Nutella, chocolate and caramel Cookies

Its nearly over, F2 is drawing to a close and that means the next challenge is soon to begin. For me thats Urology and a return to where it all started, the Royal Derby Hospital. I started my training there as an F1 and I loved the place. It’s not just the fact that it’s a modern place, but I had a fantastic circle of nursing and doctor friends.

The dream was simple; create a group of like-minded friends who could meet up, chat and share cakes, pastries and recipes in the morning before heading off to the wards. A lot of the time we would end up discussing patients as well, because let’s face it, you never turn off being a medic. One benefit of this, however, was it speeded up referrals come ward rounds and allowed the exchange of knowledge……………. I’m going to say it certainly helps come exam time. Sed fugit intereafugit irreparable tempus

One lasting memory of these breakfast clubs was the F1 Sian putting Nutella on everything. We aren’t even talking a delicate smear though, it was about an inch thick. So, when I asked the group what they would like me to bake next she replied “Nutella, anything with Nutella please :)!!!”

So Sian this one is for you……………..

Unlike previous blog posts this doesn’t have multiple days or steps. Its got 2 components: the salted caramel and the cookies (but you can just cheat and use a few rollos instead 😉

Salted Caramel 

I love salted caramel, I originally developed this recipe to fill homemade chocolates which I would give away as gifts. Its easy to make but can burn easily if you get distracted.

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Ingredients

  • 2oz Butter
  • 2oz Sugar
  • 100ml Double cream
  • 2tablespoons water
  • 1 pinch of sea salt

After weighing all the ingredients, start by heating the sugar and water till it has reduced down to produce a thick syrup with a light brown colour. Don’t stir during this period, it will act as a point of crystallisation and mean you have to start again – this importantly delays you eating cookies.

 

Once the syrup is ready, add in the butter and cream. This bit is the part you don’t want to be stood with your face over the pan…….. it causes a lot of steam.

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After this, it’s simply a case of cooking the caramel down until a temperature of 118C is reached. At this point, it’s ready; you can add in the salt now or even a kick of vanilla, lavender or just leave it deliciously plain

Salted Caramel and Nutella cookies

These aren’t for the faint-hearted or diabetic but they are epic. I suppose you could make them smaller than I did and make more, but well……. When I was a child cookies were the size of my face and I still want that magic.

Ingredients

  • 4oz butter
  • 12oz Sugar ( is used a mix of caster, Demerara and light muscovado)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2oz chocolate powder
  • 8oz Self raising flour
  • 4oz chocolate chunks
  • Nutella
  • Salted Caramel

Start by getting all your ingredients ready, I’ve had it a few times in the past that you get half way through making a cake and realise that you don’t have enough eggs or have run out of vanilla.

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Start by melting the butter over a low heat, again the Aga simmering hob is perfect for this. Once melted, add in the sugar and combine well. It will produce wonder mix which could probably be used to treat man-flu it’s that powerful.

Continue by mixing in the chocolate, flour and the 2 eggs. This will produce you cookie dough. At this point you can add in whatever you want with regards to chunks. I added dark chocolate chunks because they are my favourite, but you can get creative

Now it’s time to assemble the cookies. The dough gets more malleable as it cools so if you wait a couple of minutes you can use your hands.

Start by greasing and lining a large tray on which to bake the cookies. Just a quick cheat trick to mention here – use an ice-cream scoop to measure out the dough equally. Remember that in effect you need to divide the dough into 12 to make 6 cookies because they need a lid.

Having laid the base out for the cookies, make a depression in the middle. This hole is going to hold the Nutella and salted caramel, which is added a heaped teaspoon at at time. I went for Nutella with caramel on top.

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Divide the remaining dough into 6 or 7 if you want to save a big of dough to have with ice-cream ;). Flatten out each bit of dough into a flat disc just larger than the hole which is now filled with liquid delight. It’s best to do this step by hand because it allows you to crimp down the lid to the base and produce a tight seal.

Now they are ready to bake – Congratulations on making it this far without giving in and just eating it all with some cream or mixed into vanilla ice cream. Just one last flourish, add a pinch of salt to add a twist and nice depth of flavour. Cook in a hot Aga or at about 180c for around 10mins.

Like I said, they turn out rather big.

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Cookie Time!!!

Cookies have a place in everyones childhood and hold a special place in mine. I remember, aged 9, taking a homemade cookie to school and giving a piece to a girl in my class. Back then cookies were the size of your face and girls were scary………………. Its good to know some things don’t change 🙂

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So Sian, as promised, something with Nutella :)……………..

Lets play with Chocolate………

Ok, so last blog I promised to write a mini blog about tempering chocolate. Not sure how we are going to define mini-blog, but anything under 3 days work should do.

Tempering chocolate has quite a lot of science behind it regarding points of crystallisation and light reflection/refraction etc. However it’s not 6th form physics and I’m not drunk enough to explain it, so basically……………it makes chocolate shiny and have a nice snap.

I have to admit my motivation for learning to temper chocolate was childish; competition, I like to be first. Holly, who’s foccacia inspired the first blog and is an amazing cook,  told me how she was planning on tempering chocolate on her day off following our on-call together. The race was on!!!!!

So you can temper chocolate by various methods, but the most popular is either seeding or by using a tempering slab. I went for a granite slab because I’m a child who likes toys, also you are going to need a thermometer  and some moulds………..

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Tempering

You can temper dark, milk and white chocolate, its just the temperatures which vary. I love dark chocolate, it has a fantastic bitterness which compliments coffee and also sweet fillings. You can buy various grades depending on cocoa solids, but I found normal Morrisons dark tempers well and produces a wonderful shine.

1) Melting

This can be done in a microwave, over a pan of hot water or the top of an Aga. If using a bain marie set up, remember the bowl containing the chocolate cannot touch the hot water. The chocolate needs to be gently melted till a temperature of 55-58C, at this point remove the chocolate from its source of heat.

 

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2) Cooling

This is the fun bit; it involves playing with the chocolate.

Pour 2/3 of the liquid chocolate onto the slab and keep working it. Using a chocolate scraper and spatular move the chocolate around the slab to allow even cooling. The idea is that this helps generate uniform crystals within the chocolate- giving it the shine.

When the chocolate has reached 28-29C then transfer it back to the bowl containing the remaining 1/3 of the original melted chocolate. This bit gets a little messy, but its chocolate so who really cares.

 

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I think this would actually make a rather cute activity to do with a girlfriend or someone you were trying to impress. I mean it involves making chocolates after all, so if it doesn’t work out you have always got comfort food………

 

3) Warming

After reuniting the chocolate together, keep mixing until a temperature of 31-32C has been reached. And……… you are done, the chocolate is tempered and you can now use it however you want. One example is little heart shaped chocolates with a salted caramel filling. Fantastic with espresso.

 

 

I never did find out who managed to be the first to temper out of the 2 of us, but it doesn’t really matter. Its a nice skill to have mastered and I’ve put it to good use. Most recently I made handmade chocolates to go with coffee at a charity supper club (I’ll post something soon about theses). The last one was for a charity close to me, Tree Tops Hospice. Helping those who help others is reward enough………………..

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