Don't you just love it when new recipes hit your email inbox. Immediately I am transported (read distracted) into the kitchen, imagining new dishes to try my hand at cooking, inspired by seasonal flavours, and expanding my skills. If a recipe title includes the word chai, it grabs my attention straight away. It is the beginning of spring, yet chai holds its allure. A recipe for Chai chocolate chip biscuits posted by ABC Life last Wednesday had me reaching for my phone to make a shopping list and I made the biscuits on Sunday. The recipe author Thalia Ho, of Butter and Brioche food blog, introduced me to a new technique called pan banging, literally banging the baking sheet against the oven rack several times during cooking to help the biscuit dough spread during baking. For the first time I used a small ice-cream scoop to measure out the biscuit dough, a tip I picked up from customers buying ice-cream scoops in our shop, resulting in eye-pleasing, uniform sized biscuits. I enjoyed making the Chai chocolate chip biscuits with our youngest son, who loves mixing ingredients, especially cracking eggs laid by our Isa Brown chickens. It also helps introduce him to delicious chai spices, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Thalia advises, "Make sure to use the very best chocolate you can find here. Source a block that you wouldn't just bake with, but that you would eat. The chocolate remains the star and you want it to shine." It proves sage advice, biting into the biscuit the chocolate is the highnote, backed by layers of spice flavours.
Recipe states it makes around 25 biscuits, but ours stretched further.
Preparation: 45 minutes (including chilling). Cooking: 10 minutes.
Ingredients: 200g unsalted butter, cubed, 285g light brown sugar, 80g caster sugar, 1 large egg, 1 tbsp vanilla bean extract, 350g plain flour, 1 ¼ tsp bi-carbonate soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground cardamom, ¼ tsp ground allspice, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ⅛ tsp ground cloves, ⅛ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp salt, 200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped, flaked salt, optional
Method: Place the cubed butter into a small to medium saucepan and melt the butter over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove butter from the heat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar and caster sugar, and whisk until combined. Add the large egg and vanilla bean extract, whisking until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix together plain flour (I used local Wholegrain Milling Demeter spelt flour successfully), bi-carbonate soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt. Combine half of the dry ingredients with the bowl of wet ingredients, using a wooden spoon to mix, before adding and mixing the remaining dry ingredients. Fold in the dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces, until well distributed. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line baking sheets or trays with baking paper. Using a small ice-cream scoop or tablespoon, roll out balls of dough and place on baking trays, leaving room for spreading. Sprinkle with flaked salt. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. At eight minutes, open the oven door and raise the biscuit sheet to the next rung. Here’s the fun part, tap the biscuit sheet against the oven rack so the biscuits deflate slightly. Close the oven door and let the biscuits bake and inflate again, for another two minutes. Repeat raising and tapping process at 10 minutes and 12 minutes (total three times). Remove biscuits from the oven and let cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool further. Serve warm if possible, or at room temperature. Scooped dough freezes well for baking later.