by Stephanie Zonis
About 5 dozen cookies
Not-too-sweet, very chocolate, slice-and-bake cookies, these are perfect for a little nibble to go with coffee or tea or milk. Once the dough is shaped and wrapped tightly, you can store it for a few days in the refrigerator before baking the cookies. If you wish, you can slice and bake the dough as needed, so that you'll have freshly-baked cookies whenever you want.
These aren't fancy or decorated; if you want to dress them up, sift a bit of confectioners' sugar onto their tops just before serving. The baked cookies will freeze, but remember these are thin and crisp and therefore fragile, so store/freeze them accordingly. These are probably more to adult tastes, though if you're not a spice fan you can omit the cinnamon, cloves, and pepper. If you like sandwich cookies, check out the variation; a number of my friends are very fond of those.
1-1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
Few grinds of freshly, finely ground black pepper
6 ozs. semisweet chocolate, chopped or as chips
3/4 c. sugar, divided
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, graded "large"
2 tsp. cold water
Sift together the flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and pepper; set aside.
In food processor fitted with steel blade, combine the chocolate and 2 Tbsp. sugar (reserve remainder). Cover; process just until chocolate is very finely ground (you don't want melted chocolate or a chocolate paste, so keep your eye on the mixture). Set aside.
In large bowl, combine softened butter, remaining sugar, and vanilla. With large spoon, cream until well-mixed, light, and fluffy. Beat in egg thoroughly. Add about half of flour mixture, then all of the water; stir in well. Stir in remaining flour mixture, then ground chocolate (dough will be quite stiff).
Divide dough in half. Form each half into a round or square log six inches in length. Roll up tightly in plastic wrap, then chill at least 2 hours (or for up to several days).
When ready to bake cookies:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Adjust rack to center of oven. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil, shiny side up (do not grease foil).
Remove one cookie log from refrigerator. Using a large, very sharp knife, slice log into 1/8" to 3/16" thick slices, using a sawing motion and slicing slowly and carefully.
Note: The ground chocolate will be very noticeable in the cookie dough, and if your knife is not sharp enough it will cause you to have trouble slicing it. I use a ruler to get the idea of the correct thickness initially. Slice off only two or three slices to bake as "test cookies"; this is important here, as the dough is dark-colored and it can be difficult to determine when the cookies are done.
Place the slices on a foil-lined cookie sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 9-11 minutes, turning the sheet back-to-front about halfway through baking time.
While baking, the cookies will puff up slightly; they are done when the very edges feel firm to the touch (the centers will still feel semisoft). Do not overbake. Let stand on cookie sheet 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
The cookies should be crisp when they are cool; if not, return them to the baking sheet and bake a bit longer. Once you have determined approximate baking time, continue slicing and baking the rest of the dough.
Note: This dough softens quickly once sliced, so I stop after every two or three slices in order to transfer the sliced dough to the prepared cookie sheet (I place 15 cookies on a 15-1/2" by 10-1/2" sheet; these don't spread much). When you have sliced enough dough to fill up one sheet, re-wrap the remaining dough and replace it in the refrigerator.
If the sliced cookies have lost their shape at all, use a fingertip or two to press them gently into the correct shape after they've stood at room temperature for a few minutes. Bake one sheet of cookies at a time. If you wish, while one sheet bakes, you may slice enough cookies for the next sheet. However, it is not a good idea to slice the cookies too far in advance, as they darken in color and don't hold their shape as well while baking if they stand at room temperature for too long after they're sliced.
When cookies have cooled completely (this doesn't take long), store airtight at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies
Make dough as above, except omit spices and ground chocolate (that means that you'll cream the butter with all of the sugar).
Chill this dough until you can handle it, 1-2 hours.
Working quickly, divide dough in half; shape each half into a 5" round log. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap as above and chill for at least 2 hours.
Slice and bake cookies as above (because it has no ground chocolate in it, this dough slices more easily). You'll end up with about 50 cookies. Cool the cookies completely.
Note: To make the "sandwiches", you'll need a specialty ingredient. It is described as "hazelnut spread with skim milk and cocoa". I can find several brands of this in local markets; the most common brand is called "Nutella" and comes in a 13 or 14 ounce jar. Other brands include Milky Way, which I haven't tried, and my favorite, Belnussa. Belnussa is made by Zentis and imported from Germany; it contains small pieces of chopped hazelnuts. At any rate, you'll need one jar of this spread.
Place all of the cookies on a flat work surface, flat side up. Try to pair them according to size and shape (it makes for neater sandwiches).
Now, take a well-rounded teaspoon (not a measuring teaspoon) of the hazelnut spread, and place it on the flat side of one cookie in a pair. Cover with the other cookie, flat side down, and press gently to flatten the hazelnut spread, which will ideally come out almost to the edge of the sandwich cookie.
Repeat with the other cookie pairs. Store airtight at cool room temperature for up to 3 days; do not refrigerate or freeze. About 25 sandwich cookies
Note: If you run out of hazelnut spread or feel like a change, you can sandwich cookies together with thick apricot jam. However, if you do so, they must be eaten within an hour or two of completion, as the cookies will absorb moisture from the jam and become soggy, even if stored airtight.
I Love Chocolate
Copyright © 1999 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created September 1998