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The Chocolate Cookie that launched a thousand ships…

July 28, 2010

An afternoon in Bernal Heights is not a bad way to spend the day..Note to self. Never trust Mapquest. Again. Driving from 94965 all the way to B. Heights is a long and delicate path. Getting lost on an unfamiliar highway (101), unwillingly led to Oakland (not so bad), stuck in Noon traffic snail-trailing the very long way (down Mission) and finally driving upon, the oh so enchanting little neighborhood, is how I spent my last Tuesday.

It’s interesting how the faces of people change from Mission to Cortland to Anderson. San Francisco has its diversity, if you know where to look for it (not in the Marina). Mission to Bernal appears to be a happy  mix of Latino locals waiting at bus stops oscillating to a happy mix of Anglo locals pushing strollers and walking small dogs with or without the stroller. There is a charming neighborhood cafe like The Liberty ,where you can disappear (as we did) into the wonderfully nostalgic menu all afternoon. They serve things like: Chicken Pot pie, Mac & Cheese and Pizza covered in Fig and Prosciutto. Sprinkled in for good measure are cute little shops (yes cute), smaller than Safeway grocery stores and several Parks (to accommodate everyone).

I hadn’t seen J. in about 10 years, and from what I remember we met a few times in Austin through a mutual friend in the Art/Music/Dot.com scene. Precise dates and times are a little hazy. Forgive me. It was the early 00’s.  I do know that J. lived and worked in New York for quite some time while I lived pleasantly and worked diligently in Houston ( for far too long). Now years later we both have gravitated to the West Coast to enjoy the wonderful weather and endless opportunity. Because well, there is endless weather and wonderful opportunity.

Showing up empty-handed is not how I do business. I have good Texas manners, minus the concealed hand-weapon. Knowing J. has a new baby on her hands, I thought to make her some Chocolate cookies. For who doesn’t enjoy cookies and chocolate or Cookies made of Chocolate ( a new mother sure does), while the  adorable baby is sleeping and web pages need to be created….

I had quite a bit of chocolate left over from a recent baking gig, but I was out of eggs. Instead of rushing to the store to buy eggs, I decided to improvise and bake something with ingredients I had in the kitchen. I do this a lot and I find it more interesting and more of a challenge. It’s like bringing out your concealed weapon when you need it.

On page 302 in Stir, the cookbook of Chef Barbara Lynch, is her recipe for what she calls “My Favorite Chocolate Cookies”.  She describes the cookies as a “…. cross between Pierre Herme’s Korova Cookies (made famous by cookbook author Dorie Greenspan) and Cape Cod baker Terri Horn’s addictively salty chocolate oatmeal cookies”.

I am a huge fan of salty and sweet. I need no convincing of the Chocolate & Salt combination. I’d hate to think this trend is over or even beginning for that matter. It is just so good. It simply just is. I was a little skeptical about this cookie and I don’t know why. The recipe does not call for eggs (so that was a plus) but it does call for both melted chocolate and finely chopped chocolate. I had all of the ingredients. I was in business.

So I proceeded to make the cookies but at one point I felt the urge to get “creative” and thought I may add a bit of this or that to the recipe to somehow change or improve it. I am so glad I did not go the experimental route (my Mother would be so proud). I am pleased that I left the recipe alone and made it following the directions….though I will mention I was low on A.P. Flour, so I used whole wheat flour in substitution. I didn’t see a major difference in this cookie with the partial use of whole wheat flour. Still every bit as rich and chocolatey, salty and crumbly. In all the right places.

This cookie is ‘addictively’ good. I feel inclined to keep chocolate stocked in the pantry at all times, just in the event I want to make these cookies (which might be all the time). I’ve pawned them off to others (the recipe yields a few) and left a cookie crumb in my path. I highly recommend making these cookies. Once, twice, again and again.

Barbara Lynch’s Favorite Chocolate Cookie

2  1/2 c. A.P. Flour

3/4 c. + 1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder

1 tablespoon Baking Soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 c. coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (preferably 85% cacao) + 1 c. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

11 oz. unsalted butter (room temp.)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Fleur de sel

 

Directions

In a bowl combine: flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon. Whisk together.

In a small bowl: Melt 1 cup chocolate (the coarsely chopped 85%), over simmering water. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment: cream butter until soft and “creamy”.  Add sugar, salt and vanilla extract and cream for another minute.

* I usually cream butter and sugar together, until light and fluffy, then add vanilla.I followed Barbara’s instructions and did butter alone.

On low speed: Add dry ingredients in 2 batches. Dough will look crumbly. With mixer on, add melted (cooled) chocolate in a steady stream.

Add the finely chopped chocolate and mix until combined.

You can shape dough into a log and wrap with parchment. Slice when you are ready to bake and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel.

* I was fresh out of Fleur de Sel, so I used coarse Kosher salt. No complaints over here.

Bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake. Cookies will look slightly delicate, but will set when they cool.

* I shaped some dough into logs and sliced. The rest I put in a plastic container and later scooped out (once dough at room temp.) and rolled in balls before baking. This worked just as well, but slightly less uniformed.

 

 

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