Let’s get the obvious thing out of the way first. I suck at piping white chocolate. Try to ignore how messy these look, and appreciate that hot cross cookies are an excellent addition to the Easter baking roster. I am a big fan of Easter brownies, and generally go for the ‘add creme eggs and mini eggs and it’s a done deal’ school of Easter baking.
But sometimes, you’ve got to mix it up. I love hot cross buns passionately, but there’s no denying they’re a bit of a faff to make. They’re not stupidly difficult or anything, but as with most breads you have to wait for things to rise and prove and so on. And sometimes (okay, often) I am just too impatient for such things. Enter: hot cross cookies.
This recipe makes around 20 generously sized cookies.
If, like me, you live in a two person household, and don’t want to bake 20 cookies at once because you know you will just eat them all, I have a solution for you. Freeze all the cookie dough (i.e. get up to the end of step 2 in the recipe), then bake the cookies off in batches of two or four or whatever is manageable for the next few weeks. You will have delicious freshly-baked cookies in fifteen minutes in small batches.
250g butter, softened
200g light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
3 large egg yolks
325g plain flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
100g mixed peel (should come diced but chop it finely if not)
100g raisins or sultanas
75g white chocolate
- Line a baking tray which will fit in your freezer with parchment paper. In your largest bowl or in a stand-mixer, beat the butter and both types of sugar together until just combined and even, then beat in the egg yolks – all at once is fine. Add your flour, salt, bicarbonate, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix to form firm dough. Finally, fold in your mixed peel and sultanas.
- Using a small ice cream scoop (or spoons, or your hands…) scoop the dough into golf ball sized rounds and pop them on your lined tray. Freeze for an hour, or up to a month.
- Heat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4, and take the cookies out of the freezer. Spread the frozen dough between three or four lined baking trays – you need to give them a lot of space to expand. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the outsides of the cookies are baked and crispy, but the insides still feel soft and underbaked. Let them rest on the counter to firm up for at least 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely before piping on your chocolate.
- Melt your white chocolate however you see fit (in a bowl over a pan of simmering water is safest, but I often just microwave on medium power in short bursts for such small amounts). Pop it in a piping bag (or a sandwich bag), snip off the end, and pipe crosses onto your cool cookies. Alternatively, skip the cross thing and just drizzle them recklessly with chocolate. Less Easter-themed, but slightly easier.