“It’s just like eating chocolate! A very good chocolate,” is the comment I often get. This is quite possibly my favourite icebox cookie*. It is thin, crisp and as chocolatey as it can possibly be. I really shouldn’t eat as many of them as I do.

* Icebox cookies: Dough is made, rolled into a log, chilled and sliced straight off log and baked immediately. The dough is very soft. Dough is not rolled out and cookie cutters are not used.

Chocolatey Chocolate Cookies

Prep: 15 minutes 
Cook: 10 – 12 minutes
Inactive: ~2 hours
Level: Relatively easy
Makes: ~36 cookies
Oven Temperature: 320F (160C). Oven rack adjusted to lower middle position.
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? Cookie dough can be made and chilled up to 3 days in the chiller and frozen up to 3 weeks in the freezer. Stored in air tight jars, baked cookies tastes just as fresh a week after baking.

Ingredients

4 oz (110g) unsalted butter*
2.5 oz (70g) caster sugar
1/2 egg yolk
3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5.5 oz  (160g) all-purpose/plain flour
1 Tablespoons rice flour**
1/8 teaspoon salt***
2 oz (60g) bittersweet chocolate*
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder**
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
* I use butter with a butterfat content of at least 82 to 83%. European butters typically have butterfat that falls within these percentages. I am partial to the French brand, President for baking cookies. Whichever brand of butter you choose to use, it must have at least a minimum of 82% butterfat. The higher butterfat and lower water content content means a more buttery and crisp cookie. My advice is to buy a good tasting butter to begin with. The better tasting your butter, the better tasting your cookie.
** This is that extra something that will make the cookies that extra bit more crispy.
*** Omit if you are using salted butter.
*  Break up into chunks. Buy the best chocolate you have accessed to as that is exactly how your cookies will end up tasting. I use Valrhona – Guanaja 70% cocoa minimum or Scharffenberger 70% bittersweet chocolate bar. Find out what the ‘%’ count of cocoa means by scrolling down to  the ‘Tips’ section.
** I use Valrhona cocoa powder.

Method

Melting chocolate using the microwave
1. Big blocks of chocolate should be broken up into chunks. If you use smaller sized chocolates (like chocolate buttons), shorten your microwave timing accordingly. Better to leave some chunks to melt in the residual heat than to leave it in the microwave to melt completely. They might burn and turn into a grainy mess.
2. In a dry medium size bowl, melt chocolate in microwave at medium-hi for 2 minutes. There should still be chunks of chocolate amongst the melted chocolate.
3. Stir in the cocoa and coffee powder. Continue to stir to melt the chocolate completely.  Set aside and cool.

Melting the chocolate over the stove
1. Have a saucepan and a dry, heatproof bowl ready. The bowl should fit into the pot snugly and sit about 2″ (5cm) off the bottom of the pot.
2. Fill the saucepan with 1.5″ (3.8cm) of water. Place the bowl in it. You do not want water to touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and set aside for the moment.
3. Get the water simmering in the saucepan.
4. Add chocolate into the bowl. Once the  water starts to simmer, put the bowl of chocolate in the saucepan.  Stir to help chocolate melt.
5. When almost all of the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and coffee powders. Continue to stir to fully incorporate the cocoa and coffee powders and to melt any remaining chocolate pieces. Set aside and cool. I do not leave the chocolate in the bowl to melt completely in the saucepan. Chocolate when overheated turns into a grainy mess.

Making the cookie dough
1. Add the butter to the mixer bowl and let it soften to room temperature. Set aside.
2. Sift the all-purpose/plain flour, rice flour and salt together. Set aside.
3. Add sugar to the soften butter. Attach the whisk attachment and turn on the mixer to medium high speed and whisk until pale, light and creamy.

4. Turn speed down to medium low and add the 1/2 egg yolk. Let the mixer run for 1 minute. Turn off the mixer, add the pure vanilla extract and quickly scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
5. Turn on the mixer and let it run at medium low for 30 seconds to incorporate everything well.
6. Turn off the mixer. Switch to a paddle attachment if you have one, if not continue using the whisk attachment.
7. Turn the machine back on to low speed, gradually add in the sifted flours and salt. It should take about 1 minute. Turn off the mixer before the flours are completely mixed in. Incorporate the rest of the flours with a spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl as you do so, folding the batter over itself. It should not take more than 30 seconds. Do not over mix or your cookie might not be as light.


8. If the dough looks too sticky, add 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose/plain flour at a time. Go slow on the flour. You want to add just enough so that it isn’t sticky looking. The dough in the image above still has a tiny bit of flour left, that is fine.
9. Return the mixer bowl to the mixer stand. With the mixer at low speed, pour in the cooled melted chocolate. When it is almost completely mixed in, stop the machine and fold and cut the rest of the chocolate in with the spatula. Do not over mix.

Rolling cookie dough into a log

1. Lay out an arm’s length of plastic wrap on your work surface. Transfer the dough on it and with a bench scrapper, shape into a rough log with a diameter of 2″ (5 cm). 2. Use the plastic wrap to enclose and roll the dough, shaping it into a cylindrical log. Twist the plastic ends closed and tucked under the dough log to secure. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to firm dough thoroughly or up to 3 days. If not, freeze up to 3 weeks.

