National Cookie Swap 2013 and spiced dark chocolate cookies

Well readers, I can’t wait to tell you about an exciting event that I attended over the weekend. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you will no doubt know what I am talking about – the third annual Cape Town Cookie Swap! This year it was a national event with cookie swaps also taking place in Joburg and Durban on the same Saturday. Proceeds from the event went to Khayelitsha Cookies, and I will be telling you a bit more about this fantastic company in a little bit. 

 
When I heard about this event I was very keen to get involved. I mean let’s be honest – an excuse to make a huge batch of cookies, the prospect of devouring a selection of home made treats and a chance to meet up with some fellow foodies all in the name of a good cause – what’s not to get excited about?
 
It turned out to be a wintery Cape Town afternoon, but the cold and wet weather could not dampen the spirits of sixty bakers (and a few non-bakers) who arrived, biscuit barrels in hand, at Dear Me in Cape Town’s CBD. The Cookie Swap took place in the bright upstairs area of the venue, and after checking in and popping our biscuits on the display table there was a chance to mingle, have a drink and peruse the sumptuous selection of cookies. Later on there was an auction with fabulous goodies and spot prizes on offer, and then it was on to the main event – swapping and sampling of the gorgeous array of cookies. To be honest, I was so busy chatting that I only ate one or two at the venue, but left with plenty of samples to take home. All in all it was a fabulous afternoon. My personal highlight was having the opportunity to meet in person many of the food bloggers I have engaged with on social media over the last few months – what a lovely bunch!
 
So as I mentioned a little earlier the beneficiary of this year’s Cookie Swap was Khayelitsha Cookies. At the event we heard from Adri Williams, Managing Director of this inspiring company that provides permanent employment for previously disadvantaged women, training them to produce delicious handmade cookies. Not only that, the company also empowers these women by teaching other life skills such as budgeting, and by encouraging them to study and promoting their career growth.
Proceeds from the event were to go towards the purchase of new shoes and chairs for the women at their factory. As Adri spoke it quickly became clear that this is a company passionate about producing quality products as well as community upliftment. I do encourage you to pop a box of Khayelitsha Cookies into your shopping trolley next time you are in the biscuit aisle!
 
Onto my cookie contribution and I decided to go with a favourite recipe, but adapt it for the occasion. I first made this recipe about two years ago as Christmas gifts for a few people. They went down a treat and since then I have made these Christmas cookies many times. The original recipe is by Donna Hay, but in this adapted version I have made it richer, darker and more decadent with the addition of dark chocolate. I have nicknamed them “Christmas in your mouth” cookies, and when you taste the warm spices and dark chocolate I am sure you will understand why! Dense, chewy and dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar, I hope these these will become one of your favourites too.

Baking tip:
when measuring out the golden syrup I always start by greasing the cup with a smidge of vegetable oil. This makes it much easier to scrape the syrup out with minimal waste.


SPICED DARK CHOCOLATE COOKIES

  • Servings: Makes 30 cookies
  • Print

For the cookies:

  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • ¼ tsp bicarb
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 150g butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup treacle sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup golden syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the sugar coating:

  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

1.) Preheat your oven to 180ºC and line a tray with baking paper.

2.) Sift the flour, cocoa, bicarb, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves into a bowl and mix.

3.) Cream the butter and sugars in a bowl until fluffy. Add the golden syrup, egg and vanilla extract and mix to combine.

4.) Add the dry ingredients and dark chocolate. Mix everything together until you have a soft dough.

5.) Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and arrange on a baking tray. (You may need to bake the cookies in two batches.) Flatten each cookie lightly with the palm of your hand.

6.) Bake the biscuits for 8 minutes. Turn the tray in the oven and bake for a further 8 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen slightly and are starting to crack on top.

7.) Transfer the biscuits to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Sift the icing sugar and cinnamon into a bowl and mix. Toss the warm cookies in the cinnamon sugar mix to coat. Set the cookies aside on the cooling rack to cool completely.

 


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