Many of my fondest childhood memories involve baking with my mom, memories spanning multiple recipes, decades, countries and homes. Given my roots, it was obviously a no-brainer to me: when I became a mother myself I would bake with my kids every chance that I got! Visions of serene, maternal bliss, flour-smudged noses, batter-licking tongues and giggling faces littered with tell-tale sprinkles gathered at the corners of mouths were a certainty in my future according to pre-mom me.
What young, naive me, gazing at the world through my rose-tinted specs didn’t take into account, however, is that in order to bake with ones children, one needs to have the patience of a saint, twice the number of eggs required by the recipe because at least 3 will land up on the floor, the reflexes of a ninja, and twenty nine and a half arms. Mom, you deserve a medal, truly you do! (Although, I have not forgotten the time you fed us a heaped spoonful of plain cocoa to stop us nagging for a lick of the spoon…)
With my childhood illusions firmly secured in File 13, I usually try to bake when the kids are all asleep so that I can actually get on with it in a reasonable amount of time and with no fingerprints in the icing, but every now and then I cave and open the kitchen to the rabble. Yesterday was one of those days.
Lulu Pie has been wanting to bake “cookies that I can squash with a fork” forever and a day, so I set about finding an uncomplicated recipe that we could tackle together and ended up ferreting out a Condensed Milk Cookie recipe that looked completely manageable for the pair of us to conquer.
If you know my family, you would have already spotted my first oversight. A sweet little activity for just me and my youngest daughter? Oh how quaint. I should have known! The vanilla essence only had to hit the counter and the screeching sound of a plastic kiddy table being dragged across the house, over tiles, towards the kitchen counter pierced our bubble. Enter: The Guy in all his pokey finger, drooling faced glory. And then there were two. Not to be outdone, The Schmoo got wind of what was going on downstairs, and like a bloodhound she was also there in a flash, inspecting the ingredients, elbowing us out of the way to see the recipe and making ‘helpful’ suggestions about how we can adapt and improve it.
Somehow we survived. The children survived, the mother survived, the kitchen survived, and the cookies survived. Everybody got to add an ingredient or two, everybody got a turn to turn the dial on the Kenwood mixer and then squeal in shock and terror because it makes a loud noise (yes, every time), everybody got to bicker with a sibling at some point or other about whose spoon just got licked and why, everybody got to roll dough balls and squish them with a fork. In fact, the only part that was not 100% communal was the clean-up ( * gasp * ), at which point the fiends had mysteriously disappeared, as had all of the implements with any traces of cookie dough on them. Hmmm….
So the long and the short of it is, if you’re on the lookout for a quick and easy recipe that uses ingredients that you probably have at home this would probably be it, assuming you’re baking sans-offspring. The recipe says that it makes about 50 cookies but I gave up counting at 114 – I’m not sure if we just made ours quite small, but they were definitely respectably sized morsels. Next time I think I’ll halve it because we were forced to eat the lot this weekend to save them from going stale. Forced, I tell you! The cookie itself is not too sweet and lends itself beautifully to variations. We sprinkled cinnamon over some and drizzled glacé icing over others. I also burnt a batch when I got distracted on Instagram (oops, my bad!) but even those were pretty tasty, so I’m going to claim it as the fourth variation! I’m tempted to add chopped cherries and nuts to the next round, baked in the dead of night, of course. Oh, and by the way, these are great for dipping in coffee!
If you do try them yourself let me know what you think, and please send me any variations that you can think of – I’m always on the lookout for an interesting twist on a classic. Similarly, if you have a trusted go-to cookie recipe the you are willing to share I’d love to give it a whirl!
Without further ado, I present:
Condensed Milk Cookie Recipe
250g softened butter
5ml vanilla essence
1 tin condensed milk
4 cups cake flour (I added an extra half a cup to firm up the dough)
10ml baking powder
- Cream butter and sugar until soft and creamy
- Beat in vanilla essence and condensed milk
- Gradually add sifted flour and baking powder until dough is firm but workable
- Roll into balls the size of a walnut, place on a greased baking tray and flatten with a fork
- Bake at 180°C for 10 to 12 minutes until light golden brown