Blog

Chocolate Cookies

Cookies. I love cookies. Part of the reason I was a little chunky as a kid was cookies! Who doesn’t love them? There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of different types of cookie in existence, from countries all around the world and one of the most popular types has to be chocolate chip cookie. And that’s what this post is about!
Leave a comment with any questions/issues you have making cookies and i’ll do my best to help.

A Brief History

The humble chocolate chip cookie originates from the USA. Created “accidentally” by Ruth Wakefield during the 1930s near Whitman, Massachusetts. Apparently Wakefield was trying to make Chocolate Drop cookies to an old colonial recipe, but was out of cocoa powder so she chopped up some semi sweet Nestle chocolate hoping it would spread evenly through the cookies during baking. This, of course doesn’t happen. The chocolate kind of holds its shape a bit as it melts, but the sugars in the chocolate change as they caramelize from the heat in the oven and then set as the cookies cool. This results in crispy edges and a soft gooey middle, which we all love!

My recipe for chocolate chip cookies is very similar to the kind of recipe Ruth Wakefield would have used- like a chocolate drop cookie, using brown sugar as well as white to give a softer texture, and a bit of bicarb to make them lighter. The main difference is I’ve added some eggs to make these cookies richer, and I’ve adjusted the amount of flour, butter and sugar to compensate.

Chips vs chunks vs flakes

What we all know about cookies from our childhoods is probably that we should use chocolate chips. After all, they’re called Chocolate Chip Cookies right? Well for a long time now i’ve been using chocolate chunks or flakes instead. That is, taking a big block or bar of chocolate and chopping it up myself. It’s one of those things I have been doing for ages but never consciously thought about why. So for the purpose of this blog post I asked myself that exact question and I came up with this reasoning (bare with me!):

Complexity + Variety = Interest

This is something I think applies to nature and the world in general. It’s the lack of uniformity which makes it better.

So in the context of chocolate in cookies, it means that we are going to have lots of different size bits of chocolate in our mixture. Some of these bigger pieces might have long sharp edges, and will give us a real chewy chocolate hit during a bite, whilst the smaller flakes will be better dispersed in the cookie and will melt into the mix much better.

I also had a quick look online and saw that other people were saying pretty much exactly what i’ve just told you. So maybe i’m on to something!

The right chocolate for you

The other advantage to using “real” chocolate pieces instead of buying chips from the supermarket is QUALITY. 

So here i’m using my own chocolate, as I really do believe chocolate chip cookies are only as good as the chocolate you use.

Since the cookie mix is generally quite sweet, I think a higher percentage chocolate is a good choice, but this recipe will work for any chocolate so I’ll leave that choice to you! 

I’m using our Tresuro Oscuro. This 85% Colombian Dark Chocolate is by far one of our best sellers and one of my favourites.

With these cookies, I’m taking 2 and putting our classic caramel between them and then dipping them in our Ben Tre (45% Vietnam Milk Chocolate) to create the ultimate snack. If you want me to do a top up post giving you the full recipe leave a comment and i’ll do one as soon as I can.

Let me know how you get on with this recipe. I love seeing what you have made so share and tag on Facebook and Instagram. Give us a follow and say hi!

Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 345 g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 230 g Unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 200 g Brown sugar
  • 100 g Granulated sugar
  • 2 large Eggs room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure Vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla paste) 
  • 450g Chocolate Flakes

Quick Method

  1. Put all ingredients apart from the chocolate into a food processor.
  2. Blitz until combined.
  3. Go to step 5.

Method

  1. Combine dry ingredients (Flour, Bicarb, Salt)
  2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the Brown & White sugar and Butter until light & fluffy.
  3. Gradually mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate flakes so they are just mixed in.
  6. Cover with cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  7. Preheat your oven to 180°c (160°c Fan) Gas mark 4.
  8. Using your hands, shape the dough into balls a little bigger than a £2 coin and place on a baking tray lined with parchment. Make sure to leave some space between cookies as they will spread during cooking.
  9. Press each ball down slightly to flatten the top.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are light brown and the tops are still soft.
  11. Leave to cool on the try and then transfer to a wire rack until cold.
  12. Store in an airtight tub for up to 1 week.

Photos

Sugar
Keep Mixing
Cookie Dough
Brown Sugar
Eggs
Bake Cookies
Butter
Flour
Cookies Baked
Start Mixing
Mix Flour

Taste Tuesdays

October 15 @ 7:00 pm 8:00 pm

We are opening our doors on the first Tuesday every month for a unique chocolate tasting experience.

Join us to try new our newest creations and sample some of the finest chocolate from around the globe.

We will share with you some top tips for tasting chocolate and you’ll gain an insight into our creative process.

