White Chocolate Cookies

Soft and cake-like cookies filled with white chocolate chips. This is a sponsored post in partnership with Bacofoil®. All views and opinions are my own.

I’m sure everyone is enjoying the return of The Great British Bake Off this year. So far I’ve loved seeing all this years bakers show-stopping creations, however something I’ve noticed is how many baking disasters there have been as a result of bakes sticking to the baking tins and trays.

Although it makes good TV viewing, it’s not something I want to experience in my kitchen. I have had in the past my fair share of this common problem with standard baking papers, until I discovered Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper.

If you were thinking all baking paper is the same, then it’s time to think again!

Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper is different to other baking papers I have used, this is because it has an innovative and unique Non-Stick textured surface, with little dimples, which means there is less surface area in contact with the bake so the food bakes evenly and just slides off making cake mess and cookie disasters with the baking papers I normally use a thing of the past.

It is also non-stick on both sides. The baking paper can be used for several batches of the same recipe being baked on the same baking tray/s. Once you’re done with your recipe, all you need to do is throw away. In the past I have used silicone baking mats, however these are usually quite expensive and I find they’re hard to clean properly.

The baking paper is multifunctional too! Not only can it be used to line cake tins and baking trays for savoury or sweet recipes, it can also be used to make tulip muffin cases, to roll out pastry or sugar-paste icing and you can even make a piping bag out of it for drizzling chocolate or icing.

To test out Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper I baked my favourite bakery-style chocolate chip cookies using delicious white chocolate and vanilla to flavour them. Cookie dough is notorious for being sticky and this cookie dough I made today is no exception, so I felt this was the perfect recipe to test out this product.

When preparing my cookies, the first thing I noticed was I didn’t need any additional preparation to the baking trays other than lining them with the baking paper – as it’s non-stick no extra butter is needed for greasing as I do with standard baking paper.

I waited with anticipation as my cookies baked, but I needn’t have worried as they came out of the oven looking perfect. After allowing my cookies to have a few minutes to cool on the baking tray, I took a spatula and lifted them off the tray with ease. Nothing had stuck, so I declared it a cookie triumph!

When I had finished baking my batch of white chocolate cookies, I pressed a few extra chocolate chips onto the top of each cookie for decoration purpose and then I simply removed the Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper from my baking trays and discarded it and returned my still clean baking trays to my baking cupboard.

My baking trays were pristine with no greasy marks as the baking paper prevented any of my cookies sticking and me having to use force to attempt to remove them the baking tray and causing a tear in the paper, which could lead to grease or oil seeping onto the baking tray/s making them dirty.

I love the fact it was hassle free and saved me another less enjoyable chore of washing up!

All in all, Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper has really impressed me and the other bakers in my household, as it’s ideal for all kinds of baking jobs and is super convenient and easy to use. I’m looking forward to using it to create many more tasty recipes!

For more information about Bacofoil® and all of their products, check out their website www.bacofoil.co.uk

(Makes 18-20)

Ingredients:

150g butter (salted or unsalted), softened

80g light brown sugar

80g caster sugar

1 large free-range egg, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

225g plain flour

Pinch of salt (add 1/4 teaspoon if using unsalted butter)

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

200g white chocolate chips, plus extra for decoration

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 170°C Fan / 375°F / Gas Mark 5. Cream the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat until completely incorporated.
  3. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda together over the top of the mixture and gently fold in until a few specks of flour remains.
  4. Now add the chocolate chips and fold them through until evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough.
  5. Cover and chill the dough for 15 minutes (this is an optional step).
  6. Divide the cookie dough into 18-20 equally sized pieces (approx. 40g each), roll into balls between your palms. Evenly spread on two to three large baking trays lined with Bacofoil® Non-Stick Baking Paper (leave a gap between each cookie to allow for spreading).
  7. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until they’ve turned a light golden colour. When the cookies come out the oven they will appear under baked, however, as they cool they will firm up.
  8. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes. As the cookies cool you can press a few extra chocolate chips on the tops if desired, then gently transport the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. The cookies will store in an airtight container for up to one week, but they’re best eaten on the day of baking or the day after.

