Chocolate chip cookies – without chocolate chips!

It’s been a while. However I don’t think I shall launch into my “I have been a terrible blogger lately” ramble, as it’s all becoming rather repetitive!

So let me get right down to it.

Lindt Hello range

I recently received some chocolate balls from Lindt’s new “Hello” range. As I have yet to see in stores, I was naturally excited to try these out. My first thought was “I love the packaging”. It deviates slightly from the more formal packaging of other Lindt products, but I like the playfulness of these – and really, it would be nice to give someone a thank you gift which says “Hello, just wanna say thank you” wouldn’t it? Sure it’s a little bit cheesy, but we need cheesy in our lives sometimes.

Lindt crispy balls

I tried the “Crispy balls” and the “Chocolate balls” from this range. Now I should say that I absolutely LOVE Lindt’s Lindor balls, but these crispy little balls are my new favourite. Crunchy pastry balls, coated in chocolate and hazelnuts, rolled in cocoa powder to finish. They taste similar to Maltesers, but I think they are better. It’s the hazelnuts that do it – think a crunchy Nutella chocolate ball. So good!

Lindt chocolate balls

The chocolate balls (nougat crunch & cookies and cream) were also good, but a little too sweet for my taste. They’re great for a quick sugar hit, but I found that I couldn’t really eat more than one at a go. And I like eating more than one in a go. The packaging of this was brilliant though, as you can open the box without needing to untie the ribbon – meaning the box looks pretty all the time.

As I found the chocolate balls a little too sweet, I decided to experiment and use them as “chocolate chips”. I simply chopped the balls up into small chunks, and substituted them into a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Thankfully it worked out pretty well. (Phew).

chocolate ball cookies 2

chocolate ball cookies 5 copy

Please excuse the terrible photo – I was too lazy to arrange everything prettily, thus the use of the ugly chopping board/horrendous lighting. 

I used a mix of chocolate balls and crispy balls – the crispy balls didn’t retain as much of their crispiness once baked, but the chocolate balls were perfect. I’ve modified the recipe below to only include the chocolate balls.

I thought I’d be a little bit adventurous and stray from my usual chocolate cookie recipe, and tried out one of Nigella’s. Interestingly, my cookies came out more crunchy than chewy (the recipe stated that this was a fudgy chewy cookie, with and edge of crisp bite). I suspect my cookies were a little smaller than hers, which might explain it. Still good though.

chocolate ball cookies 4
Chocolate “ball” cookies
Adapted from a recipe in Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson
Makes 20 cookies, measuring approximately 2″ diameter

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, fridge cold
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 300g Lindt chocolate balls, chopped into 1cm chunks
  • 100g chopped nuts (I used almonds)

1. Preheat the oven to 170’C.
2. Melt the butter, and let it cool slightly. I used a microwave to melt the butter, but you can do it on the stove if you wish.
3. Place the brown and caster sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer. Pout the melted butter over the sugars, and beat with the paddle attachment until just combined. (Or use a regular hand held mixer)
4. Add the vanilla extract, cold egg + egg yolk. Beat until the mixture is light and creamy.
5. Add the flour and bicarbonate of soda to the bowl in two parts, mixing until just combined.
6. Carefully fold in the chopped chocolate balls and chopped nuts.
7. Shape the cookies into mounds of dough, and place on a parchment lined baking tray.(You can use an ice cream scoop/a spoon/measuring cup to do this, depending on how large/small you want your cookies to be.) Leave at least 5cm between the mounds as they will spread whilst cooking.
8. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly toasted.
9. Cool slightly on baking rack, then enjoy!

chocolate ball cookies 1

chocolate ball cookies 3
Disclaimer: I received the review samples courtesy of Lindt, but all the views expressed above are my own. 

Non watermarked photos are courtesy of Lindt.

Chinese New Year: Almond cookies, with crunch!

Most Malaysians equate Chinese New Year with a few important things = family, friends, FOOD, and well, food. And let’s face it, it wouldn’t be Chinese New Year without all those typical CNY cookies – pineapple tarts, peanut cookies… and so forth.

I made some almond cookies last year, but wasn’t altogether pleased with their texture. You see, to me almond cookies should have a slight crunch, yet be slightly melty. My version from last year tasted good enough, but it didn’t have much of that ‘crunch factor’. I know I’m being pedantic, but if you’re going to stuff yourself with cookies, it might as well be ones you love!

chinese new year almond cookies 3

I found this recipe in one of the cookbooks I bought in Penang (oh yes, I totally buy local cookbooks whenever I go home – then lug them all back to London), and thought it looked promising. And it did deliver!

These cookies have a nice crunchy/firm exterior, with a slight melty interior. If you have never tasted such almond cookies, you must think I am completely bonkers. I know it sounds mad, but it works. Remarkably well, might I add.

chinese new year almond cookies 5

As always, I managed to eat 5 cookies in the first hour post-baking. I then had to take fairly drastic action to keep them all away in a sealed container, so I can’t get to them before Chinese New Year comes along! Yes, I am THAT lazy. If it’s sealed/hard to get to, I rather not eat it. Ha!

