by Dianne Boate
These days food flavors are being borrowed from every recipe known to man to create new sensations both in the mouth and for the pocketbook. Some are simply old ideas brought to life again with new twists and turns, while others have been lurking in food files to be rediscovered and savored. It happened to me recently while poking about in my “New Cookies to Make” file. It was a newspaper clipping yellowed with age. On the day I found it, I quickly realized I had all of the ingredients, so I sprang out of the chair and turned on the oven and went to work.
Mayan Chocolate Cookies
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups all purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup cornmeal (optional, please see note)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the egg and vanilla and mix until well mixed.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and cocoa; add to the butter mixture and combine thoroughly. Gather the dough in a large ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, spray with A no-stick bakery spray. Using a sturdy spoon, scoop out a rounded tablespoon of dough and form a ball with your two hands.
Push in with your thumb and place 4 chocolate chips in the middle of the cookie, then close dough around the chips, place on baking sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes, watching carefully! Remove baked cookies to a wire rack, let cool. Roll the cookies in the extra sugar.
The yield is around 40 cookies that will surprise and delight everyone on your cookie list. No one is ever expecting the spices, much less the secret chocolate inside.
Note: My third time making these cookies, I added ¼ cup cornmeal without subtracting anything. The cookies came out with a slight extra crunch. I store the cookies first in a ziplock bag then in an airtight tin.
The recipe has been granted new status. It is now in the “Cookie Favorites” file. How did I ever wait so many years to try it?
Two Amazing Chocolate Frostings
Powdered sugar has its place, but when you try these recipes without it, and discover the simple elegance of taste that they possess plus the utter ease of making them, wow, they could lead to a new addiction!
Both use semisweet chocolate chips, (or bittersweet chips) that are melted in the microwave with just one more ingredient. Both frostings have a formula that makes it easy to remember in case you lose the recipe.
Elegant Chocolate Frosting
Formula: one to one
1 cup chocolate chips, melted
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
Mix the two together thoroughly; let cool until it starts to thicken, spread over cake. It will look glossy and wonderful.
You can add design to it by making little waves with a knife, of randomly using a cake comb sweeping in little half circles left and right. This amount of frosting is plenty for a 10 inch layer top and looks great poured over a cake made in bundt pan. Note: Not all microwave ovens are the same, so start in one minute increments to melt the chocolate.
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Formula: two to one
1½ cups semisweet chocolate
¾ cup sour cream at room temperature
Melt the chocolate in microwave, stir in sour cream. This is delicious on the decadence type of chocolate cake, or chocolate cheesecake. Would be very tasty on brownies, too. Important: be sure the sour cream is room temperature. Cold hitting the warm chocolate will result in lumps that are hard to fix. Not on our cakes!
For a special birthday party in Mazatlan, Mexico, I hauled the dry ingredients there to bake a cake, knowing I could buy the Elegant Frosting ingredients in the Gigante market, but once there, could not find the chocolate. On the spot I grabbed a chocolate candy bar and held it up to a clerk with one hand, and pretended to be drinking from a cup with the other! I was instantly led to the chocolate department.
Dianne Boate, a former staff member of the original Dating Game television show, and later, The Renaissance Pleasure Faire, is The Hat Lady, maker of custom millinery, and The Cake Lady, a special events baker for 30 years in the Bay Area. Between cake assignments she has had several one-woman photography shows, and participated as a botanical illustrator in group shows benefiting the Conservatory of Flowers, National AIDS Memorial Grove, Marin Cancer Institute, and University of California Alumni Association. Her website can be found at http://www.boatecollection.com.