Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Egg Surprise Cookies

I have very fond memories of Easter growing up.

There were loads of pastel-coloured foil-wrapped eggs. There was a trail of chocolates from the foot of my bed, down the 20-step staircase, through the hallway, over the carpet and into the living room that led to a wicker basket full of more chocolate. There were always Kinder eggs. Always. There were little presents like new hair ties and pins, a new cook book maybe, a toothbrush even! 

It was like Christmas but without the snow (well, sometimes... ooohhhh Canada).
A holiday about Jesus and chocolate. I love both those things.

I owe a lot to Easter because it was during this time that I first discovered and immediately fell in love with dark chocolate. I dumped milk chocolate instantly and never looked back. It was an immediate connection. Perfect chemistry. And, it came through a Dove dark chocolate egg. It was new and so different. It was so much more superior to the rest of the unbranded generic foil eggs. Firstly, it was wrapped in silver and chestnut brown. Beneath the foil was shiny (not dull), tempered dark chocolate. It was smooth (not mottled). It was everything the other foil eggs were not. It was bliss.

There was also plenty of family and hours of eating. I don't think an Easter ever passed without lasagna, roast beef, potatoes, ham, braised rabbit (not the bunny), cannoli, cheesecake, chocolate, chocolate and CHOCOLATE!

Today I made cookies that look like little eggs and instead of a yellow yolk, you get a chocolate one! Imagine that - chickens that lay chocolate yolk eggs. I hope I can live to see the day...

This recipe is surprisingly easy but gives big reward. You need to make two mixtures: the filling (for the 'yolk') and the cookie dough (for the 'egg white'). The latter is a simple vanilla bean-infused shortbread dough that is a dream to work with as it is super smooth, and it bakes up crumbly and crisp and lovely.

The fine-textured icing sugar in the shortbread cookie dough is what makes this dough so silky and easy to work with. Have your butter very soft so that it whips up very creamy. The dough will feel very soft and a bit wet at first, but it needs to sit in the fridge for a short while too in order for you to form it around the chocolate yolks.

The filling for your not-so-yolky-yolks requires little work from you and help from a machine. 

The handy food processor blitzes some dark chocolate, sugar and ground hazelnuts until the chocolate is chopped up finely. Give it a rough chop before throwing it in so that you don't kill the machine. Once broken down you add an egg white to glue it all together and form a very thick paste. After some time in the fridge this paste is firm and can be rolled into small balls.

Your result is something that tastes nothing like an egg in the best way possible. First you bite through a wonderfully tender and delicate buttery cookie filled with warm vanilla undertones. Then you sink your teeth into a chewy chocolatey filling - somewhat similar to marzipan but way better because it's made from chocolate and hazelnut. Duh.

Then that drizzle of dark chocolate over top to compliment the vanilla shortbread.... yeah.

It's not too sweet, it's sophisticated, and it's hard to eat just one. These are Easter 'eggs' for a dinner party worthy of braised rabbit. 

And considering I have nothing planned for my simple Easter dinner for two this year, it looks like we might just be having cookies and red wine. It sounds pathetic but I'm actually ok with that.

Happy Easter!

Easter Egg Surprise Cookies
Makes about 20-22 cookies

For the 'yolk':
100g (3oz) dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
1 cup (100g) ground hazelnuts or hazelnut meal
¼ cup (30g) icing sugar
1 large egg white
heavy pinch salt

For the 'white':
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup (55g) icing sugar

1/8 tsp salt
1 cup plus 1 tbsp (150g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

50g (about 2oz) melted dark chocolate, for drizzling

To make the 'yolk', combine chopped chocolate, hazelnuts and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse until chocolate is broken down and mixture looks like crumbs. Add egg white and salt and pulse until it comes together in a smooth paste and forms a ball. Wrap mixture in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Once firm, divide into 20-22 portions and roll into balls.

To make the 'egg white' cookie dough, beat butter, icing sugar and salt in a medium mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy and smooth. Stir in vanilla bean paste or extract. Sift in the flour and fold until a smooth dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide chilled cookie dough into 20-22 portions – you only need about ½ ounce of dough per cookie.Take a portion of the dough and flatten it into a disc in your hand. Place the chocolate 'yolk' ball into the center of the flattened dough. Wrap the dough around the ball to encase it and then roll it between your palms to smooth it out and form a ball. Place dough balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1-2 inches apart. 

Bake for 15-16 minutes, until bottoms start to brown and tops are just lightly golden. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely and then drizzle melted chocolate using a fork or spoon. These will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

recipe adapted from here.

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