Enjoy!

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Puglia, Italy

Every year, I love sharing a collection of my favourite snapshots from our family summer holiday and this year we headed to Puglia in Italy. This region in the south, usually referred to as the heel of Italy, is a popular destination for Italian holidaymakers but less known to the rest of the world. We only had two weeks to explore Puglia and because it’s a really big region I definitely would’ve liked more time to see everything. I would love to return to Puglia in the future because I had such a brilliant time on my recent trip.

Adriatic sea views in Polignano a Mare

As we do every time we go abroad we stayed in our own private accommodation. It’s worth it for total relaxation and a chance to completely switch off, I prefer it to staying in a hotel because I love the freedom of being able to buy local ingredients and being able to cook, it’s not only my profession, but also one of my main passions in life.

Instead of staying in a villa, this year we were extra adventurous and rented a traditional Puglian trullo in the middle of countryside for our fortnight stay. If you were wondering, trulli are whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs, something this region of Italy is famous for and one of the many reasons tourists want to come and visit Puglia.

Alberobello has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the vast quantity of trulli. We all adored Alberobello, it really is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to especially when it’s all lit up at nighttime. There are several trulli, some converted into enoteche (wine bars/shops), restaurants, gelaterias and shops selling local produce and souvenirs.

Trulli houses in Alberobello

Whenever I’m visiting a different country I love to embrace and delve into that country’s culture. Every region in Italy has its own cuisine, so it was fun to discover a few foods I hadn’t yet tasted before. The reason I keep coming back to Italy is because of the outstanding cuisine, I cook Italian food like homemade pasta and sauce, gnocchi and risotto on a regular basis so I always feel totally at home whenever I’m in Italy.

Taralli pizzaiola – authentic Puglian olive oil breadsticks flavoured with tomato, paprika and oregano

Our holiday rep, Donatello, provided an amazing welcome pack with an array of goodies including prosciutto crudo (Italian dry-cured ham), sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes, rustic crusty bread (perfect for dipping into olive oil), fresh fruit, coffee, biscuits (paste e latte/Italian milk biscuits – pictured below), Puglian rosé and best of all, fresh buffalo mozzarella which we ate on the day it was made. If you love mozzarella, then you’re in for a treat in Puglia because burrata (mozzarella with a delicious creamy interior) originates from this region.

There really is nothing quite like Italian hospitality, if you’re a foodie then there’s no better travel destination than Italy. Italians are passionate about their food and they want you to enjoy and experience the very best of their cuisine and produce. The fresh fruit and vegetables taste so good because they haven’t travelled far and have usually been grown locally, which makes a huge difference.

Puglian olive oil is recognised for its exceptional flavour, taste and quality. Puglia was one of the first places in Europe to produce totally organic olive oil. Fantastic olive oil means this region also harvests amazing olives and no apéritif is complete without a bowl of olives and taralli, which are crunchy ring-shaped breadsticks and available in various flavours. It’s safe to say I got addicted to these delicious snacks during my holiday. Every time we ventured to the supermarket to stock up on groceries, I picked up another pack and I even took several packets of these home, and I’m going to attempt baking some of my own homemade taralli.

Taralli caserecci are plain olive oil breadsticks – an enjoyable evening snack with marinated olives and a glass of wine

If you love seafood, then Puglia is the place for you because it has miles of coastline along the Adriatic sea. Our favourite pasta dish combines gamberi (prawns/shrimp) with garlic, lemon and fresh chilli/peperoncino. All you need to do is add a little butter and a drizzle of olive oil and serve that with cooked linguine or spaghetti. Simple flavours, but amazingly tasty.

