Readers, cast your time back to this time last year, when Marks and Spencer brought out their greatest product to date: black forest gateaux cookies. Now despair that they no longer do them - those idiots! They had gold in their hands, and they threw it out like rubbish. They were soft, delicious pieces of joy, full of chocolate and cherries. If you wanted to taste heaven, you could warm them up. AND THEY DISCONTINUED THEM. My mum still insists on checking the biscuit aisle every time we visit M&S together, and her heart is broken afresh each trip.
So to cheer her up, I have baked some of my own. Rich with cherries, dark chocolate and a drop of kirsch, they're good for teatime and as a post-dinner pudding, warmed up with some ice cream on the side. And they are so quick to make, especially if you skip the soaking and just buy Sainsbury's Morello cherries in kirsch (find them in the baking aisle), although there is a strong risk you will eat them all when you open the bag.
Black Forest Gateaux Cookies (makes 24)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
You will need:
- 100g dried cherries
- 50ml kirsch
- 200g unsalted butter
- 170g light brown soft sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/2 tsp almond essence
- 220g self-raising flour
- 100g dark chocolate chips
- Start by soaking the cherries in kirsch for at least an hour. If you don't have kirsch, search your cupboards for a novelty liqueur you brought back from holiday with a picture of cherries on the front: observe the Portuguese ginja I used.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the egg, vanilla essence and almond essence.
- Sift in the flour and gradually fold it in along with the cherries, chocolate and up to 1 tbsp of the kirsch. You can save the leftover kirsch HA HA HA only joking, obviously you've drunk it by now. Cook's privilege.
- If you can bear it, chill the dough for two hours as the cookie texture will be better. Otherwise, just crack on and preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
- Line two trays with baking parchment (don't worry if you've only got one, just cook them in two batches). Dollop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto the tray, evenly spaced as they will spread.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are firm and browning at the edges, and the middles are soft and puffy. Leave to cook on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.