Something beginning with ‘C’…

CHOCOLATE. Why? What did you think I was gonna to say? Wrote this lovely blog for Learning With Experts about the history of chocolate – and let’s be honest, we could all do with a bit of distraction right now.

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

From sugary white to bitter dark, chocolate is the sweet treat we simply can’t get enough of. But where does it come from and what is its history?

Chocolate can be traced back the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica (what we now know as South America). Cocoa was a household staple to the Mayans readily available to everyone. This thick and bitter drink accompanied most meals and was often teamed with honey or chili peppers – a far cry from the sweet confectionary we’re used to today. Later on, in the 13th century, the Aztecs moved in and dominated Mesoamerica. They believed cacao was a gift from the gods and was considered more valuable than gold and was even used as currency. As the status of chocolate reached new heights it began to be enjoyed mostly by the wealthy.

It’s widely disputed how chocolate made its way to Europe, but it is generally thought it first arrived in Spain, where it was adored by the Spanish who swiftly began importing it in the 1500’s. Before long, chocolate fever had swept across Europe and was in high demand with the upper classes. Europeans, however, didn’t care for the bitter Aztec version so began adding sugar and spices, making it a fashionable luxury.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that chocolate become readily available and affordable to the masses. In 1828 a Dutch chemist developed the cocoa press that inexpensively separated the cocoa butter from the roasted cocoa beans, making cocoa powder accessible to all. The powder was mostly enjoyed as a hot drink with milk until 1847, when British chocolatier J.S Fry and Sons moulded the first chocolate bar made out of sugar, cocoa butter and chocolate liquor. But it was Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter who thought to add dried milk to cocoa to create the chocolate we all know and love today, milk chocolate. A few years later he teamed up with his friend Henri Nestle and the rest is history.

So why not raid the cupboards and rustle up a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Or better still, master the art of tempering, moulding and (let’s be honest) eating chocolate in the comfort of your own home with The Art of Chocolate Making, taught by Paul A Young. This four-week course begins anytime from the 27th of March and could be a great way to see out the current Corona crisis.


Dark chocolate chip cookies
Makes 16-18 cookies / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 30 mins / V 
125g salted butter, at room temperature
125g golden caster sugar
2 heaped tbs condensed milk
50g Green and Black’s Organic 70% Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped
½ tsp vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour
Sea salt flakes


Method

My original cookie recipe

1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4. Using an electric whisk in a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the condensed milk and the vanilla extract and continue to whisk until incorporated.
2. On a chopping board using a large knife, roughly chop the chocolate. Add to the mixture and sift the self raising flour over the top. Using a wooden spoon, mix together by hand until you have a well incorporated cookie dough.
3. Line two baking trays with baking paper and using a teaspoon, scoop up a ball of the dough, roughly the size of a walnut. Roll the dough in your hands until you have a ball and place on the baking tray. Space the cookie dough out evenly (be sure not to over crowd the baking trays, the cookies will expand in the oven).
4. Using the back of a tablespoon, press down on each ball gently to squash it out a little to help form a round disk. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly on the tray, before carefully transferring to a cooling rack using a spatula. Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of sea salt flakes and serve with a good cup of tea.


If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


V – Vegetarian
 – The cookie dough is suitable for home freezing. Roll into a sausage shape and wrap in a few layers of clingfilm. Consume within 3 months.



Peanut butter cookies

Smooth Peanut Butter Cookies
Smooth Peanut Butter Cookies

I don’t often bake cookies, mainly because I end up scoffing them all but on this occasion, that wasn’t an option. I made these for a Macmillan coffee morning at work so only ate 2… Okay 5… Okay 6 but that still left 20 to sell so don’t make me feel bad… Okay so then I ate 4 more at the coffee morning but I paid £5 for those so they don’t count.
This is why I tend not to bake cookies… or cakes… or bread… or sticky toffee pudding… or garlic butter, (not that you bake garlic butter) mmm, garlic butter. I recently polished off a whole ramekin of garlic butter with one dough ball to my boyfriends utter disgust.
In any case, when I’m not busy embarrassing my other half in Pizza Express, you’ll find me in the kitchen creating recipes (usually healthy ones) so I love the opportunity to basically spoon a whole jar of peanut butter into something. Soft, chewy and incredible moorish (as we have already established) these cookies are more cakey in texture and sweet without being sickly (explains how I managed to eat ten of them). Enjoy!


