snickerdoodles

snickerdoodle cookie
Snickerdoodles: fun to say, even better to eat.

Go on, say it.

I’m not sure who came up with the word ‘snickerdoodle’, but I can’t even type it without smiling. Even if you weren’t dealing with a whole lot of cinnamon-y puffiness, with delightful sugary sand dissolving on your tongue, with a crumbly biscuitty texture, I think the word ‘snickerdoodle’ would still bring a smile to your face. And when all is said and done, isn’t that exactly what a cookie is supposed to do?

I came across this recipe while looking for a new cookie to bake. Chocolate cookies, Nutella cupcakes, lemon crinkle biscuits, shortbread, and then I flicked past a cookie that was rolled in cinnamon sugar. That looks like doughnut in biscuit form, I thought.

Then: hey, that looks like a doughnut in biscuit form!

snickerdoodles
The smell of these little cookies baking is amazing.

What could be more fun than tossing a biscuit in cinnamon sugar? I have many memories of sitting at Donut King with my mum, watching them make doughnuts (the heavy kind, before Krispy Kreme came around and made it super easy to eat 1,000 calories in a single airy mouthful). She would drink coffee and we’d split a doughnut as I watched the machine plop dense circles of dough into boiling oil. The best bit was always when they’d take the fresh doughnut and toss it into a tray of cinnamon sugar, and it would emerge from its bath perfectly covered in a sandy coat of loveliness.

This is exactly what I thought of as I made snickerdoodles for the first time.

This is not a crisp, crunchy cookie that you can eat when you’re cranky and need something biteable upon which to take out your grievances. This is a pillowy, soft, crumbly cookie that holds it together only long enough to make it to your mouth, where it dissolves into a puddle of comfort. These cookies are cinnamon hugs.

snickerdoodle cookies
Simple to make and delicious to eat.

snickerdoodles (makes 32 cookies)
For the cookies:
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter
1 and 1/3 cups (267g) caster sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups (375g) white flour
2 tsps cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
2½ tsps cinnamon
½ tsp salt

For the coating:
¼ cup (50g) caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Make the coating by mixing ¼ cup of caster sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon.

In a large bowl, cream 230g butter for 1 minute, then add 1 1/3 cups of sugar. Cream until fluffy, then add 1 large egg and 2 tsps vanilla extract and mix.

In a sieve over a bowl, place the 3 cups of flour, 2 tsps cream of tartar, 1 tsp baking soda, 2½ tsps cinnamon and ½ tsp salt. Sift a third of the dry ingredients into the wet, then mix, and then mix another third, then the final third. The dough should be very thick.

Once combined, take a heaped teaspoon of the dough and roll into a ball. Toss in the cinnamon sugar coating then place on a baking tray. As it cooks, it relaxes into a normal cookie-shaped puddle, so you need about 7.5-10cm between the balls.

Bake at 190C for 11 minutes. As an optional step, you can press on the warm cookies with a fork to help them flatten out.

gluten-free lemon cookies

Lemon cookies. Just because.
Lemon cookies. Just because.

Is it cookie time again already? Well, when isn’t it?

I have a weakness for lemony desserts and lately I’ve been spending a little time indulging in the sweeter side of life. As the cooler weather sets in, traipsing through London’s streets in search of the next great party has taken a backseat to warm, intimate coffees and good conversation with friends. And how could you possibly have coffee without a little something to go on the side?

Moreish little morsels.
Moreish little morsels.

On days that start with frosty mornings and slip into rainy evenings, I like to sit on my couch with a really good book, a cup of coffee and a biscuit. The smell of lemon cookies wafts through my place, filling the air with something not unlike happiness.

Fill thy house with the scent of lemon biscuits. Go!
Fill thy house with the scent of lemon biscuits. Go!

These lemon cookies are a variation on the chocolate chip cookies I did earlier. I urge you all to bake a batch, keep warm and embrace cheerfulness. The festive season is peeking around the corner – can you feel it?

Gluten-free lemon cookies
1¼ cups almond meal
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract
Zest and juice of a lemon

Mix together the almond meal, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugar. Zest the lemon and mix well, making sure there are no clumps.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until fluffy and doubled in volume, then whisk in the coconut oil, vanilla extract and lemon juice.

Add to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Place in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the dough from the fridge and shape into flat 7cm discs. These will relax a little more than the chocolate chip cookies, so leave some room in between.

Bake for 7-10 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove and allow to cool on the tray.

These cookies should be eaten within two days. Not because they go bad or anything, but even in an airtight container they start to go soft, sticky and chewy.

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
Little treasures.

Cookies are one of life’s bite-sized little pleasures. I’m not even sure it matters, sometimes, what kind of cookie it is or even if it’s very good or elaborate or artisanal or experimental. On long days filled with an endless list of chores, on cranky days with befuddling annoyances, on rainy days with grey skies, what’s important is taking a minute to sit down with a cookie and a cup of tea and acknowledging that you deserve this.

You really do.

When was the last time you had a chocolate chip cookie?
When was the last time you had a chocolate chip cookie?

I’m all for weird and wonderful flavours and bold, daring culinary contortions, but sometimes I crave a very simple treat: a chocolate chip cookie. Not one laden with three kinds of chocolate and cocoa powder everywhere, either, like you’re biting into an entire Cadbury’s factory. Standard, plain chocolate chip. It’s the simple things that are often the best.

Ready to bake
Ready to bake

Of course, I couldn’t go very long without trying to find a gluten-free solution for my coeliac buddies, and happily I didn’t have to search very far: Sprouted Kitchen has crafted a wonderfully easy recipe that uses very few ingredients and makes delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (the Minimalist Baker captures it beautifully here).

