It all started this summer. In August, to be precise. Lucie rebelled after her 12th birthday in the loveliest possible way: she flung me out of the kitchen.
She had a burning desire to make cookies. But on her own. No Mum intervention. You see, I can’t help myself: somehow I have to ‘intervene’. I think they see me as some kind of control freak. Well, ahem, you could say I kind of take over the kitchen so it must become frustrating.
So, while I was finishing off some dark chocolate hazelnut macarons (one of our favourite recipes from the book), assembling the macaron couples and piping on the dark chocolate ganache, Lucie was itching to get started. You see, Mum doesn’t normally make cookies, really. The last time were these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies but that was it.
She followed the recipe to the letter, or so I thought, in her book, La Cuisine C’est Simple! by Katharine Ibbs. It’s in French – and so well presented for kids learning to cook from scratch. But then she added nuts and told me afterwards she added more peanut butter than stated and cut down the sugar (she remembered I tend to do this as habit).
Placing large dollops of the cookie dough on the tray, she saw them rise in the oven after the first few minutes. Panic struck, and without telling me, opened up the oven door, took them out and bashed them all flat with a pie slice, then returned them to the oven.
Hey presto! The cookie crumbles were born. A delicious accident.
Now Lucie makes them regularly – especially Wednesdays, as the French secondary schools don’t have classes in the afternoon, so it’s a baking excuse (even if she was supposed to practise piano for her exam this weekend!). Yesterday she omitted the nuts and added a few drops of peppermint extract, just to make them festive. What a treat!
Recipe: Chocolate Brownie Cookie Crumbles
Recipe adapted from La Cuisine C’est Simple! by Katharine Ibbs.
Preparation Time: 35 minutes
Cooking Time: 14 minutes
Makes approx. 20 cookies
125g butter, softened
70g light brown sugar
1 large egg
140g peanut butter (or Nutella)
2-3 drops vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
30g unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of sea salt
120g chocolate chips
30g chopped mixed nuts (walnuts & hazelnuts)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas mark 4. In a large bowl, mix the butter and the sugars with an electric whisk (or in a stand mixer) until smooth and creamy.
2. Add the egg, peanut butter and vanilla extract and beat again until the ingredients are well mixed.
3. Sift the flour into another large bowl, adding the baking powder, cocoa powder and salt and mix with a wooden spoon.
4. Add the flour mix to the first bowl and mix well with the wooden spoon. Add the nuts and chocolate chips. (The mix will be rather thick but this is normal).
5. Place 6 or 7 heaped tablespoons of the cookie dough on a baking tray covered with baking parchment or a Silpat silicone mat. Leave a good space between each, as they’ll spread out a bit during cooking. (Either make another batch but we do just the one and keep the dough in the fridge for more next day.)
6. Bake the cookies in the oven for 14 minutes for normal brownie cookies. But for crumbles, remove from the oven after 10 minutes, flatten them down with a pie slice until they break up slightly, and continue to bake for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave the cookies to cool on a wire rack for 2-3 minutes.
Sometimes mistakes in the kitchen are the best way of discovering new dishes – the best one we know is the Tarte Tatin. The kids asked me recently if I could make les caves à l’orange again. Do you know what they were? My earliest macarons while experimenting with reduced sugar – long before the book was even thought of. Out of the oven came orange flavoured empty shells that had puffed up with no feet – and the girls christened them les caves, which was rather fitting. Do you think I can make them again? No. Because I had no idea what I had done wrong.
I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles!
You knew that was coming, didn’t you?