06 September 2013

Orange, Black and Blue Bottle

As I'm typing this, my nostrils are vaguely infused with the scent of apple cider. I have no idea where it's coming from, other than out the back window of my apartment somewhere, perhaps not so near, but it's not the first time I've smelled it. It's clearly not a bad thing, but if one of my neighbors is a secret apple cider maker, I'm going to need to get in on that. The smell is conjuring a timely longing to run into an apple field right now (the apples in Jersey are almost ready), go on a hay ride and pick a pumpkin while I'm at it.  It's early evening on one of the most gorgeous days out as of late, and that fall spirit is just everywhere.

I don't mean to sound like every other sense-driven person out there obsessed with pumpkin spice and Anthropologie sweaters (I love both by the way), but I am absolutely crazy about the fall months. Drinking warm beverages and deep wines and taking crisp, airy walks, and watching the newest October premiering "we are witches" Television show with a half-amused, half-legit indulgent interest (forgive me, but this one actually sounds a tinge promising!)

But let's get down to business. These cookies? Um, yes.

I've been catching a nice flurry of double chocolate cookie baking out on the blogosphere and these cookies are no fluke. They're from the Blue Bottle Cookbook, which is quickly garnering acclaim. Not only a book about coffee, it also offers a select list of recipes for things to accompany coffee in both mornings and afternoons. I first learned about these confections from the beautiful Vanilla Bean blog.

Here is my general rule of thumb with cookies: if they are a bakery recipe, or a pastry chef's most popular book recipe, adapted and passed down by a few bloggers, are pinned a lot, or were just passed to one blogger by a bakery friend, or if they are anything created by Alice Medrich, they are absolutely worth dirtying up your stand mixer and waiting for the dough to chill. 

As a bonus, this particular dough needs to be chilled at least three hours and can be held in the fridge in its "lidded container" for up to five days (I had a moment of nerdy glee when I learned the instructions asked for that rather than plastic wrap). So in my world that means baking off one or two at a time for a few days, and that's what I call quality control : ) Also, having cookie dough ready to go in a fridge gives me a strange sense of peace. I don't know why. It's like that feeling when you've managed to get your outdoors exercise or yoga in before ten a.m. on a given day and now have the rest of the day to do everything else. Yep, I'm comparing exercise and cookie dough. Same thing.

After chilling the dough mound for about 4 hours, I lifted the lid from the container and was first enthused by the smell. I think that's part of the chill factor. It smelled just wonderful, like the flavors had melded up nicely; it smelled like very good chocolate infused with vanilla and aged, if that were to be bottled. I suppose you could also describe it as "intense" but I wouldn't really go there. It just smelled good. Perhaps, "deep" is better than intense. Let's go with deep.

After dropping two heaping scoops onto the baking sheet and letting them cook for exactly 12 minutes, they also looked rather good. And tasted very, very good. Chewy edges, slightly soft but firm centers, melted chocolate puddles and deeply chocolate diffusion throughout. The perfect companion to a strong 4 pm cappuccino. I'll stop talking now, but please see my note about the flour in the recipe. While the adaption on Vanilla Bean used 3/4 whole wheat pastry and 1/4 almond flour, I used a blend of Heckers all purpose, light spelt and almond flour, with the majority being all purpose to weigh 65 grams (1/2 cup as I halved the recipe).

My only quibble? Why on earth did I halve this recipe? I'll certainly be making it again. Enjoy...here is the whole recipe below, which you could halve, or of course, double.

Blue Bottle’s Double Chocolate Cookies
adapted from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

Notes: In terms of size, I used a heaped scoop with this scoop, and baked for just about 12 minutes. You could experiment with less time or make them larger, just keep an eye. Also, I missed the direction about adding the salt with the butter mix, and sifted into the dry instead. I don't think it impacted anything major.

1 cup all purpose flour**
1/3 cup of natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
3.5 ounces of dark chocolate (70%), coarsely chopped

**You can use a blend of flour here, since the recipe isn't flour heavy. I went for a ratio of about 2/3 all purpose and 1/3 spelt and almond combined just for variety.

1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into a bowl. Dump in any remaining bits into the bowl. Set aside.

2. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fluffy. Add the sugars and salt and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing for another 5-6 minutes.

3. Combine the egg and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and whisk until blended.

4. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the egg mixture in a steady stream, mixing for about 30 seconds (or until smooth). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another 30 seconds.

5. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate and mix until incorporated.

6. Scrape the dough into a lidded container and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 5 days.

7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll 1/4 cup portions of dough into balls and place them onto the baking sheet two inches apart.

8. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating midway through, or until the cookies are slightly firm to the touch. Let cookies cool on the pan for about 10 minutes before removing. They’ll be very tender, especially when they immediately come out of the oven. They’re best eaten warm, but can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

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