Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chocolate Chilli Cookies

The idea of starting a great cookie recipe without "creaming" butter and sugar sounds foreign to most.

That creaming step is a good one I tell ya.
It builds structure through tiny air pockets and forms a great base to build a good dough or batter. 

Its main feature is how it creates tenderness - you couldn't build shortbread without it.

When you practice something very often (like baking), it becomes easy to stick to the rules and work within certain boundaries, and therefore more difficult to wander into outer territory.

Imagine starting a painting with layers of different colours of paint and then scraping it away at different depths to create an image. It's backwards, right? But then Kriss Kross became famous for wearing their clothes backwards. How uncomfortable would that be? Uncomfortable, but cool nonetheless.

So why not start a cookie recipe with the flour?

This basically designs a one-bowl method and almost mimics reverse brownie-making. That sounds confusing but definitely can't be bad.

Think melted butter, a single egg, a wooden spoon and mixing bowl full of the rest...

The resulting dough makes cookies that are relatively dense, soft and with a bit of a chew. Plus, they come together in barely 5 minutes!

This isn't just magic, though. There are a couple of technical tricks that keep these soft despite this more caveman-like method... that is, combine the sugar with the egg first to help dissolve it and create a bit of a syrup.

Two, do not over-bake. These cookies are ready when they looked cracked at the surface but still feel soft and fudgy in the center - they will set up perfectly as they cool on the baking tray. Believe that.

This method works especially well with chocolate cookies where cocoa powder takes the place of a proportion of flour, helping to keep them soft.

It's easy and lovely and so very tasty.

Step outside your creaming comfort zone and watch these spicy fudgy cookies come to life in no time!

Chocolate Chili Cookies
Makes about 20 small cookies

¾ cup (110 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (45 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp ground chili
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt       
85 g/3 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 large egg
½ cup (110 g) packed brown sugar 
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup (75 g) melted unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, ground chili and ground cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in chopped chocolate.

In a medium bowl, stir together egg, both sugars and vanilla extract with a fork until smooth. Stir in melted butter until well blended. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir gently with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes.

Roll 1-oz portions of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. 

Bake until cookies start to crack at the surface, the edges feel set but the centers still feel soft, 8-10 minutes. They should still be fudgy in the middle. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. 

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