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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Successes, scraps and lost felafels

When, like me, you cook a lot, not everything falls into the 'spectacular success' category of recipes that you know you'll be making over and over again. Quite the opposite really, which is why it's pretty exciting when I do come across those rare combinations of ingredients and technique that demand instant addition to the never-to-be-lost-scraps-of-paper collection which regularly gets shuffled between my desk, kitchen, and lounge room table (and sometimes gets lost...if I can find the fresh pea felafel recipe I made a few months ago out of a magazine published around the same time, but that I can't for the life of me remember the title of or where I put it, I will actually skip to the kitchen to make it again, and you will all be hearing about it).

Today's recipe was not destined to be of the spectacular variety, but it certainly wasn't bad and with a bit of work might even make it a little further up the ranks, so I thought I would share it anyway. It's another contender marked off the list in my endless quest for the perfect muesli slice, and although it doesn't fit my picky criteria on account of being a bit too cakey, I did quite like it in a fudgy, squishy, oaty kind of way. The one thing I would definitely keep in mind if I make it again (and I may) would be to reduce the sugar as it was quite sweet. I used my own Toasted Nut Crunch Muesli (which I would certainly encourage you to make, and not only for purposes of this recipe!) which does have brown sugar in it already, so I guess if you wanted to use an untoasted/unsweetened muesli perhaps you could get away with using the full amount of sugar.

The bare bones of the oat cake base for this come from a recipe out of Jo Seagar's The Cook School Recipes, for White Chocolate Caramel Oat Cake (obviously minus the white chocolate and caramel - God knows what possessed me to set to work with the least appealing-sounding food of the three on that list, given the choice!). I picked up Jo's book in New Zealand last year, and while I'd suggest she's probably not that well known to the rest of the world, she is known throughout New Zealand, and reasonably well in Australia, for her cookery school Seagars and her down-to-earth approach to delicious country-style food. I have long been an admirer and am really enjoying cooking from the book - particularly the sweet options, which are the sort of things your Nanna might make if she were a hip, modern Nanna (like mine, I am lucky to say).

Back to the cake, though. It's ridiculously easy - you just throw everything in a bowl, stir it around until it's mixed, squash it into a tin and you're away! And let's face it, if it's not the absolute best recipe you've ever made, it'll be far from the worst, full of faux-goodness from the muesli, and give you something to work towards for the next time you make it. They can't all be winners, can they?

Muesli Slice

makes 16 large-ish squares, or more if you decide to cut them smaller

1 and 1/2 cups wholemeal plain flour

3/4 cup white plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda (baking soda)

2 and 1/4 cups toasted muesli
As mentioned above, I used my homemade muesli for this, although you could use whatever you like, even untoasted if you are prepared for the end result to be a bit less nutty and toasty tasting. The one thing I would advise is that if your muesli doesn't contain much fruit or nuts, add some extra into it or your slice will be pretty boring.

1/3 cup dessicated coconut

1 and 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
I would definitely reduce this to a cup, or maybe even 3/4 cup to make things less sweet, unless your muesli is unsweetened or you have a real sweet tooth.

2 large (59g) eggs, lightly beaten

250g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin or baking tray (I like to line up the sides of the tin to make it easier to get the slice out after baking).

Put all your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly until combined. Pour the mix into your tin and smooth the surface.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the slice is just cooked in the centre and a skewer tests clean. Don't overbake it - a dry, firm slice is not what you're aiming for here, more like a soft-ish cake. Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into slices or squares (I put the whole thing in the fridge overnight, which made it much easier and cleaner to cut).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chickpeas and Spinach

This is not a dish that will win awards for its attractive presentation. In fact, as you can probably see by today's photo, I found it hard to present this little number in any way even beginning to resemble how good it actually tastes. That, and the fact that I made it to take to lunch at a friend's house meant I was trying to speedily point my camera at it while figuring out how to get it into the car and across the city while it remained hot and in the bowl (result: still hot but showing definite signs of 'car spillage' by the time it reached its destination. I don't think anyone minded).

With this recipe, for once, I followed every instruction and almost every ingredient to the letter. You see, this is not just any chickpea and spinach dish I vaguely threw together from a magazine - this, my friends, is the chickpeas and spinach from the MoVida cookbook I purchased after we ate this very dish in the restaurant.

