We're nearing the end of the Great Choc Chip Cookie project now - only two more weeks and then the great unveiling of the winner. I had planned a different cookie for this week but by the time I got home after a VERY long day last Tuesday I couldn't face firing up the laptop to get the recipe. So I had a last-minute swerve inspired by a box of mint Matchmakers I had bought and stashed to bring out at Christmas time. Mint and chocolate are a happy marriage, I thought - let's put them together in a cookie.
For the actual cookie base I turned to a book I bought on Johanna's recommendation - The Search for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. It features recipes entered for a competition sponsored by a Massachusetts inn of all places, and while many are variations on the same theme others are really quite intriguing (ice cream as a cookie ingredient anyone? I really want to give that one a go). I turned to the double chocolate section and was saved from the usual indecision and procrastinating by one marked 'Grand Prize'. Excellent. The choice was made.
I followed the recipe exactly except that I left out the nuts and chocolate chips and instead stirred in a whole box of broken up mint matchmakers (I don't know if these are peculiarly British - they are crispy minty chocolate sticks and they always make me think of our friend Vet Mum, who loves them. If you're reading, Vet Dad, tell her I will reprise the cookies for her!). For once I managed not to forget some vital ingredient, and was rewarded with the most amazingly moist, chewy, chocolatey cookies. The mint was a superb addition to the taste, and even I, who usually shuns the baked cookies for the batter-y mixing spoon, was smitten. In fact I went through every trick in the baker's book - that one needs trimming, oh dear, a bit fell off that one, etc etc. I would rank them at the top of the tree with the ginger parkin ones from a few weeks back. The Scientist wasn't in that night to do his oven-fresh tasting, but he was very taken with them when he got back the next day. The recipe made a lot of cookies and so I'd left him four or five and they were all dispatched pretty promptly. He gave them a 9 out of 10 (and bear in mind that he feels that 10 represents so nirvana-like a perfection that it can scarcely be contemplated. He is the Craig Revel-Horwood to my new taster in the English department's Bruno Tonioli).
The tasters at work were not quite as rapturous as I was but they did like the cookie and it polled an average of 8.1. One got hung up on the definitional issue again - she said that she liked it very much but that if she wanted an After Eight she'd have an After Eight. The Senior Tutor compared them more favourably with a mint Aero, while someone else said they tasted like toothpaste (which I don't think is a good thing in a cookie). My favourite response was from the aforesaid English lecturer, however: 'yum yum in my scrum'. A hit there, I think.
The Mint Choc Chip One (adapted from The Search for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie)
1 3/4 cups flour (I used plain)
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup butter or marge, softened (I used marge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar (usually I bake cookies with caster sugar but I happened to have granulated and so used that. The cookie did have a nice graininess to them but it's hard to say if it was from the sugar or the matchmakers)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed.
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp milk
1 box mint matchmakers broken into small bits (the original recipe had 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts and 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
Combine flour and bicarb, and set aside
Use an electric mixer to cream butter. Add vanilla and sugars, and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg. At a low speed beat in cocoa, then milk. With a wooden spoon mix in dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in broken matchmakers.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto nonstick or foil-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350F for 12-13 mins. Remove from oven and cool slightly before removing from baking sheets
Yield: 3 dozen