If you prefer a soft/completely ‘melt in the mouth’ almond cookie, you’ll prefer my recipe from last year. But if you prefer one with a slight crunch, try this one. I think you’ll like it!

chinese new year almond cookies 2

Chinese New Year Almond Cookies
Adapted from My Secret Recipe Series: New Year Cookies by Alan Ooi
Makes approximately 50-60 cookies, depending on size

  • 100g ground almonds
  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar (I might cut down the sugar to 75g next time, as I prefer a less-sweet cookie)
  • 3/4tsp baking powder
  • 3/4tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 100ml corn oil, or other flavourless oil (you may need a little more/less oil depending on the climate you are in)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten

1. Sieve the flour, caster sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into bowl of your stand mixer.
2. Add the ground almonds to the flour/sugar mixture.
3. With your mixer on medium speed (with the beater attachment),* slowly trickle in the corn oil into the bowl containing the flour/sugar/almonds. Mix until a cohesive dough forms. You may need more or less oil depending on the humidity/moisture levels – the aim is to reach a dough which is just able to hold it’s shape (and doesn’t crumble) when you attempt to roll it into a ball. It’s rather dry here in London at the moment, so I had to use an extra 10ml of oil before the dough came together.
4. Heat the oven to 180’C.
5. Roll the dough into ~2.5cm balls, and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper/a silpat mat. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
6. Using a pastry brush, lightly glaze the tops of the cookie balls with the beaten egg yolk.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies become slightly golden.
8. Leave to cool on a wire rack, then tuck in.

* You don’t need a stand mixer to do this, you can use a handheld mixer/food processor/a spatula. I use my stand mixer because it’s permanently out on the counter, which makes it the easiest option. I told you I was lazy.

chinese new year almond cookies 4

Gingerbread Cookies

As cheesy as it sounds, I love homemade Christmas gifts. Over the years, I’ve come to love making gingerbread cookies – I would be kidding myself if I said they aren’t one of my favourite Christmas cookies.

Another obsession that has become fairly evident in recent years is my love for cookie decorating. I still remember the mess I made the very first time I attempted piping royal icing onto my cookies… *shudder*. Thankfully I am now much more organised, which makes the whole process go much more smoothly.

gingerbread christmas snowflakes 5

gingerbread christmas snowflake 4

I decided to make something different from last year, and made 1) snowflakes, 2) stars and 3) Christmas ornaments. Because, you know, I get bored easily. It was also a good excuse to add to my growing cookie cutter collection. Ha.

Take care to not roll out your dough too thinly if you decide to make ornaments for your tree though – they tend to be rather fragile (as I have found out).

gingerbread christmas ornaments 1

gingerbread christmas ornaments 2

And it’s not just the ornament-shaped cookies that can be hung on the tree – I also hung up some snowflakes. The snowflakes are actually a little more sturdy than their ornament counterparts, something I didn’t expect before I started this baking-icing-gingerbread-madness.

gingerbread christmas snowflake 2

A large snowflake…

gingerbread christmas snowflake 1

…And a mini snowflake. For balance.

I also pondered over whether I should dust glitter onto the snowflakes (because anything glitter during Christmas has to be a good thing), but decided against it as I felt it made the piping stand out less. When you’ve put in so much effort into piping, you will most definitely not want it to fade into the background! Trust me.

gingerbread christmas snowflake 3

I swear by this Peggy Porschen recipe for my gingerbread cookies, as I find that they keep their shape very well (which is what you want if you’ve spent all that time cutting out lovely shapes from your dough!). Another handy tip is to refrigerate your cut (pre-baked) cookies for 5-10 minutes, and bake them from chilled.

You can pipe with or without a piping tip – I prefer using a piping tip (with a coupler) and a large-ish piping bag, as I find this gives me more control over how my icing flows. I use either 00, 0 or 1 tips, depending on how small/large the cookie is. Some people prefer to use a smaller sized piping bag without a piping tip (i.e. just snip off the tip of your piping bag), but I tend to not do this as I have to keep on refilling/make more piping bags… and I am too lazy for that.

I also highly recommend having toothpicks to hand, as they come very handy when you make mistakes! ;)

gingerbread christmas star

Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season – may it be a wonderful one filled with love, laughter & food!

Almond London cookies (Biskut almond London)

One of the worst things about being away from home is missing out on the various celebrations we have in Malaysia. Chinese New Year, Hari Raya (Eid), Deepavali… sigh. I even miss the cheesy music!

Unsurprisingly, food is one of the highlights of any celebration in Malaysia (we love our food!) – which meant that the only way I could feel a little festive was to bake/cook something Raya-related. But of course! :)

I decided on these “Almond London cookies” for several reasons: 1) I’d never made them before; 2) I like eating them; 2) I liked how it had the word “London” in it. I have no idea how the name came about, because I am fairly certain it did not originate in London – if anyone knows the origins behind the name of this cookie, please do share as I’d love to know.

The biscuit is made up of 3 main parts – a whole toasted almond, covered in a crispy biscuit, and coated with chocolate. They’re usually topped with chopped almonds, but other toppings that are commonly use include sprinkles (any type!) or white chocolate.

