Double Chocolate Fudge Cookies

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This is one of my favorite cookie recipes.  I like to have cookie dough on hand in the freezer, because you never know when you might need a quick dessert.  (Ironically, though I am a pastry chef, I always forget to prepare dessert for company.)  I like to use ebony, or extra dark cocoa powder. It has long been available to chefs (it’s the one they use in Oreo cookies), and happily it’s now available to home cooks.   I also like bittersweet chocolate chunks, but you can use any chunk you like. Milk, white, butterscotch—even carob. (Although what’s the point of that?) You can use any nut you want, too. Come to think of it, this recipe is really just a chocolaty suggestion.

Ingredients

1 cup pecan pieces

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, 8 ounces), softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoon unrefined salt – try Bali pyramid, Maldon, Portuguese or Spanish flor di sal, or a salt infused with chocolate, espresso, vanilla, or matcha

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup extra dark cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate chunks

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread the pecans out onto a dry baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until fragrant and toasted. Cool completely.
  1. Coat baking sheet with pan spray and set aside. In a large bowl cream together butter and sugars until smooth and lump free. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, the eggs one at a time, and vanilla, stirring to incorporate thoroughly. Stir in cocoa, baking powder, then the flour in 2-3 increments. Fold in chocolate and cooled nuts.
  1. Using an ice cream scoop, or two spoons, drop walnut-sized balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet 1-inch apart. Sprinkle the top with remaining salt, and bake for 12-18 minutes, until firm. Cool completely, and store airtight.

Variations

Regular Chocolate Chip – If you guessed that this is just a modified chocolate chip cookie recipe, you’re right. If you want to get back to the original, omit the cocoa powder and make up that difference with more flour. Then try finishing with Murray River, Black Lava, or Black Diamond salt.

Chocolate Medley – Use whatever kind of chocolate chip you like. Or use your favorite candy or chopped up candy bar. Or omit the extra chocolate all together and use dried cherries—not that anyone will be happy about that switch. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Mexican Chocolate – To simulate the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate in a cookie, add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of cayenne or other hot chile powder, use chopped Ibarra or other Mexican style chocolate, and finish with Manzanillo, or salt infused with chiles.

 

Halloween Cocoa

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It’s October 22, and it was 80 degrees today. But I know it was much colder where my kids are—back east, where the seasons live.  So I thought I’d send them something to warm their tummies.

I wanted to make it Halloweenie, but also delicious. That means no candy freak’n corns, or orange M&M’s. Instead, I made orange sugar. Orange and chocolate are a classic pair, and in hot liquid form, they are irresistible.  (For those of you not studying, feel free to add a shot of Grand Marnier.)

Ingredients

2-3 oranges or tangerines

1-2 cups sugar

1-2 cups hot cocoa mix

1-2 cups white chocolate cocoa mix

mini marshmallows

chocolate chips

Method

Grate the zest off of 2-3 tangerines or oranges, and combine them in a coffee mill or food processor with 1 cup of granulated sugar. Pulse until the sugar turns bright orange – about 30 seconds.

Layer the sugar in jars or clear plastic piping bags with instant hot cocoa mix, white chocolate cocoa mix, marshmallows, and chocolate chips.

To make a cup, mix all the ingredients together well, and combine it with hot water, 2 tablespoons to every cup of water.

And since you’re making orange sugar, make a bigger batch, and keep some on hand. It’s great in coffee (with a pinch of cardamom), sprinkled over pancakes, or in place of sugar in all your baking (including #Mugcakes !)

Mummy Tails

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mummytails1

It might have been just me, but I always thought chocolate covered frozen bananas were called “Monkey Tails.”   It might be racist to the monkeys, but I’m pretty sure they can’t read.   (That might also be monkey racist.) It’s better if I just forget all about monkeys and focus on the task at hand…Halloween treats.

I’m not suggesting you hand these out to your neighborhood kids (unless they come dressed as monkeys). Just make a few for you and yours to enjoy while you wait for the doorbell to ring.  As an added bonus, the sight of you eating something with eyes might keep the neighborhood kids away!

Ingredients

Bananas

Sticks

Chocolate chips

White chocolate chips

Method

  1. Peel your banana, shove a stick up it, and pop it in the freezer.
  1. Melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler, or in a microwave (10 minute bursts, with stirring in between).
  1. Dip your ‘naners into the chocolate (you may need to assist with a spoon), then return them to the freezer.
  1. Melt the white chocolate (in the same manner as the dark). Use a fork to drizzle the white chocolate over the chocolate covered banana in a mummy-like fashion. Add eyes, if you dare. Return to the freezer for at least 5 minutes—or overnight.   Serve with a smile.

Xocoatl Brownies

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xocoatl
This is the Aztec Nahuatl word for bitter water (xoco – atl). Bitter water was a coveted drink, made only by the wealthy.

From as early as 300 A.D. the cocoa bean was a symbol of life and fertility. It was also a form of currency in the tropical regions of Mexico and Central America. Making and drinking bitter water was extravagant, literally eating your wealth.

Unlike today’s cocoa, ancient xocoatl was sugar free. Cocoa beans were ground with a variety of local spices, which probably included annatto, vanilla, corn, and chiles.

European explorers brought cocoa beans back from the new world, but they didn’t catch on until someone added sugar. Brilliant! The rest is chocoholic history.

Mexican chocolate (Ibarra or Abuelita brands) is about as close as you can get to this ancient drink. It is made by coarsely grinding cocoa beans with thick crystals of sugar and crushed cinnamon sticks. It is sold in discs, and meant to be melted or dissolved in hot water, milk, or molé (sauce). Eaten raw, its texture is strangely course but the flavor is uniquely wonderful. I have used it here to make a more palatable version of bitter water in a brownie. If you can’t find Mexican chocolate, use bittersweet and add a tablespoon of cinnamon.

abuelibarra choc

Notice the recipe calls for chile powder, spelled with an e and not an i. Chili with an i refers to the spice blend used in stew chili con carne that contains a variety of spices that you definitely don’t want in a brownie, including garlic and cumin. For this recipe you want chile powders with an e, which are dried chiles ground to a powder. It is often a blend of several chiles, but it can also be made from a single variety, such as Ancho Chile Powder or New Mexico Chile Powder.

Xocoatl Brownies

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups Mexican chocolate, chopped
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dried chile powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. anise seed, ground
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup powdered sugar

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Coat a 9×13″ baking dish with pan spray. Combine butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs one by one and combine thoroughly. Sift together flour, chile powder, baking powder and salt, and stir into batter just until incorporated.
  2. Transfer batter to prepared baking dish and bake 25-30 minutes, until firm. Cool 20 minutes before cutting into squares. Sift together anise, cinnamon and powdered sugar, and dust over brownies.

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