compost cookies

Let it be known that I love our lab teacher/demonstrator. He makes a 6hr lab session not only bearable but actually enjoyable. In celebration of Mental Health Week, today he let us listen to the radio while we worked on our P K Thomas wax up (which none of us remembers how to do), tiny eyefucking things that are somehow therapeutic at the same time.

As I alluded to in the last post, we had an anatomy and histology prac exam on Tuesday. It was… better than expected in the sense that only 2 minutes were spent on each station so that nothing too in-depth was tested. Surprisingly I felt better about anatomy walking out than I did histology, as I could never tell between the 9237247 nerves, veins, arteries, muscles, bones, ducts in the head and neck region when we had gross labs. The specimen labeling was mostly the usual suspects, and the questions (to my huge relief) were short and straightforward. I screwed up the big question in histology though, as we were meant to do a sketch of some salivary glands, and I made it harder on myself by magnifying the original picture, which took up so much time I couldn’t label it properly. Worse was when I glanced sideways, as you do, everyone had filled their page with tight writing vs my giant ass drawing with spare labels. Sigh.

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As much as I appreciate an intricately put together dessert, I will always have a special place in my heart (and stomach) for a good, simple cookie. Here are some reasons why:

  • They’re 99.9% foolproof. They’re like the Nokia of baked goods. The fat curdled when you added the eggs? No probs, the flour will bring it back. You overmixed the dough? Cool, just chill it a while. You forgot to put in the flour (cough)? Gooey cookies FTW. See, baking sins that would render many products unsatisfactory are all forgiven and forgotten by the mighty cookie.
  • Mixer to mouth in <30mins
  • They’re good on their own and even better incorporated into another dessert. Ice cream sandwiches, pie crusts, parfaits, cookies and cream ice cream and so on and so on.
  • There are just about an infinite number of combinations of mix-ins you can throw into a cookie dough, although the favourites revolve around chocolate. The classic chocolate chip, chocolate and mint, chocolate and orange, chocolate and hazelnut, s’mores, chocolate and salted caramel, chocolate and chilli, white chocolate and macadamia…
  • They are the easiest bakes. Someone who’s never baked can make as good a cookie with a spoon and bowl as a pastry chef with a stand mixer.
  • From the same batch of dough, you can make chewy cookies, crunchy cookies, half-baked cookies and cookies crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Compost cookies wholeheartedly embrace the above principles why cookies will forever reign. Easy and quick, tick. Substitute the mix-ins for literally whatever is in the pantry, tick. Chewy in the centre and crunchy on the outside, sign me the f*ck up.

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They were inspired, of course, by the esteemed Momofuku Milk Bar’s recipe. To my delight, it encourages creative freedom: “add your own favourite snacks”, and so I did. On this occasion I went for my third favourite dried fruit (after mangoes and cranberries), dates for chewiness; my favourite nut – almond for crunchiness; and chocolate, my favourite antidepressant.

Why are there no decent photos of the finished cookies you ask? Firstly, because half of them were consumed by one single mouth (not naming names) as soon as they were baked. Secondly, because my camera which isn’t even a camera, it’s my shitty phone that decided its glamour shots are not to be wasted on me and somehow went batshit grainy. By the time I found a substitute, all that was left was my test cookie and some crumbs. The definition of sad.

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Compost cookies (makes 17 8cm cookies)

100g unsalted butter, room temp.
50g brown sugar*
30g granulated sugar*
1 medium egg or 50g whole eggs
100g flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1T ground coffee/tea (I used earl grey, obviously)
40g rolled oats
35g toasted almonds, roughly chopped**
55g dried dates, chopped**
40g dark chocolate, chopped**

*I halved the amount of sugar to ease my own guilt and to compensate for the added sweetness from the dates. Also, I’m a lazy ass and don’t bother buying brown sugar so I added 1 tbsp molasses to 80g white sugar.

**Or any combination of mix-ins you prefer, of the same weight.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Line baking trays.

Beat the softened butter and sugar(s) together until fluffy and lighter in colour. Add the egg and emulsify (batter glossy and thick) but don’t worry if it curdles. Sift in the flour, baking powder and soda and salt and stir on slow speed just until mixed in. Add the oats and mix-ins and stir briefly just so everything’s distributed and combined.

Scoop out ~1 tbsp of dough on the prepared trays, spacing them far apart (~10cm). There is no need to chill or flatten the dough, but of course that’s just my preference. Depending on the size, they take about 12-20 minutes to bake, or until your preferred doneness. Cool completely before serving (eating is an entirely different matter – I for one cannot suppress my lust for them as soon as they’re done).

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