The urge to bake comes to me in waves and right now I think I must be at its very peak. Luckily I am surrounded by people that are happy to gobble up all this food that I keep producing so I am not swamped by sad mountains of uneaten baked goods. Though it is at times like this I convince myself that nothing would make me happier than to start up a cake van (like an ice-cream van but selling scrummy baked goods instead). The problem is that I fear the reality would not be quite as rosy as the scenario in my head. So I make do with feeding those around me in sporadic bursts of sweet goodness.
Last weekend I had my first attempt at making flapjacks. It was cold and rainy outside and I could think of nothing better to make than those, filled with giant oats and spices and fruit (above). And it made my flat smell delicious. They tasted extremely good - so good in fact that we couldn't actually wait for them to cool down and got in a bit of a sticky mess eating them curled under a blanket on the sofa. But even when they had cooled they were still a bit sticky, so I am going to adjust the recipe a little before I share it with you.
I am however more than happy to give you the recipe for my chocolate chip shortbread biscuits, since I have made them oodles of times and they are by now most definitely tried and tested. I made a batch last night and they didn't disappoint: rich, crumbly and dangerously moreish...you have been warned!
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Biscuits
(Makes about 20 smallish biscuits, but it all depends on the size of your cookie cutters!)
175g butter (I prefer to use salted butter)
75g golden caster sugar
250g plain flour (and some extra for shaping the dough)
200g chocolate chips (I use half milk chocolate and half white chocolate)
1. Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature to start off with (get them out a couple of hours before). Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
3. Mix in the flour - at first it will look like crumble topping, and this is the best time to mix in the chocolate chips. Then keep mixing and it will pull together to make a dough (though it is a crumbly, dryish dough). Wrap the ball of dough in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for half an hour or so (or longer). I find this makes it hold together better and it is then easier to work with.
4. Dusta smooth clean surface with a little flour, along with the dough and the rolling pin. When the dough comes out of the fridge it will be quite hard so knead it in your hands a little to make it more pliable. Then roll it out until it is about 1cm thick. If you don't have a rolling pin just press the dough out with your palms. Cut the dough into whatever shape you fancy - it will be easier to use a sharp metal cutter so it can slice through the chocolate chips. Pull together the scraps and roll them out again to cut another set of biscuits, dusting with more flour as before, and repeat this until all the dough has been shaped.
5. Space the biscuits out on a baking sheet (if the tin doesn't have a really good non-stick coating, you are best to line it with baking parchment so the cookies don't stick). They don't need an awful lot of space as they will not spread very much, but leave a little room between them - if you want to be on the safe side, bake them in a few separate batches. They will take about 15 minutes, just until they start to turn a very pale golden colour (don't over-bake them as you will lose the crumbly texture). Leave them on the tray for a couple of minutes when they come out of the oven, then transfer them onto a wire rack to cool. They can be frozen, or kept in a tin for a few days, but are best eaten when they are fresh and still a little warm, the chocolate still soft. Yum.