Most regions in Italy have their own pasta and in Puglia, Orecchiette is the signature pasta of the area – it’s the ear-shaped pasta slightly heavier in texture. If you visit the old town in Bari you might see people perched on stalls sitting outside in the streets rolling and shaping this pasta.

focaccia al pomodoro

Focaccia Barese – focaccia al pomodoro / tomato focaccia

Focaccia Barese is a traditional focaccia from this region. I didn’t know this before, but foccacia dough in Bari is made with mashed potato and semolina. Every single piece of focaccia I tasted during my trip was exquisite. Perfectly chewy and crisp around the edges and the tomato topping was gorgeously sweet and lightly flavoured with herbs. If you’re tempted by this, try my recipe for Tomato Parmesan Focaccia!

There were a few foods I didn’t get to try during my trip, but would’ve loved to. Since getting back from Puglia, I was reminded of a traditional Puglian pastry, Pasticciotto, which is a pastry filled with custard. I cannot believe I didn’t get an opportunity to try these as they sound and look like something I would really enjoy. However, I will definitely endeavour to try these on my next visit!

To end this foodie section, I thought I would talk about the incredible gelato. Anywhere you go in Italy you’re guaranteed to taste the best gelato. I particularly enjoyed the fresh and fruity flavours to cool down with during the daytime. During the evening I usually went for something richer like pistachio and nocciola (hazelnut) – this is one of my favourite combinations! The gelato pictured here is from Gelateria Gentile in Alberobello, I highly recommend this shop, the service was wonderful and there’s a fantastic selection of gelato.

The hardest part is deciding which flavour/s you’ll pick!

Strawberry and mango ice cream from Gelateria Gentile in Alberobello

Beach views at Polignano a Mare

Pictured above is Polignano a Mare, which is a town on the coast of Valle d’Itria. The crystal clear blue waters are very inviting and everyone is having fun jumping off the cliffs all day long. Along with Alberobello, this was possibly one of the most “touristy” areas we visited during our trip, but it was still a lovely place to explore and snap some brilliant pictures of the beach.

Flowers on a seaside balcony in Monopoli

Harbour in Monopoli

Monopoli is a highlight from our visit. It was nice to walk around the streets and also to sit back and enjoy a refreshing drink along the seafront in one of the many bars and restaurants.

The harbour is a nice area to stroll around and also the old town streets were perfect to get lost in.

Pretty flowers in Locorotondo

Countryside panoramic views from Locorotondo

Beautiful Bari

For me, Puglia is a region that has the perfect mix of everything, a beautiful coastline, picturesque countryside, lots of history and quaint towns to have a leisurely stroll through. Puglia might just be the your next travel destination if these are all the characteristics you look for in a holiday!

Rundown of my top places to visit during a trip to Puglia:

  • Alberobello – UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 (the year I was born!), visit Alberobello and experience the famous and unique trulli houses. An absolute must see in Puglia! 
  • Locorotondo – This picturesque town is known for its wine production. The town itself is the main sight, so you might find it pleasant just taking a walk around the streets, capturing some photographs, looking in the shops or even relaxing in one of the cafés and restaurants. There’s also a few churches to look around too. Locorotondo certainly deserves its title ‘Borghi più belli d’Italia‘, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Also, as it’s situated on a hill, Locorotondo is a wonderful place to see the stunning panoramic views of the countryside.
  • Monopoli – One of the places we visited on more than a couple of occasions, we enjoyed wandering around the streets and sitting along the seafront. Sit back, relax whilst sipping on an Aperol spritz or a nice chilled glass of wine taking in the stunning sea views
  • Taranto – This is a commercial port and the main Italian naval base. We had just a quick visit here, but if you have more time you can take a look at Castello Aragonese, where parts of the castle date back to 900’s when the Byzantines rule this region of Italy. Also, the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto and Taranto Cathedral are both worth a look around.
  • Ostuni – I thought I would save one of my favourite places in Puglia until last. This is a lovely town to walk around the cobbled streets, known as the “White City” for its white washed walls and is more reminiscent of neighbouring Greece but still showcases pure Italian charm. We purchased a lot of pottery and locally made ceramics here. I have some new beautiful bowls, plates and a utensils jug for my kitchen. Buying ceramics during my travels is one of my favourite things to do as it’s always unique to the area you visit.

trulli in alberobello

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading!

jess

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Best No-Bake Cheesecake

 No-bake cheesecake is a real crowd-pleasing dessert and it’s exceptionally easy to make! 

