For those of you trying to lose weight for the summer holidays, I suggest

you skip this week’s recipe and turn the page to check out the amazing

offers on second-hand Renault Clios.

Or, better still, quickly close the paper and go for a long, mind-clearing walk. This one is a full-on, bare-chested horn-blaring beast of a dessert, crammed with things that are terribly unhealthy, super sweet and utterly irresistible.

It’s a recipe I retro-created after having seen a photograph over someone’s shoulder in a magazine. It was the briefest of glances (I think I was walking down the aisle in a train) and yet it struck such a chord that I had to flip open the phone as I waited at the door and write out a quick aide-memoire.

I’m still not sure if the picture was actually what I thought it was, given the briefest of flashes, but there’s a strong possibility, and it matters little anyway, as this recipe appears to work perfectly.

We’re returning to the US for this sweet treat, and specifically to their love of cookies and cookie dough.

Whereas we in Europe tend to appreciate the harder-baked biscuit (probably linked to our love of tea and the dunking of biscuits therein), in the States they adore the soft-baked cookie.

Huge manhole-cover-sized things, crammed with chocolate, fruit and nuts; crumbly and chewy, and achingly sweet. Perfect on-the-hoof food for morning commuters or kids back from a hard day at school. We’ve taken these soft cookies into our own cuisine, too, though they’re still only to be found in the fresh-baked sections of our supermarkets or freshly-made by cafés or keen home bakers. It seems the Rich Tea dynasty still holds majority power in Britain.

In the US, however, they embrace the cookie, and even go a step further by munching the raw dough itself as a snack. We’ve all seen the sitcoms and movies where the jilted lover sits sniffling on the sofa with one of those plastic ‘sausages’ of ready-to-bake cookie dough, nibbling away as they watch a sad film. These days, ‘edible’ cookie dough is made with pasteurised eggs to avoid illness, and is eaten by the ton annually, without ever reaching a baking tray. It is also diced up into ice-creams, providing a satisfyingly ‘sandy’ crunch within the smooth frozen creaminess.

But my idea, and it seems upon researching the subject that I’m by no means the first to think of this, was to part-bake thick slabs of the dough, so it was just setting, a bit like a hot chocolate fondant pudding, and then serve it in all its warm, sweet squishy glory with a scoop of vanilla parfait, which would melt irresistibly into the soft cookie. I then thought that we might need a couple of additional flavours to round everything out, so I chose to add pecan nuts for their bold notes (plus crunchy texture) and a drizzle of salted caramel, the sauce that’s taken the patisserie world by storm over the last few years.

It adds a further sweetness, but the salt helps to accentuate the earthy flavours of the nuts and chocolate, and broadens out the dish immensely. The cookie dough will keep for several days, refrigerated, so it’s a good dinner-party pud, meaning you can make all the elements ahead of time, then bake and serve within minutes.

Just make sure your guests still have an appetite before tucking into this rather decadent delight.



450g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1½ tsp baking powder

340g butter

110g unrefined golden caster sugar

265g unrefined dark muscovado sugar

2 large free-range eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

250g milk chocolate chips

100g dark chocolate chips

100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped

Large pinch Maldon salt


70g unsalted butter

100g unrefined golden caster sugar

400ml double cream

Maldon salt


175g unrefined golden caster sugar

6 fresh, free-range egg yolks

570ml double cream

The seeds of 4 large vanilla pods


Suitable oven-proof eared dishes or shallow ramekins


Make the vanilla parfait first; split the vanilla pods and scrape the seeds into a bowl or the bowl of a food mixer.

Add the egg yolks and sugar, and whisk until very pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to a soft peak.

Combine the two mixtures, and spoon gently into a freezer tub. Freeze at least 24 hours until solid.

To the caramel next; in a heavy-bottomed pan gently heat the butter and sugar until dissolved, then turn up the heat and boil, stirring as little as possible, until it takes on a deep golden colour.

Carefully add the cream (it will spit!) and return to a gentle heat, stirring until completely smooth.

Add just enough Maldon salt to give a discernibly saline taste. Reserve until required.

Now for the cookie mixture; preheat the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a medium-size bowl. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together for 5-8 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs in small amounts, and then add the vanilla.

Mix for a further few minutes to combine.

Gradually add the flour mixture until it is fully incorporated and you have a smooth dough. Add the chocolate and pecan pieces, and mix until combined.

Taking about 125g as a portion, divide the cookie dough into your cooking pans and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, top with a scoop of vanilla parfait, drizzle with the salted caramel and serve immediately.