It was almost two years ago that we visited friends in Melbourne and took them to MoVida for dinner as a thankyou for letting us stay with them. It was fabulous, and we have since been back with the same friends for another go round with the excellent food and attentive, friendly service. And although I bought the book the first time we went, and there are a lot of things in it I've wanted to make, this recipe is the standout. Odd, I know, but it's one of those dishes you just have to eat to understand. Odder still is the fact that it's taken me this long to make it, given that it's been discussed many a time in our house and with our Melbournite friends since we tried it. Put it down to fear, maybe, that my version would fall short of the restaurant's, or that it wouldn't be as good without the atmosphere of MoVida to eat it in.

Happily, I can report that my fear was unfounded on both counts and the recipe I detail below is almost word for word the one printed in the cookbook, as I really don't see anything that could be changed to make it better. There's a bit of forward planning involved to soak and cook your chickpeas, and to make the bread 'picada' which thickens and flavours everything, but it really is worth it, and you can use leftovers of both the chickpeas and the picada to make other dishes (sounds weird, but I stirred some picada through a chicken, pumpkin and ricotta mixture I made as lasagne filling and it thickened up the mix perfectly as well as adding a little extra something to the flavour).

So, now that all the talk of 'blogging the chickpeas and spinach' has finally come to fruition I am glad to be able to share it here and I sincerely hope you'll give it a go.

Chickpeas & Spinach Slowly Cooked with Spices and Sherry Vinegar
from MoVida - Spanish Culinary Adventures
by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Serves around 6 as a side-dish, or 3-4 as a light dinner with some crusty bread

Following is Frank Camorra's introduction to the recipe from the book, which I have included as it has a lovely story attached and will hopefully give you yet one more reason to make it!

"I learned this dish from my Aunty Pepa in Andalusia. My mum has always made this rich spinach dish, but I suppose I didn't value her cooking until I went back to live in Spain and watched Aunty Pepa pound the cooked chickpeas and add some bread picada to thicken the cooking juices. This recipe is packed full of flavour and always makes me feel good after I have eaten it. Sometimes Aunty Pepa added salt cod or poached eggs to the bubbling sauce at the last minute. At MoVida we do a simpler version, which is one of our most popular dishes. We serve hundreds of portions per week, going through tens of kilos of chickpeas and scores of boxes of spinach".

20g/1tbs butter

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

600g (1lb 5oz) spinach leaves, washed and large stems picked off

300g (10 and 1/2 oz) cooked chickpeas (instructions below)
Please, please soak and cook your own chickpeas for this - tinned are fine for a lot of things, but here you will notice the difference.

400ml chickpea cooking liquid (reserve when you drain the chickpeas at the end of cooking)

125g (4 and 1/2 oz) bread picada (recipe below)

1 1/2 tsp Spanish sweet paprika (not the smoked paprika)

1tsp ground cumin
This was one of my two changes - I used a touch more cumin as I love it.

2tbs sherry vinegar
My other change, as I had no sherry vinegar, was to use a lovely pear vinegar that I buy from Margaret River's Berry Farm.

Melt the butter in a large, deep pan over medium heat. Gently saute the garlic for one minute then add the spinach. Using a pair of tongs, carefully turn the spinach over and over as it cooks until it has wilted down to about half of its original volume. This should take about two minutes.

Increase the pan heat to high, then add the chickpeas and the chickpea cooking liquid. Using the back of a spoon, crush some of the chickpeas into the spinach to bring out the earthy flavour.

After five to ten minutes, mix in the bread picada, letting it soak up the liquid in the pan. Add the paprika, cumin and a generous pinch of salt and mix well.

Reduce the heat to low and cook for five minutes, then add the sherry vinegar and cook for another five minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken to a creamy consistency. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve hot.

How to cook chickpeas:

Again I defer to Mr Camorra, whose detail on cooking one of my favourite pulses has definitely taught me a thing or two. I was previously unaware that chickpeas are particularly sensitive to sudden temperature changes when cooking. This means you should never drop your soaked chickpeas into boiling water to cook them, rather put them in warm water and slowly bring up to the boil, which will avoid them getting tough and chalky. Simple and
brilliant advice.