I don’t think I need to tell you how much I adore no-bake cheesecake, that’s pretty clear with the sheer number of cheesecake recipes already on my blog.

With the summer and warmer weather on the way, I figured a no-bake recipe would be greatly appreciated. In the kitchen during the summer it can get unbearably hot and when it’s sweltering outside the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove. That’s when no-bake recipes come to the rescue.

My cheesecake recipe repertoire is forever growing and I’m always happy to share my latest cheesecake creation. The cheesecake recipe I’m sharing with you today is inspired by my No-Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake, which went down a treat with readers of my blog.

This is the first recipe I’ve named as the “best”. I don’t normally throw that word around a lot, but I do believe this cheesecake truly deserves its title.

For all the no-bake cheesecakes I have made for my blog so far, they all have incorporated candy/sweets or chocolate into the mix. I was looking through my cheesecake recipes and realised I am yet to share a simple and plain no-bake cheesecake. As much as I enjoy cheesecake with different flavours added to it, I still do just prefer a basic and plain cheesecake.

I’ve made this no-bake cheesecake a handful of times already testing it out for family members or friends coming over for dinner. The feedback I have received has been really positive and after being asked for my recipe on many occasions, I knew it was about time to document the recipe.

Once your cheesecake is completely set, slice it up and serve it on its own or decorate with homemade raspberry sauce (recipe included below). If you’re not a fan of raspberries, you can swap them for blueberries and make a delicious blueberry sauce instead.

Here it is, my perfect no-bake cheesecake. It’s the best no-bake cheesecake recipe in my opinion, but I’ll let you be the judge of that!

(Serves 10-12)

Ingredients:

Biscuit Base:

300g digestive biscuits

140g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Cheesecake Filling:

500g full-fat cream cheese, softened – I leave mine out at room temperature for 30 minutes until soft

150g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon lemon juice

300ml double cream, chilled

Raspberry Coulis:

300g fresh or frozen raspberries

2 tablespoons icing sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method:

  1. To make the biscuit base: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor or in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin to a fine crumb. Add the melted butter and mix until moistened. Tip the biscuit crumbs into a 23cm springform cake tin and press down until compact. Use the back of a spoon or a glass to smooth over, place in the fridge to chill whilst you make the cheesecake filling.
  2. To make the cheesecake filling: In a large mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese with the icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice until smooth and thoroughly combined. In another mixing bowl whisk together the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture and incorporate fully. Then whisk until the mixture holds soft peaks, be careful not to over mix otherwise the cheesecake mixture will curdle. Spread over the biscuit base and smooth over with a spatula or palette knife.
  3. Now cover the cheesecake and leave to set for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight.
  4. To make the raspberry coulis: Place the raspberries, icing sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat gently and continue to cook until the raspberries break down and you’re left with a thick and glossy sauce. Take off the heat and pass the coulis through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Discard the seeds. Leave the sauce to cool before refrigerating.
  5. To serve slice up, top with raspberry coulis, fresh fruit or simply enjoy as it is.

Enjoy!

jess

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Classic Victoria Sandwich

This traditional sponge cake tastes great decorated with a choice of fillings such as vanilla buttercream, whipped cream, lemon curd or jam. This recipe proves that you needn’t be an experienced baker to make a bakery-worthy cake.

Today I wanted to share a layer cake recipe that’s popular in bakeries, coffee shops and tea rooms.

