Saturday, 21 May 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies with an Old Friend

As I am certain I have mentioned before, for some reason that I can't quite fathom, Blogger delights in un-rotating photographs that I have carefully rotated and saved as such. I don't understand why it does it but it annoys the crap out of me! So I'm afraid you'll just have to bear with my occasionally-sideways photographs (and in the meantime, I make an effort to take all photos landscape-style).

The first thing I wish to share is the cookbook stand that I received as a belated Christmas gift from my dear ol' dad. I have ruined a squillion or so cookbooks by splashing food on them as I cooked, and I am hoping that this will prevent further desecration of my collective Bibles (sorry, that was a bit sacreligious. Hopefuly the Christians of various denominations amongst you will not begrudge the analogy, given how I feel about food!).

*looks at belly*


And this is what it looks like from the side. See the nice pretty Perspex cover? Yeah, that's to stop me from being such a grubalub. And the stand is fairly thick, so it should allow my fatter books to fit.
What you see in the stand at present is all-round blogging champion Pioneer Woman's book, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, which is essentially a love story, and is an account of how she and her husband came to be married. When I read the blog version it gave me hope that true love existed, and whaddaya know - a little while later I stumbled across it. Thanks for restoring my faith, P-Dub! In the back are several of her favourite recipes, which I appreciated beyond measure because all my cookbooks were in Adelaide and I was in Melbourne. I miss my cookbooks :(

So! On to the recipe. I'm not going to bother writing it out because you can find it here, where it was published by its rightful owner. I made it sans the flax seed.

The first thing that I did was get a whole lot of butter, as you should for all good biscuit recipes. Did you hear those angels singing??
You add sugar and cream it until it looks like this.
We all know where that mixture is headed, don't we... yep, straight into my mouth. What I'd really like to know, though, is why it's okay to eat it at the above stage, but not this one, with the eggs added (as has featured in many of my posts, it looks a little bit like spew):
...and then suddenly, with the addition of flour and choc chips, it's okay to eat it again!
CHOCOLATE!!! And it tastes sooooooo good... *drools*

You see the finished product there with a glass of milk each for myself and my good friend Al. I made the biscuits to send Grant, and Al happened to pop around that afternoon (Hi, Al! *waves* It was great catching up with you!), and there were surplus biscuits to be dealt with. Al took one for the team and helped me out. He's good like that.

The only thing I would say about this recipe is that it has quite a lot of salt in it. Maybe Australian chocolate isn't as sweet as American chocolate and therefore the flavour balance isn't required, but I wouldn't put more than half the specified amount of salt in. I'd probably also put a little bit less coffee powder. Coffee is quite a common ingredient for dense chocolate cakes and some chocolate biscuits, but I'd use less of it. That's just my personal taste. Then again, maybe with less salt the coffee would also seem less overwhelming... have a play!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Afternoon Tea With the Girls, Part Two: Dutch Ginger Biscuits, or, How Cookbooks Sometimes Get Things Really Wrong

So, back to the afternoon tea with the Adelaide girls.

As I said in a previous post, I wanted to make something for which I already had the ingredients. I like to build up an arsenal of these sorts of recipes so that I know what I can whip up out of what's in the cupboard at any given moment in time.

This one, from the CWA/Weekly Times "Country Classics" seemed easy. In fact, it seemed a little bit too easy, ifyaknowwhatImean.

(What I mean is that it seemed like there was something missing. I realise that the use of the word "easy" followed by "ifyaknowwhatImean" might give some people - you know exactly who you are! - the wrong idea!!!)


The recipe called for:
1 3/4c plain flour, sifted
3/4c castor sugar
125g glace ginger (I went with crystalised because it was what I had)
1 egg, beaten
1 egg, beaten, extra.

I preheated the oven to 170o (actually, 150o because it's Fan Forced), like it said.

I greased and lined a 20cm x 25cm tin (which I take to be a lamington or slice tin), like it said.

I mixed all the ingredients together (except the extra egg, which you brush over once you've pressed it into the tin and before baking), like it said.

Or, more to the point, I tried to, but they just wouldn't stick!

At around this point it became abundantly apparent that there was something rather amiss with the recipe.

(Don't mind the green paint on my wrist band - a can of spraypaint with a faulty nozzle more or less exploded all over my hands and arms and clothes at work a couple of weeks ago, and that's all that's left of the damage. That, and my shirt and my pants and my boots and my belt and my GPS and my ring (don't worry, NOT my engagement ring!), all with blotches of green paint on them)

So anyway, I took a wild stab in the dark and chucked in half a block of butter (= 125g), because that seems to be the magic number for a lot of recipes.


And apparently it worked, because I was able to press the mix into the tin, bake it for 45 minutes, cool it and slice it up in the tin like the instructions told me (I sliced whilst it was still a wee bit warm, otherwise it would have been too hard).

Bada-bing, bada-boom.

(Do you like the platter? My friend Ness bought it from me from a ceramics shop in Barcelona we once visited - and loved, but did not buy from - back when we were impoverished, post-university student backpackers. Flash forward five years, and she picked it up for me while she was there with her husband, Adam. Thanks, Nessa!!! xoxo)

The only thing I'll say is that the biscuits around the perimeter of the tin were quite a bit too crunchy, and I suspect that if the ginger had been glace and not crystalised the mix would have been moister. Next time I would bake them for closer to 35 minutes and use the glace ginger, and maaaybe a smidgen more butter, or perhaps half a teaspoon of baking soda for a bit of FOOF! (<-- that's supposed to convey magical airiness. Fail...). Meh, live and learn - I found them to be quite tasty as they were. I'm also not entirely sure what is so Dutch about them...