I’m not going to say that these cookies could possibly be better than regular cookies. But we both know that I’ll be thinking it, quietly, over here in the corner of my little kitchen.

Enjoy! xx

gluten free chocolate chip cookies
Everyone deserves these.

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
1¼ cups almond meal
½ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup muscovado sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract

Mix together the almond meal, coconut, chocolate, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until fluffy and doubled in volume, then whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla extract.

Add to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Place in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the dough from the fridge and shape into 7cm discs. They don’t flatten very much during cooking, so how they go into the oven is pretty much how they’ll stay. They do relax slightly, though, so make sure you leave a little room between the discs.

Bake for 7-10 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove and allow to cool on the tray.

avocado & oat cookies

Being good to yourself is important, but so is being kind to yourself.
Being good to yourself is important, but so is being kind to yourself.

Is it possible to have your cookie and eat it too?

I’m so glad you asked. Summer is well and truly here, bringing the whole healthy eating thing into glaringly sharp changing-room-lights focus. Not just because of the amount of skin we’re starting to show (a pretty terrifying prospect all on its own), but also because the heat makes it so much harder to feel good if we’re eating badly.

There are lots of differing opinions out there as to what constitutes ‘eating badly’, but I think you can’t go too far wrong if you listen to your body. For me, that means I physically feel pretty awful if I’m on a constant diet of deep-fried foods, fatty meats, sugary drinks and refined carbs (basically all the fun stuff). But at the same time, mentally I feel pretty awful if I’m restricted to lettuce leaves and a wistful, longing look at the wine list.

So is there a balance? I think so. I feel pretty good and fairly sane if I’m eating complex carbohydrates like brown rice and wholemeal bread, a smattering of lean meats, loads of vegetables and the occasional reality check of eating whatever I want to.

avocado and oat cookies
avocado and oat cookies

Which brings us nicely to today’s recipe. It’s basically an adapted Anzac biscuit recipe, made with wholemeal flour, a reduced amount of sugar and without butter. Once again, I’ve gone with avocados in place of butter – honestly I think I ought to take out shares in an avocado farm – which lends the cookies a brilliant green tinge. Take a deep breath, and think of pistachios.

The final product has a dense chewiness (from the oats and coconut) amidst a soft, moist, cake-like texture (from the flour and avocados). They hit a fine balance of sweet-but-not-too-sweet – I personally think that they could go either way and be served alongside a coffee or on a cheese plate. Without strongly-flavoured ingredients, you do get a sense of the avocado, so if that worries you you might like to add a handful of chocolate chips, a mashed banana, or some cheese and tomato.

These cookies hold their shape, so make sure you're happy with how they go into the oven.
These cookies hold their shape, so make sure you’re happy with how they go into the oven.

Avocado and oat cookies (makes 12)
2 small ripe avocados
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup wholemeal flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
¾ cup (60g) desiccated coconut
¹⁄3 cup golden syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons hot water

Preheat your oven to 165 degrees. While heating, you can toast the oats lightly while you get on with the cookies.

Place the flour, sugar and coconut into a large bowl.

Mash the avocados finely.

Place the golden syrup in a pot and heat gently, then add the avocados and stir until combined. This produces a slightly alarming-looking green mixture which may cause you to lose faith.

Add the hot water to the baking soda and then pour into the pot. The green mixture will turn into a frothy green concoction. At this stage, it would be perfectly natural for you to wonder what kind of crazy recipe you’re following.

Add the toasted oats to the flour and then pour in the wet ingredients and mix.

Shape into 7cm discs and flatten. Without butter, these cookies don’t spread at all so you can afford to place them quite closely together.

Bake at 165 degrees for 15 minutes and cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

anzac biscuits

The Anzac biscuit - a national culinary treasure.
The Anzac biscuit – a national culinary treasure.

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the battle at Gallipoli during the First World War, where many soldiers died during the campaign to capture Constantinople. It is said that Australia’s national identity, the ‘Anzac spirit’, was forged during that brutal campaign – a defining moment for a relatively new nation. It is a day of solemnity where we think about our troops, the fallen and the sacrifices they and their families have made to keep us safe.

Naturally, we also commemorate the day with biscuits.

Crunchy and chewy and golden and delicious.
Crunchy and chewy and golden and delicious.

It might seem strange that a day that inspires so much thoughtfulness, sadness and gratitude in Aussies should be accompanied by something as irreverent as a biscuit – but in some ways, there’s nothing more fitting.

Made with rolled oats, flour, coconut and golden syrup (and egg-free to ensure no spoilage on the long journey to the troops), Anzac biscuits are a national culinary symbol right up there with lamingtons and Tim Tams.

Oh, and you can’t call an Anzac biscuit a cookie. We’re a little touchy about that.

Fresh from the oven
Fresh from the oven

Wholemeal flour works really well in this recipe because the biscuits are already grainy and slightly nutty, so I substituted the whole lot. Rumour has it that you can actually make quite a few substitutions without affecting the final taste too much, but for the original crunchy-on-the-outside, slightly-chewy-on-the-inside biscuits I love this recipe.

Anzac biscuits (makes 24)
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup wholemeal flour
²⁄3 cup (150g) caster sugar
¾ cup (60g) desiccated coconut
¹⁄3 cup golden syrup
125g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons hot water

Mix the oats, flour, sugar and coconut together in a large bowl.

Place the butter and golden syrup over a low heat until melted.

Mix the baking soda with the hot water and then add to the butter/syrup mixture. It will froth up.

Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Oats are delicious!
Oats are delicious!

Shape into flat discs of about 5cm across – they spread quite far, so you need to give them a lot of room on the baking sheet.

Bake at 165 degrees celcius for around 10 minutes, until golden. They’ll come out soft, but let them cool for five minutes on the tray before transferring them to a wire rack and they’ll crisp up nicely.