Since the new year, I've been guilt-tripped on to the inevitable health-kick that follows all the unhealthy holiday eating. Because of this, I've had trouble getting thoughts of fried chicken out of my head. And cookies. All I wanted to eat this week was masses and masses of junk food. I'm a stress-eater, and nothing sounded better at the end of a shit day than some milk and cookies. So when the weekend came around, it was not surprising that I didn't feel like baking anything but cookies.
I can't take credit for this recipe. I didn't have much ingredients in my cupboard except for the basics and a can of condensed milk, so I googled 'condensed milk cookies'. Interestingly I found several similar looking basic recipes that everyone seemed to remember from their childhood. It sounded so wonderfully straight-foward and easily adaptable, it was essentially three ingredients plus whatever toppings you like. I had to give it a go.
I can't believe I haven't heard of this recipe before. It is kind of magical. It deepens my love for condensed milk further, if that's even possible. Some recipes called for additions of sugar and/or vanilla extract, but I simplified it down to just butter, condensed milk and (self-raising) flour. I wasn't entirely sure it would taste like much, but it totally works. The cookies turn out crisp and golden, and pretty much melt in the mouth. (However I should mention that I used good quality butter, which always helps. I do not approve of those who use margarine to bake.)
Because I am undecisive, I experimented with several cookie flavours. They all tasted great, I can't pick a favourite. Chocolate chips mixed into the dough is always a classic, and though they are very different from my two favourite choc chip cookie recipes, I am always willing to try new recipes. Especially when they simple! The child in me loves the rainbow sprinkle coated cookies, in the same way I will always love chocolate freckles. And the cookies coated in dessicated coconut are so light and aromatic (mmm toasted coconut...), they remind me of some of the cookies you can get in Malaysia during Chinese New Year.
Anyway, I had to share this recipe with you. I love the idea that the base of this recipe is just butter, condensed milk, flour and toppings. It was perfect for me, who was trying to use up the scraps in my cupboard without having to run down to the shops. You can use whatever toppings you feel like, I would love to try these again with sultanas or chopped up dates, and maybe some triple chocolate ones with cocoa powder mixed into the dough. I might be on a health-kick, but I still had to try at least one of each cookie for taste-testing purposes. Cookie cravings begone!
Condensed Milk Cookies (with Chocolate Chips, Sprinkles or Coconut)
400g (3.5 sticks) butter, softened (I used some salted butter, you might want to add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter)
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
4 cups (about 500g) self-raising flour (you can make your own using plain flour + baking powder, just follow instructions on baking powder pack)
Toppings of your choice: I mixed 200g chocolate chips into half the dough, and coated 1/4 of the remaining cookies with coconut, and the other 1/4 with 100s & 1000s (rainbow sprinkles), you can also use nuts, sultanas, milo, cocoa powder, candied fruit, all kinds of stuff! If you want to make plain cookies you might want to add some extra sugar or vanilla because the dough needs a little extra something to go with it.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line two cookie sheets with baking paper. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until smooth and fluffy. Add condensed milk and beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl every now and then to ensure it mixes evenly. Stir in flour until just combined. The mixture should come together easily as a dough that is soft but still easy to handle with lightly-floured hands. (You may need to add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too sticky). Take care not to overmix or you will make your biscuits tougher.
Add your desired toppings. As mentioned, I split my mixture in half and stirred chocolate chips into one half. Roll balls of cookie dough (I used a heaped tsp amount for small bite-sized cookies, and a heaped tbsp for larger cookies), press into discs and arrange on prepared trays. Leave at least a cm around each cookie. For the cookies I coated in toppings (sprinkles or coconut), I rolled them into balls with unfloured hands, then pressed them flat into a bowl of the toppings to coat the cookie.
Bake until cookies are light golden (about 12-15 mins for small cookies, 15-20 for larger cookies). If baking in hot weather, keep the uncooked cookies in the fridge until ready to go into the oven. Remove from oven and cool on tray for 5 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for several days.
This recipe makes a large amount of cookies, you can stir in the toppings and then roll the mixture into logs and wrap in clingfilm. These logs can be refrigerated for up to a week and sliced and baked at your convenience. Alternatively you can freeze the cookie dough logs to store it for longer, just defrost in the fridge for half an hour and do the same thing.