Weeknight Cooking

Double Chocolate and Chilli Cookies

January 10, 2012

Double Chocolate and Chilli Cookies

- Jenny

So in theory, January marks the time when we should all be tired of cookies and hunkering down as a people with some sort of juice concoctions made with our new blenders, watching the debates and trying to remember where we stored the anti-freeze. 

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I’ll admit there were about four days after Christmas when I didn’t want to eat any more sweets. But then I got over it, although I craved something new.

I cooked out of a new cookie book that my friend Elisabeth gave me, and I combed this site. It felt momentarily frightening to discover how many cookies here I have already tried, but I did stumble into some new territory with Double Chocolate and Chilli Cookies

So, these cookies have a controversial past, which in the baking world means that the final product was cake-like, and not crispy, as the photo implied it would be. This sparked a considerable amount of back and forth, and amreen posted a whole new set of proportions in the comment section, which formed the recipe I set out to make. 

I instantly had to go into improvisational mode, because I did not have enough white sugar (I substituted with a half cup of turbinado sugar and a handful of brown to make up for my shortcomings) and because I was out of chocolate chips, I chopped up a cup of good chocolate into chunks. 

I would like to pause here to ponder why most writers do not indicate whether or not one needs natural or Dutch process cocoa for their recipe. I suppose it is because natural cocoa is everyone’s default, and Dutch process comes up on a need-to-know basis, but it matters because they are not interchangeable as the latter does not react with baking soda. I feel a deep well of sadness for the baker who has invested in Dutch process cocoa for her larder, only to be foiled by it but not realizing that natural is needed. I have used this space to beg for clarification on all matters chocolate in the past. Let’s come together as a community to right this cookbook wrong. (Learn more about cocoa powder here)

So back to the recipe: you start with the creaming of butter and sugar (I added the eggs and vanilla three minutes into the butter sugar dance in the mixer) and sifting up those dry ingredients. Put your dough in the fridge while you get some parchment paper for your cookie sheet (my tweak, the author calls for ungreased cookie sheets) and get someone a glass of juice, even though said person is sitting inches from the fridge but has a strange preference for your pouring techniques. 

Jenny makes her cookies on the big side, which is one of many don’t-live-like-Jenny pieces of advice I have for you; keep them on the smaller side and they will cook in seven to eight minutes. They won’t look fully done, and will be on the fragile side, but just trust me that in fact they are and let them cool on the pan for a few minutes before setting them to the rack.

I must report that even with more butter than the original recipe, my cookies were still more fragile tea cake than crispy bad ass, which was okay by me as they were rich and surprising.  

I gave bacon girl the first bite, who proclaimed them delicious, for exactly ten seconds. Then, she started running for a glass of milk. Hot pepper, she asked? Well cayenne. “Mom, kids don’t have a spicy taste bud.” Then she grabbed some ice cream.

My husband and I loved them. The fact that the heat comes after the bite of rich chocolate, a mouth pre cooling system of sorts, is really fun and delicious. The incipient came home from volleyball practice, grabbed a cookie, took her first bite, smiled.  Then wide eyes. Reached for water. “They are really good.” Polished off.  

This morning I took a bag of them around the office, feeling that a reaction to a spicy cookie is a personality litmus test of sorts. They were largely popular, though one colleague said they should not be served for breakfast (fair enough) and others craved a flatter, chewier texture. Any ideas out there? 


Double Chocolate and Chilli Cookies by amreen

Makes 20 cookies

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips
2 sticks butter - softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 cup Walnuts (optional)

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Photo by James Ransom

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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


greenchilemaven January 31, 2012
I would like to suggest instead of walnuts use Pinon or pine nuts as they would in New Mexico. Of course walnuts are perfectly fine. Just that the Pinon or pine nut is more of a delicacy.
molly R. January 15, 2012
just as a comment, if you can put in your recipes de weight, for ex. 2 sticks butter?
I will try these cookies because I like hot things.

saltandserenity January 15, 2012
I am intrigued! I loved reading how this recipe evolved.

I am always confused about the cocoa powder thing! If the cocoa powder tin does not specify if it is natural or Dutch process, can you tell the difference by reading the ingredient list?
Paprikash January 15, 2012
Chocolate + Chilli = ??? Sounds like Mexican Hot Chocolate in cookie form...can't wait to try them!
TastefullyKimS January 12, 2012
Chocolate & Chili just sound good. I will definitely be trying these cookies very soon.
calendargirl January 11, 2012
Loved the Tester piece, but cannot wrap my mind around the barley and cool whip combo. Was there anything more? Shirley Corriher explains how to make cookies more cake-like, chewier, flatter, etc. "Cookwise." Someone has made off with my copy so I can't be more specific, sorry.
drbabs January 11, 2012
My book group girls will love these! Thanks for finding this recipe. And great article in the Times about Senator Tester. I love weird food combinations that are strangely good.
Author Comment
Jestei January 11, 2012
thanks so much!!!!!!!!!
Midge January 11, 2012
I so want to make these instead of work this morning. Thanks for digging this one up and for the cocoa clarification. Enjoyed your Tester piece too (purple barley and cool whip? really?).
Author Comment
Jestei January 11, 2012
It was weirdly good :)
You should bake these before work. Wont take u long
mcs3000 January 11, 2012
These cookies are so good. Amen on the cocoa commentary - learned that the hard way. I used to use chocolate chips but at a book event, Kim Boyce and Heidi Swanson convinced me to try chop up chocolate instead. I found it really made a difference. On another note, great piece on Senator Tester.
Author Comment
Jestei January 11, 2012
thank you! i agree about chunked chocolate; the martha chocolate ginger snap makes great use of that and i love it
hungryheart January 10, 2012
For flat and chewy, definitely try melting the butter. Melting sugar in the butter will boost the shiny outside as well.
Author Comment
Jestei January 11, 2012
OK OK we're getting somewhere on this..........
mrslarkin January 10, 2012
Hooray for cookies! May have to try these out to see what my results are, but for a chewy and not cakey cookie, I'd probably not beat too much air into the batter at step 2. Just a guess. But if chewy's definitely what you're hankering for, you should check out this cookie: http://www.food52.com/recipes/15402_southoftheborder_chocolate_cookies
Author Comment
Jestei January 10, 2012
Interesting. Will check that one out, too.
Matthewrmt January 10, 2012
This recipe looks absolutely delicious. Being a long-time, devoted chile lover, I do have to make one tiny, little, comment: "chilli" (also "chili") refers to the mixture of chile, cumin, and assorted other spices that go into a meat and sometimes bean mixture, like chili con carne. "Chile" refers to the actual fruit--jalapeno, serrano, cayenne, etc.--in all its forms (dried, fresh, paste,....) So, these would be more accurately titled "Double Chocolate and Chile Cookies."
Author Comment
Jestei January 10, 2012
Oh you're sparking an interesting conversation I think!
carol_tanenbaum January 10, 2012
Instead of going through all that, why not just use the Double Chocolate Cookie recipe from the cookbook, and adjust the seasonings?

btw -- Maida Heater has a great chocolate dessert book, in which she explains the Dutch process issue.
Author Comment
Jestei January 10, 2012
I love that recipe, but this blog culls from the site (and excludes contest winners and A&M's recipes, sometimes to my great heart ache) for its content. I think I own that book and will look that up right away! Thanks.