Nigella’s New Year Chocolate Cookies

Nigella Christmas chocolate cookies with chocolate glaze and sprinkles made by Naomi LongworthAfter Christmas I caught up on lots of Christmas cookery programmes like Nigella and Nigel Slater. I thought Nigella’s Christmas chocolate cookies looked yummy so I wanted to try them out. It turned out the programme was a repeat from 2008 and took me a while to find the recipe online – thanks to Living in the Kitchen with Puppies for this link. It was only in American units so I had to convert it. I’ve shared the recipe below which I also had to tweak a little bit (for the chocolate glaze). If you ever need to convert weights from US to UK for different ingredients then this is a useful site – Recipes4Us. The cookies should be baked at 160 degrees for a fan oven, 180 degrees for a normal oven.  Nigella can show you how to make the cookies far better than I can – here’s the YouTube clip.

The cookies turned out well if a bit crumbly so if you make bigger cookies I’d cook them for a bit longer than 15mins. And don’t bother cutting out nice Christmas shapes like I did originally – the cookies just expand and pretty much develop into circles whatever you do! I had fun choosing mini Christmas tree sprinkles and edible gold stars (part of my Christmas pressie!) to decorate the cookies over the chocolate glaze. For the first time, I took these photographs outside and I do think the light looks really good on them (thanks to Jonathan Pollock). More to come on food photography outside! BTW, the boyfriend loved the cookies and kept stealing them when I wasn’t looking (note the lesser number of cookies in the second picture) and they went down well with work colleagues although I ruined their healthy eating regimes on day 1. Whoops!

New Year cookies by Naomi Longworth

Cookie dough

260g butter (2 1/4 sticks)

170g caster sugar (3/4 cup)

33g cocoa powder (1/3 cup)

250 g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Chocolate glaze

170g icing sugar (1 1/2 cup)

2 fl. oz of boiling water (1/4 cup)

1 tsp of vanilla extract

Christmas sprinkles

The cake swapping party

Cupcake Break tea partyLast week I was invited by my friend to a cake swapping party to raise money for charity. What a great idea I thought! The party was all part of the Cupcake Break which is an initiative cooked up by the Ovarian Cancer Action charity.  The idea is that we all love cupcakes and cake, so why not raise money whilst we eat cake! It struck me that this cake swapping party was the modern twist on the coffee morning. When I arrived, I was met with a mind boggling display of beautiful cakes and I quickly stuffed in my £5 to the charity pot. My contribution to the table was a batch of Hummingbird Bakery lemon cupcakes (I had tweaked the recipe – more on this later). In return, I sampled at least five different cakes including two firsts: my first ever whoopie pie and my first ever macaroon – yum! I also tucked into chocolate millionaire’s shortbread, some homemade fudge and a delicious chocolate brownie (Nigella). I hasten to add that the cake party was instead of lunch! We all had a fantastic afternoon munching on cakes, exchanging recipe ideas and general gossiping whilst stuffing in more cake.It was a great afternoon and I would encourage more people to host their own cake swapping party and help Ovarian Cancer Action with their great fundraising initiative. Sign up here to get involved!

Cakes for Haiti

Friday 26th March was a national cake sale fund raising day, known as Cakes for Haiti, set up by Janet Mohapi-Banks to raise money to help the disaster relief initiative for the people of Haiti.  Janet asked if I could organise a cake sale at my work and along with some very talented bakers (9 in total!) we cooked up a feast for our colleagues to raise money for Cakes for Haiti (you can make a donation here)and two additional charities.  I think the most cakes anyone ate in one day was 7 and I managed 6 although luckily I went to the gym afterwards to burn off my sugar high!

A big thank you to all the bakers  for their cake delights – we had some really impressive cakes on sale including mini banoffee pies (combo of these two recipes but mainly this one), Hummingbird bakery red velvet cupcakes (you can buy the recipe book here), strawberry and buttermilk scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, rice crispie squares, chocolastic cookies, chocolate and pistachio slices, Nigella carrot cake cupcakes (made by me and I’ll be reviewing the recipe soon), plus chocolate cornflake crispie cakes with Lindt and mini eggs and last but not least Nigella chocolate coca cola cake!

In the afternoon, we received some surprise savoury and sweet snacks from a colleague’s wife called gateaux piment (literally chilli cake) which is a Mauritian savoury snack with chick peas and chilli. And finally Ladoo – Indian sweet balls with raisins and coconut. These were incredibly popular as an afternoon snack. What a fantastic and varied selection!

Everyone had so much fun talking over which cake they would eat next and swapping notes on each cake.  It was really interesting to see which cakes were popular. Sometimes I really do think simple is the best way forward. Dark chocolate crispie cakes with Lindt and mini eggsThe old favourites like chocolate cornflake crispie cakes went down really well – the trick is to use very good quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids.  The prize for being the most conscientious and talented baker has to go to my colleague and co-organiser of the cake sale – Victoria Marnoch – who not only made the mini banoffee pies and choc and pistachio slices but also made a full blown banoffee pie comissioned by one of our colleagues for a dinner party! She must have been baking for hours! The red velvet cupcakes (a signature recipe of the Hummingbird Bakery) were another favourite and some colleagues who insisted they didn’t eat cake succumbed when they clapped eyes upon the mini banoffee pies. I thought they worked really well because they were small so you could easily eat one without being too over faced after a main course.

Nigella carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese icingWe haven’t counted all the money just yet, but an estimate is over £120. This will be split between Cakes for Haiti and two other charities – Well Child and Twenty First Century Legacy Youth for my colleagues who are running the London Marathon this year.

Thanks to everyone for their baking, cake consuming and donations! Cake for humanity is a wonderful thing.  Let’s hope our money will contribute positively towards re-building Haiti.

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