Last night I found myself with an urge for chocolate chip cookies. I was a bit miserable, the gas meter was running out (and even more so by the time I type this…), my tiny flat was cold and I was generally feeling a little bit grouchy and blue. Usual distractions don’t apply – I don’t own a television and nor do I have broadband to distract myself from the occasional bout of gloom (I run this blog from the internet on my mobile phone!) These are choices I have made for myself, because I am still fearful of long term financial contracts, especially as a freelance writer, especially in insecure rented accommodation in the first few months of my contract. So when it comes to mood-boosters, my options are somewhat limited.
So, cookies. I put a rallying cry on Twitter, as the wonderful people who follow me are often so very generous at sharing their favourite recipes and ideas when I feel in need of inspiration – most recently inundated with over 100 recipes for hot toddies; I didn’t make it to the end of the list or anywhere near it, but I did discover some new favourites and slept like a baby. But that’s a post for another day.
My cookie-need was met by these gorgeous beauties, from Felicity Cloake’s ‘How To Cook The Perfect…’ column in the Guardian. I tweaked her recipe a bit, as I didn’t have the right sugar in, I was light on chocolate, and there was no way I was waiting 12-24 hours for the dough to chill, and since Sainsburys seem to have discontinued their Basics butter there’s no way I’m slinging half a block of the alternative into a batch of cookies so I replaced half the butter with oil – so here’s my midnight delight… The original, more perfect version, can be found here (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/apr/25/how-to-cook-perfect-chocolate-chip-cookies) and if you’re Twitter-inclined, Felicity is a joy to follow.
Makes 24 at 3p each
60g butter, 20p (Salted butter, 85p/250g)
60ml oil, 6p (Sunflower oil, £3/3l)
150g sugar, 12p (Fairtrade granulated white sugar, 80p/1kg)
1 free range egg, 17p (6 mixed weight free range eggs, £1)
240g plain flour, 7p (Sainsburys Basics plain flour, 45p/1.5kg)
1 tsp bicarb, 2p (85p/180g)
35g dark chocolate, chopped, 11p (Sainsbury’s Basics dark chocolate, 35p/100g)
First dice your butter and leave it to come to room temperature, or if you’re in a hurry for baked goods, as I was, pop it into a microwave-safe bowl and ping for 10 seconds to cheat it. No longer please, as the butter starts to separate and for some reason this massively mucks up your baking, coz, science.
Cream the butter and sugar together with a fork or wooden spoon and some good hard smooshing and stirring. This is therapeutic. I often find if I am in a place where I am desparate for baked goods in the middle of the night, I have some things to work through, and this step is very useful for that. I used ordinary granulated sugar in mine, Felicity recommends half granulated and half soft brown but I didn’t have any in. For what it’s worth, I only keep granulated sugar in the house, and if a recipe calls for ‘caster’, and I think it genuinely needs it, like a cake or something, I blitz the granulated stuff in the blender to make it finer. It’s always worked for me. Again, science.
Add the oil and the egg and mix thoroughly. Now the bicarb. Now the flour to form a dough, and mix well. Fold through the chocolate chips.
Preheat your oven to 180C and lightly grease a baking tray. Add golf-ball sized pieces of dough, flatten slightly with the prongs of a fork, and place very far apart as they will flatten and spread as they cook. I only cooked a third of the mixture, because I don’t trust myself with 24 cookies, and will freeze the rest for future midnight-cookie-needs or Christmas presents.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 12 minutes or until the edges are golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before moving – they will crumble if you move them too soon! Remove when ready and pile on a plate to continue cooling, or a wire rack if you have one (I don’t, so fold a clean tea towel into 4 and place on a plate, and pile the cookies onto that to absorb any excess moisture). Devour, and store any left (ha!) when completely cooled, in an airtight container. Don’t store them hot, they will create a nice sweaty wet environment and go mouldy and nasty and science. Again.
Also, if you’re the kind of person who buys those large bags of festive nuts this time of year and is still looking at them in a few months time, this recipe is a great place to fling them. Crack them, chop them, and make them into cookies. Enjoy!
Also, I’m not saying baking solves everything, but I was hungry, cold and grumpy… and then I made cookies and sat in front of the oven with my back to it while they cooked… and as if my magic fifteen minutes later I was fed, warm and happy. Go figure.
Jack Monroe. Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr: @MxJackMonroe