Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Butter Cookies

Really, can a name get any better than this? Four of my favorite foods! The cayenne pepper makes the cookies warm, not spicy. I added a bit more in my next batch to give them a bit more of a kick, and I don’t usually love spicy food. We topped our cookies with the glaze and put orange sprinkles to make them more Halloweeny. Also, the recipe is long but rather forgiving. IT wasn’t until I typed this up that I realized how many steps I skipped!

Mexican Chocolate Butter Cookies
Cooks Illustrated

Natural cocoa powder will work in this recipe, but we found that Dutch-processed yields the best chocolate flavor. Espresso powder provides complexity, but instant coffee can be substituted in a pinch. The dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to two weeks. Defrost frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight, then let stand at room temperature until firm yet malleable, about 30 minutes. The cookies are refined enough to serve plain, but a dusting of sifted confectioners’ sugar or chocolate glaze is a nice touch. Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days but should be dusted with sugar or glazed the day they are served.

Makes 4 dozen 2 ½ inch cookies I swear I didn’t eat THAT much dough—but I have only gotten 3 dozen
½ c sliced almonds
1 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t cayenne pepper
20 T unsalted butter (2 ½ sticks)
½ c cocoa powder
1 t espresso powder I couldn’t find this. I’ve used 2 t natural coffee flavored Postum, which was ok. Then, I used 1 t instant decaf coffee—amazing!
1 c sugar
¼ t salt
2 large egg yolks
1 T vanilla extract
2 ¼ c all-purpose flour
½ c turbinado sugar

Optional Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 T unsalted butter
2 T corn syrup
1 t vanilla extract

1. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, toast almonds, cinnamon, and cayenne until fragrant, about 3 minutes; set aside to cool. I would recommend toasting the almonds 2-3 minutes before adding the cinnamon and cayenne. I almost burned the spices the first time and didn’t get the almonds as toasted as I’d like. In food processor with metal blade, process cooled mixture until very find, about 15 seconds. Set aside.
2. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 4 T butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and espresso powder; stir until mixture forms smooth paste. Set aside to cool, 15-20 minutes.
3. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix remaining 16 T butter, sugar, salt and cooled cocoa mixture on high speed until well combined and fluffy, about 1 min, scraping sides of mixing bowl once or twice with rubber spatula. Add yolks and vanilla and mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl. Whisk nut/spice mixture into flour. With mixer running on low, add flour in three additions, waiting until each addition is incorporated before adding next and scraping bowl after each addition. Continue to mix until dough forms cohesive ball, about 5 seconds. Shape into dough log, 2 inches in diameter and bout 12 inches long; use parchment paper or plastic wrap to roll into neat cylinder. Chill until very firm and cold, at least 1 hour.
4. Roll chilled log in sugar. Slice cookies ¼ inch and place on parchment lined baking sheets. I didn’t roll in sugar. Um, I don’t think I even know what turbinado sugar is. And, I don’t have parchment paper either—an ungreased cookie sheet works just fine.
5. Bake until cookies show slight resistance to touch (I like them best when you lightly touch them and the indentation is left behind), 10-12 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking time (hmm, missed this step, too); if cookies begin to darken on edges, they have overbaked (I learned the hard way that they will be bitter, so watch them!). Cool for 5 minutes, then, using spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack (um, I just took them right off them pan onto the rack, but a few did break during the transfer. Oh, well, scraps for me!); cool completely.
6. For Glaze: Melt bittersweet chocolate with butter and whisk until smooth. Add corn syrup and vanilla extract and mix until smooth and shiny. Use back of spoon to spread 1 scant teaspoon glaze almost to edge of cookie. (If necessary, reheat to prolong fluidity of glaze.) Allow glazed cookies to dry at least 20 minutes.

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