Victoria sandwich is a classic British recipe and a firm favourite cake for many. It’s a popular cake for celebrations like birthdays and can be as dressed up or down according to the occasion.

Over the last few weeks I’ve lost count of the number of sponge cakes that have been baked in my kitchen. Luckily I don’t mind as sponge cake is my favourite cake and I wanted to make sure this cake was good enough for sharing.

I worried that the recipe was too simple, but sometimes you don’t want to bake anything too elaborate or requires more than a handful of ingredients.

If you feel like adapting the recipe you can add different flavours like fresh lemon, lime or orange zest or fold through some fresh/frozen berries or even some chocolate chips into the cake batter before baking – there are so many derivatives of this basic sponge cake recipe.

Once the cakes are completely baked all the way through, allow them to cool and then decorate as you want. Traditionally the cake has a raspberry jam filling, but strawberry jam or even homemade lemon curd are both delicious alternatives. As well as a curd or jam filling, you can also fill the cake with vanilla buttercream or whipped cream.

However you decide to decorate this cake, I hope you enjoy baking (and eating) it as much as we do!

(Serves 10)

Ingredients:

Cake Batter: 

225g (8 ounces) butter (salted or unsalted), softened – I leave mine out at room temperature overnight to ensure it’s soft enough

225g (8 ounces) caster or granulated sugar

4 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

225g (8 ounces) self-raising flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons milk or water

Decoration/Filling:

3-4 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry jam (try not to use too much otherwise it might spill out)

Half batch vanilla buttercream recipe or 150ml double cream, for whipping (both optional)

Icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 170°C Fan / 375°F / Gas Mark 5. Line the base of two 20cm / 8-inch cake tins with parchment paper and grease the sides of the tin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together for about 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition – if the mixture looks curdled, add a bit of the flour. Next mix through the vanilla extract.
  4. Now gently fold through the flour and mix until no lumps of flour remain. Add enough water/milk to loosen the cake batter slightly (I added 4 tablespoons of water to my cake batter. We’ve found adding water instead of milk produces a lighter cake).
  5. Evenly divide the cake batter between the cake tins, leave a small dip in the centre of each cake to encourage even rising.
  6. Bake the cakes for 20-30 minutes (it takes around 25 minutes in my oven) or until the tops have turned a light golden colour and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the centre of one of the cakes. Only test one cake as this will become the base layer and the other cake will be the top layer on show.
  7. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the sides of the tin and release the cakes from their tins. Peel the parchment paper carefully off the base of each cake and leave the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack, base side down.
  8. Once cool, fill the cake with raspberry jam and sandwich the two cake halves together. Dust the top with icing sugar and serve. The cake will keep at room temperature covered for up to 3 days. Generally this cake only lasts a day or so in our house!

Enjoy!

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Lemon Posset

This elegant English dessert requires only three ingredients to make. Garnish each posset with fresh berries and serve with crumbly shortbread biscuits. 

Lemon posset is a popular dessert on many restaurant and pub menus and if I spot lemon posset on a menu I will always pick it over anything else without a second thought!

For something so simple, this stunning dessert wows with its beautiful citrus flavour and luxuriously smooth texture. Possets are no-bake and can be prepared several hours ahead of time.

Today I’m checking back in with this divine lemon posset recipe. This traditional English dessert is a magical concoction of cream, lemons and sugar. Acidity from the lemon is what sets this dessert, without the need for any gelatine. That means this dessert is gluten-free (as long as you serve it with a gluten-free biscuit) and vegetarian.

You might have noticed my absence from the blog. Over the last few months I haven’t strayed too far from my blog though, I’ve taken this time away as an opportunity to update some of my older recipes with new photographs like these Terry’s Chocolate Orange Cupcakes, also these Chocolate Fudge Brownies, these Jammy Dodgers and most recently these Chocolate Malt Cupcakes.

I thought about which other recipe in my repertoire I wanted to update and I eventually decided after much deliberation that I would make my favourite lemon posset.

