Perfect chocolate chip cookies, 3p

  

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

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37 Comments »

  1. Fantastic. I made your tree biscuits from the first book at the weekend with a splash of vanilla essence for pretty much the same reasons. There were magically some left over which made a perfect snack to take when I picked up my kids from school. And the excess dough I put in the freezer.

  2. These cookies do look fab. I can’t be the only one of your online friends, though, who would help to ensure you can put more money in your gas meter today (I have, myself been very poor in the past, but am currently in a position to help, if you will let me…please let me know how to offer support) xxx

  3. They look like the kind of pick-me-up that would work for me too. But without the chocolate because I can’t not eat chocolate, therefore it’s impossible to have it in. So nut cookies 🙂 Thank you for all you do x

  4. LOVE chocolate chip cookies but could never reconcile the amount of butter needed to bake them. One famous chef’s recipe contained more butter than it did flour – that didn’t end well. Can’t wait to try these! 🙂

  5. Your ingenuity astounds me, I remember gathering the children around the cooker as stew bubbled and the smell rose with the steam the yorkshire puddings fluffed their way to the top of the oven as we sang huddled there. Bellies full and warm sleepy children had fun.

  6. Thanks so much Jack,
    Just what I needed for my small boy’s class Christmas party. (In a school where being the ‘Best Mother’ could be an Olympic Sport and I almost always feel I wouldn’t make even the reserve squad!) Easy to make cookies, I didn’t have any chocolate, so added the last of the vanilla extract & decorated them with some glacé cherries I had liberated from my Mum’s cupboard and chocolate writing icing from the pound shop. They became ‘Rudolf’ cookies.
    I love your blog and make lots of your recipes for my Husband and children, I also have wrapped a copy of your books for my Daughter’s Christmas present. She is at University, so has a very limited budget and I want her to eat well.
    I wish you and your Son a Merry Christmas and very happy New Year.
    Kind regards, Gemma

  7. Thanks for your great blog. You can also grate butter into recipes if you haven’t got a microwave, the heat from your hands softens it as you grate and the butter is then perfect for rubbing or creaming.

  8. Recently I discovered 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies.
    1 cup peanut butter
    1 cup sugar
    1 egg

    Smooshed together in a bowl til it makes a dough. Made into balls, dropped onto a baking tray and flattened slightly, then baked for about 10mins at 180 degrees. Line the tray with baking paper though. I didn’t and only got one cookie off whole despite greasing the tray.

    I have no idea how they come out so perfect (I’m GF and this has properly amazed me on so many levels. REAL COOKIES! NO FLOUR!). You say, Science! I say, Magic!

    Also I only ended up with 4 things to wash – a cup, a spoon, a bowl and the baking tray. Amazing.

  9. Thanks so much saw this this morning and didn’t have time – needed it even more this eve and I now have scrumpt cookie/biscuits. I only had olive oil so used that added bit vanilla essence as oil strong flavour to try cover up, no choc around so half had raisins and half a chucked in some out of date carob i bough a while back. They look amazing – can’t do photos on my phone or i’d show you. Mean to say months go you’ve changed how I cook – I now try stuff and see/substitute just try keep proportions of similar ingredients the same its a revolution and been a long time coming (61yrs). Do a lot sourdough and multi flour breads depending on what comes up cheap at time – always say is a medieval proto-bread to grandkids (wild yeast) and they eat it no probs.

  10. Hi jack thank you for the cookie receipt I will certainly try it – I have pre-ordered your next book thru kickstart,I wish you well with it, Your life seems to be one of ups and downs to say the least, I was hoping that hard times were behind you but sounds not – but you survived worse the last time and got thru it, you developed the skills to do it and I am sure you will prosper again. thank you for your blog which I look forward too. happy christmas and a peaceful new year for you and your little boy.- sue

  11. Have you considered cooking on a bakestone? I find that’s cheaper than running the oven (you can put a pot upside down over whatever you’re baking, to make a sort of oven). It works really well for many things, although I haven’t tried proper biscuits. I just got a cheap bakestone for 15 GBP and I’ve been using it heavily ever since.

    Also, powdered egg, sold as “whole egg protein” in the body building sections of some pharmacies, works wonderfully in baked goods and pancakes, will do as scrambled egg in a pinch (~30g is one egg, if in doubt use less or it tastes awful) and is slightly cheaper than fresh eggs sometimes, if you shop around.

  12. Will definitely try these though I might wait till I have guests over, lest I eat them all myself! A note on internet contracts – if you’re a member of your local library they usually have free wifi and DVDs you can loan out as well as books. I sometimes like to take my work to the library for a wee change. If you’re especially lucky they might even have a coffee shop inside! Merry ChristmasX

  13. OK I gave these a while to the letter following the recipe 5 times ( 5th time adding chopped walnuts ) and they came out perfect ! . so simple an cheap to make they will be a regular treat to eat after a very long working day . thanks jack . u created much happiness for me to look forward to after a really draining day of Housekeeping 😊 x

  14. Many thanks for this. My friend is poorly in hospital and has been told to stay off lactose – I made them with hazelnuts and dark dark chocolate. Next time I’d use a better oil but otherwise they turned out well and were extremely easy. She really liked them. Any other milk free sweet treat recipes gratefully accepted…. keep up the good work. You made someone very happy this week!

    • Dear Tracy, check out my vegan banana bread recipe (you can put hazelnuts in there too) and if she doesn’t like bananas, you can substitute it with half a cup of applesauce and a pinch of cinnamon. x

  15. Here’s my tweak of this recipe
    240g porridge oats blitzed or bashed about using Jacks method of rolling pin and bag.
    1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    60g butter softened at room temperature
    20ml vegetable oil
    150g sugar
    40g peanut butter
    Approx 35g dark chocolate Sainsbury’s basics is fabulous at 35p for 100g
    1 tablespoon cocoa powder
    I egg

    Cream butter and sugar together then add the egg peanut butter and oil and combine them together.
    Add the blitzed oats, bicarb , cocoa powder and mix well. Add the dark chocolate after chopping or grating or even to save hassle add it to the oats in the food processor.
    At this stage get some cling flim ready and divide the mixture in half wrap well and chill for at least an hour.
    Pre heat oven to gas 4 or equivalent and divide your chilled cookie mixture into even sized marble sized balls ( being an anorak I weighed my mixture and it each half of dough made 20 cookies weighing 15g each)
    Set the little balls quite far apart as they will spread out.
    Flatten balls lightly with a fork and bake for 10-12 mins. Leave to cool on tray before tranfering to cooling rack or paper towels and enjoy!
    They are a hybrid of a hobnob and maryland cookies but better.

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