Chocolate makes me smile. Christmas makes me smile.
So an enormous, Christmassy chocolate cookie makes me smile a lot.
(and yes, I am definitely saying that adding a handful of cranberries to something automatically makes it Christmassy. Add a pinch of nutmeg if you want it to feel extra festive!)
Even if you don’t agree about cranberries equalling Christmas, there’s no denying that this big cranberry and white chocolate skillet cookie makes a fantastic winter treat. It’s got all the qualities of the perfect chocolate cookie: it’s dense and cakey, and chewy, and chocolatey, and crumbly, and all sorts of other good things. Slice it up neatly or just hand out some spoons and all crowd around – it’ll be gone in no time, I promise.
(in fact… I took a couple of spoonfuls when taking these photos and ended up having to put the spoon in the sink to stop myself from going back for more. So amazing!)
Speaking of chocolate, did anyone spot the picture I shared on my Instagram a couple of weeks back? A personalised chocolate box from Thorntons – which they gave me when I took a tour around their factory! (I kept that one quiet, didn’t I)
A few other bloggers and I (Jac from Tinned Tomatoes, Rachel Cotterill, Stuart from Cakeyboi and Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen) were lucky enough to be invited along to the Thorntons factory to see how they make their amazing chocolates.
(l-r Rachel, Jac, me!, Janice, Stuart)
I won’t show you the photo of us in our sterile white coats and hair nets… believe me, you should be thanking me. Quite possibly the most unflattering thing I’ve ever worn.
Luckily, nobody took much notice, because we were all too busy staring around the factory in wonder. I felt like a real-life Charlie Bucket – there were literally bucketfuls of chocolate wherever you looked, slabs of toffee just chilling out on work benches… and they have melted chocolate piped around the whole factory in a big network. Honestly, I was in heaven. Not to mention the actual finished products that were dotted round the whole place (including a plateful of truffles on the Reception desk, that we all reluctantly resisted).
One of the coolest parts of the factory was the Easter egg area (yes, Thorntons make Easter eggs almost all year round to cope with demand!). Did you know that the melted chocolate is poured into moulds, which are then spun round and round for 10 minutes so that the chocolate can fill it evenly? It seems perfectly sensible when you think about it, but it’s one of those things that I’d never really considered before!
(imagine all those easter egg plates spinning round, and somehow avoiding hitting each other – it’s amazing!)
My favourite part of the day was watching the Thorntons famous toffee being made. It’s all mixed up in enormous vats, then poured into moulds, where it’s cooled off with big fans. Then, a huge machine literally smashes the toffee to bits, giving the different-sized shards that Thorntons are so well-known for. A special sorting machine then removes any pieces that are too large to fit in your mouth – and any that are disappointingly small. These bits are then melted back down to be used again (no waste!).
The whole chocolate-making process is done on the site of the factory – right from developing new ideas, designing the packaging, manufacturing the products, and packing them all up to be shipped. It was really interesting to see such a streamlined process all working as it’s supposed to!
After having a good look round the factory (and even having a go at piping some chocolate ourselves – not as easy as it looks!), we headed back to the Derbyshire Hotel in South Normanton for an incredible dinner and very good night’s sleep. Thanks to everyone at Thorntons and everyone else who was involved (especially Jac for keeping us all organised)! We had such a great day.
Despite getting to taste plenty of wonderful Thorntons chocolates at the factory (the dulce de leche one was quite possibly the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted), I couldn’t resist making my own chocolatey treat when I got home in tribute – hence this gigantic white chocolate skillet cookie. I’d never made a cookie in a frying pan before, but I love the idea – you’ve got to love a novelty dessert! If you don’t have a suitable pan, a baking dish would do just fine too.
- 100g butter, melted
- 150g white chocolate, divided
- 115g brown sugar
- 1 egg + 1 yolk
- 250g plain flour
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2tbsp dried cherries
- 2tbsp dried cranberries
- Spray oil
- Heat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
- Melt 100g of the white chocolate. Combine the melted butter, melted white chocolate and brown sugar, and mix well. Add the egg and egg yolk, and mix again.
- Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and dried fruit, and mix to combine. The mixture should be thick, like cookie dough.
- Spray a cast iron pan with oil, and press the cookie dough out into the pan, leaving a small gap around the edge.
- Bake for around 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Melt the remaining 50g of white chocolate, and drizzle it over the cookie. Serve topped with more dried fruit if desired.
Make sure you take a look at the other bloggers’ write-ups of our awesome day at the Thorntons factory too:
Disclosure: I was taken to the Thorntons factory and put up overnight free of charge, but I was not otherwise compensated for writing this post.