Now that I’m marrying an American, I feel like I should brush up on my cookie baking skills. When I was a teenager a real American mom gave my family a cookie recipe that I have been using ever since. I only really came to appreciate how good this recipe is the other week when I was craving cookies at about 10pm, and, because I didn’t have my usual cookbook to hand, I had to use any old recipe I could find. Now call me lazy or arrogant, but I really believe that if something I bake goes wrong it usually the recipe’s fault. A good recipe is straightforward, tried and tested; as long as you follow it, you are supposed to get good results. (A really good recipe has built in room for slight error and improvisation.) Anyway, these cookies were a disaster. They were flat and completely splurged into one on the baking tray, and they tasted disgusting and salty.
The recipe I’m about to share with you, however, is the best. You can use it as a base and mess around with flavourings, add different types of chocolate chip (in the batch I made last night I used crunchie bar, malteasers, caramel dairy milk, and M&Ms). It’s okay if you look in the baking cupboard and discover you don’t have any vanilla essence, or you mess up and use part self raising, part plain flour. It’s what they call a ‘fool-proof’ recipe. I’m going to learn it by heart so I never have to use a different one again.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Cream 4 oz (half a cup) of soft, room temperature butter with 5 tablespoons of soft brown sugar and 5 tablespoons of white caster sugar. Stir in an egg. Add half a teaspoon of vanilla essence, and half a teaspoon of baking powder. Add 8 oz (1 cup) and 2 tablespoons of plain flour (although last night I used half plain, half self raising and they came out well), and half a teaspoon of salt. Blend well. Add lots of chocolate chips – you can be creative here and smash up your favourite chocolate bars to put in the cookies.
Tear chunks off the dough and roll into smallish balls. Space these well on baking parchment and cook in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Take them out when they are still soft and are just going ever so slightly golden around the edges, because they carry on cooking out of the oven for a while and you want them to be a bit gooey.
The trick to telling whether you’re on the right track in the cookie making process is whether or not you are eating the dough. If the dough is irresistible, the cookies will be good, too.