- Food & Drink
I had a plan. A vision. I would make chocolate chip cookies, thick as duvets and chewy in the middle. There would be white chocolate chips, all creamy with vanilla; lime zest for zing; and a subtle glow of chilli heat. They would be great cookies and everyone would be amazed by me and my baking.
I devised this plan after being sent some candied chillies by Caprera, an online shop that gathers together small producers so you can order handmade chutney, small batch gin and artisan granola with one click. They asked if there was anything I wanted to try. The candied chillies, made by Jimmy Ginger, caught my eye. By the time they arrived, I had my baking strategy mapped out.
I should have realised that things were going to go wildly askew when I was chopping up the chillies. The sachet contained four chillies, stiff with sugar, that crumbled into flakes as I chopped them. It occurred to me I should try the chillies before I based a baked good around them. So I dabbed a little flake of sugar crisped chilli onto my tongue. Sweet, fruity, with a hint of red-fleshed capsicum and OH MY GOD SOMEONE JUST DETONATED A NUCLEAR WEAPON IN MY MOUTH.
These are spicy chillies.
I drank a glass of milk, sweated profusely for a few minutes and then put all the chillies into the cookie batter because why would I learn from experience?
I wasn’t 100% certain about the cookie batter, either. I’d never really made cookies before, but I’d done some research, compared recipes and put something together based on what I had in my kitchen. The batter was more cakey than I’d expected, but what did I know?
I dropped spoonfuls of batter onto the baking trays, slid them into the oven and watch the cookies melt into thin, crisps rounds that looked a lot like anaemic brandy snaps. I peeled them off the baking tray and within 30 seconds they had hardened into lacy discs. I hadn’t made cookies. I’d made a kind of after dinner biscuit that might be nice rolled into a cylinder and poked into the top of an ice cream sundae, except that an uneven distribution of chilli flakes meant every third bite was like eating fire itself.
I thought I’d take them into work any way, because office workers can digest anything, and readied myself to write to Caprera and explain that I’d turned their Nice Thing into a Bad Thing.
In the office I handed out the cookies, forcefully explaining that “they contain chillies and sometimes it hurts to eat them.” The first plateload was hoovered up. With morbid fascination I watched my colleagues take their first bite. Some got off lightly, with just crisp biscuit, lime and chocolate. Some got a wallop of chilli so great they began to weep.
They all continued eating. Sometimes they’d throw me a baleful glance, like a baby that’s just learnt chocolate exists and can’t believe it’s being made to eat broccoli instead. But they all finished. I was amazed. A few minutes later a colleague sidled up to me.
“Are there any more of those biscuits?”
Happily, I’d made around 50 of the things, so I dished them all out. They next day a few people wondered if I had any leftover, or if there was any chance of me making more. Somewhere along the line, between putting in too much chilli and not enough flour, I’d made highly addictive crack biscuits. My plan to take over the world through evil baked goods, which I’d previously shelved, had promise once again.
The recipe below makes far too many biscuits and eating them is like playing chilli biscuit roulette. If I was to develop this recipe further, I would reduce the quantise and treat them like tuiles. Shaped into a cylinder and poked into a white chocolate fudge sundae, or maybe a strawberry mousse, they might just have promise.
Almost a Recipe for White Chocolate Chip Cookies with Lime & Candied Chilli
Makes lots and lots
Oil, for greasing
100g white chocolate
4 candied chillies from Caprera (or maybe just 2 if you don’t want the thrill of the burn)
300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of bicarbonate of soda
275g salted butter, softened
175g demerara sugar
250g granulated sugar
2 medium eggs
1 tbsp whole milk
A pinch of sea salt flakes
1 Heat your oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas 5. Brush a couple of baking trays with a little oil and line them with baking parchment.
2 Finely grate the zest from the lime. Finely chop the white chocolate and the candied chillies. Stick them all in a bowl together and put to one side.
3 Sift the flour into a bowl with the baking powder and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. Put to one side.
4 Beat the butter till it’s smooth with an electric mixture, then add the two sugars. Beat again for 2-3 minutes till a pale toffee colour and fluffy. Crack in the eggs and add the milk and beat again for a few more minutes.
5 Sift the flour mixture into the butter and eggs. Beat again for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped chocolate, chillies and lime zest and fold through the mixture with a flexible spatula.
6 Scoop 1 tsp out of the mixture and drop it onto the baking tray. Repeat, making sure the cookies are well spaced apart (you’ll probably need to bake these in batches). Sprinkle a little pinch of salt over each cookie. Slide the trays into the oven and bake for 5-8 minutes till the biscuits are a pale golden brown.
7 Let the cookies cool on the tray for 20 seconds, then lift them off with a spatula and cool on a wire rack. Keep them in an airtight tin. They will keep for a few days (in theory).