This is a great way to experience a wide variety of chocolates without having to buy an entire bar or box of each. Then there’s the added bonus of being around fellow chocolate lovers for an evening!

Places are limited for this monthly event so please contact us via email to book. info@explorechocolate.co.uk

Details

Date:
October 15, 2019
Time:
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Cost:
£10
Event Category:
Website:
explorechocolate.co.uk/Taste-Tuesday

Organizer

Matt Green
Email:
explorechoc@gmail.com

Explore Chocolate

Barnfield Farm, Finedon Road, Finedon Northamptonshire NN9 5NQ United Kingdom + Google Map
07940737208

Basic Recipes: Ganache

Ganache is a staple of chocolate work. It’s the first thing we make in our Introduction to Chocolate courses. Its soft creamy texture and the ease at which it melts in the mouth is one of the finest experiences in life! I’ve been meaning to get this post up for a while, so it feels good to be putting it out here.

The simplest way to describe ganache is “chocolate emulsion”.

It is cocoa butter, the natural fat in cocoa beans that makes chocolate melt when it gets warm and harden as it cools. This means if we want our chocolate to be soft when it’s cool we need to mix chocolate with a liquid. And that’s all a ganache really is.

Now there are some things to consider if we want to get great results every time. First of all it depends how firm or soft you want your ganache to be, and that will usually depend on what you’re doing with the ganache once you’ve made it.

The recipes I’m giving here are a rule of thumb for a medium-firm ganache which is quite versatile, but feel free to play around with the measurements to get the desired firmness for you. Just bare in mind the main principle above!

 

Secondly we need to make sure that the chocolate is properly melted with no lumps, and preferably tempered. (Another post is coming for the basics of tempering)

Next heat the liquid. I usually find it best to bring the liquid to a boil in a saucepan, so I know that I’ve killed any bacteria which may be present.

Let the liquid and the chocolate cool until they are ideally between 25-30°c and then start gradually mixing the liquid into the chocolate until you have a smooth and glossy mixture, that is the consistency of cake batter.

 

Now you can pour the ganache into a tub ready for shaping, into a frame if it’s to be cut, or into a piping bag for use later. Ganache should be left for about 12 hours to set fully at room temperature, but if you need it quickly you can put it covered in the fridge until it’s set.

This basic fresh ganache has a shelf life of up to 2 weeks.

White & Milk Chocolate

 

375g Chocolate

125g Whipping Cream

Dark Chocolate

 

330g Chocolate

170g Whipping Cream

Troubleshooting: If your ganache becomes split and oily then either the liquid or chocolate may have been too hot. This can be saved with a bit of elbow grease. Try whipping it together with a stick blender if it’s too much to do by hand!

Another way to save a split ganache is to add a tablespoon or two of boiling water and whip it together. This will of course add liquid to your ganache making it a bit softer.

My Chocolate Life

caribbean-colors-of-cacao

Everywhere in the world there are tensions- economic, political, religious. So we need chocolate.Alain Ducasse

Hello! My name is Matthew Green and I have worked as a chef for the past 15 years, travelling around the world to work at some amazing restaurants. Chocolate holds a special place in my heart and almost a year and half ago I founded Explore Chocolate- my passion has become my business.

This is my first blog post! The idea behind this blog is partly to share with you the journey we are on at Explore Chocolate as we continue to grow. To share recipes and insights from myself, and from others in the industry; to document our progress and the eternal search for new, and in some cases better chocolate.

By better I mean better quality- for sure, but also better for us, better for the environment, and better for the people who grow & produce Cacao– without whom we would have no chocolate at all.

On the other hand it’s also a great way for you to get involved. I’m happy to share recipes and methods for making all things, sweet and savoury- chocolate or not! I’d like for you to share your stories, memories and relationships with chocolate. A chocolate community if you like. What could be bad about that?!

 

A little bit about me:
I’m sure we will get to know each other very well in the time to come, but here’s a potted history of my life & career so far.

Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire was my childhood home. It is also where I am now based with Explore Chocolate, but I’ve been on quite a few journeys in between! My apprenticeship was at the Palmichael restaurant in Burton Latimer where I gained experience and qualification, during which time I started studying at deMontfort University.

Living in Leicester I worked at The Case restaurant, meeting some great people and learning a different style of cooking. During the summer between second and third year I travelled to Puglia in Italy to work in a luxury hotel- a steep learning curve I can assure you since I spoke little Italian at the time!

After graduating I moved to Australia where I worked at one of the world’s best restaurants- QUAY in Sydney, and then an almond farm in Victoria. Two polar opposite experiences but equally satisfying and educational.

I moved back to the UK a few years ago and started Explore Chocolate in December 2016. We are steadily growing and I love every minute of my working week.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you back here soon for recipes, ideas and insights- as well as updates on our progress at Explore Chocolate