Or, why I obsessively write stuff down now…
Just over a year ago my friend Toria and I were translating an American recipe for Nutella cookies. She converted the measurements and I followed the instructions, secure in the knowledge that I could simply retranslate the recipe if it was a good one.
It was. Those cookies were perfect! Thin and crisp but still chewy, they were everything a cookie should be, only with Nutella added in. Ohhhh…. those cookies…. *drools*
Later that evening, after Toria had started the drive home with a bag of cookies I’m told didn’t make it all the way, I scribbled down what I remembered of the recipe into my book and tucked it away for future reference. It wasn’t until I came to make those cookies again that I realised I’d got one of the measurements wrong… I couldn’t possibly need almost a whole kilo of flour!
Fortunately I’d tucked the original in at the same page so I simply converted the measurements and started to make the cookies. But the consistency was all wrong. I could see it even before the dough was ready. Somewhere, something had gone horribly awry.
Those cookies were awful. Thick and stodgy, they sat heavily on the stomach. Chewing them felt like the cookie was trying to pull your teeth out. What had happened to my perfect cookies?
There were three ingredients that were my variables. Flour, sugar, and butter. Any one of those could be wrong, or it could be all three! So, I started to experiment.
It took three large 400g jars of Nutella, and 192 cookies before I managed to recreate the original recipe Toria and I had mysteriously invented. I might have been the most popular person in the office that day, but I’ve never been able to look at Nutella the same way… I certainly hadn’t made those cookies since it happened!
So why has this come to mind after over a year? Well, over the summer holidays my nephews came to stay with me for a week. I bought and made a lot of food that I don’t normally eat simply because they do. And now they’ve gone home and there’s a jar of Nutella sitting on my kitchen side just daring me to make cookies again.
So I did.
Makes: 40 Takes: 45 minutes
125g unsalted butter
75g white sugar
125g light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat your oven to 180C or Gas Mark 4 and line several baking trays with greaseproof paper. Beat the sugar and the butter together in a large bowl until fluffy and well-combined. Add the beaten egg and vanilla and mix together.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and beat until the flour has combined with the butter, sugar and egg mixture and the dough is just starting to come together. Add the Nutella to the bowl and swirl it through the dough using a knife.
Drop heaped teaspoons of dough onto the paper lined baking sheets, spacing them approximately 3 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes, by which time the outside of the cookies should be golden brown.
Allow the cookies to cool in the baking trays for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. If you only have the one tray and want to keep baking batches, carefully lift the greaseproof paper from the tray and place directly on the wire rack as soon as the cookies are removed from the oven. Make sure you take care if you do this – the cookies and baking tray will not only be extremely hot, but the cookies will be inclined to crumble!