Chocolate chip pistachio cookies: in search of a decent Turkish biscuit
Much as I love Turkish food, I have to admit that Turkey’s biscuits have disappointed me. Maybe I’m an English cliché, but I love biscuits and cookies in all their forms (except maybe Rich Teas – just what exactly is the point?). A good dark chocolate digestive with a hot cup of tea for dunking, half a packet of Custard Creams, or a deliciously soft Ben’s Cookie from the Covered Market in Oxford… any will do.
But here in Istanbul, finding a good biscuit has been nigh on impossible. Don’t get me wrong. Turkey has a surfeit of delicious sweet treats that are even better than biscuits (exhibit #1 = baklava), but, for me, sometimes only a biscuit will do. I’ve tried Turkish ‘cookies’ (or kurabiye in Turkish), from the patisserie around the corner, but I was sorely disappointed. Kurabiye are small round biscuits, some sweet, some not so sweet, often with raisins, nuts or jam in them. To me, they’re pretty bland and dry – okay with a cup of çay, but otherwise worthless.
And so, with friends coming over for tea yesterday, I set out on a mission to bake cookies in Istanbul.
My all-time favourite cookies are chocolate chip – soft in the centre, chewy at the edges and loaded with chocolate. I usually don’t bother with a recipe for these, but I wanted to try out this hallowed recipe from the New York Times – which allegedly shook things up because it calls for the cookie dough to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours. I didn’t have 24 hours and I’m not convinced it’d make a difference – so I came up with the recipe below, a hybrid of past practice and some experimentation from the Guardian’s great chocolate chip cookie article here.
Good chocolate is obviously key to a good chocolate chip cookie, but I’ve struggled to find chocolate that I like here – I still find it strange how different multinational brands taste in different countries (Turkish Milka, for example, does not taste good to my English palate). However, I am a HUGE fan of Ülker antep fıstıklı çikolata – good quality milk chocolate with delicious pistachios. I used this here because I didn’t have any other to hand, and I’m highly recommend it!
Let me know what you think of these. If you know where I can get a proper cookie or biscuit in Istanbul, I’d be thrilled by any recommendation!
What you need
120g butter at room temperature
75g brown sugar
75g granulated sugar
240g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g Ülker Antep Fistik Cikolata (milk chocolate with pistachios), broken into small chunks
40g dark chocolate, finely grated
How to make it
- Beat the butter and both types of sugar together until the mixture becomes pale golden.
- Then add the egg and beat well.
- Tip in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and stir gently with a spoon until the mixture comes together.
- Fold in the chocolate chunks and the grated chocolate, then turn the dough out onto a piece of cling film. Wrap up and stick in the fridge for an hour or so.
- When you’re ready to get started again, preheat oven to 180˚C and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- Divide the mixture into walnut-sized balls, and place on the baking tray. Press down using two fingers. Make sure your dough balls are evenly spaced out, as they’ll spread during cooking.
- Place in the middle of the oven and cook until golden and still soft – about 10-12 minutes (this is how I like my cookies – if you like yours drier, cook for a few minutes more).
- Turn out onto a wire rack to cool, and serve warm.