Today I seemed to be in brighter spirits. The sun was out and I also got to cuddle up in my throw and talk to my Amma and Acha for a long time on Skype. While I was talking to my Amma and Acha I had this strong urge to bake cookies. Again, I am aware that I am skipping chapters in my baking excercise and hopping over everything like a crazed human being, but hear me out; I know my Acha loves to eat biscuits with his tea and when I was at home I would always try to make time to bake some biscuits or cookies to go with his tea. But since I am not at home and I not drink regular (English) tea that often, I feel that empty space needs to be filled with happy memories of my Acha and Amma sharing my cookies over tea. So, today I decided to make my Acha's favourite butter cookies but I changed the recipe a whole lot and made my own take on butter cookies. My Acha always liked mixing things together and creating odd combinations that my Amma failed to understand. But Acha and me were more adventurous with flavours. We'd mix ice-cream and paysam and put jams on biscuits.We even thought we were geniuses when we would eat dates with almonds till we went to Dubai and found out that they actually just sell them like that; dates stuffed with almonds. Anyway, I decided to dedicate these cookies to my Acha because I put a little something extra in them that I think Acha would like.
A little about my Acha's tastes; Acha loves Kerala style fried fish but he will never eat fried fish at a restaurant; that is usually the rule. Today I made grilled fish. Being a Malayali, it is my rightful duty to make fish with all the lovely chili powder and yellow powder masala (the one I asked Amma how to recreate this morning). I am sure Trader Joe's hasn't found a recipe that includes the above mentioned powders or else they would have put that on the packet of their frozen Mahi Mahi fish instead of the silly lemon butter sauce.
Well back to my Acha, he absolutely loves Bounty, and when he asks me if I want a Bounty bar I always know that it's because he wants one but does not want to eat it alone. I also know that Acha loves to eat The apple pie I bake and the gingerbread cookies I usually make during winter because he likes the taste of ginger and cinnamon. These cookies have a bit of ginger, lemon and they are coated with dark chocolate and lots of grated coconut. I think he would've loved to taste them. I wish Skype could teleport things across continents; stupid technology and their drawbacks. Anyway, here's my recipe; I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. BEFORE I START, I NEED TO STRESS ON THIS ONE IMPORTANT NOTE; COOKBOOKS TELL YOU HOW TO MAKE FOOD, BUT THEY NEVER TELL YOU THAT IF YOU IMPROVISE AND USE OTHER INGREDIENTS, YOU MIGHT JUST END UP WITH YOUR OWN RECIPE FOR SOMETHING AMAZING!
If you substitute, the lemon rind and juice and the ginger, with cinnamon and elaichi, you have your own special cookie! If you add chopped pistas as a topping instead of the chopped walnuts or the coconut, you have your own take on the recipe. The basic butter, egg, flour, baking soda, sugar, salt, are the foundations of the recipe, but feel free to play along and really enjoy the process! Please don't be scared or apprehensive; trust your taste buds to make wise decisions. I just had to, had to say this because it often irritates me when I see a recipe and if I don't have lemon rind or juice, doesn't mean I can't make the cookies I just need to find something else to flavour it with. So, if you don't have ginger, look around the kitchen, you might find something that would go well with lemon.
- 1 cup of butter
- 1 egg
- 2 and 2/3 cups of flour
- 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1 cup of powdered sugar
- 1 tsp of dry ginger (I prefer fresh ginger but we didn't have any so I used dry ginger powder)
- 2 tbsps of lemon juice
- 1 tbsp of lemon rind
- 1 cup of chocolate
- 1/4 cup of grated coconut
- 1/4 cup of granulated sugar (I used gold dusted sugar, but regular sugar will also look pretty. You can also try brown sugar)
- Cream in the butter and sugar together.
- Add the egg and mix well.
- Add baking soda and salt.
- Add the flour; make sure the flour is sifted.
- Add ginger, lemon juice and lemon rind and mix well once again till all the ingredients come together and you have yourself a nice little ball of dough.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and keep it refrigerated for at least an hour. This is to ensure that the cookies retain their shape while baking.
- Roughly divide the dough into two.
- Knead in the cocoa powder into half of the dough.
- Now, I did a few variations in the cookies; you can try your own. On one I simply made a big roll out of the chocolate dough and wrapped the roll with a piece of rolled out white dough and simply cut the roll into slices; Each section have a bit of chocolate and plain dough.
- I also did a pinwheel design by rolling two sheets of each kind of dough and putting the chocolate one over the plain dough and rolling it together. Then I cut the roll once again like I did for the semi-circle shaped cookies and the cross-section ended up looking like a pinwheel.
- With the remaining extras I just made one roll out of it and cut it into pieces, giving it a marble effect. But as I said you can try anything including checkered cookies; just go crazy!
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper and place the cookies at least 1 inch apart from each other as they tend to expand while baking.
- Before you prepare your baking tray, preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius.
- Bake the cookies for about 10-15 minutes; you will know when they are done as they might brown at the corners. Don't judge the cookies by how soft they are because the cookies when hot seem soft and unbaked but when cooled become crunchy. So, do not over-bake your cookies just because they seem soft; like Nigella Lawson says, have faith!
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute; please keep a check on the chocolate and make sure they are not getting burned; they might seem like they are not melted yet, but if you swirl them around with a spoon and mix it well, it melts faster.
- Make sure the cookies have been cooled well and then dip the tip of each cookie in melted chocolate and coat it with grated coconut or sugar. Do not dip the cookie from the melted chocolate into a bowl of grated coconut; this will just create a mess. Instead sprinkle the cookies with the sugar, chopped walnuts or coconut, till it is generously coated with the goodies.
- Let it cool and dry.