Wednesday 5 September 2007

A much needed midweek pick-me-up

As you’ve probably heard by now, there’s been a tube strike in London (which as of the current time has been suspended). Its inconceivable to me that such a thing could happen. That all but 3 tube lines could shut down and essentially leave millions of people stranded trying to find a way home. Luckily for me, the Piccadilly line which takes me to and from work was still operating. Still, since the lines that were still operating had to handle the overflow from the shut lines, going home on Monday evening was less than a pleasant experience. Thus, on Tuesday, to avoid being packed like sardines on a train for about 15-20 minutes, I decided to hike it to work.

I’ve actually started experimenting with walking to work about three weeks ago and I must say I really like it. Its relatively quiet and peaceful at 8 in the morning and my walk takes me through the length of Hyde Park. You can still hear the birds chirping at that time (before they get drowned out by the sounds of traffic) and it feels good to get your body going after a night of sleep.

Yesterday, after walking both to and from work – which takes a good hour each way – I was pretty beat by the time I reached home. Thus, I decided it was time for a midweek pick-me-up. So I flipped through my cookbooks and found a recipe for a cookie that was simple to make yet sounded incredibly decadent – Deluxe Double-Chocolate Cookies from Tartine, a cookbook that I’ve been dying to sample a recipe from.

As I expected, the cookies were quick to make. However, the 7-8 minutes that it took to bake felt interminably long as once the cookies were put in the oven, they started to puff up beautifully and I just couldn’t wait to taste them. And the smell – just a deep, rich chocolate-ty smell that started to permeate the kitchen after just a minute or two in the oven.

When the first batch of cookies first came out from the oven, they were very soft and fragile, but they did get slightly firmer as they cooled. As an experiment, I baked the next batch of cookies about a minute longer and found that the cookies were slightly firmer, though still crumbly inside, which I preferred.

The cookies are great on their own and tied with a ribbon, they make cute little gifts.

Deluxe Double-Chocolate Cookie

225g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
155g all-purpose flour
50g cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 175C. Butter a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

Melt chocolate in a bowl over a bain-marie, stirring occasionally, just until the chocolate melts and is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Stir together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Slowly add the sugar and mix until the mixture is completely smooth and soft. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition until incorporated before adding the next egg. Beat in the salt and vanilla, and then add the melted chocolate and beat until incorporated. Add the milk and beat until combined. Finally, add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated.

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies until they are just barely firm on top when lightly touched but are still very soft underneath, about 7 minutes. They will get firmer as they cool. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

Makes about 36 cookies