Coffee - yuk!
I have to confess that when this month's guest host for the We Should Cocoa challenge (hosted by Choclette), Lucy, announced that this month's ingredient would be coffee my heart sank. After last month's almonds (allergy alert) I was hoping for something easier and (dare I say it) more inspiring. I really don't like coffee and depending on how the stars are aligned (?!) I sometimes don't even like the smell of coffee. Well, about once a year I fancy a coffee.... tends to be a passing fancy and it generally passes quite quickly without me actually drinking coffee (well, unless I happen to be on holiday in Italy at the time where I may indulge in a frothy cappuccino).
So I've been thinking about this one all month and wondering what on earth I could do to make the stipulated coffee palatable. (Last month I used peanut butter instead of almonds, but in the spirit of the challenge I think that if I can actually ingest something without it making me ill I ought to include it in my ingredients!) And it has now come to the deadline and I've realised that if I'm to participate at all this month I'd better get my skates on.
Ginger - yum!
I'd been thinking of coffee cakes with buttercream, mocha cakes, coffee walnut cakes with a chocolate twist (another forbidden ingredient here!) and all sorts of others, wondering if I could coffee as a background flavour to simply enhance a chocolate flavour but then I hit upon the idea of making a recipe I could split in half - so I wouldn't have to eat the coffee!
Cookies are perfect for this - one half of the batch with the stipulated coffee flavour (to be enjoyed by workmates less fussy than myself) and one half a favoured flavour so that I can justly comment on the texture and balance of the cookie. I found myself a quick and easy cookie recipe (not quite sure where I came across it first, probably on someone's blog) and luckily because it is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe it is online on the Channel 4 website. (Actually, this is a bad thing because I'd forgotten about the Channel 4 site and will now want to spend lots of time browsing on there instead of doing things I ought to be doing. Hmm.)
I followed Hugh's method for the cookies, which is very quick and easy - not quite the specified ten minutes because I was messing about splitting my batch into two and so forth but still very easy and with the advantage of being able to use fridge cold butter (you melt it) - always good for when you're disorganised and have forgotten to allow the butter to soften, or when you need cookies in short order (and who doesn't at some point need cookies quickly?).
Just five on a sheet
You can find the recipe here. The recipe is also in Hugh's books River Cottage Every Day and Hugh's Family Cookbook. The only changes I made were to increase the flour by 30g to 180g (which I won't do next time as the cookies didn't spread nearly as much as I was expecting from the consistency of the dough, which is worryingly runny) and to use 50g of Green and Black's Espresso chocolate for one half of the dough and 50g Green and Black's Ginger chocolate for the other half. I also had a very small amount of crystallised stem ginger on the countertop, annoying me, so decided to chop that and add it to the ginger half of the dough too - just 15g. I also found that mine needed 12-14 minutes to bake rather than the specified ten, but this could be because I'd added the extra flour and so the cookies didn't spread as much as they should have done and therefore took longer to cook. As you can see I only baked five or six cookies on each tray but could probably have fitted more on. I made 11 ginger cookies and nine coffee ones (I'm obviously not very good at guesstimating how much of the dough was half!)
Yum - ginger!So, after all of that, what were they like? In a word, delicious! I'm not the best at making cookies or biscuits - I have a strong tendency to overcook them and end up with rather more crispy offerings than were intended by the recipe author - pale becomes golden and golden becomes caramelised dark golden.... These were great - deliciously chewy and soft in the middle with a slightly crispy edge and top crust. I will definitely be making these again and they went down very well at work, both with the coffee lovers and the non-coffee lovers. Having not tasted the coffee ones I can't comment on the balance there, but I will assume that Green and Black's have invested some effort in ensuring that their espresso coffee is delicious, and so I will also assume that cookies made using this chocolate were also delicious. They certainly smelt strongly of coffee.
Melted coffee chocolate - more spread outI was very impressed with my ginger idea though - the ginger chocolate was great but finding little added bits of crystallised stem ginger in the cookie too was stunning - really enhanced that ginger flavour hit. I may just have been lucky with my cookie but it had lots and lots of ginger bits in it - I think other cookies may have had less and so I think I'll add a bit more next time. Never too much ginger! It was interesting to me that the two chocolates behaved so differently whilst baking - the smooth espresso chocolate spread out widely whereas the ginger chocolate behaved much more sedately and spread only a little. I wonder if this is because the ginger chocolate contains tiny weeny little nuggets of ginger (explanation for those of you who have yet to have the pleasure of eating this chocolate!) that stop the chocolate from spreading too far when it melts? Anyway, roaring success, will be made again. So even though I don't like coffee I'm glad I participated in this challenge because I now have a very successful cookie recipe in my armoury.
As I've used a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe here I'm going to submit this to River Cottage Rocks! which is a challenge I've been meaning to participate in for a while now. It is organised by Jo of Jo's Kitchen and the guest host this month is Charlotte of Charlotte's Kitchen Diary. The theme this month is Baking Bliss - sweet or savoury recipes so long as they are baked!
These would be perfect to make with small children - the fun of mixing everything up by hand, breaking the egg and if the butter is melted in the microwave then no dangerous heat either (I'm not a parent though so parents out there will obviously need to use their judgement and knowledge of your children's skills!). Obviously a grown-up is needed for the actual baking, but the short time between starting and eating is perfect for short attention spans. For these reasons I'm submitting these to Family Friendly Fridays held by Fabulicious Food with guest host Solange at Pebble Soup.