Do you know them? If you live in Bath, Brighton, Bristol, Edinburgh, London, Oxford, Reading, Dubai, Kuwait, Riyadh, Seoul or Singapore then you most probably will and if you don't ... then let me tell you all.
They are big; they have chunks and not chips and most importantly they are slightly gooey in the centre ... in fact, you could say that they are somewhere between a cake and a traditional cookie, especially when they are straight from the oven. Swoooooon. Oh my word, they are SO good. And the flavours - my favourite is the ginger and dark chocolate, but you can also tempt me with a white chocolate chunk (even though I'm not normally a fan), or a coconut or a milk chocolate chunk. In fact, just pass me the box. A large box.
And the branding (because I'm a sucker for great branding) is so very perfect. Striking, red background; black, scratchy lettering and a classic Quentin Blake illustration of Ben (I assume).
But they are also expensive and not right on my doorstep either, so being able to recreate Ben's cookies so that I could make them at home would be heavenly...
So, I started on the internet - of course. There are a handful of recipes that claim to have nailed it. I've tried them all and although they are all nice cookies, they are a million miles from the real McCoy. The first attempt spread so much that I ended up with one enormous 'baking tray' shaped cookie about a millimetre thick. There was talk by the children of re-branding as 'Ben's enormous pancakes' but ultimately it was - REJECT. The next few iterations were more successful but there was still room for improvement. Then I did a bit of research and discovered that the chain of shops was founded in 1984 by Helge Rubinstein. She wrote an iconic chocolate recipe book, so that had to be my next move.
A few small steps forward came next, followed by a couple of backward steps and then I was so very nearly there ... just a bit more of this and a bit less of that, until TA DAH - I had nailed it ... the Ben's cookie recipe - well, as close to the genuine article as is possible, without resorting to industrial espionage. And they are easy too. The end result FAR outweighs the effort.
As close as possible to the real Ben's Cookie recipe without resorting 2 industrial espionageClick to tweet
Of course, the flavour that I focussed on was my own favourite - Ginger and Dark Chocolate. For sure, in time I will perfect some of the other flavours but right now we'll concentrate on savouring these big, chunky, gooey, rich, delicious cookies. You will adore them too. I promise.
- 200g (7oz) plain flour
- 200g (7oz) SR flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 170g (6oz) unsalted butter (cut into small cubes) + a little extra for greasing the baking trays
- 200g (7oz) dark brown, soft sugar
- 100g (4oz) caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 100g (4oz) dark chocolate (I used 60% cocoa solids), cut into big chunks
- 100g (4oz) stem ginger in syrup, drained and cut into chunky pieces
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F (gas mark 4).
- Lightly grease 2 large baking trays.
- Weigh out the two types of flour into a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly and stir in the salt.
- Now place the butter in a large bowl and melt it in the microwave until no solid bits remain. I always rest a lid on the top here to avoid the butter decorating the inside of the microwave. If you don't have a microwave, melt the butter gently in a pan on the hob and then tip the melted butter into a bowl.
- Now stir the dark brown, soft sugar and the caster sugar into the melted butter, followed by the vanilla extract.
- Break the eggs into a cup and when you are sure that the melted butter mixture is cool enough not to scramble the eggs (stick your finger in to test it), beat the eggs into the mixture.
- Now tip the butter mixture and the stem ginger into the flour mixture and stir well until everything is fully combined. You will have a fairly stiff dough at this stage.
- To add the chocolate I find it easier to divide the dough into 10 or 11 pieces and then share the chocolate chunks between them, pressing them into the dough. My pieces of dough (including the chocolate were about 100g each).
- Roll the dough pieces in balls and place them onto the 2 baking trays being sure to leave plenty of space between them.
- Now bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until slightly golden. You want the cookies to still feel very soft in the centre.
- Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking trays before transferring to a cooling rack.
- The cookies will be at their best on the same day but will keep well in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Now there's a challenge.