Rainy Day Cookies

Rainy Day Cookies
These are the cookies I make when I want to occupy my daughter but I don’t have many lavish ingredients lying around.  (Usually on a Sunday!) The recipe contains no melted chocolate – only cocoa powder – but the result is an excellent chocolate biscuit with a good chewy centre that can be decorated using whatever sweets you have lying around in your cupboards. (Many sweets that might melt – undesirably – are best pushed carefully into the biscuits as soon as they come out of the oven, before they harden. Smarties, M&Ms etc hold their shape and are fine to put in the oven). These are the perfect rainy day biscuits – older children can help make the dough and shape into little balls, and smaller children love to stick the sweets on the uncooked dough. For obvious reasons it is better for a grown-up to add any other sweets to the hot biscuits…

160g/5.5oz plain flour
40g/1.5oz cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
115g/4oz unsalted butter, softened
140g/5oz caster sugar
60g/2oz soft light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg (US extra large)

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Line 1-2 baking sheets/shallow trays with baking paper.

To make the cookies:
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Sift together all the dry ingredients – flour, cocoa powder, bicarb, baking powder and salt. Measure your butter. It should be room-temperature soft.

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Beat the butter with the two sugars using a wooden spoon or a mixer. Beat thoroughly for several minutes until light and fluffy.

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Add the egg and vanilla and mix again until completely combined and smooth.

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Lower the speed of your mixer (if using) and add the flour/dry mix in about three batches, mixing between each addition until you’ve got a thick, even, chocolatey dough.

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Roll walnut-sized balls and place on a baking sheet. I can usually get about 18 biscuits from this mix. Use two baking sheets if necessary! Allow about a 2-inch gap all around each ball as these cookies will spread. Push Smarties etc into the balls as you please. Remember not to use jelly-based sweets at this stage as they will just melt everywhere.

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Bake for 12 minutes, until they look done. They’ll still be soft; this is a good time to push any other sweets you like into them. (They will be hot). Allow to cool a little before attempting to remove the biscuits to a cooling rack. They will firm up as they cool.

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*Jelly Tots – the only jelly sweet I’ve found that is, happily, completely vegetarian!

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