roasted cocoa cookies

dan lepard calls these cookies, but i think a better name is biscuits – they’re crisp and crunchy, which is surely the characteristic of a biscuit, rather than a cookie?

what makes these biscuits interesting is that the cocoa is roasted until it darkens (do this carefully – i managed to set my first batch alight!) and takes on a slight nutty taste. this creates a complex flavour, having a similar effect to that which you get when you toast oats under a grill.

the result here, when combined with the dark muscovado sugar, is a biscuit with a flavour reminiscent of dark chocolate and treacle – an adult combination which is truly delicious.

dan lepard roasted cocoa cookies (makes 20)

25g cocoa

60g unsalted butter

100g dark chocolate (70%)

225g dark muscovado sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 medium egg

125g plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

line a baking tray with nonstick paper and heat the oven to 180c. spread the cocoa on the tray in a layer roughly ½ cm thick then bake. in the first 5 minutes the cocoa will oxidise and darken slightly, but you actually want to go much darker than that. i bake mine for about 25 minutes in a fan oven until it turns a very dark brown without burning (mine took 12 minutes). but if it starts to colour very quickly then you can take it out after 5 minutes if you like. different cocoa brands will bake faster or slower, so check every five minutes till you get the roast colour that suits you (i used cadbury bournville cocoa). then remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

melt the butter and chocolate and pour into a mixing bowl. stir in the sugar then the vanilla, egg, cocoa, flour and soda. leave for at least an hour to cool and firm slightly (or store in the refrigerator for up to a week) before using.

take spoonfuls of the dough, about 30g, roll them into balls and place on a tray lined with nonstick baking paper. press the balls slightly flat then bake at 180c for about 15 minutes until they've spread and taken on a rich blackish brown colour. remove from the oven and leave to set slightly before moving them to a wire rack to cool.