On the first day of High School, my father took me to the school hall, and much to my horror, he left me there by myself! Never the less, I was thrilled to be at high school - my last year of primary school had sucked big time, thanks to a last minute switch of horses (so to speak). High school was my chance to start over - a whole new bunch of kids, some from my old school, but many from other schools besides. I was thrilled when no one from my sixth grade class landed in my Year Seven class leaving the way clear for me to make a whole new group of friends.
Standing alone amongst the crowd was one girl, Kathy Dent. She seemed odd, which was attractive to me because I felt odd. We latched on to each other like castaways adrift in the sea, and pretty much stayed friends for the rest of high school.
Kathy was actually a super-brainy kid. I considered myself to be 'smart', but Kathy was intelligent. My quintessential failing was maths and science, whereas Kathy excelled in those subjects. We did, however, have a meeting of mind on English, art and last but not least, music. Not the kind they taught at school - I'm talking about the kind that came on flat black vinyl discs approximately seven inches wide. By the end of Year Seven, my dad had bought a pretty good stereo, but Kathy's dad - well his stereo was far superior. I liked to take my seven inch singles over to Kathy's and crank up the volume while enjoying the sounds of Prince, David Bowie, and of course Duran Duran (did Kathy really like them? She indulged my obsession, at least!).
Kathy arrived at my place one weekend; I can't remember whether it was for a study session, for music enjoyment or just to hang out. In her hand was a brown paper bag, and in the bag were four of the most magnificent cookies I've ever tasted in my life. Her mother had baked them and thought I might enjoy them! Big, fat, round chocolate cookies, jammed chock-a-block with choc chips, sandwiched together with luscious chocolate frosting. Those cookies were the bomb!
I often think about Kathy - I know she's married and has three kids (maybe more now!). I haven't seen her since high school, her third baby arriving a week or two before the reunion I held in 2002. I certainly have never forgotten those cookies - I sat down in my kitchen some years back and attempted to recreate them. These ones are not quite the same as Kathy's mum's cookies, but they come pretty damned close.
1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 cup plain flour
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup desicated coconut
2/3 cup milk
250g chocolate chips
1/2 cup cocoa
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Prepare baking trays by covering with a sheet of thick baking paper.
2. Cream butter and brown sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add vanilla and egg, continuing to mix until thick and creamy.
3. Add mixed spice and plain flour. Mix until well combined. Add half the milk and continue to mix on a low speed. You may wish to switch from regular beaters to dough hooks at this stage as the mixture is about to get quite heavy.
4. Add coconut and cocoa and mix again until all ingredients are well combined. Add half of the remaining milk and continue to mix on low speed.
5. Add one cup of self raising flour and mix. Add chocolate chips and mix again. Now add the remaining milk and flour and continue to mix until all ingredients are well combined. The cookie dough should be quite stiff at this point. It will also be a little shiny and wet looking. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.
6. Roll teaspoons of mixture into balls, and position on cookie tray - make sure you leave a good amount of space between each. Flatten each cookie with the palm of your hand (you might like to flour your hand a little so that the cookie dough doesn't stick). Raw cookies should be about the size of a fifty cent piece (an Aussie one that is!). Bake in moderate oven for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are slightly crisp on the surface. Allow to cool on trays for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool and harden.
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup icing sugar mixture
2 tblsp cocoa
1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
1. Beat butter and vanilla in the small bowl of an electric mixer until butter becomes light and creamy.
2. Gradually add cocoa and icing sugar until all ingredients are combined. Frosting should be quite thick. Add coffee powder and continue to mix until combined. Icing sugar should be a stiff spreadable consistency - you may need to add a little extra icing sugar if your frosting isn't thick enough.
3. When cookies are completely cold spread one teaspoon of frosting on the bottom of one cookie and sandwich it together with another cookie. Pair up cookies of similar size and shape to create the best effect. Allow about half an hour for frosting to set then serve. Makes about 28 complete cookie sandwiches.
Note: you will notice I never include sifting of flour or icing sugar in any of my recipes. I did away with sifting years ago as I got sick of washing the sifter then having to leave it out for days afterwards to dry! Sifting is actually an excellent way to lighten the texture of cakes and cookies. If you want to be a prize winning baker, then absolutely, sift your flour! Sifting should definitely be adhered to when making delicate items like sponge cakes (some recipes call for the flour in a sponge to be sifted three times before being added to the eggs). However, where everything else is concerned, the decision is entirely up to you.