Over the last few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with cookies, and what makes the perfect cookie. Cookies are quite a personal thing – not everyone likes the same thing, but generally, people can agree on a crispy edge and a softer centre as desired qualities for a jolly good cookie.
For me, a soft cookie is a very good thing. Soft centred, and a little chewy, but not in the way of synthetic, over-sugared supermarket fare. I am also not a fan of the fat, crumby cookies (think Ben’s Cookies) – they are large, but insubstantial and unsatisfying.
Soft cookies get their texture from a mix of sugars and raising agents. Brown sugar gives a chewier texture and caster sugar makes them crispier and crunchier. Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda give them a more open texture – something I don’t rate in a cookie.
These cookies are soft and I am careful not to overcook them, so they stay as soft as possible, too. Cooling them briefly on the baking tray will cook them a little further before allowing them to cool on a wire rack, which will prevent them from becoming soggy.
These are deep and dark in flavour. They are incredibly satisfying without being too sweet and sugary. The rest is up to you – I used dark chocolate chunks and toasted hazelnuts, but feel free to add whichever bits you like for texture.
Dark chocolate cookies
Makes around 16-20, depending on size
125g salted butter
125g dark brown soft sugar
125g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g cocoa powder
220g self-raising flour
200g chocolate pieces, or a mixture of 150g chocolate and 50g fruit or nuts
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Line two large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Place the butter and sugars into a bowl or stand mixer and beat together well, until smooth and mid-brown in colour.
Next, add the beaten egg, salt and vanilla and mix well. And now, sift in the cocoa powder and self raising flour. Beat to form a stiff dough.
Finally, stir in the pieces you are using. Pinch off pieces of mixture and roll into round balls and place well-spread out on to the baking sheets. Once all the mixture is rolled into balls, take a flat-bottomed drinking glass and press the cookies down to flatten them. They still want to be about 10-15mm thick, but it does make them look better once cooked.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes (my oven takes around 12 minutes) until slightly firm around the edges, but retaining a soft centre. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes after removing from the oven, then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully (or enjoy whilst warm!)