For someone who was not very keen on baking cookies until very recently, I suddenly seem to be looking out for and trying out more and more cookies! Of late I have baked Eggless Coconut Macaroons, Eggless Buttermilk Chocolate Cookies and Eggless Coffee Walnut Cookies. In fact I baked the Coffee Walnut Cookies again as it became a huge hit with my family and friends. Not surprising since they are yum, yum, yum... The cookie recipe hunt took me to Rachel Allen's Basic Cookie Dough which I had bookmarked long ago after seeing her bake these on her show. This down-to-earth, unassuming lady is my most favorite celebrity baking chef .She makes everything look so easy and do-able and fun. I loved her show 'Bake'.
I remember this episode in which she bakes the basic cookies and takes around the tray of additions to the cookie dough. Poppy seeds, lemon zest, dark chocolate, orange, white chocolate, mixed spices, chocolate chips are mixed with the basic dough to give entirely different flavored cookies with no extra effort. Isn't that great? Specially if you would have to please kids with different tastes or different demands of the moment. Or for baking with kids and their friends during the holidays. Or just for the high you will get to turn out varieties of cookies at short notice for your guests.. Sounds good to me! Its quick, easy, its fun, and egg-less too!! Hope I have sold the idea by now? Not yet? Well, you can also make the dough ahead of time and put in the fridge for 2 weeks or freeze for a couple of months.
This is a great egg-less basic cookie recipe. Let me show you the Dark Chocolate And Orange Cookies, Pistachio and White chocolate and the Chocolate Chip cookies I made. You could get more imaginative and try the variations above and more like coffee, double chocolate chip, lavender, saffron, dry fruit and nuts, cardamom-coconut... the possibilities seem endless.
I must tell you that these cookies tasted quite similar to our Benne Biscuit (butter biscuits) in taste, buttery, light and crisp. Though I am not a fan of Benne Biscuits, I liked these biscuits with grated orange zest dipped in melted chocolate. The kids loved...you guessed it right... the chocolate chip cookies. Pistachio and white chocolate made great crispy cookies with the crunch of pistachios and a hint of white chocolate, though I felt I could have added more chopped white chocolate (I added mine grated). I liked the dough for its versatility more than anything. If buttery biscuits tick off your taste-buds, do try these out with the flavorings of your choice and you will not be disappointed.
This simple recipe has just 3 ingredients:
Unsalted Butter, softened (at room temperature) 225 grams / 1 cup
Caster Sugar - 110 grams - 1/2 cup(aprox)
Plain Flour - 275 grams ( 2 cups aprox)
(Flavorings added to taste)
A note on ingredient measurements: Measuring by weight is the best and most accurate way. When measured in cups, there may be a slight variation due to the way we measure. Ever noticed (if you do not weigh ingredients) that the same cookie recipe varied in terms of baking time?
Procedure: Pre-heat oven to 170 degree C/ 325 F. In a large bowl, cream the butter till soft. If your butter is already soft and you would be using a hand mixer on low speed, this will take hardly a few seconds. Add the sugar and cream on medium low speed till the mixture is soft and fluffy. Approximately 2-3 minutes. If your butter is not soft, soften it very very carefully in the microwave in short spurts of a few seconds at a time. Or you may end up with melted butter instead of soft butter. If you would rather leave the butter out of the fridge to soften on its own, cutting it into pieces will help hasten the process.
Sift in the flour and spices( if you are using dry ginger powder or spice mix) . Gather the mixture together to form a dough. Make small even sized balls and place them spaced well apart on an un-greased baking sheet or tray. The dough has enough fat in it and release will not be a problem. Even sized cookies will help you gauge the approximate baking time after one batch.
If you wish to try out different flavors, divide the basic dough into portions and then mix in the flavorings. Once you shape the dough into balls and place them on a baking sheet, you could press the top of the cookie with the back of a fork. Bake for 13-15 minutes (depending on size) or till the edges are a golden brown and the top slightly firm. Do not over-bake or the cookies will turn very hard. Remove from the oven. Take the cookies off from the tray when still warm or they make stick to the tray. Cool on a wire rack. Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.
Its always helps to try out a small test batch to figure out the baking time.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies: To make these use 250 grams of Plain flour and 50 grams of sifted cocoa powder. Add in dark or white chocolate chips.
Dark Chocolate and Orange Cookies. Mix in grated orange zest (to taste and according to the portion of dough) into the dough. After baking and cooling the cookies, dip them in melted chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set.
Chocolate Chip Cookies: Mix in chocolate chips to the dough. I don't know what possessed me to just stick the dough balls in a bowl of chocolate chips. The cookies look suspiciously like a monster's shield in a cartoon series to me. Ugh!!
Pistachio And White Chocolate: Add chopped white chocolate and sliced pistachios to the dough.
Storing dough: Roll it into logs an keep in the fridge for upto 2 weeks or for a couple of months in the freezer. Cut the log into slices and bake
Thank you Rachel for this recipe and all your tips!!