Until my husband Ted, Cousin Martin and I visited Tlacolula, a small village near Oaxaca, on a New Year's Eve some years ago, I didn't really "get" Mexican chocolate. The only business open on the holiday, save for the three-table restaurant where we had the most incredible mole colorado of all time, was the village grindery, where people would bring their grain, coffee or chocolate to be ground. As we walked along the main street, we caught the distinct aromas of chocolate and cinnamon which, together with sugar, make what we know as Mexican chocolate. These cookies don't use actual Mexican chocolate but they incorporate all of the key flavors, plus the tiniest bit of cayenne pepper, which doesn't make the cookies spicy, but simply must be there. The first time we made them, we used a Scharffen Berger mocha dark chocolate bar, and the addition of the coffee taste took these cookies over the top.
Mexican chocolate cookies
Adapted from Cooking Light Quick Baking, a magazine special, and baked by Ted. Makes 32 cookies.
5 oz bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp instant espresso (optional)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp confectioners sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with Silpats (silicone mats) or parchment paper, and set aside.
Place the chocolate in a glass bowl, and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, espresso, baking powder, salt, black pepper and red pepper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and softened butter, and beat until well blended. Add the egg, and beat well. Add cooled chocolate and vanilla, and beat just until blended. Then add the flour mixture, and beat until just blended.
Drop dough by level tablespoons (or use a small scoop with a release) 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, or until almost set. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies cool on the pans for 2 minutes or until set. Remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack. The cookies will be crackly on the outside, and chewy on the inside.
Just before serving, dust with confectioners sugar.
Other recipes that use these ingredients:
Bittersweet chocolate cake, from Simply Recipes
Bittersweet chocolate tartlets, from Dessert First
Rosemary and bittersweet chocolate quick bread, from Family Style Food
Flourless bittersweet chocolate chili cake with salted caramel gelato, from Chez Us
Bittersweet chocolate and pistachio biscotti, from Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal
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