This recipe was originally shared in April 2015. 

Lemon posset will take you about ten minutes to prepare and be ready to set in the fridge. The hardest part really is waiting for it to set, but it’s certainly going to be worth the wait! This recipe also doesn’t need any specialist equipment, all you’ll need is a lemon juicer and zester/grater for zesting the lemons, a large saucepan and a spoon for stirring. You can serve your posset in any dish you like. I have used vintage tea cups, glasses and small ramekins, but it’s up to you what you serve them in. Aways remember be creative and put your own twist on anything you make and most importantly, have fun!

Once you’re ready to serve, decorate the tops by garnishing with fresh berries (I love blueberries and raspberries) and serve with homemade shortbread biscuits. Feel free to swap the shortbread for another biscuit of your choice, I think gingernuts would also pair fantastically with this dessert.

These creamy lemon pots will be perfect to welcome the arrival of spring next week, or dessert for Easter Sunday lunch and upcoming St. George’s Day in April, but they’re wonderful for all occasions.

(Makes 6)

Ingredients:

Lemon Posset:

600ml double cream

Zest and juice of 3 lemons

150g caster sugar

Shortbread:

125g unsalted butter, softened

55g caster sugar

180g plain flour

Method:

1. To make the lemon posset: Place the double cream, lemon zest and sugar in a large saucepan and on a medium heat gently bring the mixture up to the boil. Boil for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes take the pan off the heat and stir through the lemon juice. Now sieve the creamy mixture into a jug. Pour into 6 ramekins or small serving dishes/glasses and cover. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight if you want to make these in advance. Serve the lemon posset chilled.

3. To make the shortbread biscuits: Preheat your oven to 190°C / 170°C Fan / 375°F / Gas Mark 5. Cream the softened butter and sugar until smooth. Fold in the flour and mix into a soft dough. Now roll the dough out to approx. 1cm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a biscuit/cookie cutter of your choice, cut the dough into rounds or a shape of your choice. Sprinkle the top of each biscuit with extra caster sugar and then spread the biscuits out evenly on two large baking trays that have been lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Chill the biscuits in the fridge for 20 minutes.

3. Once chilled, bake the shortbread for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Watch the biscuits closely nearing the end of the baking time as they can colour quickly. Allow the biscuits to cool on the trays for a few minutes and then transport them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Recipe Notes:

  • Refer to this page for conversions.
  • Be careful when boiling the posset mixture, make sure you’re using a large enough saucepan as this mixture could erupt and  boil over if you take your eye off it.
  • I recommend transferring the posset mixture into a jug when pouring into the serving dishes, this makes sure they’re really clean and neat. Allow the posset to cool a little at room temperature before chilling in the fridge – I left mine for about half an hour before refrigerating.
  • This shortbread recipe yields approx. 20 biscuits, but this will depend on the size of your biscuit/cookie cutter. If you make smaller biscuits, baking time will be a few minutes less. The baked shortbread biscuits will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up 5 days and the lemon posset will keep for 3 days stored in the fridge.

Lemon posset recipe from The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook, shortbread recipe from BBC Food

Enjoy!

jess

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Master homemade chocolate chip cookies with this simple recipe. You’ll love the crisp outside and chewy centre! 

Finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie can be a difficult task for many bakers to master. But don’t fret, I have this easy chocolate chip cookie recipe ready to share with you just in time for the start of the festive season. Everyone has their idea of the perfect cookie, but if you’re a fan of crispy, yet soft and chewy textured cookies, then you’ve come to the right place.

You can never have enough chocolate chip cookie recipes in your life. I’ve already shared a basic CCC recipe with you and I wanted to share this new recipe I recently discovered and ended up thoroughly enjoying because of its ease and amazing taste.

As soon as these cookies leave the oven you’ll be reaching for one almost straight away! There is nothing more tempting than the aroma of a freshly baked cookie!

