Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

Happy 2016, people! I really hope this turns out to be a very good one. Judging from the first few weeks, you wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to think so, but here’s hoping! A lot has happened over the last few weeks, most notably I went back home to Italy for the Christmas/New Year holidays. It was great to be back and to pretty much devote my entire time to stuffing my face with great food and doing very little else. I also took advantage of my traveller’s nature to visit a few new places (Turin, just to name one) and to try the local cuisine in Venice.

Next week I will be in London for work. Needless to say, I will take advantage of my convenient location to try out a few places, namely Honey & Co. and Jose Pizarro‘s tapas restaurant. I cannot emphasise enough how obsessed I am at the moment with Middle Eastern cuisine. After having tried a few recipes off Persiana, Sabrina Ghayour’s latest book, I finally landed on Honey & Co.’s baking book, a true revelation. Below you will find my twist on their recipe for gooey and soft chocolate and pistachio cookies, although I strongly suggest you give their other creations I go!

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Ingredients

  • 250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 55g unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 175g light brown soft sugar
  • 65g strong bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • about 150g pistachios, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl suspended over a pan of boiling water. Make sure the water in the pan is gently simmering or the chocolate may seize and become grainy. Once melted, remove from the double boiler and allow to cool slightly.
  2. In the meantime, whisk the eggs and the light brown soft sugar together in the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. You want the mixture to double in volume and to fall back on itself like a ribbon when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. Add the melted chocolate mixture and gently fold in with a rubber spatula.
  3. In a bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients, then gently fold in the mixture and combine until there are no flour streaks visible. Allow to cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes or until you can easily handle the mixture. You could also refrigerate it, but you may need to bring it back to to room temperature if you cool it too much.
  4. Line two baking trays with baking parchment. Pour the roughly chopped pistachios in a shallow bowl. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  5. Divide the cookie dough into 12 and, using your hands, roll the pieces into balls, then drop them into the chopped pistachios and gently roll them around until they are completely covered. Arrange them on the prepared baking trays, allowing plenty of space in between for the cookies to expand while baking. Repeat until you have used all of the mixture.
  6. Bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes in the centre of the oven (you may need to do one tray at a time), so that they firm up on the edges but stay nice and chewy in the middle. Remove the trays from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before attempting to lift the cookies. Enjoy!

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Rocky Road

This recipe couldn’t be any simpler. There is a tendency in the baking world (much in the same way as there is elsewhere, really) to try and label everything. You have a torte, a cheesecake, a Danish pastry, etc. This, therefore, should be called a ‘fridge cake’ because it involves no cooking and it sets in the fridge. Call it as you wish, it still is rocky road. As usual, the origin of the dessert is lost in the mists of time. What is certain, however, is that an ice-cream by the same name predates the candy bar, which originated in the US. It was then exported and adapted for the British market to include staples which the Brits might find more palatable and domestic, such as raisins and/or sultanas.

The name ‘rocky road’ most likely refers to the bumps and humps of the chocolate bar. And that is exactly what I like about it. It looks homemade. The original recipe for this comes from the Gü Chocolate Cookbook, which is chock full of inspiration if you, like me, are a true chocolate lover. However, I have amended it to suit my taste better and use more chocolate (obviously). One word of warning: please use good chocolate. I always buy dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids (Green & Black’s is a good commercial brand and they do organic chocolate too). I know it might be more expensive than your average chocolate, but if you are planning to work with this sometimes fiddle ingredient, quality is essential.

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Ingredients

  • 500g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 6 digestive biscuits, roughly crushed
  • 50g mini marshmallows
  • 50g puffed rice
  • 50g pistachios
  • 20g candied cherries, halved

Method

  1. Cover a deep 20cm square cake tin with clingfilm or baking parchment, ensuring the clingfilm is left overhanging.
  2. Break the chocolate into smaller pieces, then put 300g of the dark chocolate, the milk chocolate, the butter and the golden syrup in a large heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan filled by one-third with boiling and simmering water. Ensure the bowl doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl or the chocolate will seize. Gently melt the chocolate mixture over bain mairie until the chocolate is smooth, stirring occasionally to evenly expose the chocolate to the heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. In another bowl, combine the pistachios (no need to chop them), marshmallows, puffed rice, cherries and digestive biscuits. Drop them into the chocolate mixture, then mix with a rubber spatula to coat evenly. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and spread it evenly with the spatula, pressing to ensure the mixture is compact. Transfer to the fridge to set for a good 2 hours.
  4. Melt the remaining 200g dark chocolate over bain mairie, then remove the set chocolate bar from the fridge and pour the melted chocolate on top. Tilt the cake tin to spread the chocolate mixture evenly, but don’t be afraid if the surface still features dents and gaps, that adds to the charm.
  5. Put the completed cake back in the fridge to set (at least 1 hour), then remove from the fridge and use a warmed knife to cut through or break the bar to ensure an even more rustic look. Enjoy!

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