, three times, to thoroughly mix but also make it particularly light and fluffy.

In a separate small jug, mix in the lemon juice to the milk to curdle it.

Into another large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract, until fluffy. Then alternate the liquids and flour mix, mixing thoroughly all the time between each addition (not necessarily putting in all the liquids in, as it may start to  get too runny.  You can also add a little extra water though if necessary).

Divide the batter into the two tins, and bake for 20-25 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean, the cakes should also be slightly springy to the touch).

Once removed from the oven, leave in the tins for a short while, and then turn out onto a cooling rack (one face down, one face up).

 

To make the syrup, gentle heat the marmalade and lemon juice in a small pan, mixing well.  Then place the base part of the cake (flat side up) on your serving plate, and pour the syrup over the ‘top’ so it soaks in.

 

For the butter cream filling, first melt the chocolate over a double pan (or if you’re very careful, in a microwave, mixing well), and then allow to cool slightly (so warm, but not hot).  In a separate clean mixing bowl, blend the icing sugar and butter until fluffy, and then mix in carefully the melted chocolate.

Spread the butter cream mix over the flat base of the cake, and then sandwich it with the other cake as a topping.

 

To make the chocolate icing, melt more chocolate as before, and add a little melted butter.. mix well, leave to cool slightly, and then ice the very top of the cake.

 

Leave the whole thing to settle a little more (if you can wait), and then enjoy responsibly!

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.