By day, I am a bookseller. My love of reading means that I already buy more fiction than I even have time to read, and there are still more that I have to restrain myself from buying (the staff discount makes it even more tempting). The problem only grows when I start flicking through cookery books when I’m lost for ideas for dinner or looking for something different to bake. My cookery book collection has grown substantially since I began working with books, and the worst part is… I never use them.
Never is a strong word, and perhaps somewhat inaccurate. But considering I make myself dinner every day, and bake at least once a week normally, the frequency with which I open any of my large number of cookery books in no way matches the amount I cook. Cooking for oneself tends to become a matter of convenience, of sticking to what you know when you’ve got other things to do in the evening and can’t be bothered messing about with a recipe that has far too many ingredients and takes three times as long to prepare as anything you’d normally cook. So why can I not resist?
In order to stop myself from buying even more books, I sometimes borrow recipes from books. I like to think of it as a test, where if the recipe is good enough, I might just buy the book. Or not. Maybe. So the other day I was flicking through Green and Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes (I know, the title immediately says BUY ME), and I came across this recipe for cookies. The best cookies ever. I’m willing to start a cookie contest with anyone who dares to enter, my cookies would pretty much definitely win. Just saying.
30g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
100g milk chocolate
100g white chocolate
100g blanched hazelnuts
250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
2 eggs and 1 yolk
110g caster sugar
1. Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4/350F.
2. Chop the milk and white chocolate and the hazelnuts into small pieces, and combine with the flour and baking powder.
3. Melt the dark chocolate, and let it cool for a few minutes.
4. Whisk the eggs and yolk with the sugar until light and fluffy, add to the dry ingredients and then pour in the cooled chocolate. Mix.
5. Spoon cookie-sized lumps of mixture onto a greased baking tray, and then bake for 10 mins. No more than that, because after 10 minutes they are awesomely gooey.
So I haven’t bought the book yet, but there’s a pretty good chance I will, just because, who doesn’t need loads of chocolate-based recipes they will probably never actually use.
The flip side of this woeful tale of my unused cookery books is that there is one book that I do always use, which is Peyton and Byrne’s British Baking. In fact, I am just about to go and make the carrot cake from it right now. It is the best carrot cake I have ever consumed, and if you want to know more about that carrot cake, you can see here where I wrote about it last year. Anyway, any cookery book that tells me I can actually make crumpets has my vote (no, seriously, before I got this book I just kind of assumed that crumpets were a factory-made supermarket item. I wish I was kidding). All I can say is, if you only want to have one cookery book in your kitchen, have that one. At the very least it means you’ll be eating cake all year round (and crumpets).