Marks & Spencer picnics used to be a staple of the summer holidays for my friends and I. An indecisive bunch, we’d spend ages at each section: the sandwiches, the fruit and drinks, the crisps, the baked goods. Only once everyone had finally chosen would we move to the next aisle and begin the deliberations all over again there. A staple of the picnics would be a packet of M&S cookies. We took this decision in particular overly seriously (bad biscuit selection can ruin a picnic): games of heads or tails and ip dip doo being employed to gradually narrow down the choice. When I was in a Marks and Spencer recently, I noticed the selection of flavours in this range has more than tripled since we last went – I’m not sure we would have had any time for the actual picnic if this had existed when I was younger. But one flavour in particular caught my eye: the cherry bakewell cookie. I’ve made mini cherry bakewell tarts before but I really liked the idea of changing this classic dessert into cookie form. I was also feeling inspired after watching the first episode of Great British Bake Off (side note – I’m fully obsessed with Norman) where they made a cherry and almond sponge. These biscuits have exactly the same flavours but none of the ‘will the cherries sink’ stress – it’s a win win! The M&S version I saw didn’t have icing but I couldn’t resist. I was really happy with the result considering I’d pretty much made up the recipe – buttery shortbread, decent level of almondy flavour and sweet glace cherries are a dangerously addictive combination. I’ll admit that the cookies did spread a little in the oven so I trimmed off the edges to make them all the same… an unnecessary OCD step probably but then cookie trimmings = chefs perks! You can find the recipe below, I’m off to dream up other cookie versions of classic desserts. Tiramisu cookies anyone?
Cherry Bakewell Cookies
Makes 8 large cookies
- 125g unsalted butter
- 60g caster sugar
- 120g plain flour
- 60g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 50g glace cherries, quartered
- 100g icing sugar, sieved
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
1. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the almond extract and mix to combine.
2. Add the flour and ground almonds to the mixture and stir to incorporate. As the dough begins to come together, add the glace cherries and continue to mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the smooth dough.
3. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to just under 1cm thick. Stamp out with an 8cm cookie cutter and place on the baking sheets. Chill for 20minutes. Preheat the oven to 180’C.
4. Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon juice and stir to a smooth paste.
5. Bake the biscuits for 10-15minutes, until lightly golden. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack, then drizzle over the icing. Enjoy!