Holiday cookies

Mexican chocolate cookies

Mexican chocolate cookies

I’m taking a snow day today.  No one will miss me — in fact, with the storm warning, I think everyone else is doing the same thing.  Which is great, because I can look forward to curling up on the couch with Nuclear Structure from a Simple Perspective and getting my theory chapter FINISHED.  Well, mostly, anyway.

(What, you came here for the food? Nuclear structure is much more interesting. No — seriously. Stop laughing. I mean it.)

Lemony gingersnaps

Lemony gingersnaps (at night)

The thesis is looming. It’s due in two months — a little sooner than I expected, because it’s hard to get five professors in the same place at once. A few of them seem to be allergic to this town, but hey, I’m not complaining. I have a DATE. A scarily soon date, upon which the equivalent of a book is due.  So posts will be slim in the coming months, but I’ll come back after that with ideas and pictures and maybe even a blog makeover, or a move to a server of my own.  For now, I’m just glad the cookies I made for the holidays turned out, so I can leave you with a little something to celebrate with.

Gingersnap dough is kind of ugly (but addictive all the same).

Gingersnap dough is kind of ugly (but addictive all the same).

Both of these cookies are variations on recipes from Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking.  My brother gave us a copy for Christmas last year, and I’ve had good luck with the cookie recipes thus far.  These are no exception. The gingersnaps are soft, fragrant, and chewy, and are the best molasses-based cookie I have found so far. The Mexican chocolate cookies are cute and seductive, all in one go.  They have a rich chocolatey flavor with subtle hints of cinnamon and chile, and even the uncooked dough is addictive.  So what are you waiting for — a snow day?  Go make cookies, because frankly, it doesn’t feel like a holiday until you’re covered with powdered sugar and coming down from a serious sugar high.

I’m trying out a new recipe format. If you hate it, tell me!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies and Lemony Gingersnaps

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

Makes ~35 small cookies, depending on how much dough you eat.

The cinnamon and chili powder are my additions. I didn’t add a lot of either — just enough to balance the sweetness of the chocolate with the subtle heat of the chili.  They are optional, but I think they make for a more interesting cookie.

Find your double boiler or look for a medium-sized pot and a metal bowl that will rest on top of the pot.  Put a couple of inches of water in the pot (or bottom of your double boiler), and place over high heat.  In the bowl, place the following:

  • 4 oz. (125 g.) unsweetened chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 1/4 c. (2 oz. / 60 g.) unsalted butter

The bowl should sit over (but not touch) the water in the pot.  Heat until the butter and chocolate melt; you may need to stir occasionally, depending on how small your chocolate chunks are.  Take off the heat once everything is melted, and let cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the batter.

In another large bowl, sift together:

  • 1-1/2 c. (7-1/2 oz. / 235 g.) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. (1-1/2 oz. / 45 g.) Dutch cocoa powder (unsweetened!)
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. chili powder (adjust to taste once the batter is assembled — I was making this for kids, so I didn’t want to put too much in).

In a third bowl (I know, I know — hopefully you have a dishwasher, unlike me), cream together:

  • 4 large eggs, or 3 jumbo eggs
  • 2 c. (1 lb. / 500 g.) granulated sugar (I think this is caster sugar?)

Basically, you want to keep whisking the ingredients together until the mix turns a pale yellow.

Fold the melted chocolate mix into the egg mix, then fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  At this stage, adjust the chili and cinnamon (if you’re not afraid of raw eggs).

Cover and chill the final dough for 2 hours, or overnight, so the dough is easier to handle.

For the final step, you’ll need:

  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar (icing sugar), or enough to coat each of the cookies you make in sugar. It is an optional step, but looks quite pretty.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF / 165ºC.  Roll a rounded teaspoon of dough into a ball, dip in powdered sugar, and place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. When you’ve rolled out all your cookies, bake for ~13 minutes, at which point, the cookies should be fat disks, feel firm when gently touched, and have a crinkly appearance.  Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then let cool completely (if you can) on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container or bag to keep them soft.

Lemony gingersnaps

Makes ~40 2-1/2″ cookies.

These bring out the best in molasses, and use a healthier oil, to boot.  The lemon zest is optional — I added it as an afterthought — and I’m not sure it changed the flavor so dramatically that I would demand that you MUST try this now.  These cookies are soft and chewy, and are slightly more adult than the last batch.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 180ºC, and line a few baking sheets with parchment paper. To tell you the truth, we only have room for two at a time in our oven, so I just made multiple batches of cookies.

In a large bowl, whisk together:

  • 2 c. (10 oz. / 315 g.) all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • 1 t. ground ginger

In a second bowl, mix together:

  • 3/4 c. (6 fl oz./180 ml.) olive oil (no, I’m not kidding — try it!)
  • 1/2 c. (5-1/2 oz. / 170 g.) molasses. They recommend a lighter molasses, but I used what we had in the house. I think as long as it’s not blackstrap molasses, you should be fine.  Golden syrup might also work, though it would change the character of the cookies.
  • 1 c. (7 oz. / 220 g.) brown sugar, firmly packed.  I always weigh my brown sugar, and you should, too.
  • 1 large egg

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then mix in:

  • 1/2 c. (3 oz. / 90 g.) chopped crystalized ginger
  • the zest from 2 lemons (optional, but kind of nice)

Drop tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheets, with about 2″ of space around them (these cookies will spread).  Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until the cookies are flat and feel firm when you gently touch them.  Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container or bag to keep them soft.

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3 Comments

Filed under baking, chili, chocolate, cinnamon, cookies, ginger, holiday, lemon

3 responses to “Holiday cookies

  1. Good luck!!!

    Notice that that comes before: Happy Holidays!

    And that before…. if there is actually a book titled “Nuclear Structure from a Simple Perspective” that follows through on it’s claim I so have to find myself a copy. Learning nuclear structure from confusing and poorly written papers is definitely not the way to go (sadly I am speaking from experience).

  2. liz

    Thank you! You too, btw (maybe I should post that on your blog :P).

    And yes, the book exists, and it is quite good. Here’s the link. It’s not math heavy, but more intuitive, which means it’s good for some things and not others. Find it at the library if you can, but make sure it’s the second edition — the first is outdated and full of typos.

  3. pshazz

    superyum! no snowdays for me, but coooookies, YAY!

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