Dried chickpeas will generally just over double their weight when cooked. I generally do about half a kilo (just under a pound) of dried chickpeas when I am cooking them - although this will give you far more than you need for the above recipe and the picada, they keep for several days in the fridge and can be thrown into all sorts of dishes or blended with tahini, garlic and lemon juice for delicious hommus. To cook, soak 1 part chickpeas to 3 parts warm water overnight (you don't need to put them in the fridge, just cover and stand on your benchtop). Drain and place the chickpeas into a large pan filled with fresh warm water. Bring them to the boil and add a cup of cold water to slow them down at this point. Return to the boil and cook until the chickpeas are tender but not mushy (this will depend on how old your dried chickpeas were - expect anywhere between 40 minutes and an hour and a half). Remove the pan from the heat and let stand until it reaches room temperature. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid (it can be used much as any vegetable stock would be, although remember it won't be salty at all). Store both the chickpeas and the cooking liquid, covered, in the fridge for up to a few days.

Bread Picada
from MoVida - Spanish Culinary Adventures
by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

80ml (2 and 1/2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, unpeeled

4 slices 2-day-old firm crusty bread

110g (3 snd 3/4 oz) cooked chickpeas (instructions above)

2-3 tbs cooking liquid from chickpeas

sea salt

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the garlic in its skins for 30 seconds. Add the bread slices and season with salt while in the pan. Fry the bread for around two minutes each side, or until golden. Remove the bread and the garlic from the pan and drain on paper towel. Allow to cool a little, then break the bread into 5cm (2 inch) pieces. Peel the garlic and discard the skins.

Pound the garlic a little using a mortar and pestle (or pulse in a food processor), then add the bread, piece by piece. Pound or blend until it forms medium to large sized breadcrumbs, about 2-5mm (1/16-1/4 inch).

Add a few of the chickpeas, the chickpea cooking liquid and some salt to taste. Mix until the chickpeas begin to break up.

Continue adding the rest of the chickpeas, feeling free to add a little more cooking liquid, and making sure you don't overblend the mix. It should remain fairly coarse - the consistency of a rough-looking mashed potato or stuffing for a chicken.

Bread picada will keep, sealed in an airtight container, in the fridge for a few days.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Easter prettiness

I love holiday-themed foods. Being inspired by things I find online, in magazines and in my beloved cookbooks always encourages me to push my own creative boundaries and try my hand at seasonal goodies to be shared with friends and family.

A staple of my gift-giving (and my entrepeneurial pursuits!) for as long as I can remember has been decorated gingerbread cookies - rarely does a holiday or special occasion go by that I don't produce at least a couple of batches of these spicy cookies, sometimes decorated with rolled fondant, but most often iced with a royal icing which allows me to change the texture according to whether I want 'floodwork' pieces (such as the ones above) or delicately piped scrolls, swirls, letters or patterns. I also adore the lemony tang of this icing against the warmth of the deep spiciness in the cookies.

Given that my new freelance career has, for the moment, left me with a little more time than in previous years, this year I'll be selling some of these gorgeous gingerbread treats to supplement my income and stimulate the creative juices. And as I'll be offering them for sale to the family and friends I also give gifts to, I think it's only fair that I find something different to make as gifts for those people, don't you? So below are a few little inspirations I'm hoping to try my hand at in the next couple of weeks before Easter rolls around:
  • Sugar-sanded marshmallow bunnies over at the Martha Stewart site.
  • Hot cross buns - there are heaps of recipes online, mostly the basic dough is the same, just vary the dried fruits according to your taste. I'll be leaving out the citrus peel but including some dried apricots and maybe some figs, too.
  • The very naughty but very nice-looking Chocolate Caramel Tart from a back issue of my Delicious magazine collection.
  • Another Delicious recipe, the aptly but perhaps strangely-named Easter Salad, which I'll probably serve as a side dish to some kind of barbecued fish. Not so much a gift, unless you count it a gift to be invited to someone's house for dinner (I certainly do!).
  • And while we're on the fish idea, perhaps this Fish with Caper Butter Sauce might be nice too...

