When I told my friends that I baked three batches of biscuits for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, their jaws dropped in awe. That’s so exciting, they squealed; such an accomplishment…where do you find the time? I tried to play it down, flattered and embarrassed at once. It really didn’t take that long; I really don’t mind cooking after a long working day; the recipe wasn’t that complex after all. And then I thought, what a load of crap. Want the naked truth? Baking has been everything but easy of late, and by the time I approached the Cookie Swap challenge, my confidence had reached an all time low.
I set out to bake my first batch of cookies on the third weekend in November. Over the previous two weeks, I’d spent time and money on bakes I found annoyingly underwhelming, and looked forward to an opportunity to regain faith in my skills. Little did I know that the first recipe I tested would turn out spectacularly awful: picture a slab of shapeless, overbaked dough, looking nothing like the pretty round cookies I’d seen in the recipe’s Pinterest-worthy pictures. There I was, facing the third baking fail in three weeks; I’d wasted the only weekend I could dedicate to baking before the deadline, and hadn’t thought of a Plan B.
What next? The usual: getting my act together and finding the energy to bake on the few evenings I had left (not the easiest task after a stretch of 10-hour working days, but my only option nonetheless). Searching far and wide for a recipe I could trust. Breathing sighs of relief when I discovered that my biscuits were as good as the smell coming from the kitchen promised. Finding that, despite all my worries, I was already looking forward to the next Cookie Swap. I love the thrill of receiving packages full of homemade treats, and enjoy making someone’s day with a sweet surprise even more.
It only hits me now that around 150 biscuits travelled through my kitchen, feeding a crowd that reached far beyond my Cookie Swap matches. My partner and I, munching on cookies while watching episode after episode of The Killing; my work colleagues, and his colleagues too, adding up to more than 50 people. It was the first time I baked on such a large scale, and I feel proud, for my Chocolate Button Biscuits were a hit with everyone who tried them. I hope Laura, Annie and Roshni enjoyed them as much as the ravenous cookie monsters at my office did. And I hope they’ll try my recipe when they need to feed an army of chocolate lovers, because one thing’s for sure: it works a treat.
Chocolate Button Biscuits
(makes 45 – 50 biscuits)
- 100g butter
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 40ml skimmed milk
- 50g melted dark chocolate (85% cocoa)
- 50g cocoa powder
- 230 – 250g plain flour
Recipe (adapted from Emma Jane’s Super Chocolatey Ganache Sandwich Cookies)
- Whisk the butter and sugar together until you obtain a smooth cream, with no butter lumps.
- In a separate bowl, mix the egg with the milk.
- Add the egg and milk mixture to the butter and sugar cream, and stir well to combine.
- Add the melted dark chocolate and sifted cocoa powder, and stir until you obtain a smooth brown mixture.
- Gradually sift the flour it into the bowl, mixing to incorporate it. You may not need all of it: keep adding flour until the dough no longer sticks to your hands, and you can shape it into a ball.
- Roll the dough on a floured work surface, to a thickness of around 4mm.
- Shape the biscuits with a round cookie cutter, and stamp them with a button cookie stamp.
- Place the biscuits on two baking trays, lined with greaseproof paper.
- Put the trays in the fridge and chill for 45 – 60 minutes, then pre-heat the oven to 200°C and bake for 15-18 minutes.
- Arrange on a wire rack to cool, then serve and enjoy.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep well for up to 1 week (at least, that’s as long as mine lasted!).
Wait, there’s more!
My Cookie Swap wasn’t all flour, sweat and tears: three parcels of cookies landed on my desk at work over the past couple of weeks, each one every bit as lovely as the amazing stuff I received last year.
- Ellie from Roving Lights sent me a dozen oat, cranberry and white chocolate cookies. My partner and I polished them all within two days; they’re perfect with a cup of tea in the morning.
- Becca from Becca’s Baking Blog sent me a bunch of stunning cola gingerbread men. They were flavoured with cola syrup, held little cola bottles in their dough hands, and tasted just great. Not to mention the fun I had styling them for a picture; I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, because you’d probably have done the same!
- Kirsty from Ever So Sweet sent me the most addictive malted chocolate chip cookies. I fell in love at first bite, and wolfed down four cookies within half an hour of opening her parcel. I was sick and in need of comfort food, so no judging, ok?
Thank you Ellie, Becca and Kirsty, from the bottom of my heart. I can’t think of a better way to begin the festive season, than on such a sweet note.