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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.
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?
Makes 20 cookies
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
Photo by James Ransom