What will you be making or serving this Easter?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The poor zucchini

I love zucchini (and its little brother, the courgette), but I feel that this humble vegetable suffers from a bit of an image problem. Quietly sitting on the greengrocer's shelves, it sometimes gets overlooked in favour of other, more visually commanding fresh produce (artichokes, beetroots and unusually-shaped pumpkins come to mind as examples). Not in my kitchen, though. I sometimes wonder if I actually overuse zucchini in my cooking, such is its appeal and versatility.

See, the thing is, it's just so agreeable. It's cheap; the flavour is mild and very 'clean'; and the texture is such that it will pick up almost any flavour you choose to throw at it (sweet things included). Also, it's one of those vegetables which lends itself to being eaten raw or cooked.

In the hope of expanding your zucchini-eating horizons, I'm not going to give a single recipe today, more a collection of little ideas which you can incorporate into a wide range of meals. In any given week, I might include 'the zucc' in the following dishes (and more):

Cut into rough chunks and tossed in a touch of olive oil, salt, pepper and perhaps chilli flakes, and roasted alongside a chicken or joint of red meat until melting and browned.

Grated into a bowl, stirred up with other veg (maybe carrots, onions and parsnip), a little flour, egg and some crumbled feta cheese to make fritters.

Sliced roughly into a pan with crispy-fried pancetta, mushrooms, garlic, chilli and a bit of white wine to make a fantastic 5-minute pasta 'sauce' (well, not so much a sauce as a collection of tasty bits to mix through your pasta, but the wine and pancetta fat will give you just enough of a slick to coat everything nicely).

Sliced lengthways, grilled on a barbecue plate and dressed while warm with lemon juice, olive oil, lots of black pepper and the merest hint of sliced garlic - this will keep for days in the fridge and is great warm or cold with just about anything.

Shaved into thin strips and tossed through a salad of leafy greens, bacon, carrot shavings and toasted nuts, with a light vinaigrette dressing.

And, not really last or least, but to finish this particular post on a sweet note, turned into a cake in much the same way as you would with carrots. If you'd like to give it a go, there's a lovely recipe here (I'm not a fan of the raisins/sultanas in it, so I substitute chopped dried apricots and/or dates, which works like a charm).

What's your favourite way to cook or eat zucchini?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy 2010 (a few days late)

Usually, the coming of a new year doesn't bring about any big or noticeable changes, apart from requiring me to switch to my new 'Foodies Diary' and remember the right year when I'm writing the date. The finishing of 2009 and starting of 2010, though, is a different story altogether.

2009 was for the most part a year of certainty and solidity. It was the year I got married, and where things both at home and at work were challenging but focussed. Skip the calendar forward, and here we are in a whole new decade. For me, 2010 means a lot more uncertainty and possible 'wobbles' than last year brought - hopefully not at home where newly-married life is going along swimmingly, but definitely on the career front. There is excitement though, mixed in with that uncertainty. Quite a lot of it, in fact. For in a few short weeks, I will be leaving the day job which comfortably pays my bills to venture into self employment as a freelance writer/food stylist/developer.

And herein lies that exhilarating and frightening mix which a new future brings. Will it work? Who knows - I've done my research (and my networking), and things all point in the right direction, but the only way to really know is to try.

So in the interest of countering all that instability, today I'm going to share one of the most certain and comforting recipes I know. The recipe has changed and evolved over the years, but it's the first recipe I can remember making without Mum's help, and it always makes me think of my childhood self standing at the bench with a bowl and a wooden spoon. The feeling of quiet achievement and satisfaction in the kitchen has been with me ever since I managed to weigh, mix and bake this all on my own, so here's hoping it will give you the same pleasure.

Chocolate Cake
makes one 22cm round cake

This cake is not rocket science, and there are really no fancy tricks involved in making it. It is, however, my go-to recipe for chocolate cake as it's incredibly reliable, keeps well for days, and can be just as easily dressed up as a birthday (or even a wedding) cake as it can be sliced and served simply for afternoon tea.

The most important thing for getting that really deep chocolatey richness, I find, is to use a very good quality Dutch-process cocoa powder (in this recipe it's even more important than the quality of your chocolate in giving a good result). My cocoas of choice are either Valhrona or DeZaan.

