Friday, 7 November 2008

The Great Cookie Research Project: The Bonfire Night One

I think I may give up my Cookie Research Project. I'm not sure I can better the cookie from this week - although the only credit I can take is in selecting a good recipe. I take my cookies in on Wednesdays, and since Wednesday last week was Bonfire Night I thought I'd do a parkin-inspired number. This also enabled me to legitimately use the word 'treacle' a lot, since it is one of the key ingredients of parkins and gingerbreads, and is also one of my most favourite words. Treacle is actually a very old word - it used to mean an antidote to poison, which is why springs with supposedly curative properties were sometimes known as 'treacle wells'. It's amazing what you learn when you have to give a lecture on pre-Reformation popular religion. Treacle is also mentioned in Alice in Wonderland - one of my favourite children's books - when the dormouse at the Mad Hatter's teaparty tells a story about a treacle well.

While treacle is a very good word, it is not a very tasty ingredient on its own, and so the batter for this cookie wasn't at all nice (though I did check, just in case). I'd been looking around for a gingerbread cookie when what should turn up in Dan Lepard's baking column in the Saturday Guardian, but - chocolate parkin biscuits. I haven't made any of his other recipes but I've been saving quite a few of them to try and he said that these cookies were crispy, which is what my colleagues seem to like. They involve a bit of melting, a bit of stirring, a bit of chopping of crystallised ginger, some oats, and then when the batter was cooled I put it in the fridge overnight so that I could bake them on Tuesday night. I was a bit worried this might have an adverse effect on a melted batter, but it seemed to do fine and actually made it very easy to handle.

The smell these cookies produced when they were baking was divine, and The Scientist was already hovering by the oven when they were ready to come out. He said that they were absolutely the best ones so far and rated them a 9. High praise indeed. They also scored amazingly highly with my colleagues - an average of 9.4 with all 9s and 10s. Comments were quite extensive this time - 'Scrummy!', 'gooey & very tasty!' and 'delicious, I liked the oats' were just a few. One of the French lecturers even stopped me in the ladies' to ask if I was the cookie baker and could she have the recipe as they were so good! I think they were so popular because they were very moist and very gingery. However, I do have a confession to make: between the chilling and shaping and chatting to The Scientist at the same time - *I forgot to add the chocolate chips*!! So they're not really choc chip cookies at all and as such I'm not really sure they should legitimately be part of my investigation. However, since they were so popular and blatantly stand alone with no choc chips involved, I am choosing to keep them in anyway. After all, my tasters couldn't care less what cookies I bring in as long as they appear in the kitchen. I really liked them too and I think that adding chocolate would actually detract from the oats and the ginger. I'd be interested to try it with chocolate another time to see. Especially if it gives me another opportunity to talk about treacle.

The Bonfire Night one: recipe here


Johanna said...

definitely my sort of biscuit - I even love the name chocolate parkin biscuit - and I loved all your treacle info too! How could you go wrong with something so dark and sticky!

Anonymous said...

I never knew that about treacle wells, I think I assumed it was all part of the surreal world of Alice.


Lysy said...

My sentiments exactly Johanna!

Munchkin Granny: I'm glad it's occasionally useful to have a historian for a daughter!