The recipe is actually very simple, with minimal ingredients needed. I did slightly underestimate how tedious it was going to be though – individually wrapping the dough around each almond took a lot longer than I’d imagined! I always say that you never truly appreciate how much work goes into Malaysian celebration cookies, and I think these are a good example. Having said that, these were easier to make than pinapple nastar tarts!

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed making these, and now I have a small stash in my fridge for times of need/greed. :) Plus it feels a little like home!

Almond London cookies / Biskut Almond London
Adapted from this recipe by Amy Beh
Makes approximately 80 cookies

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200g plain flour
  • 25g rice flour
  • 300 toasted whole almonds (toasting is optional!)
  • 100g chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts as I had some to hand. You may also use sprinkles or melted white chocolate to decorate the biscuits if you prefer.)
  • 400g dark/milk chocolate

1. Sift the plain flour and rice flour into a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
2. Place butter and icing sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer (or use a hand-held mixer). Cream the butter/sugar mixture at medium speed (I use the K beater) until it turns pale and fluffy.
3. Add the egg yolk, and mix until just combined.
4. Add the sifted flour mixture in two parts, mixing well after each addition. You should now have a cohesive dough.
5. Take a small piece of dough (approximately the size of a marble (~1.5cm diameter)) and flatten it slightly. Wrap the dough around the almond, then form it into a cylinder. Alternatively, you may prefer to form it into a round ball.
6. Place the wrapped almond on a baking tray lined with baking paper/a Silpat.
7. Repeat with the remaining dough and almonds, until all the dough is used up. You may end up with some extra almonds, you can either snack on these or chop them up to use as a topping.
8. Bake in a 175’C preheated oven for 20 minutes, until slightly golden. I would advise only preheating your oven when you’re halfway through wrapping the almonds in the dough, to save on electricity. Cool the baked cookies on a wire rack.
9. Once cooled, place each cookie in a small paper case.
10. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (I use a Pyrex bowl over a pot of simmering water). Take care to ensure that the chocolate does not come into contact with any water, as this will cause the chocolate to seize.
11. Using a teaspoon, spoon the melted chocolate over each cookie. Try to ensure the chocolate goes up to the edges of the paper cases, as it makes for a prettier cookie.
12. Sprinkle the tops of each cookie with chopped nuts/sprinkles/melted white chocolate.
13. Once the chocolate has set – eat! You may prefer to place the cookies in the refrigerator to speed up the setting process if you’re impatient like me/if you live in hot climates.

Happy Eid/Selamat Hari Raya everyone!

Chinese New Year: Kuih bangkit (coconut biscuits)

One of the integral things about Chinese New Year are the cookies that come along with it. Ask any Chinese person, and they’ll have their favourite Chinese New Year cookies/snacks. My top 3 are: groundnut/peanut cookiesarrowroot chips, and pineapple tarts.

Kuih bangkit is a Nyonya/Malaysian Chinese New Year cookie made from coconut milk, tapoica flour, sugar and eggs. It has a very characteristic texture: crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside – in fact they should melt in your mouth once you get past the crispy exterior. (And yes, ‘melt in the mouth’ seems to be a must for most Chinese New Year cookies!) Mum & dad aren’t huge fans of kuih bangkit, so I never ate much of it growing up. Not compared to groundnut cookies anyway! ;)

The other characteristic of kuih bangkit is the lovely designs you get when you use traditional kuih bangkit molds. The original molds are made from wood (and all hand-carved), whereas you can get plastic ones nowadays.

I’d heard from countless people that kuih bangkit are tricky little morsels to make, as whilst they look fairly simple, it’s not easy to get the right texture of crispy outsides/melty insides. I always like a challenge, so I thought – why not? Plus I would get a chance to use freshly squeezed coconut milk (“santan”), which is nigh impossible to find in London.

The most time consuming bit of making these is the cooking of the flour… the aim is (I believe) to get rid of the ‘raw’ taste of flour. Cooking the flour takes anything from 60-90 minutes. But it’s not the cooking/stirring that is the problem, it’s the fact that tapoica flour sends minute particles of flour all over your kitchen each time you stir it. I kid you not when I say there was a thin layer of flour over all the kitchen counters! (For those of you who haven’t worked with tapoica flour before, it’s similar to corn flour, i.e. lets out puffs of ‘flour dust’.)

Whilst the taste of these little babies were great, I wasn’t altogether happy with their texture, as they weren’t crispy enough on the outside. Plus they cracked a little, meaning the lovely intricate designs on the kuih became less pronounced. I’m hearing conflicting things when it comes to kuih bangkit – are they supposed to crack, or not? If any of you know, please do let me know, as it would be good to know err.. what to aim for. :P

I won’t be sharing the recipe for these kuih bangkit, as I don’t want to post a recipe I’m not happy with. Rest assured though that I will be making this again to try perfecting the recipe for next year!

Till then, Happy Chinese New Year to all of you! May the Year of the Dragon bring you happiness, good health, and good food. :D