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Author Notes: I won a local Christmas cookie contest with these, which i invented after a trip to Costco during which I got carried away and bought an enormous container of Mexican drinking chocolate. I started with a recipe I found on a blog by NerdyBaker, then improvised. The blend of the spicy Mexican chocolate and oranges struck me as being uniquely Californian, so I added some toasted local pecans to the mix. Use good cocoa, spices, and chocolate. It makes a difference. The gold sugar crystals aren't necessary to the flavor, but add some bling for the holidays! You could certainly use a sprinkling of powdered sugar instead. - lbgirl
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup finely grated Mexican hot chocolate (I used Abuelita brand)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
- 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
- 3/4 cup candied orange peel, diced
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate minichips
- gold sugar crystals, for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, orange zest, and eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the Mexican chocolate.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, espresso powder, cinnamon and cayenne. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, mixing just until completely blended. Stir in the pecans, orange peel, and chocolate minichips until evenly combined.
- Chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes, so that it becomes easier to shape into balls. This also keeps the cookies from spreading quite as much when baking. Using a teaspoon-size cookie scoop, scoop generous balls of dough, and roll them between your palms. Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment (or Silpats), 2" apart.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with gold sugar crystals. Cool cookie sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then remove cookies from sheets and cool completely on the racks. Store in airtight containers (Note: I put 1/4 fresh apple in the container with the cookies, which keeps them soft and chewy. If you prefer your cookies crisp, leave the apple out).
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