But hold on, before you go ahead and devour the cookies, for a pretty presentation that’s easy on the eyes as soon as the cookies have finished baking and are out of the oven I like to press a few extra chocolate chips on the tops. The reason for this is sometimes when you’re rolling the cookie dough you can’t choose how the chocolate chips are dispersed, so to guarantee every cookie has a generous helping of chocolate I decorate the top of each cookie with even more chocolate chips.

I also thought I’d share some of my tips for freezing and making the cookie dough in advance. Rolled cookie dough freezes well in a sealed sandwich/ziplock bag for up to 3 months. The perks of having cookie dough in the freezer is you can bake how ever many cookies you want ready for unexpected guests or for when a craving for cookies strikes! When you’re ready to bake the frozen cookies just take how ever many you want out, then once your oven has heated up all you’ll need to do is to bake the cookies for a couple of extra minutes more than the recipe states.

Lastly, if you have ever had any problems occur when baking cookies, below I’ve rounded up some of my top tips, which I hope you’ll find helpful.

Tips For Baking Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies:

  • Always use room temperature butter. I use room temperature butter in most recipes, having the butter nice and soft will make creaming it easier. I tend to leave my butter out at room temperature for one hour before using, however, in the summer months when it gets really hot it doesn’t take that long to soften up! To test your butter is soft enough and ready to bake with, it should still be cool to the touch, but when pressed using little pressure your finger will leave an indentation. Please don’t be tempted to microwave butter to soften it!
  • Use two different types of chocolate. I love all kinds of chocolate, so I like to use a mix of dark and milk chocolate in my cookies. You’ll love the rich, slightly bitter flavour of the dark chocolate in contrast to the creamy, sweet milk chocolate.
  • I’ve found since testing out several cookie recipes that chilling the cookie dough for a length of time isn’t always necessary. I don’t personally believe it changes the flavour too much, only the texture very slightly. Chilling will produce a slighter thicker cookie, but not much more than that. I like that this recipe only requires an optional 15 minutes chilling time, which is great over the busy holiday period! I’ve baked many cookie recipes which have suggested the dough should be chilled for a minimum of 24 hours, however, there’s never been any instruction on what you do when you need to roll the dough ready for baking, as after overnight chilling it’s usually rock hard and impossible to roll.
  • Try shaping the cookies by hand. I used to use an ice cream scoop, however, I now prefer to individually divide and then roll the dough into balls, shaping between my palms to get a nice round shape.
  • You’ll be able to tell the cookies are ready as they’ll brown slightly around the edges. Cookies often appear uncooked, however under baking is the secret to a soft centre.

(Makes 24)

Ingredients:

150g butter (salted or unsalted), softened

80g light brown sugar

80g caster sugar

1 large free-range egg, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

225g plain flour

Pinch of salt (add 1/4 teaspoon if using unsalted butter)

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

200g chocolate chips (I use a mix of dark and milk chocolate chips and chunks), plus extra for decoration

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 170°C Fan / 375°F / Gas Mark 5. Cream the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat until completely incorporated.
  3. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda together over the top of the mixture and gently fold in until a few specks of flour remains.
  4. Now add the chocolate chips and fold them through until evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough.
  5. Cover and chill the dough for 15 minutes (this is an optional step).
  6. Divide the cookie dough into 24 equally sized pieces, roll into balls between your palms. Evenly spread on two to three large baking trays lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (leave a gap between each cookie to allow for spreading).
  7. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes until they’ve turned a light golden colour. When the cookies come out the oven they will appear under baked, however, as they cool they will firm up.
  8. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking trays for a few minutes. As the cookies cool you can press a few extra chocolate chips on the tops if desired, then gently transport the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. The cookies will store in an airtight container for up to one week, but they’re best eaten on the day of baking or the day after.

Recipe from Bake Play Smile

Get your apron and mixing bowl at the ready, it’s now your turn to bake these divine chocolate chip cookies!

