IT is said that moving house is one of the most stressful events in one’s life, alongside major illness, job loss and divorce, to name but a few.

Next month I will be packing up my life’s possessions and embracing all of the quirks, hiccups and hitches of relocating. This may be a stressful time but there are many perks, my favourite of all being the opportunity for a cathartic clear out.

I can’t be the only person who feels a little choked by the sheer volume of stuff I seem to accumulate over the years.

For some the bugbear is unworn clothes, for others it’s the miscellaneous boxes in the attic, but for me the worst overcrowding occurs in my kitchen cupboards.

Being a baking enthusiast I have a terrible habit of buying unusual, sometimes mysterious, ingredients. Just a preliminary scan of the ‘baking shelf’ flagged up a bag of chickpea flour, a bottle of Swedish bread syrup and an enormous bag of candied ginger.

With most items I remain adamant that I have a purpose up my sleeve, with others I do wonder what on earth I was thinking. I have a bag of pre-cooked white cornmeal that I bought, with ambitious intentions, from a food stall in Berlin; they were using the flour to make fresh Arepas (a type of South American bread bun) and I fancied giving them a go at home. So far the bag remains unopened.

This week, with visions of cardboard boxes and masking tape looming, I took to the kitchen to start the clear-out.

Cooking with leftovers is a pleasure often reserved for savoury food, since most baking requires a certain precision, and for this reason I advise either biscuits or brownies.

Big, chewy, American style cookies are relatively flexible after the initial fat to flour ratio has been determined. I found, amongst the clutter, a few half-pilfered bars of dark chocolate, a half-used bag of buckwheat flour and two jars of coconut oil.

A little research, and a quick think over a cup of tea, resulted in a batch of deeply dark, ginger-spiced cookies.

I can conclude that baking with ‘leftovers’ is an opportunity to not only spend an afternoon dreamily stirring melted chocolate, but to do so in the knowledge that the cupboards are a little less cluttered. Therapy for both mind and soul.

RECIPE - Leftover Cookies (with dark chocolate and ginger)

125g dark chocolate
120g buckwheat Flour (replace with plain white flour)
20g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp salt
60g coconut oil (replace with butter/margarine) - at room temperature
130g dark muscovado sugar (replace with white caster or light brown sugar)
2 eggs - beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g mixed ingredients such as nuts, chocolate, candied fruit, berries, marshmallows etc.*
I used
50g chopped dark chocolate
50g candied ginger
50g walnuts
Makes approx. 20 cookies


1) Preheat the oven to 180C and line two large baking trays with baking paper
2) Break the 125g dark chocolate into small pieces and melt it gently in the microwave or in a bain-marie. Allow to cool slightly.
3) Weigh the coconut oil into a large bowl and add the sugar and vanilla extract. Beat thoroughly until combined into a dark paste.
4) Add the melted chocolate and beat again until smooth. Leave to one side.
5) In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder bicarbonate of soda and salt. Mix well.
6) Add the eggs to the chocolate mix along with a spoonful of the flour mix. Beat until combined then fold in the rest of the flour mix.
7) Add the remaining ingredients.
8) Use a tablespoon to measure out the dough for each cookie, placing them 1-2 inches apart on the baking tray. I baked 9-10 cookies per sheet.
9) Bake for 8-10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on the baking sheet.
10) Transfer to an airtight container and store for up to one week.