Gosh, I absolutely love smarties. The combination of brightly coloured exterior and sweet chocolate interior is just confectionery perfection in my mind. The smarties on the above plate are not real smarties though, they are the sort that you scoop up from the supermarket pick'n'mix and pour into a paper bag to be weighed. You get considerably more sweets for your money this way. Plus, it's possible to do a little bit of careful scooping in order to eliminate any brown ones from your colour mix. I know. I am that crazy oddball stood in the sweetie aisle taking a weirdly long time to scoop and colour-sort the sweets.
So I actually didn't buy these for myself, although I have sampled a few. I bought them yesterday when I was planning today :: a whole day looking after not only my Little People, but my neighbour's two girls as well, with heavy rain forecast. I hatched a cookie-making plan to combat the weather. And not just any old cookies, but Super Smartie Cookies no less, designed to keep the Littlies both entertained on a grey wet day and fed all in one swoop.
This morning I made up a simple shortbread recipe, as follows ::
Into a bowl put 30g caster sugar, 60g soft butter, 90g plain flour.
Rub the mixture together with your fingertips, as if you are making a crumble topping. It starts out crumbly but gradually the whole lot should come together to form a soft, smooth cookie dough.
Now if you only have one or two Little Peeps in residence you could happily let them have a go at making the dough themselves, it's a weeny bit messy but not that bad. However, to simplify things here today I decided to get it all ready in advance, weighing the dough and dividing it into five equal portions ready for my five eager bakers.
After lunch, I announced it was Cookie Making time, which caused shrieks of excitement and a mad rush to the kitchen. No no no, not in the kitchen, sit down at the table and I'll bring everything to you! Preparation is key with small children. Give each child their ball of cookie dough on a small square of baking parchment, and instruct them to use their hands and get busy walloping. Bang BANG! Wallop that cookie into shape!! They absolutely loved it, laughing hysterically whilst bashing with the palms of their hands to get that ball of dough flattened in double quick time. The cookie wants to be about 5mm thick I'd say, but the exact thickness isn't critcal.
Give each child their own pot of smarties to avoid fisty-cuffs. Equal amounts and equal colours in each pot.....
....and watch them do their thing. It's a delight, truly, I love to watch this kind of concentrated creativity.
When the cookies have been suitably smartied, all you need to do is pop the sheets of baking parchment onto a baking tray and slide the whole lot straight into the oven :: 180 degrees, for 20 minutes. The cookies should be just turning a very light golden brown around the edges.
Ta-dah!!!!!!!!!!!! The smarties stay perfectly smartie-ish, embedded in the shortbread and keeping their colour beautifully.
By the way, the green "T" is Little Man's, he refused to go down the multicoloured route, tut tut, the little rebel.
The cookies do have to cool a bit before you can let the Little Peeps loose on them, the chocolate inside the smarties is very hot when it first comes out of the oven.
These were a great success, both the making of them and the subsequent devouring of them. The shortbread was really yummy (I was allowed to taste a weeny crumb), and the size of these cookies means that Little People feel like they've been given a pretty massive, super-sweet treat. Which of course they have, the lucky things.