Monday, September 16, 2013

Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies - made dough August 23, 2013 from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Of all the Peanuts characters invented by Charles Schultz, the one I identify with most is Linus.  Not Charlie Brown, not Snoopy, not Lucy - although I've been told I'm more like Lucy.  C'mon, are you kidding, Lucy's a bossy know-it-all who....oh. Wait.  Never mind.  Anyway, Linus.  The reason I identify with Linus is he has a security blanket which is literally his blanket. I would argue that most people have their own version of Linus' blanket: something that gives them peace of mind and is kept close at hand.  My security blanket is having cookie dough and brownies stocked in my freezer.  Does that sound weird?

First, you have to understand whenever I get together with friends or family, I always, always bring goodie bags of baked goods.  Whether I'm meeting 1 person or 20, I bring goodie bags for each one.  Second, I don't always have a lot of time to bake given a full-time job and life outside of my kitchen. If I have a last-minute get together, I need to be able to put a goodie bag together quickly.  If I have a big social gathering coming up and I have to put together multiple goodie bags, I plan ahead so I'm not making 6 or 7 different things on the day of - I never have that kind of time. I don't always feel like baking either (rare but it happens) even if I do have time so it's just best to be prepared.  So I like to make up batches of cookie dough ahead of time, ready to be baked off at the last minute.  Or I bake brownies or bar cookies, cut them into individual serving sizes, wrap them in plastic wrap and place in freezer bags to store in my freezer until I need them.  If I go too long without restocking my freezer with cookie dough or brownies, I get nervous. This week, I also volunteered to bake for a very special cause (more to follow on that) so I am all about making cookie dough every night this week.

So if you've noticed I've done a lot of cookie posts lately (and more to follow), it's because I've been in Linus mode of hugging my security blanket by putting up a bunch of cookie doughs in my freezer.  Including this one I found on pinterest. The dough mixes up more like a thick brownie batter than cookie dough so you might want to chill it briefly after you mix it up before you portion into dough balls, just for easier handling.  I chilled the whole bowl for 20 minutes or so, scooped out into dough balls, froze them and then baked them off whenever I needed them. The key for this cookie is going to be the cocoa.  If you use a bland grocery-store cocoa powder, you're not going to get a rich chocolate punch.  In other words, Hershey's isn't going to cut it.  I used Pernigotti from Williams Sonoma (also available on amazon) but you can use any high quality dark cocoa powder.  The darker the cocoa, the more chocolate richness you'll get.  The lighter the cocoa, you'll probably get more sweet than chocolate flavor.

This turned out to be an unexpected hit at work.  I say unexpected because to me, they would've gone in "yup, good" category but not enough for me to warrant having a second cookie.  My bar is rather high for that.  Yet I put a couple dozen of these cookies out at work at 8 am and 2 hours later, there were only 3 left.  I also got a personal visit from one coworker who dropped by my office while eating one to tell me they were good, an email from another saying the same thing, an instant message from a third and a personal thanks from a 4th when I was in the kitchen getting some water.  There you go then - lots of recommendations from my coworkers and heaven knows they've had to be my guinea pigs on less successful experiments so they know their baked goods.

1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (8 1/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
14 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups packed (12 1/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  1. Pour the granulated sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder.
  2. In a large bowl, melt 10 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave. Microwave the butter until just melted. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter until melted. Allow the butter to cool for 5-10 minutes (it should be about 90-95 degrees on an instant read thermometer).
  3. Whisk the brown sugar, vanilla and salt into the melted butter until the mixture is completely smooth. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Chill the dough briefly to firm up if it's too soft.  Scoop into dough balls, about 2 tablespoons per cookie.  Freeze for baking later if desired.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Roll the dough  balls in the granulated sugar and place on lined (with parchment or silpat liners) baking sheets.
  6. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until they have puffed and have cracks running through the top, about 12-14 minutes. Don't overbake or the cookies will be dry. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack to cool completely.

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