31 January 2014

Make it easy




I don't know about you, but I don't necessarily "plan" baking. Often it is a process sprung from impulse. Rarely am I the person who deliberately sets out butter an hour before I'd like to bake. And if I do manage to remember, I am nagged with the sneaking suspicion I'm going to botch this. As far as thinking about baking, that happens all the time, like during downward dog or while walking to the subway, falling asleep...chocolate, almonds, salted, oats, brown butter, peanut butter, toasted walnuts, toasted coconut, almond flour, cold butter, buckwheat...a chatter with a rhythm that doesn't stop. It is a delightfully-scented chatter, though. 


Spelt drop cookies flew into my head as helicopters for the Super Bowl sped across the sky on Friday afternoon. Ones that involved chocolate but just enough to use up the bar I had. Not shortbread, not with coconut oil, not too much chilling time, and I forgot to set out butter, so maybe with melted butter? And not using whole wheat flour for the Kim Boyce cookies, as I had none. Humph. But then I consulted London Bakes, who is always doing interesting things with flours, and found a thing to work with. She browned butter and smoke salted her chocolate-chunked spelt dough. Done. But my smoked salt is a little too meaty for cookieland, so I went with coarse salt, and meditatively put together a small batch of the spelt and ground almond dough. I kissed it with salted dark chocolate (with almond pieces) and swirled in browned butter and had no idea what to expect. But I love Kathryn's blog, so I trusted. And once I browned my butter into the nutty, heady scent, I was locked in. 




I contemplated using the mixer but Kathryn wrote it up to mix by hand. I threw the dough in the fridge for a little and when I took it out, gave a sniff. Well, it sure smelled good. Nutty and vanilla-y and...good. And what I took out of the oven, was a stupendously good all-spelt chocolate chip cookie that's firm/lightly crisp on the edge, soft in the middle with contrast from the fine ground almond and chocolate chards, and a little dose of saltedness. And so there it was, a spelt drop cookie for the rolodex. I hope you try it too. 





Salted Spelt, Almond and Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Makes 8 
Adapted from London Bakes

70 grams spelt flour
20 grams toasted ground almonds*
1/4 tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
55 grams unsalted butter
85 grams sugar**
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
25 grams egg lightly beaten (1/2 a large)
50 grams dark chocolate (I used a salted almond dark Ghirardelli bar) chopped coarsely

Notes: *I took 20 grams toasted whole almonds with skin and ground them until coarse/fine but not too floury in a cleanish coffee grinder (if a little coffee got in, that was fine for flavor)
           **Kathryn used demerara. I used a combo of light brown, sugar in the raw and white cane.  

Method:

-Brown the butter in a small saucepan, whisking, on medium until foam subsides and flecks start to appear. Immediately remove, pour into a teacup, leave to cool. 
-While it cools, mis en place. 

-Grind up almonds to coarse-fine but not too mealy, in a cleanish coffee grinder or food processor
-Whisk to combine spelt, almonds, baking soda, salt.
-Mix vanilla into egg. Chop chocolate
-Set sugar into a large bowl. 
-When butter cools down, mix into sugar and beat with a spatula until combined well. Mix in vanilla/egg, and beat again until incorporated.

-Mix in 1/3 flour, folding gently, then a little chocolate, then 1/3 flour, folding again, then remaining flour, mixing just until combined and sprinkling in remaining chocolate. Dump mix onto a piece of plastic wrap and tuck in any chocolate, and fold plastic around to make a sausage.
-Chill about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 and using a medium scoop, evenly create dough balls. You can flash freeze some of the balls for half an hour, and freezer-bag to bake off later at this point. You can bake from frozen, adding a couple mins, later.

-Bake balls now a few inches apart on a parchment-lined sheet for 12 minutes until just setting, rotating the pan around in the oven just over halfway through. Sprinkle a few flecks of coarse salt if desired upon oven exit. 
-Cool 10 minutes on tray on rack, then completely on rack. 

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