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.

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Of turkey, cranberries, and the end of 2009.

I still remember the first time I had a proper Christmas dinner with roast turkey – it was in my third year of university, where my flatmates and I decided to take the plunge and cook a turkey for the first time ever. And it turned out pretty well! I have fond memories of that dinner, mostly because I spent a fair bit of time decorating the table, and was really pleased when it turned out nicely!

My first ever Christmas dinner!

Since then, I’ve tried to cook a Christmas dinner every year. It’s lots of fun, and it creates a lot of leftovers – which I love.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the food channel, and I watch as many Christmas specials as I possibly can. 😛 My favourites are Nigella (because she’s Nigella), and Jamie Oliver. Rather dissapointingly, Nigella didn’t have a Christmas special this year, but thank goodness for reruns!

I normally cook the turkey in the traditional way – butter on the turkey skin, with some herbs stuffed in the cavity. However, Jamie had this interesting method of cooking his turkey, what he called the “self basting turkey” method. This simply meant he stuffed butter under the turkey skin, which helps to crisp the skin as well as keep the breast meat nice and juicy. What was even better was the fact that he used flavoured butter – which I thought looked amazing.

The bad thing about stuffing butter underneath the turkey skin is that the areas with the flavoured butter looked darker (and “dirtier”), due to the herbs in the butter. It still tasted delicious though, and the skin was amazingly crispy – the crispiest skin I’ve had on a turkey to date.

And of course, what turkey is complete without some stuffing? I like cooking the stuffing separate from the turkey, and usually cook them in individual “meatball” sized pieces. This year, I decided to do something different, and cooked it in a loaf pan – which made it look a bit like meatloaf! There are cranberries and walnuts in addition to the sausagemeat, which I enjoyed as they provided a nice contrast of textures.

The turkey “meatloaf” stuffing

There were also dishes served on the side…

Roasted potatoes with a twist – inspired by this recipe by Martha Stewart. There was just the right amount of lemony-ness in the potatoes, which I absolutely loved. I also liked that I got to use olive oil instead of something more sinful like goose fat. All I can say is, if you’re a fan of lemons, you’ll love the taste of these potatoes!

Brussel sprouts, with pancetta and chestnuts. This dish was inspired by the one and only Nigella – she cooked this on her show, and I thought it sounded really interesting. It turned out well, and I really enjoyed the various textures in the dish: the crunchy brussel sprouts, salty pancetta and sweet chestnuts. Can’t say I’m a fan of brussel sprouts though – I’ll eat it but I wouldn’t order it in a restaurant, let’s just say.

Cranberry sauce, a necessity for a Christmas meal (to me anyway!). This was cooked with orange peel and and a touch of cinnamon, which gave it a very nice “festive” feel. I didn’t like how bitter the cranberry seeds were, so decided to run the sauce to a sieve – and the sauce became much sweeter. 🙂

In all, I must say that I really enjoyed my Christmas dinner – and I still have some leftovers in the fridge, which is brilliant. I’m one of those people who enjoys turkey leftovers more than the actual meal itself, as it gives me the chance to create new dishes!

On another note, I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve. Time has really flown by, and I can hardly believe how much has happened in the last year. I won’t go into it all as it would be a really long post, but all I can say is that I’ve enjoyed 2009 immensely.

So, here’s wishing all of you a very Happy New Year. May 2010 bring joy, good health and good food to you all! xxx

Roast turkey
Inspired by this Jamie Oliver recipe

  • 5 kg turkey
  • 2 clementines
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary
  • 200g butter
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary (chopped finely)
  • 2-3 sprigs lemon thyme (chopped finely)
  • 2-3 bay leaves (chopped finely)
  • rind of one clementine

1. Make the flavoured butter: Mix softened butter with the grated clementine rind, chopped rosemary, chopped lemon thyme and chopped bay leaves. You may add dried cranberries to the butter, but I left this out as my stuffing already contained this.
2. Preheat your oven to as hot as it can go (for me, this was 220ºC).
3. Get your turkey, and use a spoon to work your way between the skin and the breast meat. Take care when doing this as you do not want to break the skin. Stuff the butter into the cavity you have just created. Rub any remaining butter all over the turkey.
4. Halve 2 clementines and pop them into the cavity with a few sprigs of rosemary. Jamie says that this is so the fruit will steam and flavour the turkey.
5. Put your turkey into the preheated oven, and immediately turn the oven down to 180ºC.
6. As a rough guide, each kg of turkey will need 35-40 minutes to cook. That said, each turkey and each oven is different, so just check on your turkey every 30 minutes and keep it from drying out by basting it with the juices from the bottom of the pan.
7. When the skin gets golden and crispy, the turkey should be done. To check on this, gently pull the drumstick outwards – if the juices run clear, the turkey is done. Alternatively, it is done when a meat thermometer (inserted in the thickest part of the breast) reads 65ºC.
8. Move the turkey to a platter then cover it with a double layer of foil to keep it warm while it rests for at least 30 minutes.

Cranberry and walnut sausagemeat “meatloaf” stuffing
Inspired by this recipe

  • 400g dried cranberries
  • 150g walnuts, chopped
  • 1kg sausagemeat
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch sage, finely chopped
  • 3 slices of proscuitto

1. Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
2. Mix all the ingredients (except the proscuitto) together, using either a spatula or your hands. Make sure all the ingredients are mixed up evenly.
3. Put the sausagemeat mixture into a loaf pan. Top with proscuitto slices.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, until cooked through.

Cranberry sauce

  • 500g fresh cranberries
  • 400g sugar
  • rind of 2 clementines (I simply peeled the rind off, there is no need to grate it)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • splash of red wine (ideally I would use port, but I only had red wine to hand)

1. Heat all the ingredients (except the red wine) in a pan over medium high heat. Once it reaches a boil, add the wine.
2. Turn down the heat, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
3. If you like, you can sieve the mixture to get a silky smooth cranberry sauce.

Brussel sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts
See this recipe by Nigella – I followed it pretty closely (by my standards anyway!). Only changes I made were using red wine in place of marsala, and omitting the parsley.

Roast lemon potatoes
See this recipe from Martha – Only change I made was to use fresh herbs (which I used for the turkey) instead of dried.

* I’ve only posted the links for the last two recipes as there would be too many words in this post otherwise! 😉