I went on a bus yesterday afternoon. London buses have always been a treat for me, especially the top floor but, these days, they’re not much fun. Social-distancing and mask-wearing seem to belong to another world and, when someone was about to sit beside me (distance between us, about two inches…) I decided to get off. It was the right decision, but I did get so completely soaked on the walk home that I needed to change all my clothes once I got in.
All I wanted after that was to sit in the warm, drinking tea and eating biscuits. I am supposed to be limiting my sugar intake, after the last six months’ indulgence and lack of movement, but as I squelched home, thinking about the state of the world, I realised that a few extra pounds around my waist are not really very important. Perhaps it was okay not to deprive myself when everything is such a mess.
In fact, I realised, what I wanted was to be more ‘Olive and Mabel‘. Remember them? The two labradors who broke the internet when their owner commentated on their dog-bone tussles and walks? I read a wonderful interview with their sports-journalist owner at the weekend and this line stayed with me:
‘Humans are always wanting to “improve”, wanting something more, something better, and the way they go about that causes them to be corrupted. Dogs aren’t corrupted by that higher level of thinking; they just don’t operate that way because, basically, their minds are full of biscuits.’
Truly, this is what we all need, minds full of biscuits. Fill yours with these, lovely, simple and delicious ones from a recipe by the ever-brilliant Honey & Co in the FT. And let’s all be more Olive and Mabel. Who needs improvement right now? Let’s have indulgence. It’s so much nicer.
Chocolate and ginger cookies (makes about 20-40 depending on the size you make; the dough freezes really easily)
Cupboard (or things you might already have)
unsalted butter, 160g
light brown sugar, 140g
sugar, 140g (I used a mixture of caster and granulated)
cocoa powder, 40g
self-raising flour, 330g
salt, 1 tsp
dark chocolate, 280g
crystallised ginger, 50g
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan-assisted/gas 6. Divide the chocolate into two lots, one of 200g and another of 80g. Chop the 200g lot into small pieces and melt the 80g lot in a bowl over hot water. Line a baking sheet or two with baking parchment.
2. Chop the crystallised ginger into small pieces.
3. Beat the butter and sugars together, then beat in the egg. Add the melted chocolate and mix till well combined then add the cocoa powder, flour, salt and crystallised ginger and stir together until you have a stiff dough.
4. Depending on the size of the cookie you want, break off lumps between 30g and 60g (I weighed one then guessed the rest) and roll into balls. Flatten slightly then place on the lined baking tray, leaving plenty of space for them to spread (if you are making 60g ones you’ll need to leave about 5cm, smaller ones will need less). If you don’t want to use all the dough, roll the remainder into logs, wrap in cling film and freeze; you can then thaw and bake as below on another miserable day.
5. Bake for about 6-7 minutes then remove from the oven, tap the baking sheet gently against a surface then return to the oven for a further 3-4 minutes. Leave to cool (they will harden up a bit too) before eating. Keep an eye on them if you have an unreliable oven like me; I found the FT timings (8 mins then 4 mins) gave me a slightly singed first round so I watched them more carefully the second time.