I can never decide whether these should be called cookies or biscuits. Referring to them as biscuits runs the risk of American followers thinking they are going to get something that resembles what we call a scone, and I’d hate to think of them racing out to the nearest shop to buy clotted cream and jam, in anticipation of a Cornish-style cream tea, then realising they’re stuck with a cookie. And these do spread like an American-style cookie while baking, so I think we will stick with that.
I am off to London tomorrow to stay with a girlfriend – I strongly suspect that a high degree of nattering and shopping will be on the menu, washed down with plenty of coffee and Prosecco (not necessarily together or indeed in that order). I thought I would leave a groaning tin of biscuits for Robin and the workmen – don’t want them slacking while I am away.
This recipe is extremely versatile – it contains no egg and is made with margarine, making it perfect for vegans or for anyone with a dairy or egg intolerance. This morning I made three varieties: ginger (the recipe for which you will find here), chocolate, pecan & cardamom, and raisin & cinnamon*. You can use whatever flavour you like and add any variety of chopped nuts, seeds and dried fruits. I made all three in the same mini processor – no need to wash in between – with each dough ready to roll when the previous batch of cookies came out of the oven.
If you are making a double batch of the same flavour, I strongly advise you to make it in a larger processor or in two goes if you are using a mini processor, or you might find it doesn’t mix very evenly. (You can easily mix this by hand too, if you don’t have a processor, but your margarine will need to be soft and you’ll have to employ a bit of elbow grease).
The dough takes seconds to mix and a minute or two to roll into balls. Eight or ten minutes in the oven and then you just need a little patience to wait for them to cool. All up, you could be dunking one in your tea half an hour from switching on the oven.
If you are wondering whether I am being a cheapskate using margarine, I promise you I am not. You will end up with a better textured cookie than if you make them with butter, and they are less likely to burn around the edges before they are cooked in the middle. Just use a good quality margarine with no nasty trans fats.
Chocolate, pecan & cardamom cookies
Makes approximately 15
You will need a baking tray (cookie sheet), lined with non-stick baking parchment
100g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
50g softened margarine
25g chocolate chunks or chips
25g pecans, chopped into small pieces roughly the same size as the chocolate
3 tablespoons golden syrup (you could use corn syrup if you are baking this in the US)
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
Put the flour, baking powder, cardamom, margarine and sugar in a small processor. Whizz briefly until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the golden syrup and whizz again until the dough comes together.
Finally, add the chocolate and pecans, and pulse briefly just to mix in (or you can do this with a spatula if you want to make sure your chocolate and nuts don’t get too finely chopped).
Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and roll into balls with your hands (if you find this is a bit of a sticky process, dust your hands with flour). Space the balls out on your lined baking sheet (the biscuits spread as they cook).
Press the balls down lightly with the tines of a fork to flatten just a little (dip the fork to your flour pot first to stop it sticking). Sprinkle with a little extra sugar and bake for 8 minutes. They should be golden brown – they may need a minute or two more, depending on how accurate your oven temperature is, and may also need turning around if they are browning more on one side. If you return them to the oven for an extra couple of minutes, do remember to re-set your oven timer, as they burn very easily if overdone.
Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes – they will be very soft at this point – then use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack. They will crisp up as they cool. The cookies will keep well for several days in an airtight container.
*If you would like to make the cinnamon & raisin flavour, replace the teaspoon of cardamom with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, omit the chocolate and pecans, then add 50g raisins or mixed fruit at the end.