Three weeks into the kids’ summer holidays, and I’ve been bandying the word “staycation” about quite a bit. I’m hoping that the kids can grasp the difference between what they are doing every day this summer and what they would normally do on, say, any old weekend, but to be honest, it’s all pretty much the same. The Author and I have got even less of a staycation, having to work most of the month of August, but we have managed to carve out little bits of time to do holiday-ish things as a family.
Still, it’s been a mixed bag all around. Sun, wind, cold, visiting cousins, leaving cousins, boredom, sleepovers in a tent in the rain, movies, beach, bickering, river, moor, lice. What next?
If our latest expedition is any indication, it looks like our luck is on the upswing. We stumbled onto an oat field rimmed with clover, and – after training our eyes – we all managed to find a few with four leaves*. The mist rolled in and obscured the view and our bearings, and The Author and I quietly worried that we weren’t quite sure if we would end up back where we started. We carried on, and The Son asked if it was night.
“No, just cloudy and misty,” I said.
Then The Poppet started to flag – unusual for her – and The Oldest had some aches and pains, and finally The Son was quite volubly mentioning that his feet hurt.
But we trusted in the magic of the clover, and the steadfastness of the National Trust signposts, and sure enough, 3 miles later, we were back in the car with the wipers on, headed home with three tired kids, 40 or 50 leaves of clover, the European premiere of Deep Field on the radio, and a big bar of chocolate that we picked up at the petrol station. Lucky or what?
Triple Chocolate Cookies
makes 3 dozen
If you want to be sure your luck doesn’t desert you, make these cookies and stash a few in your backpack whenever you are on an expedition to an unknown place. I can’t guarantee that they will help you find the way, but they will enable you to enjoy the trek. The triumvirate of dark chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and cocoa nibs (also called cacao nibs) gives these cookies a deep and satisfying but not overly-sweet quality. And, believe it or not, they’re incredibly good for you!
I’ve known for years that chocolate contains phenethylamine, a naturally occurring chemical found in your body when you are in love. But recently, cocoa has been in the news as a wonder ingredient which is associated with low blood pressure, good kidney function, cardiovascular health, improved memory and generally longer life span. You’d be crazy not to take advantage of those health benefits!
And that’s wonderful news, because I have to confess that I am ever-so-slightly addicted to cocoa nibs – I’m fine without them for months at a time, but when I have a few, as with these cookies, I find the perfume-y, fruity, faintly liquored flavour and slightly unctuous crunch totally more-ish. But because they’re full of magnesium, fibre, antioxidants, and iron, to name a few things, I don’t feel too bad about my nibs habit. In fact, I think it’s darn lucky I found them!
- 250g (9 oz.) butter
- 125g (2/3 cup) brown sugar
- 125g (2/3 cup) white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 280g (2.25 cups) flour
- 70g (2/3 cup) cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 140g (1 cup) chocolate chips
- 100g (2/3 – 3/4 cup) cocoa nibs
Beat the butter and sugars together until creamy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated and the mix is fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder over the butter/egg mixture, and stir it in till you have a uniform mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips and cocoa nibs.
Using a portioner or tablespoon, place the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1″ apart.
Bake in a preheated 170C oven for about 10 minutes. The cookies should dome up slightly and then become just a tiny bit firm. When you take them out, remove them from the pan to cool on a wire rack. They will deflate slightly and get a little bit wrinkly but will retain a bit of their domed appearance. (If you would like a more firm cookie, bake for 3-4 minutes more; the cookie domes will crack slightly, and when you take them out of the oven, they will stay aloft.)
Store in an airtight container. Good for about a week, I’d say, but I have no proof so far.
*The Oldest even found a five-leaf clover, but I’m not sure if that’s luckier or just weird.