I know I’m onto something when my daughter says a dessert is too chocolaty. That means it is just getting to that perfect, blissful, full on inappropriate place that I like. For the love of Pete, there are 16 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate in these cookies. And then there is cocoa on top of that. They are more like individually baked free-form brownies than cookies. And, they are wonderful. So, to be honest, I made these for myself but shared them with my family. Incidentally, my son gave them his hearty approval, as he is a friend of chocolate, as I am.
This dough is barely beaten together. You will notice that the mixing times are minimal and that was purposeful. The resulting dough is quite grainy. It creates a very tender and chewy cookie. Also, err on the side of under-baking, too. These would not be great dry.
On the days when I am not feeling creative but I am having a strong urge for dessert, I turn to a Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, because they test their goods 10 ways to Sunday, so I don’t have to. I wanted a chocolate cookie, so I grabbed my American Classics cookbook and found one. Done. This book and their The Best Recipes cookbook are indispensable. When the authorities show up to address my cookbook-hoarding issues because my kids are walking through book labyrinths and can’t find their way out the door, I shall keep these two among a handful of others. I like them that much.
I made one addition. I keep a shaker can of powdered sugar and cinnamon in my pantry. I sprinkled the cookies with this concoction before eating them. The tiny hint of cinnamon adds a little something that I like. But the cookies are also perfectly fine unadorned.
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee (I used 1 packet of Starbucks VIA)
1-¼ sticks unsalted butter, softened
1-½ cups brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
In a microwave-safe dish, melt the chocolate at 50% power for 90 seconds. Stir the chocolate and then melt it for an additional 60 seconds at 50% power. Stir the chocolate. If at this point only small bits of unmelted chocolate remain, you can just let it sit for a bit and the residual heat will melt the chocolate. All microwaves are different, though, so keep an eye on the chocolate and adjust the times, if necessary. You can also melt the chocolate using a double boiler if you prefer.
Gently stir the eggs and the vanilla together. Add the coffee granules and allow them to dissolve.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, briefly whip the butter. Add the sugar and beat until just combined and still grainy, about 45 seconds. Add the egg mixture in a slow stream and allow it to mix further for 45 seconds. Add the melted chocolate gradually and mix for an additional 45 seconds.
Slow the mixer and add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Cover the bowl and allow it to sit for 20 minutes before forming cookies with a 1-¾” scoop. Bake 2 sheets at a time for approximately 10 minutes, reversing the direction of the sheets, top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Do not overbake. Allow the cookies to rest on the sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Dutch cocoa? It isn’t really Dutch. “Dutching” (nice verb, eh?) is a process by which chocolate nibs are soaked in an alkaline solution prior to being ground up. Cocoa is naturally acidic and this process neutralizes the cocoa. The process darkens the color of the chocolate and decreases the natural harshness of the cocoa. While I’m touting Cook’s Illustrated, I will simply say that their testing indicates that Dutch processed cocoa has a superior flavor, regardless of the usage. While taking out the acid means that the cocoa could perform differently in recipes that only call for baking soda (baking soda needs an acid to react and “do its thing”), they also found no difference in leavening when the two cocoas were substituted. Interesting. That being said, it is generally not advised to substitute one for the other. I used Droste, which garnered a “recommended with reservations” from CI. The only truly “recommended” cocoa in their experiment was Callebaut. But, Droste works great and it is in many grocery stores. Don’t worry too much about it.
I find the online Cook’s Illustrated to be just about the handiest resource in the world if you want to get an education on the “why” of any cooking conundrum. I pay up for it and I get my money’s worth out of it.