Prep Time 20 mins | Cooking Time 15+ mins | Makes 20+ cookies
For a beautiful homemade gift, swap Easter eggs for decadent, chewy chocolate chip cookies which will surely put a smile on all your friends faces. Photographs by Nicholas Rider.
When I was younger, I remember buying Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies for seventy cents from the school canteen for recess (a.k.a. “little lunch”. If you are an Australian child of the 90s perhaps you remember these from your schooldays. These cookies were not just any ordinary cookie. They were literally the size of a dinner plate and crumbly with a whole-wheat flour base. When you bit into them the cross-section revealed flat chocolate buttons instead of choc chips.
When the American sandwich chain Subway started to open outlets across Australia in the early 2000s, all the kids raved over the irony that a sandwich shop which boasted healthy lunches (with under 7 grams of fat per sub), sold the most melt-in-your mouth, doughy, chocolate chip cookies we had ever tasted. Prior to this all chocolate chip cookies I had ever tried in Australia were baked until firm and should have actually been called chocolate chip ‘biscuits.’ I’m not sure anyone was brave enough as yet to do what the Americans had been doing for years, that is, whipping up a butter-rich dough baked at a high temperature for ten minutes so that the surface was golden while the insides remained gorgeously gooey. The Subway cookies were a hit and best of all for my tastebuds, it was more economical to buy six at a time compared to just the one. Unfortunately for my teenage wallet this probably wasn’t the best thing as quite a few dollars from my weekly pocket money were spent buying chocolate chip, double chocolate and white chocolate and macadamia cookies on the way to the train. The remaining dollars went toward my daily bag of two dollar hot chips with chicken salt and seasoning, or a slurpee from 7-Eleven in summer.
On the verge of commencing Year Eleven in 2009, a new breed of cookies came to town. Mrs. Fields chains popped open all over shopping centres across Australia. It was no coincidence that one happened to open at the big shopping centre right near school; the place swarmed with our blue blazers and sugar-hungry teenage boys would have no problem emptying their pockets for squidgy peanut butter cookies, or devils chocolate cookies. Yes, these ones were a little bit pricier than the Subway variety but boy were they worth their wait in gold. Any trades made among us boys had to be for something worth-it. A chunk off the corner could be swapped for a chicken wing from Red Lea, or at least a french fry coated in chicken salt and seasoning, and dipped in gravy. If not, then the others would simply have to look on with longing in their eyes, or cough up the money for a cookie themselves. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
You were an instant legend if your parents had kindly ordered you the Mrs. Fields ‘Cookie Cake’ for your birthday: a pizza-sized chocolate chip cookie decorated with buttercream frosting and your name piped on top. I vaguely remember one boy had claimed to have been given the cake for his birthday. We are yet to see any photographic evidence of this.
A couple of days ago I whipped up a batch of these chewy mouthfuls for the fist time in many years. In previous attempts I have always managed to make them extra golden (if you know what I mean). This time I finally set my oven timer to exactly 15 minutes which was the perfect time for soft, doughy cookies which fall apart in your fingers. Perfection. They make great Easter gifts so forget Easter eggs and whip up a bath of these for your loved ones.
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup light muscovado sugar
- ⅓ cup dark muscovado sugar
- 1 egg
- 1½ cups plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp water
- 500g dark chocolate buttons
- 250g chopped walnuts
Prepare for baking. Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC fan forced. Line two large baking trays with baking paper and set aside until later.
Make the dough. Place the butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Alternatively use electric hand beaters. Alternatively use a wooden spoon and elbow grease. Add the egg and beat until combined. You can sift your flour if you like, but I never bother for cookies. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to form a smooth dough. Add the chocolate and walnuts and stir to combine.
Bake the cookies. Use an ice-cream scoop (the kind with a spring release) to scoop mounds of cookie dough onto the sheet. I usually have about 6 per sheet with at lease 3 cm between each cookie to allow for spreading. Flatten each cookie mound slightly with a palette knife or soup spoon. Repeat for the remaining tray. Bake in the preheated oven, swapping trays halfway, for 15 mins or until cookies have spread and are lightly golden on top. The cookies don’t have to be cooked to a crisp but if you like them fully cooked feel free to do so.
Repeat or freeze. Feel free to repeat the process to use up the remaining cookie dough. If you’re like me (which means you couldn’t be bothered and really just want to sink your teeth into your freshly baked goodies) gather the dough together and form into a log. Wrap tightly in baking paper and then in foil and place in the freezer. Use within 2 months.
Of course the best way to enjoy cookies is with a glass of milk. Since it’s almost Easter, you have an excuse to make use of the chocolate that just happens to be lying around. Stay tuned for my wicked hot chocolate recipe coming up very soon. What are you making this Easter? Write to me by clicking on the speech bubble below. Alternatively send me your foodie pics via Instagram @brendonthesmilingchef or tweet to me @bthesmilingchef.
Happy cooking and keep smiling,