Noirin’s crackle top molasses cookies

Molasses cookies - 1Our mothers are often the best cooks and bakers we know, and I can safely say mine is no exception to this rule. These cookies are one of my mom’s most famous and they always appear magically on the coffee table when tea is poured. They’re also great because they don’t require any exotic ingredients which means you can usually make them without having to venture to the shops.

What you’ll need

Molasses cookies - 22/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses/black treacle
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour/plain flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried ginger
About 1/3 cup granulated sugar

What to do

Using electric beaters, mix the oil, sugar, egg and treacle together in a large bowl. Next, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger, and mix until combined.

Molasses cookies - 3At this point I found the dough was a bit less solid than usual (I think the British treacle might have slightly different properties to the Canadian molasses) so I popped it into the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.

Once the dough is firm enough to roll into balls, preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F.

Pour the remaining 1/3 cup sugar into a small bowl. Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls, then roll the balls in sugar and place 3 inches apart on greased cookie sheets.

Molasses cookies - 4Bake for 12-14 minutes, leave to cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then allow to cool completely on racks.

Enjoy alongside a cup of tea – these make exceptional dunkers!

Scrumptious sugar cookies

IMG_2257Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day or Hallowe’en, there are certain festive occasions that just cry out for a batch of colourful sugar cookies. I tested this recipe out over Hallowe’en and the results were great – the cookies were crisp on the outside while still a little bit soft and cake-y on the inside, and they held up perfectly with decorating.

Makes: 30-40 cookies

Time: 20 minutes to make the dough, at least 1 hour (preferably overnight) for chilling, 1 hour 15 minutes for cutting/baking

What you’ll needIMG_2208

3/4 cups (188g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

What to do

Begin by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until well combined. Then, add the flour, baking powder and salt (ensuring the baking powder and salt are mixed through evenly), and that’s it, you have your dough!

IMG_2206Chill the dough for at least an hour, or longer if you have the time (ideally overnight). The colder it is, the easier it will be to roll out.

Once you’re ready to get cookie cutting, turn the oven to to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it’s about 1/2cm thick. Use your cookie cutters to make your shapes, then transfer the cookies to baking sheets. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the cookies are just golden brown.

Leave them to cool on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Decorating

Now for the fun part!IMG_2217

What you’ll need

500g royal icing sugar
water
food colouring of your choice

First things first, don’t begin decorating until your cookies are 100% cool.

To make your icing, you’ll need to employ a bit of trial and error to find the golden ratio of icing sugar, food colouring and water that will give you an icing that’s the right colour and consistency.

Mix these three ingredients together until you’re satisfied – for an icing that will cover the entire cookie, aim for a consistency similar to that that of custard. If you need to thicken your icing, add more icing sugar; if you need to make it runnier, add more water.

IMG_2221If you decide you want to pipe some detail onto your cookies or add a second base colour, you will need to make sure that the first spreading of icing is completely dry before you do. For piping and detail work, the icing should be a bit thicker and able to hold its shape once it’s on the cookie.

Otherwise, there’s really no limit on how creative you can be, so go for it! And remember, even if you botch the icing on a few of the cookies (as is bound to happen), they’ll still taste delicious.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The chocolate chip cookie is something of a conundrum. So many recipes exist calling for the exact same list of ingredients (in only slightly varying quantities) and yet the results are infinitely varied. This recipe is the best I’ve found (the cookies are wonderfully soft on the inside) the products of which are best enjoyed from the comfort of a warm living room on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Sidenote: Don’t be alarmed by the photos – I was making a monster batch for work and tripled (yes, tripled) the recipe. A single batch should make roughly 24 cookies.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.

What you’ll need

350g/12¼oz plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda for the North Americans)
1 tsp salt
225g/8oz butter
175g/6¼oz caster sugar
175g/6¼oz soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
300g milk chocolate, chopped

What to do

Begin by turning your oven to 190°C/375°F. From here, it’s a relatively straightforward process.

Combine your flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl, using electric beaters, mix the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy and light. Add your eggs to the mixture, gradually add your flour mixture, then stir in your chocolate by hand. I’ve recommended milk chocolate for this recipe, but don’t be afraid to mix it up (no pun intended). A combination of milk and white chocolate is also delicious!

Spoon 1″ mounds of cookie dough onto a greased tray, leaving plenty of room for the cookies to expand (because they will!). Bake for about 10 minutes (I prefer to err on the side of gooey rather than crispy, so I wouldn’t recommend much longer), and allow to cool for between 5 and 10 minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack.

Eat as many as you can while they’re still warm, ideally alongside either a cold glass of milk or a hot cuppa!