250g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

150g dark chocolate
I generally use a decent 70% chocolate, however in the past when I've had to make vast quantities of this cake I've kept costs down by using dark cooking chocolate, and it still comes out ok

200g white caster sugar

100g brown sugar

250ml strong black coffee
instant is fine, but by all means use plunger/machine coffee if you have it

100g plain white flour

100g self-rasing white flour

50g almond meal
just use an extra 50g plain flour if you don't have almond meal - the finished cake will be slightly less fudgy but delicious all the same

50g cocoa

2 large (59g) free range eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat your oven to 170C. Grease and line a 22cm round cake tin.

Put the butter, chocolate, sugars and coffee into a medium saucepan and heat gently until the butter and chocolate are melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

While the butter mixture is cooling, sift the flours, almond meal and cocoa into a medium bowl and mix to combine.

Whisk the eggs into the cooled butter mixture, then stir in the flour mixture until combined and fairly smooth (don't overmix it or your cake will be tough).

Pour the batter into your prepared tin and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the cake tests clean with a skewer. Cool cake in tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

You can either dust the cake with icing sugar for serving, or make a simple icing by beating 150g butter with 50g cocoa, 300g icing sugar and enough warmed milk to give a spreadable consistency.

This cake will keep well for up to a week in the fridge if sealed in an airtight container, and in fact tastes best if you can leave it for a day or two before eating. Just bring it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before serving.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Luscious Leftovers

Last Saturday night, we had a Christmas party.

I made dinner. A LOT of dinner (those of you who know me well will understand that very rarely do I make a little bit of dinner, so this is hardly news). And, well, a few less people turned up than expected, so there we were on Sunday faced with an entire fridge full of leftovers.

You name it, it was sitting in my fridge or somewhere on my kitchen bench (except the mince pies - they were in the bedroom, under the air conditioner, nice and cool and, I suppose, at the ready for a little midnight snack or a bedtime reading accompaniment). Turkey breast stuffed with pork, apple and sage; an (almost) full leg ham, baked in Guinness and glazed with cardamom and ginger; prawns; scallops; lovely snapper with leeks, carrots and white wine; the best potato and bacon salad; florentine slice; chocolates; tiny chocolate-dipped gelato cones and the aforementioned mince pies.

But what I want to talk about today are the vegetables. Not usually the star of the leftovers parade, the sad-looking mound of charred barbecued vegetables in the fridge could easily have been passed by in favour of the shiny glazed ham or creamy potato salad.

But then, on Sunday afternoon, I saw Jamie Oliver's Family Christmas special. I love Jamie. Yes, he has his detractors and is known to some in the UK as a bit of a crusading pain in the ass who should be put back in his box, but I am and always have been smitten and inspired by his approach. Anyway, Jamie's mentor and friend Gennaro was on screen, mushing up leftover roasted vegetables to smear on bruschetta, and I knew instantly what I was having for my leftovers dinner. It was perfect - there were a few slices of stale ciabatta loaf on the bench, and those unpretty but delicious vegetables, barbecued the day before with olive oil, garlic, rice vinegar and chilli. And to top it off, a spoonful of mayonnaise brightened with herbs and a bit more chilli.

The result was so good that next time I may have to barbecue my veg just to make this dish - it was the perfect Sunday-night-on-the-couch dinner.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas day yesterday, and that your leftovers inspire you to create something special.

Leftover Mixed Vegetable Bruschetta
enough for a light meal for 2

4 slices stale ciabatta loaf

1 clove garlic, halved

the best olive oil you have

2-3 cups mixed leftover vegetables, chopped as roughly or finely as you like and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
You can use whichever combination you have - my bruschetta had Spanish onion, leeks, asparagus, yellow baby squash, zucchini, aubergine and roasted capsicum, and as you can see from the photo, I chopped everything quite finely. And although I have used barbecued/chargrilled vegetables for this, you could also use leftover roasted vegetables, or make it using fresh vegetables instead.

A couple of spoonfuls of good, whole-egg mayonnaise
I added some rice wine vinegar, chopped chilli, sage and parsley to my mayonnaise, but plain would be fine, or you could substitute sour cream.

