Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Bonus Post: Lil Ms Squirrel's Chocolate and Cherry Cookies - Food Blogger Cookie Swap

While I was on my mad blogging mission last year, I came across the Food Blogger Cookie Swap a day too late to participate.  In a nutshell, it's a postal 'Secret Santa' between food bloggers.  You bake three dozen cookies and send a dozen to three different people.  You get a dozen cookies from three different bloggers.  So unlike regular Secret Santa, you're never going to be disappointed with your gift.  Hopefully!

Ready for posting
So this year, I decided to take part but my new blog was too young at the final entry date so I had to enter via the 366 Recipe Challenge Blog instead.  I then used this as an excuse to try out several new cookie recipes, held a vote amongst my colleagues and the favourite biscuits were posted out to my (hopefully) lucky recipients.

In third place in the taste test were Dan Lepard's Ginger and Macadamia Cookies.  I had my heart set on using these for my exchange cookies, but there were mixed reviews from my co-workers.  Ginger is a bit of a Marmite flavour which divided opinion.  There was a complaint that they were too thin - they're chewy cookies so they spread a lot on cooking - and one person ate two together, thinking they were thicker than they were.  I then saved some of the dough to bake a few days later and managed to burn this batch so eventually decided not to risk attempting to bake thirty-six of them.

Freshly baked and drizzled
Second place went to another Dan Lepard recipe.  This time his Chilli and Almond biscuits.  I picked them because when people think biscuit, they generally think sweet and I wanted to be different.  You can read all about these over on my new blog 'How to Eat an Elephant'.

And the winning cookie?  Well originally, I was going to bake Nigella's Chocolate Mint Cookies as I liked the idea that they could be an alternative to After Eight's.  I had several half-used pots of chocolate chips in my cupboard so was merrily tipping them all into my bowl when I realised I'd mixed one of the half-empty pots with a load of left over dried cherries the week before when I'd been making my Chocolate and Cherry Bagels.  Luckily I'd not added the peppermint essence first.

As I had made all three batches of cookies on the one day, I'd also managed to run out of plain flour at this point so threw in a bit of pasta flour for good measure.  I think this made for a nice, soft cookie because when I made them with all plain flour for the actual Cookie Swap, they were a little crisper (although it might have been to do with me and my timings!)

Anyway, the cookies went down a storm at work in the taste test and when I took the leftovers from the ones I made for the swap in to work, there was a small scuffle as people rooted through the box seeking out the chocolate and cherry ones.

So here is the recipe, adapted Nigella's original recipe.

For the cookies

  • 150 grams butter (soft)
  • 225 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 75g 00 (pasta) flour
  • 55 grams cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 200 gram dark chocolate chips (I use Waitrose ones)
  • 100g dried sour cherries

To decorate

  • 75g white chocolate, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4.  Lightly grease two baking trays with spray oil.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar.  Beat the eggs together with the vanilla bean paste then combine with the butter and sugar.
  3. Mix the flours, cocoa and baking powder in a bowl and gradually beat in to the creamed mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips and cherries.
  4. Scoop out walnut sized balls of mixture and space evenly across the baking trays.  You will probably need to bake in two batches.
  5. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes and then let them sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before  moving them to a cooling rack. 
  6. Once cold, drizzle with the melted white chocolate.
And a massive thank you to Gill, Jen and Laura for the cookies they sent me!


  1. Chocolate cookies has always been my weakness. I remember, when I attended an event in Long Island, I cannot wait for the caterers to show up what they've got for the snacks or dessert part in their huge catering halls and then, when I saw that it's a fondeau with a hershey's flavored chocolate as a dip with cookies in it, I think I just died.

    Chloe Horton

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