If you want to get round cookies from a log of cookie dough (only if you are deathly determined to get those cookies as round as possible):
1. I have come up with an even shorter way of getting ’round-cut’ cookies. Previously, I had used parchment paper, plastic wrap and the cardboard tubes of kitchen paper towel. Now, I skip the parchment paper entirely.
2. You would need to eyeball the number of cardboard kitchen paper towel tubes you will need as those cardboard tubes come in varying lengths and diameters. So look at the cookie dough you have and decide.
3. Tear off lengths of plastic wrap that is 1.5x longer than the cardboard tubes.
4. Roll the cookie dough into the required numbered of plastic wrapped logs to fit the cardboard tubes. Be mindful that you have to roll it into a diameter that will fit through the cardboard rolls. Twist the plastic ends shut.
5. Secure one end of the plastic wrapped dough with a dead knot. Slide this end first through the cardboard tube. Keep the knotted end as the base, let the ‘plastic tail’ hang outside and turn the tube upright.
6. To fit the dough compactly into the cardboard tube, with the tube upright, cup the base of the cardboard tube with your palm and fingers, making sure you have the end of the ‘plastic tail’ pinned securely against the outside of the cardboard tube.
7. With your other free hand, hold on to the other end of plastic wrap.
8. Lift and then bang the tube down onto your work surface. Do this a few times until you have a compressed cylindrical tube of dough. Twist the open end of plastic wrap secure to seal. Refrigerate until completely firm.

Slicing the cookie dough for baking
5 to 10 minutes before you are ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator.

(1) Slice
1. Sliced cookies will look very homestyle. Remove the plastic wrap and slice the dough log into 0.2″ (0.5 cm) thick slices and place them on silicon mat or parchment paper lined baking trays. Leave a 0.4″ to 0.8″ (1 to 2 cm) gap between cookies.
2. If at any point you feel the dough has become too soft to slice neatly, return it to the refrigerator to firm up. Slice cookies, must be refrigerated if they are not baked immediately. Left on the work surface, they will start to melt and this will affect the texture of the cookies.
(2) Slice and stamp/emboss
1. My terra cotta cookie stamps measure 2″ (5 cm) in diameter. So I slice off a 0.2″ (0.5 cm) thick slice and lay it on the silicon mat or parchment paper lined baking tray. Leave at least a 1′ (2.5cm) gap between cookies. Push in the edges slightly to form a squat circle.
2. I have found that the best way to get clear imprints on the cookies is to work with chilled dough and to loosely lay a square of plastic wrap over the squat circle of dough and then emboss the dough with the cookie stamp.
3. Do not bother flouring or oiling the stamps as they do nothing to stop the dough from sticking to the recesses of the debossed surface. Plastic wrap is the way to go. All that flouring will ruin the taste and texture of the cookies.
3. If at any point you feel the dough has become too soft to slice neatly, return it to the refrigerator to firm up. Slice cookies, must be refrigerated if they are not baked immediately. Left on the work surface, they will start to melt and this will affect the texture of the cookies.

‘Round cookies’
1. To keep the cookies as round as possible, turn the circular log of cookie dough a little each time you cut off a slice. This way, you do not put undue pressure on one particular length of the dough and end up with a flat sided round cookie.
2. If at any point you feel the dough has become too soft to slice neatly, return it to the refrigerator to firm up. Slice cookies, must be refrigerated if they are not baked immediately. Left on the work surface, they will start to melt and this will affect the texture of the cookies.

Baking
1. Bake the cookies at 320 F (160 C) for 7 minutes, oven rack at lower middle position.
2. Then, rotate the cookie tray front side back and bake for another 5 minutes.
3. As the cookies are dark coloured, you have to rely on your sense of smell rather than sight to determine when they are cooked through. 12 minutes bake time usually cooks them through.
4. Remove from the oven. Let it cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Store in air tight jars.

Tips

What does the ‘%’ count in chocolate means?
This is essentially what you need to know.
(1) ‘85% cocoa’ indicates the percentage amount of cocoa in the bar of chocolate in terms of the total weight of that bar of chocolate. The higher the percentage of cocoa indicated on the chocolate wrapping, the more intense the cocoa flavour and the lower its sugar content.
(2) When using chocolate for baking, I typically use one with a ‘70% cocoa’ count.
(3) When using chocolate for ganaches, glazing, or adding to a cream, I switch to a chocolate with not more than a ‘60% cocoa’ count. There is a lesser tendency for the emulsion to split.
The above two bars are two of my favourite chocolates for eating.

My Chocolatey Chocolate Cookies do make good bake gifts as…

of all the cookies I bake for gifting over the holidays, these stay fresh tasting the longest. The chocolatey taste actually intensifies with each day of keeping and they do taste just as good and I would say better a week after baking. They are just not too good for the waist line. Bake these ahead and you can free up some of that precious time towards putting up the tree, decorating the house, buying the presents, planning and hosting your year-end parties, squeezing in a manicure …

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

Lemon cookies. I never bake these to give away. Find out why in my upcoming blog post.

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