Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Happy Mistake

This cookie was a result of a mummy brain mistake. For those of you who don't have any children, it is completely true that a woman loses her mind once she has children. I think nature tries to keep you at home with your babies, instead of getting grand ideas and venturing out into the world to pursue them. I haven't had a grand idea in years. My memory is gone (What is the capital of France again? You know, the one with that pointy tower? What's that pointy tower called again?). I need to think hard before coming up with a coherent English sentence when I'm tired. Also, after this cookie mishap, I realised that my ability to divide by three is lost. Probably forever.

What I wanted to do was make the cookies in this photo. Last year I made both, and they were great, and this year I thought I'll make the swirls again, but with coffee instead of pistachios. You have to divide your dough in three and flavour each part with the flavouring of your choice. So I weighed my total amount of dough, which was about 760g, and did a little bit of mathematics in my head, and went ahead to flavour 340g with chocolate. Now those of you with no children, and those of you with children and calculators, will tell me very quickly that 760 divided by 3 is not 340. And I now that now. How I came to that obviously very wrong conclusion is beyond me.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. As I couldn't do swirls anymore, I decided to make chocolate and vanilla roll-ups, except I really wanted to put the coffee in there somewhere as well. After a tiny bit of brainstorming, I thought I'll make a sort of spicy crumble with walnuts (which is what I had in the cupboard) and coffee, and layer everything together. Initially I didn't want to do any nuts, as you never know who turns out to be allergic. Then again, they are my cookies, I wanted nuts in them, and if anybody doesn't want them, they don't have to eat them.

So after layering and rolling and resting my creation in the fridge, I started to cut slices from the roll. To my horror they didn't look at all as I pictured them. I was planning to make cookies that look like those cards on old television shows that you look at to put you in a trance. These looked nothing like that. It smelt good, though, and when it came round to taste testing, they were delicious. Chocolate and coffee and spices, with crunchy nuts. What more do you need in a Christmas cookie?

Next time I make these I'll work at making them look a bit more than my initial idea. I think the biggest mistake I made was making the crumble layer too thick. Maybe they will work better only layered, and not rolled as well, like the cornmeal and spicy pecan cookies I made earlier in the year. Either way, I'm very pleased my mathematical disaster turned out so delicious. If only life was always this forgiving!

Chocolate Coffee Crumble Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen

175g (3/4 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
50g unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 cup walnuts, toasted

Beat butter for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer, and stir in the remaining flour by hand.

Divide the dough in two, and flavour one half with the chocolate. Divide each dough portion in half. Cover and chill for an hour, or until easy to roll.

In a food processor, chop the brown sugar, coffee and walnuts until the consistency you like.

On baking paper, roll out one piece of vanilla dough into a rectangle about 1/2 cm thick, and top with the crumble. Roll out a piece of chocolate dough to the same size, and place on top of the crumble stack. Trim any edges if necessary. If you want to make pinwheels, roll up, starting from a long end, otherwise keep the rectangle stack. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 or 2 hours. Repeat with remaining dough.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

If making pinwheels: Slice the roll into 1/2 cm slices. Place about 2 cm apart on the baking sheet.
If making stacks: Cut each rectangle into half lenghtwise, and then into 1/2 cm slices. Place onto baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until tops are set and edges light brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To store: Layer cookies between baking paper in an airtight container and cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days of freeze for up to 3 months.


  1. ....and so you invented a great new recipe......I think your mind is still ok!!!

  2. A sign of a great baker is that they can build on a mistake and turn it into something yum! Oh, and I don't have kids but even I have a hard time coming up with coherent English sentences when I'm tired. In fact I just re-typed this 3 times. Honest. :)

  3. Thank you so much, you are too kind!

  4. My ma se^ altyd dat geen van jou gaste weet wat plan A was nie, en dis wragtag waar. Daai lyk fabulous. Wens ek kon by jou kom tee drink en 'n paar verorber.