Monday, 20 January 2014

Roald Dahl Knows His Stuff: Arnhem Girls Cookies

So, Arnhem Girls cookies. This recipe has been haunting me for about two years now - I first saw it on Anger Burger, then traced it back to Savour Fare, whose excitement about it is totally infectious. And it's easy to see why - it's an interesting recipe, so simple, and hey, Roald Dahl loved it - if the man behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory adored them (and he describes some amazing food in his memoir Boy), they must be worth a shot at the very least.

I popped down to The Essential Ingredient to grab some pearl sugar to try it out. (Does anyone else love that place? I always feel as if I could happily walk out with everything they have. Everything.) This is definitely not the Swedish pearl sugar that Savour Fare uses; it's larger and coarser - to me it looks like chunks of snow. I find it quite pretty:

It's less sweet than standard sugar, with a slightly softer bite to the grains and an interesting texture. Google tells me it's good for sprinkling on baked goods. And waffles. That needs to happen. 

I didn't get any pics of the initial process (it was approx. midnight), but it doesn't really need to be documented. Your ingredients go straight into the mixer barring sugar and butter. Knife in small chunks of butter and mix 'til combined. Scrape out onto plastic wrap and let chill overnight. The dough is sticky and not a whole lot of fun to work with, so touch it as little as possible. The whole process takes around two minutes.

The next day, all you need to do is shake some pearl sugar out onto your rolling surface, plonk your dough on top, add more sugar and roll it out as best you can. I didn't want to overly flour mine so instead, I just rolled it a little, then knifed chunks and handformed the cookies as opposed to using a cutter. As a consequence, my cookies came out quite thick. I halved the recipe and got 8 regular cookies - you'd probably get a dozen thin ones. If you like your cookies on the crunchy side, stick to Savour Fare's original measurements. Bake low and slow - 135 degrees, 30-45. Mine took about an hour because they're considerably thicker than the original recipe.

It's 9:30 at night and the lighting in my house is shot, but - here they are. Some crystals went soft and melty, some retained their texture. The bottom caramelised beautifully and they taste wonderful: soft but chewy with a definite sconeish flavour, a little crunch from the sugar, not too sweet. Seriously good cookies. They seem very open to adaptation too; I'd be tempted to sprinkle on coconut sugar for that butterscotchy flavour, or cinnamon, or even go the way of Isa Does It's rosemary choc-chip cookies. These are definitely going into the regular baked goods rotation here. Brilliant. 

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