With two weeks to go, it’s time to prioritise. You’re up to your ears in festive gatherings, gift lists, shopping lists…new year resolution lists – and for many of you, Christmas menu planning and preparation – and the harsh truth is that it’s not all going to happen. But before the beads of cold sweat start to surface, promise me you’ll consider baking these super easy and speedy chocolate and nut cookies. They are perfect for freezing, so if the desire takes hold in the next couple of weeks, you are safe in the knowledge they will keep well until Christmas week officially lands. I promise you they are worth it, and you’ll only wish you made more. (fyi, this recipe is easily doubled or tripled – phew!)
First though, I feel it only appropriate to swing by some history (cue some cookie facts!) One of which in particular recently caught my attention; we Brits are one of the world’s biggest spenders when it comes to biscuits! Quite frankly, it made me feel somewhat proud of our nation. But while we’ve created some fine examples in our time (the wholesome fig roll, the posh viscount, even the garish pink wafer), it’s America which takes the gold medal in this arena, for inventing the chocolate chip cookie. It was Ruth Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, who came up with the brilliant idea of adding chocolate to her butter cookies some time in the 1930s. Since then, the cookie has taken on many different guises to tickle the taste buds of even the hottest aficionado…strictly ‘purist’ or not. I for one love playing around with new ideas and am thrilled with this latest gluten-free number which is loaded with double chocolate chunks, toasted pecans and hazelnuts (but please feel free to use whatever your favourites are in the cupboard), plus a cheeky sprinkling of sea salt – because we ‘all’ know salt and sweet marry so well. This just leaves me with one more thing…spoiler alert: they taste amazing!
Salted Double Chocolate & Nut Cookies
Makes about 15
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
125g soft brown sugar
1 egg, lightly whisked
100g buckwheat flour
75g almond flour (I use Sukrin)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp sea salt (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
50g dark chocolate, cut into small chunks (gluten-free available)
50g milk chocolate, cut into small chunks (gluten-free available)
1. Preheat the oven to 200C, 180C fan and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper for the cookies.
2. On a separate baking tray, toast the nuts in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until fragrant and slightly browned. Remove and allow to cool. Roughly chop.
3. Melt the butter and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally for 3-5 minutes, or until the butter turns golden and has a nutty aroma. Place the sugars in a large bowl and stir in the butter. Allow to cool.
4. Add the egg, flours, bi-carb, salt and chopped nuts. Stir until combined. Finally add the chocolate chunks and carefully combine until evenly distributed. If the dough needs to firm up before rolling, you can place it in the fridge for 30 minutes (or alternatively place in the fridge for up to a week at this stage).
5. Scoop the dough into roughly 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) equal-sized balls (an ice-cream scoop can be useful here!), then place slightly apart on the prepared baking trays and flatten into discs with the palm of your hand (so they are about 6cm diameter). Top each with a little sprinkling of sea salt.
6. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and set and the tops are pale golden but still soft and under-baked. (so keep a close eye on them)
7. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool slightly on the tray, before removing onto wire cooling racks. They are best eaten cool-to-warm in temperature, but will keep in an airtight container for up to three days. (see note on freezing in intro)
Recipe, ceramics, styling & photography: Natalie Seldon