I know a good cookie when I eat one. The white chocolate and cranberry cookies from Christmas are made for most occasions in our house – not just the festive season. The same dough has been adapted with countless combinations of additions, from pecans and Caramac chunks to dark chocolate, salted pretzels or whatever might be lurking in the chocolate tin. For super chocolately ones, it has to be the totally chocolate chocolate chip cookies from Express for me – they use almost half a kilo of chocolate between the chips and in the batter – but they are exactly what you want in a dark, melting biscuit. Now I come to think of it, the buttery chocolate chip cookies from Kitchen often make an appearance too, topped with smarties for the boys is especially pretty and pleasing. My favourite thing about these recipes is getting ahead. You can make the dough, cook half and freeze the remainder for a short-notice batch when you need them. Visitors are always impressed by a bake, and fresh from the oven cookies are the ultimate welcoming treat with tea or coffee, from freezer to plate in scarcely 20 minutes.
So another cookie recipe is always welcome to the family and double chocolate and pumpkin seed sounded like a grown-up version (that I could also tinker with down the line). The recipe sounded fairly straightforward too, so needing something to take to Prosecco Club and having cut the lemon tendercake the day before, these seemed like a good Friday afternoon post-school bake with the boys, a treat for them, some to take and the rest for the freezer. Recipe rundown: starts with all good things – cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla, then slowly mix in the flour, cocoa and bicarb dry ingredients. Finally add the chocolate chips (I chop up a bar of dark chocolate as I like a good chunk rather than uniform little pebbles) and pumpkin seeds, salting the dough to taste. The make-ahead tip says you can store the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days, which is a great headstart if you need it. As it is, I cover it and do the school run and let the boys add the chocolate and seeds when we come back. Little ice cream scoop at the ready, we manage to get 20 cookies from the dough and put half a dozen in a freezer bag pre-bake. Two batches later and the house smells divine. I leave the cookies on the baking sheet for as long as I can stand and then slide them onto a wire rack when they’re more sturdy.
Most importantly, how do they measure up on the Nigella cookie scale? I wasn’t sure how chocolatey they’d be without the melted chocolate in the batter that I love from the Express version, but the cocoa makes them dark and musky. They are light and crisp at the edges, but melting and gooey in the centre – bearing in mind my lack of patience. The chocolate chunks and pumpkin seeds are not a strange combination as I’d feared; actually they were more of a texture than a flavour. Less crunchy than a nut but still with a bite and waxy chew, their dark green camouflages with the chestnut brown biscuit in a beautiful way. Apparently they are also rich in zinc and magnesium, which help build muscle and fend off disease alongside containing mono-unsaturated fatty acids. All I know is they are a tasty addition. These cookies are just as chocolatey as their Express cousins, just as indulgent, with a caramel hit from the soft brown sugar but no overwhelming sweetness, just a mellow cocoa hit with a salty hint. I’m not sure if I’ve under-baked them slightly – 10 minutes in the oven doesn’t seem long, but if I have I like it. Number one son declares that he doesn’t like them…he loves them – I’ll take that. You could easily eat 3 or 4 of these in one go and feel good about it in many ways. In fact, I get the feeling that the freezer stash won’t be frozen for long.