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Thursday 28 October 2010

Baking Special - Halloween Surprise Cookies

OK, here's something a bit more interesting and challenging... Every so often, my boss bakes a round of what she calls 'Cardiac Cookies' (so called because the quantity of sugars involved in making them means they're liable to induce cardiac arrest if consumed to excess). Since starting this li'l ol' blog, I've been thinking about baking... I've got the makings of brownies, but in a box bought from a shop, so the next most interesting option was to attempt to bake my own Cardiac Cookies.

...Or my own version.

I considered what could be used in place of the Snickers chunks used in the original recipe, and ended up with After Eight mints... after all, how often do you get mint choc cookies? So... here we jolly well go...

Apologies for the use of American cup sizes for measurements... The recipe is technically American, but I shall endeavor to update with coherent UK measures once I have them figured out. Please note that these measures do not equate to a teacup... though I'd imagine that, as long as the proportions remain the same, you'd just end up with loads more cookie dough if you used teacups.

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup Golden Syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour (preferably self-raising, or add a tablespoon each of baking powder and baking soda if using plain)
  • 1 box After Eight mints
Preparation Time: About 20 minutes for the dough, then about 10-15 minutes per batch to bake

Tools Required:
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Bowl or jug for beating the eggs
  • Fork or whisk for beating the eggs
  • Spoon or somesuch stirring implement for mixing the dough (but see personal note below)
  • Baking tray
  • Foil
  • Oven for baking cookies
  • Rack for cooling cookies
  • Microwave for softening butter (or patience, if waiting for it to happen naturally)
To begin with, soften the butter by chopping it up into manageable chunks, placing in the measuring cup, and sticking the whole thing in the microwave on the lowest setting for about 30 seconds. Mix together the two kinds of sugar, butter and golden syrup. Beat the eggs then add them to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Add in the flour and mix some more, until you're dealing with a sticky mass of sugary, cookie dough goodness. Due to the way I measured out my ingredients, I got this bit hopelessly wrong, and consequently had a very hard time mixing it all up. My bowl received three cups of self-raising flour first, followed by the sugars, butter and syrup. I may have given myself RSI trying to beat that stuff into submission so, once I'd added the eggs and mixed them in to a certain degree, I cast aside my spoon and got to mixing the old-fashioned way.

Meaning 'By Hand'.

Oh yes, I did.

This automatically makes my cookies sexier, not to mention more sensual and intimate... Or something. Certainly more personal than carrying on with the spoon and, frankly, more comfortable.

And, yes, I washed my damned hands. Several times, in fact. Messy work, making cookies, and I can get a little obsessive about keeping my hands clean when dealing with food.

Anyway, once the dough was ready, it was placed in the fridge for a while, just to give me a bit of a rest. Cooling the dough does make it easier to handle, also. It is very, very sticky, and will end up sticking to your hands better than the fillin' once it's warmed up. Theoretically, this fridge time was also when I should have made myself some dinner.


Once the dough is cooled, yank it back out of the fridge, and grab a heaped tablespoonful. Grab an After Eight mint, pretending it's nowhere near 8pm so you're not obliged to eat it, and wrap the dough around it. Try to ensure it's all even and nicely sealed. My first round of cookies used rather too much dough, and ended up swelling to virtually fill the baking tray. These things expand a hell of a lot in the oven, so be sparing. There should be sufficient dough should make about 20-30 cookies in total.

Lay out on foil on the baking tray (this makes extracting the baked cookies far easier) and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200C (350F) for 10-15 minutes (closer to the low end, if using a fan-assisted oven like mine). The cookies should be golden brown when done. Transfer the foil sheet to a rack, allow the cookies to cool for a couple of minutes, then remove them from the foil to allow them to cool more fully without going sweaty. As long as they're not overdone, they should remain reasonably soft.

Once the baking is complete, scoff any remaining After Eight mints. Go on, you deserve them.

The Results:
Y'know, I have to say I'm pretty happy with the way these turned out. As mentioned, the first batch turned out pretty massive... four of them almost becoming one megacookie... but, other than that, they were probably the most successful. Subsequent batches suffered slightly (none burnt, but they were more than 'golden' brown) through mistiming and leakages where the corners of the mints protruded from the dough. The original recipe suggests 12-18 minutes baking time, which must be for ovens that are not fan-assisted (or possibly the Snickers bar, and the addition of Peanut Butter, change the composition of the dough to the extent that it takes longer to bake), so I had to dial back the time for each batch. Even ten minutes turned out to be a bit too long once I'd got the correct amount of dough per cookie.

I must further confess that the later batches suffered from a loss of attention as my inherent laziness kicked in. Making up the cookies to be baked is a very fiddly process, made worse by the stickiness of the dough as it warms in the hand. Possibly rolling it out might have been a better idea, but I don't have a rolling pin, and I didn't have space to do the rolling anyway. I ended up washing my hands a lot.

I ended up with about 28, 8 of which were the oversized initial batch, and two of those were used for sampling purposes (the first one was pretty good... but I just needed to be sure, darn it!). The remaining six oversized cookies will be given to my sister tomorrow, and the 20 'normal' sized cookies will accompany me to the office. Not enough for a full house but, being Friday, I don't expect there to be a full house.

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