Parsley to garnish

Toast your bread. When it's done and still hot, rub one side of each slice with the cut garlic clove, then drizzle a bit of olive oil over each slice of bread.

Pile as much of your veg mix as you dare onto each slice of bread, top with a dollop of mayo and scatter some parsley over the top.

Monday, December 14, 2009

All about the chocolate

Several months ago, I made some truly delicious little treats for a party. We were giving take-home boxes of goodies to our guests and these delights formed part of the offering.

Everyone loved them, and a few guests requested the recipe. And then, when I went to dig up the scrap of paper I had the recipe written on, it was gone. Gone somewhere into the depths of my home office, and certainly not where I swear I had left it (among the many other 'recipe paper scraps' and clippings, obviously - where else would I put it?).

So the other day I was cleaning out a few bits and pieces from said home office, where the towers of books, papers and random miscellany had become, lets say, mountainous, and lo and behold, there it was. Quietly sitting atop a file of old accounts and business paperwork, and very definitely NOT with the countless other food-related clippings I hoard like gold dust for the distant-future time when I will collate, file and organize every recipe I own.

Nonetheless, I think this little gem was just waiting for the right time to show itself again, and with Christmas baking requirements entirely upon us, these Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bites might just be the thing you've been needing to add to the season's repertoire. They are simple (providing you have a food processor and a stand-mixer), rich and present beautifully in little beribboned boxes, either alone or as part of a holiday baked goods selection.

Oh, and now that I've put the recipe up here, I need not worry about losing it again, and nor will you!

Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Bites
makes a few dozen, depending how large you roll them

I would like to credit this recipe to someone, but I cannot remember where the original came from, only that before I adapted it, it contained almonds rather than hazelnuts, and rum instead of Frangelico. I am sure that either way will work just as beautifully.

240g dark chocolate, chopped
As the title of the post suggests, it really is all about the chocolate - you will very much taste the chocolate in the finished cookies, so make sure you use something that you really enjoy eating. I went with a Barry Venezuelan 72% couverture.

50g unsalted butter

45ml Frangelico or other hazelnut flavoured liqueur

2 large (59g) eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup golden caster sugar
you could use normal caster sugar at a pinch

1 heaped cup hazelnuts, toasted
Best way to do this is pop them single-layer on a tray in a 180C oven for 8-10 minutes until fragrant, then wrap them in a tea towel and rub most of the skins off while they're still warm. You can use pre-roasted nuts however they won't give as fresh a taste to the finished cookies.

1/2 cup plain white flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

white caster sugar and icing sugar for coating the cookies
Mine needed somewhere between half a cup and a cup of each sugar.

Melt the chocolate, butter and Frangelico together in a metal or glass bowl rested over a saucepan of simmering water (don't let any water or steam get into the chocolate mix or it will seize and you'll need to start again).

In a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until they are very pale and thick (around 5 minutes on medium speed). Slowly mix in the melted chocolate mixture.

In a food processor, blend the nuts until ground finely but not a paste. Tip the nuts into a large mixing bowl and stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.

Stir the nut mixture into the chocolate/egg mixture until well combined, then cover and chill the mix for a couple of hours or until firm (I leave mine overnight and it doesn't hurt the mix at all).

When you're ready to bake, line a couple of flat baking trays or cookie sheets with baking paper and preheat the oven to 170C. Fill a bowl with white caster sugar for rolling the cookies in.

Roll heaped teaspoons of mixture into balls, then roll each ball in the sugar before placing on the trays, leaving 2-3cm between each cookie.

Bake for 12-15 minutes - the cookies are done when they are set at the edges but still a little bit soft at the centre (don't overbake them or you'll have dry, crumbly cookies instead of chocolatey, tender ones).

Let the cookies cool slightly on the trays before filling another bowl with the icing sugar and rolling each warm cookie in it to coat generously. Over a number of days (if they last that long!), the icing sugar coating may start to look a bit 'greasy' - if this bothers you, just re-roll the cookies in some more icing sugar before you serve them.

These will keep, sealed up somewhere cool (but not the fridge), for a couple of weeks easily.