Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Cookies: #1- Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

I LOVE love love love these cookies. I found the recipe last year, in a Martha Stewart holiday cookie magazine that I bought on a whim in the grocery store checkout line. Since then, I have probably made at least a dozen batches of these cookies. I decided it was time to start holiday baking, and where better to begin than my favorite sweet and spicy cookies.
These chocolatey tidbits have a crunchy saltiness from the chunks of salt in the batter, and a nice bit of sweet and heat from the cayenne mixture they are rolled in just before baking. I have been in love with pretty much anything combining salty and sweet for years, and these combined with a salted caramel mocha make for a super tasty and decadent holiday treat.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
    • I have made it with regular cocoa powder, but strongly prefer a Dutch Dark Cocoa- Hershey's Special Dark, specifically.
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper
    • This can be altered based on personal preference. I like the 1/2 tsp, but when I'm making them for people who don't like spice or if I'm not sure if they will like spice, I usually do just over 1/4 tsp.

Preheat oven to 400 deg.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy- this should take about 2 minutes.
Add eggs and beat until everything is combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture and mix until it all comes together.

At this point, I usually like to pop the dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes- having it cold makes it a little easier to roll in into balls with minimal mess. 

While the dough is chillin', take a small bowl and mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and whatever amount of cayenne powder you would like to use. Take a tablespoon and form it into a ball of dough.  Roll the ball in the cinnamon mixture. Gently bounce it in your palm to allow any excess to shake of through your fingers. I find the cookies are best when the mixture is in a holiday-appropriate bowl:

Place the balls about 2-3 inches apart, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. This will vary based on your oven. I have had them be perfect after 8 minutes in one oven, and then overcooked after 8 minutes in another. Unless you like crispier cookies, they are best when pulled from the oven while they are still soft to the touch- they should deflate a little if you try to touch one with your fingertips. At this level of done-ness, they will be chewy and slightly fudgy, and stay soft for approx 3-4 days.

 Let the cookies cool on sheets on wire racks for a few minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to finish cooling. 

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