Normal life seems to have crept up on us after a decidedly not-normal summer.
Our familiar routines are welcome in some ways. The structure of our days and weeks makes me feel grounded. Secure. But I do so the miss the freedom and excitement of the summer. This summer will be a summer that I will remember for the rest of my life.
On Sunday, I visited the Cake and Bake Show at Earl's Court in London. A few weeks ago, I was at the same venue for an Olympic volleyball match. They seemed to be dismantling the volleyball court in the midst of the show; yet another reminder that this glorious summer is now ancient history.
I'm not planning on writing much about the show (Sarah has written everything I could want to) but I was, as many other people seem to have been, disappointed by the lack of focus on baking and, perhaps more importantly in the context of this space, baking with real ingredients (and by real, I mean the polar opposite of this).
I wish I could say that I came back from Cake and Bake Show on Sunday, cold, wet and somewhat jaded by the experience, and filled our flat with the heady aroma of brown butter and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Instead, I spent the afternoon curled up under a blanket watching a series of mindless DVDs which, in truth, wasn't a bad way to pass the day.
If I'd been more like the me I aspire to be though, I would have baked yet another batch of these cookies. This is my favourite cookie recipe at the moment. How could it not be? It has brown butter, a substantial amount of vanilla, a hint of salt and it uses whole wheat flour (although you'd never really know it). The coffee is Heston Blumenthal's addition and I urge you not to skip it even if, like me, you're not a coffee person; it adds an irresistible dimension of flavour.
Brown butter chocolate chip cookies
Yield: Makes about 20 cookies
- 115g (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 75g (1/3 cup) unrefined caster/granulated sugar
- 90g (1/2 cup) light brown soft sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 175g (1 1/2 cups or 6 oz) whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee
- 110g (2/3 cup or 4 oz) chocolate chips
- Sea salt for scattering on top (optional)
- Put the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and cook until it starts to bubble and has turned a lovely golden brown colour. Take off the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda/baking soda, salt and coffee.
- When the butter has cooled, cream it together with the sugars until combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again. As this isn't a recipe for a cake, you don't need to keep on beating forever - you just want everything all nicely mixed together. You can do it by hand if you want although I used my electric mixer.
- Fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the chocolate chips.
- Chill the mixture in the fridge for any time between 30 minutes and 24 hours. I don't have that much patience so my chilling time is normally closer to 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and prepare a couple of baking sheets with either greaseproof paper or a silicone mat.
- Using an ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop, place spoonfuls of the dough on the baking sheet and, if desired, scatter a little sea salt on top.
- Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until the edges of the cookies just start to turn golden brown and are firm to the touch.
- Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.