Peanut butter cookies
Makes 26 / Hands on time 30 mins / Total time 40 mins plus cooling /

You’ll need:
 Stand mixer or hand mixer
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
180g smooth peanut butter (you can use crunchy if you prefer)
1 medium egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
260g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt


Method
1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4. Beat the softened butter in a bowl with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, using the beater attachment until smooth. Scrape down the sides with a spoon, add 200g of golden caster sugar and beat again until combined and fluffy.
2. Scrape down the sides again before adding 180g of smooth peanut butter (you can use crunchy if you prefer). Beat again until combined. Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla essence and the egg. Beat until fully incorporated.
3. Add 260g self raising flour, a generous pinch of salt and mix again slowly at first to prevent flour flying everywhere. As the mixture combines, up the speed until fully incorporated. You should be left with a smooth dough.
4. Line two large baking trays with baking paper or grease with oil or butter. Using your hands, take a small handful of dough and roll into a ball roughly the size of a quails egg (about 30g). You can of course, make your cookies whatever size you like but bear in mind this may effect your baking time.Place each ball on the baking tray at least 5cm apart to prevent them bleeding into each other while they cook.
5. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a crisscross pattern before baking in the oven, on the middle shelf, for 10-12 minutes. You want your cookies to brown ever so slightly around the edges but still be quite light in colour (this keeps them soft and chewy). If you prefer a crunchier biscuit, bake them a few minutes longer.
6. Leave to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes before carefully transferring onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before serving. Keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Smooth Peanut Butter Cookies

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


V– Vegetarian  – The cookie dough is suitable for home freezing. Roll the cookie dough into a sausage and wrap well in clingfilm. Freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost the dough fully before using. 



Dark chocolate chip cookies

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used to make these cookies all the time, in fact, I’ve been making them so long, I don’t even remember how this recipe came to be. So why does my first batch look like something that came out of my housemates dog?
My faultless recipe is clearly faulty, either that, or my nine year old self is a better cook than me. If she were here right now I’d slap her. What? She’s not real! Anyway, admittedly it’s been a while since I’ve made these (ten years) but surely it’s like riding a bike.
I look down at the burnt little puddles stuck to my baking tray, ‘how can they be burnt AND raw?’ I ponder. Without thinking I plunge my finger into a partially oozy one, it’s as hot as molten lava. I drop the tray and it lands face down on the floor. Of course it does.
Round two. I up the heat, reduce the cooking time, swap plain flour for self raising and use an electric whisk. Having no idea if any of these decisions are the right ones and having eaten most of the chocolate, this was my last chance. However, this time I would be more cautious, I won’t bake and ruin a whole batch of 18, I’ll start with 6.
Burnt! Again!… But at least the butter didn’t separated this time so they looked a little less pooey. Feeling encouraged by the progress, I line up another six and pop them in the oven, reducing the cooking time by 5 minutes. SUCCESS! Chewy, golden, melt in the mouth little roundels of heaven. I knew I could do it. Now all I have to do is not eat another one, I’m on a diet… I hate my life.


My original cookie recipe

Dark chocolate chip cookies
Makes 16-18 cookies / Hands on time 
20 mins / Total time 30 mins / V 
125g salted butter, at room temperature
125g golden caster sugar
2 heaped tbs condensed milk
50g Green and Black’s Organic 70% Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped
½ tsp vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour
Sea salt flakes


Method
1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4. Using an electric whisk in a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the condensed milk and the vanilla extract and continue to whisk until incorporated.
2. On a chopping board using a large knife, roughly chop the chocolate. Add to the mixture and sift the self raising flour over the top. Using a wooden spoon, mix together by hand until you have a well incorporated cookie dough.
3. Line two baking trays with baking paper and using a teaspoon, scoop up a ball of the dough, roughly the size of a walnut. Roll the dough in your hands until you have a ball and place on the baking tray. Space the cookie dough out evenly (be sure not to over crowd the baking trays, the cookies will expand in the oven).
4. Using the back of a tablespoon, press down on each ball gently to squash it out a little to help form a round disk. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly on the tray, before carefully transferring to a cooling rack using a spatula. Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of sea salt flakes and serve with a good cup of tea.

 

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you’ve had a go at making any of my recipes, I’d love to hear from you. Follow me now @corrieheale and tag your recipe pictures using #corriesrabbitfood.


– Vegetarian
❄ – The cookie dough is suitable for home freezing. Roll into a sausage shape and wrap in a few layers of clingfilm. Consume within 3 months.