As I write this post I’m currently surrounded by lemons, honey, tissues, (prescription) drugs and both my left and right lungs; that’s right. I have caught the dreaded Christmas lurgy. But hey, that ain’t gonna stop me from getting into the Christmas spirit! In fact, I’m feeling SO generous that today I’m not only going to give you an awesome cookie recipe, I’m ALSO going to give you not one, but two give-aways! ‘Tis the season and all that jazz. SO. Prepare to have your minds blown and read on, friends, read on.
Every year Momma Lee comes home with an advent calendar which she presents to Brother and I with great pride. This year we each received a Cadbury’s advent calendar that featured a sleeping santa. She then informed us that it was either this one or the Transformers one she saw in Sainsbury’s, and when we said we would’ve preferred Transformers she called us both heathens and walked out of the room. Eh. Can’t win ’em all. But see, here’s the problem: it’s not so much the fact that we’d rather have Megatron on our advent calendars, it’s that I don’t like chocolate, so there’s literally no incentive for me to open each calendar door. Instead it sits there, gathering dust, until I remember and pull out a deformed and (by now) white bit of crumbly chocolate that ends up in the bin (or in a tupperware box in the fridge, thanks Momma Lee). Until now, that is, because I had a total brainwave, the best way to use up unwanted chocolate and create some very festive little bites of nom: Advent Calendar Cookies.
These cookies feature Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate chunks, in a gorgeous soft and chewy cocoa cookie, topped with an advent calendar milk chocolate. Now I’m not doing any advertising for Green & Black’s, but every time I have to do some baking I buy their chocolate. Why? Because it’s damn good, that’s why. This particular flavour is infused with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and a gorgeous hint of citrus, which adds an extra depth to these cookies. That’s why I like it. A hint on using chocolate in baking: my favourite chocolatier told me that the better the quality of the chocolate the faster it burns, so whenever I’m baking with it I make sure to chop it into itty bitty pieces and treat it with care.
The inspiration for this actually came from three different people, whom I’d like to acknowledge here. First off was the lovely Lindsey at Gingerbread Bagels whose Ghirardelli Almond Brownies originally inspired me (to the point where I couldn’t remember whose recipe it was, so spent a good half hour scouring the tinternets and asking all of the Twitterati where it was), the equally lovely Lora at Cake Duchess whose beautiful Chocolate Mint Thumbprint Cookies gave me further food for thought, and my go-to-baker, the stunning Monet from Anecdotes & Apple Cores whose actual cookie recipe I adapted. Credit where credit is due! Thank you ladies for the inspiration!
ADVENT CALENDAR COOKIES
Adapted from Anecdotes & Apple Cores.
1 3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg + 1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 bar Green & Black’s Maya Gold, chopped into small pieces
24 advent calendar chocolates
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and butter two cookie trays well.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl.
3. In a measuring jug, cream together the butter with the two sugars until well incorporated (about 5 mins by hand), then add the egg and yolk and mix well. Add the vanilla extract.
4. Pour the butter, sugar and egg mixture into the centre of the dry ingredients and mix roughly with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Add the Maya Gold chunks and make sure they’re evenly distributed (I used a 100g (3oz) bar) throughout the batter.
5. Using a teaspoon scoop out the batter into your hand, form rough balls and place on your prepared cookie sheets. Press down lightly on the balls with two fingers to flatten slightly.
6. Bake in the oven for about 14 mins – Monet’s tip is to take them out of the oven just before they look ‘done’, as this will help them to stay soft and chewy. It really works, so I recommend it!
7. Allow to cool on the tray and when still warm (but not too warm, or the chocolate will melt), press an advent calendar chocolate into the top of each cookie. Remove to a wire wrack and let cool, then store in an airtight box or wrap up and give away!
8. Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee or, even better, a mug of ginger tea! Mhm…
But that’s not all. Y’see the reason I was even thinking about this is because Ewa from Tortilla and I had been discussing the fact that I didn’t want my advent calendar chocolates, and she had made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: use my advent calendar chocolate to bake something and she’d swop it for a burrito. Hello! So after I’d baked these babies up (and tested one or two… or three… or four…), I wrapped them up nicely Feeder Lady style, stuck a red ribbon and a sticker on them, and took them down to the Oxford Circus branch at the appointed time for the Great Christmas Swop. We chatted, swopped goods, snapped a few photos and then I went on my merry way, feeling like the Fairy Feeder Lady.
Tortilla is a very American concept, brought over to London by Brandon Stephens, a Californian, and taking the streets of London by Cali-Mexican storm. If you’ve been to Amurika then you’ll know that there are burrito places on practically every corner, so when I heard they were coming to the UK I knew that I wanted to check them out. There are currently five locations in London: Islington, Southwark, Canary Wharf, Oxford Circus & Leadenhall Market, and apparently the Leadenhall Market one has a giant Corona chandelier that they were trying to break the world-record with (for largest bottle-based sculpture). Unfortunately they lost to some monks somewhere who built a temple out of thousands of beer bottles, but it’s a pretty good effort, still. The Oxford Circus branch boasts its own pretty little Corona chandelier, however, which is worth checking out!
And SO. THE GIVE-AWAYS. Ewa loved her cookies so much that she has wrangled TWO VOUCHERS from Tortilla for a FREE BURRITO to give-away to you guys, so that you and a friend can enjoy the goodness of Tortilla! And I’m telling you, that burrito? Mhm, that burrito… I went home, scoffed it down and watched Labyrinth. There is nothing better than a bulging burrito and a bulging David Bowie. Mhmmm…
But that’s not all. I promised you two give-aways, didn’t I? Because the Tortilla give-away is only open to those based in the UK (I don’t think the burrito would travel that well across the Atlantic), I’m throwing in a give-away of my own which is open to all readers worldwide! Remember this?
I look like a mentalist.
Remember how I said that you could win that mug? Well now you can! That is a very special ‘I Am A Feeder’ personalised baby mug from Emma Bridgewater – I bought two and, in the spirit of Christmas, I’M GIVING ONE AWAY! What lucky readers you are.
Golf ball shown for size…
Alright, enough chit-chat, how can you win these fabulous things? Very simple.
To win the Tortilla vouchers (open to UK residents) answer this whimsical question in the comments:
1. If you had to liken yourself to a cookie which would you be and why?
For additional entries:
1. Like the Tortilla page on Facebook, then come back here and leave a separate comment telling me you did so.
2. Follow Tortilla on Twitter, then come back here and leave a separate comment telling me you did so.
Send me cookies. That’s it! Three different opportunities to win those vouchers! I’ll use a randomiser to pick the winner for this one.
To win the I Am A Feeder baby mug (open worldwide) answer this whimsical question in the comments:
1. If you could feed any person in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Only one opportunity to win the mug, so make sure your answer’s a good ‘un! Whichever one tickles my fancy the most will win. BOOM.
So there you go. Aren’t I a freakin’ generous soul. So, now I’m going to return to my trashy TV, my tissues, my lemons and honey, and I’m going to scoff down some more cookies. Y’know what they say: starve a fever, feed a cold, and if there’s anything I’m good at it, it’s feeding. Until next time folks, peace and love.
PS: I’ll announce the winners on New Year’s Day so plenty of time to get your entries in! Go, go, go!