25 April 2014

Spiced Double Chocolate Cookies



An unexpected crush on a cookie prompts me to write today. It's a bit of a walk on the dark and spicy side, so I hope you're ready. But don't worry, it's nothing you can't handle.

Here's a reason why you should trust me on it: I'm pretty picky with cookies. And when it comes to double chocolate ones, I know you're not guaranteed to cookie perfection with any recipe just because there's a double dose of chocolate in there.

This cookie, like those pear muffins, happened because of my mom. I hope she knows she's giving me a lot of distraction by gifting me with these random ingredients.



But I'm not complaining. Incentive is never a bad thing. In fact, I think it ends up being how most things come together. It's about having something to build from. Because, when you don't know what to do, the same advice always applies: start where you are. Start with anything you have. Don't know what to make for dinner? Build around that obvious thing that's hanging out in the fridge already. Leftover tomato sauce becomes a vehicle for chicken sausage meatballs. The day-old heel of sourdough: panzanella salad!

This law is the thing that helps me through cooking everyday when the last thing I think I can handle is buying ten new ingredients to make a specific recipe. So I always ask: what do I have right now.

Back to the cookies: my mom gave us a spiced chili chocolate bar on Easter. This bar was not exactly what I expected. It was quite complex- with notes of pink peppercorn, and chili with fine quality cacao. It was quite good, but intense, something to have just a few squares of at a time. Thus, since after a day there was still 2/3 of the bar left (a rarity around here) my mind got to thinking about spicy chocolate cookies. I fussed around a little, hemming and almost adapting these cookies to be spicy, then changed my mind after deciding they should be left as is, and falling for a photograph by the talented Brian.


After some scribbling and math I ended up modifying A Thought's... recipe just a hair to accommodate my quite spicy bar, doing a half batch and omitting the additional cayenne called for in the dough. In the end it was the genius harmony of spices in the small amount of cocoa powder, nice dose of cinnamon and vanilla with lots of shaved chili chocolate that took these into full-bodied Mexican chocolate blisstown.

But what also makes these cookies special is their texture. They are thinnish with a nice spread (sorry) from a longer lower bake, and delicately chewy with lightly crisp outer edges and this, I've learned, is my favorite texture for this type of confection. Enjoy.

 
Spiced Double Chocolate Cookies

1 c + 2 T all-purpose flour (I used 1 c AP and 2T whole wheat pastry)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup + 2 T packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 T granulated sugar
1  large egg, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 oz bittersweet, spicy chocolate of choice, chopped/shaved using a chef’s knife (note: I used roughly about 5 oz spicy chocolate bar and 2 oz of a regular dark bar)

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon together well, set aside.
In a mixer cream butter + salt + sugars until light and fluffy, a few minutes, scrape down as needed.
Add egg + vanilla to combine. Scrape down, mix once more.
Add dry mix in 2 additions, on low until just combined. Add half chocolate and pulse mixer once to distribute, then add other half and using a spatula or dough scraper stir dough once or twice more.
Using a medium scoop (about 2.5 Tbs capacity), scoop dough balls.

Note: at this point you may chill or freeze dough balls. When ready to bake:

Oven 325, rack in center. Line pan with parchment. Bake a few on a sheet at a time, about 15 minutes, until edges are light brown. Cool 3 minutes on tray, then move to rack to cool completely before serving.

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