Nigella Lawson's Mine-All-Mine Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cookies
The lone-dweller, in need of the balm that only a freshly baked biscuit can provide, is faced with a most unsatisfactory choice: do without or make a batch big enough to keep a huge hungry household happy. I had to put that right, and not just out of altruism, you understand.
To this end, I have created a cookie recipe that answers my every requirement: deeply chocolatey, sweet but not too sweet, and sprinkled with sea salt flakes. They are the work of an easy moment, requiring no more than a couple of bowls, a wooden spoon and a spot of stirring. And while I urge you to eat one – if such urging is even necessary – when it’s still warm, so that it’s crisp around the edges, its centre tender and shortbready and gloriously gooey with nuggets of molten chocolate, you can for a contrasting kind of eating enjoyment leave the other until the next day (but no longer), when it will be slightly sandy and softly chewy. But these are big old biscuits so, if you find yourself in company – and a generous mood – you can graciously offer one of them without feeling short-changed.
Since there is no egg involved, it is a simple enough matter to veganise these: just replace the butter with the kind of margarine that comes not in a tub, but in a block, manufactured specifically for baking. I’ve tried making them with coconut oil, which would be a more wholesome substitute, but I’m afraid it just doesn’t work. Dark chocolate should always be dairy-free, but do check the packet of chocolate chips to make sure. While you can make these gluten-free, you will have to let them get cold before eating them (or they won’t hold together) thus forgoing the goo, but enjoying them rather as tender chocolate shortbread.
|50g||plain flour (or gluten-free plain flour)|
|⅛ tsp||baking powder (gluten-free if necessary)|
|⅛ tsp||bicarbonate of soda|
|⅛ tsp||fine sea salt|
|50g||soft unsalted butter (or dairy-free baking block if you want these to be vegan)|
|15g||soft dark brown sugar|
|¼ tsp||vanilla extract|
|25g||dark chocolate chips|
|¼ tsp||sea salt flakes|
1. Heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC Fan, and get out a – preferably light-coloured – baking sheet. You don’t need to line it if it’s non-stick; otherwise, lie a sheet of baking parchment on it.
2. Stir the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and fine sea salt together in a small bowl just to combine them.
3. In a slightly larger bowl – I use a pudding basin that I now can’t look at without thinking of these cookies – vigorously beat the butter, both the sugars and the vanilla with a small wooden spoon until you have a buff-coloured and creamy mixture. If you aren’t a messy person, you could use a cereal bowl for this.
4. Add a generous spoonful of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar and beat it in gently with your wooden spoon. Then – still gently, unless you want cocoa and flour all over the place – beat in the rest of your dry ingredients, in about three batches. Once the dry ingredients are absorbed, you can beat vigorously until you have a sticky, rich-brown dough, that clumps together, at which point you can stir in the chocolate chips.
5. It’s not often I demand this level of precision, but I now weigh this mixture, and divide it in two; you don’t need to be fanatical about this, a few grams here or there won’t make the difference. Squidge each half in your hands to form two fat patties about 7cm in diameter and place them on your baking sheet, at least 10cm apart, as they spread while cooking.
6. Sprinkle ⅛ teaspoon of sea salt flakes over each cookie, and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, until the top of each biscuit is riven with cracks. At 10 minutes – which is when I start checking – they will be utterly smooth, but in the next 2 minutes they seem to transform themselves. I crouch by the oven, staring through the cloudy glass door feeling like, as the old Joan Rivers joke has it (and forgive me if you’ve heard me tell this before), Elizabeth Taylor shouting ‘Hurry!’ at the microwave.
7. Once the surface is cracked, and the cookies have spread, they are ready. They will, however, feel very soft – even uncooked – to the touch, and you will doubt me. But I will forgive you, as long as you obey me. So whip out the baking sheet, leaving the cookies in place for 5 minutes. Only then may you slip a metal spatula under the cookies and tenderly transfer them to a wire rack. For optimal eating pleasure, leave for another 10 minutes before biting into one. I often succumb after 5, which is perfectly permissible, I feel, though I should warn you that the biscuit is unlikely to hold its shape by then. But in times of urgent need, such matters of form scarcely matter.
Make Ahead: Prepare dough discs up to 5 days ahead, cover and refrigerate. Bake as directed in recipe, allowing an extra 1–2 minutes.
Store: Store in airtight container for up to 1 day. Warm gently in microwave at 70% power (600W) for 20 seconds. Do not reheat gluten-free cookies.
Freeze: Freeze uncooked dough discs on lined baking sheet until solid, transfer to airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen as directed in recipe, allowing an extra 2–3 minutes. Individually wrap baked cookies when cold, place in airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Unwrap and defrost at room temperature. Eat on same day.