Enjoy!

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Almond Cranberry White Chocolate Granola

Crunchy granola with flaked almonds, dried cranberries and creamy white chocolate chips. A sweet breakfast or snack to pack up and take to work with you.

I’m constantly on the search for new granola recipes. Granola is something I often bake, not just for my blog, but I will try to make it almost weekly if I get the chance.

Lately I’ve been going back to older granola recipes I have shared on previous occasions and I’ve been updating a few of those recipes. I based this new granola on my favourite vanilla almond granola, which I add a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract. I’m fully aware that all of our taste buds are completely different from one another, so feel totally free to adjust the amount of vanilla in this recipe to your own taste.

My latest granola marries flaked/slivered almonds with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Another addition I like to add to my granola is ground cinnamon, I absolutely can’t get enough of the warming spice flavour especially during autumn or wintertime. Again, if you don’t enjoy spices you can omit the cinnamon and if you’re not a fan of dried cranberries you can swap those for a different dried fruit instead, you could also choose to leave them out entirely or add even more chocolate chips.

So you’re wondering, how is this granola made? It couldn’t be simpler, grab yourself a large mixing bowl and give the oats, almonds and ground cinnamon a good mix together. In a small saucepan, gently heat together honey or maple syrup with oil and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Transport the granola mixture to a large lined baking sheet/tray and leave your oven to do the rest of the hard work.

After allowing the granola to cool, the last step is adding the dried fruit and the chocolate chips. It’s important to remember to add the chocolate chips after the granola has finished baking and has cooled otherwise the chocolate will melt!

This granola is fantastic as it requires minimal effort and the result is divine, toasty deliciousness. I’m not sure why I ever bought pre-made granola in the first place as it’s pumped full of odd ingredients (most of which I can’t even pronounce), has more fat and sugar added than needed and doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as homemade does.

I love keeping a jar of this on the kitchen countertop, sprinkle your homemade granola on ice cream or Greek yoghurt and top with fruit or simply just serve it with milk of your choice. If you’re on the lookout for some edible Christmas gifts then I think this granola will make a tasty present for someone special at Christmas, pop the freshly baked granola into jars and tie with ribbon for a sweet gift.

Ingredients:

200g (2 cups) old-fashioned/rolled oats

100g (1 cup) flaked or slivered almonds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

75ml (5 tablespoons) honey or maple syrup

75ml (5 tablespoons) vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

80g (2/3 cup) dried cranberries

100g (1/2 cup) white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C / 130°C Fan / 300°F / Gas Mark 2.
  2. Weigh the oats out into a large mixing bowl along with the almonds and mix together with the cinnamon (if using).
  3. In a small saucepan, gently heat together the honey/maple syrup, oil and vanilla until warmed. Don’t boil this mixture.
  4. Stir together the honey/maple syrup mixture with the oats until moistened. Spread the granola out evenly on a large lined baking sheet/tray and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, give it a stir and return the granola to the oven for a further 15 minutes. After the second lot of 15 minutes is up, again remove the granola from the oven and give it a stir. Pop the granola back in the oven for another 15 minutes more to finish baking. (Granola will have baked for a total of 45 minutes before it’s ready.)
  5. Once the granola has finished baking, take it from the oven and leave it to cool. As it cools, it will get crisp, once cooled completely stir through the dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. This granola will store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe Notes:

  • Use old-fashioned/rolled oats to make this granola, unfortunately porridge oats will not work as the consistency is too powdery.
  • This time I used vegetable oil to make the granola, however, I sometimes make this granola with rapeseed oil, but coconut oil can also be used in this recipe. Honey could be substituted with maple syrup.
  • If you prefer, you can swap the cranberries for more almonds or chocolate chips. The white chocolate chips could be switched for dark or milk chocolate chips instead.
  • The baked granola will store in an airtight container or a jar for up to a fortnight (2 weeks).

Enjoy!

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