Saturday, December 26

So while looking for a a good shortbread recipe, I stumbled across these, a variation on the chocolate butter cookies featured in the holiday baking issue of Cook's Illustrated.

I used to feel sort of BLEH about Cook's Illustrated-- I like gigantic food-porn photos to go with my recipes-- but I have come around. This is a GREAT. MAGAZINE. Their recipes are so well tested and they tell you exactly why you're doing what, and how to sub ingredients, and everything I've made from their recipes so far has come out great.

Anyway. These cookies were given the thumbs-up by everyone in my family, even my dad (who's not a fan of chocolate) and my uncle (who's suspicious of anything I make on the basis that it might contain weird organic hippie ingredients). So if it can please them, you know it's DANG GOOD.

I couldn't really taste the cayenne though, so you might want to experiment with adding more if that's your thang.

I decorated them with some dark chocolate glaze, slivered almonds, and the somewhat dubious "white candy melts" I found in the cupboard-- but they are quite good on their own if you're not feeling motivated to make them look fancy.

Mexican Chocolate Butter Cookies
from Cook's Illustrated magazine

20 T unsalted butter (2.5 sticks), slightly softened (about 65 degrees)
1/2 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder (you can sub regular cocoa powder here and they will still turn out fine)
1 t espresso powder (or instant coffee)
1 c sugar
1/2 t salt
2 large egg yolks
1 T vanilla extract
2.25 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c sliced almonds
1 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t cayenne pepper

1 In a skillet toast the almonds, cinnamon and cayenne until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
2 Melt 4 T of butter. Add the cocoa and espresso and whisk to a paste. Let cool.
3 In a food processor grind the almond mixture until fine. Combine with the flour.
4 Cream remaining butter, sugar, salt and cooled cocoa mixture til well combined and fluffy (about a minute). Add yolks and vanilla and mix until combined. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, scraping bowl after each. When dough forms cohesive ball, divide into 3 disks and refrigerate for about an hour.
5 Roll out chilled dough between 2 sheets of parchment until an even 3/16" thick. Cut into shapes and bake at 375 degrees for about 10-12 minutes (if the dough starts to get sticky and hard to work with, just re-chill it for a bit). The cookies are done when they offer slight resistance when gently pressed. If they start to darken at the edges they're overdone. Let them cool completely before decorating.

Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
from Cook's Illustrated magazine

4 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 72% dark chocolate)
4 T unsalted butter
2 T corn syrup
1 t vanilla extract

1 Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler. Whisk in corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. (The corn syrup is there to give it a thinner texture and nice shine. I used brown rice syrup instead which worked fine.)
2 Spread glaze on cookies and allow them to dry for at least 20 minutes. You can marble the icing by topping the glazed cookie with a few drops of white chocolate and dragging a toothpick through while the glaze is still wet.