Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sweet Treat Yourself

February is always a difficult month. The excitement of Christmas is long gone and the weather settles into seemingly endless winter mode. To combat the winter blues, it's important to pay attention to your mental health and, when needed, give yourself a treat. For some women, this might be a new handbag or a new pair of shoes. For others it might be lunch with a girlfriend. Perhaps a massage or a pedicure is what you need to lift your spirits.

For my blues-be-gone treat, I bake. Preferably with chocolate. What better way to thumb my nose at the endlessly gray sky than to turn on my oven, throw delicious ingredients into the mixer, and bake fabulous treats that make my kitchen smell like rich, warm, melting chocolate.

For this baking session I turned to the queen of bittersweet chocolate, Alice Medrich. Her cookbook, Bittersweet, features wonderful recipes for just about anything you could think to put chocolate in - cakes, souffles, ice cream, and, of course, cookies.

Just the title of this recipe qualifies them as therapy baking - Bittersweet Decadence Cookies. And they are truly decadent, stuffed with chopped chocolate, nuts, butter, eggs, vanilla, and more chocolate. Just biting through the shiny, crackly exterior to the nut-studded brownie-like interior is therapy. You can close your eyes, visualize your own private happy place, and forget about the weather outside. Save this recipe. Spring's coming, but you might need a bit of help while you're waiting for it.

Bittersweet Decadence Cookies
- adapted from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped*
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups walnuts or pecans, broken or chopped into large pieces
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. F with 2 racks dividing the oven into thirds. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2- In a small bowl , mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend thoroughly and set it aside.

3-Place the 8 oz of chocolate and the butter in a large, heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir frequently just until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl and set it aside; leave the heat on under the pan.

4- In another large, heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together thoroughly. Set the bowl in the skillet and stir until the mixture is lukewarm to the touch. Stir the eggs into the warm (not hot) chocolate. Stir in the flour mixture, then the nuts and chocolate chunks.

5- Scoop slightly rounded tablespoons of batter 1-1/2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Bake until the surface of the cookies looks dry and and set, but the center is still gooey, 12 to 14 minutes. Carefully slide the parchment paper (with the cookies on it) onto cooing racks. Let cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed container.

* Use chocolate labeled as 50% to 60% cacao solids. The cookbook gives modifications to the recipe if you'd rather use a higher percentage chocolate.


Marysol said...

Oh please, who needs shoes and handbags when there's chocolate?

I don't think I've ever seen a better, more enticing name for cookies, than "Bittersweet Decadence."

I have Medrich's book and have been avoiding this recipe for fear my hips would explode. But with your wonderful photos, and your permission to indulge, it's a go!

Aimée said...

My MIL came over yesterday and Danny & I slipped away for a much needed getaway to a movie. Now THAT was a treat!
I think I need this cookbook, these look awesome.

Dolce said...

Yeah! Another cookie recipe :) They very much look like Dorie's chocolate chunkers. If so, they are certainly veeery good :)

Anh said...

I still remember your other chocolate cookies, namely the best? The recipe is a keeper!

croasyjr said...

Blah! You're right, February is difficult....... but these cookies will definitely lift anyone's spirits :-) I think I need to get this book -- I've seen so many recipes from it and they all look amazing.

Cara said...

I can't believe how little flour and butter these have! More room to taste the chocolate :)

Melinda said...

They look like they would cheer me up. I will have 4 cookies and call you in the morning!
I think it must always be sunshine in your kitchen, Lynn!

grace said...

this gal don't need no new purse. she needs chocolate! big fat mouthfuls of chocolate, nuts optional. :)

Barbara said...

Yowee! That is one dark chocolatey cookie! Much prefer that to a pair of shoes!
This cookbook sounds like it should go on my wish list!

Debbie said...

February is a looong month when you have had tons of snow!!! The cookies look wonderful. I tend to do lots of baking (not to be confused with cooking) when I am trapped at home in the winter!!! The cookies look great.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

It is a depressing month, and in Canada we still have a long way to go til spring.
Nummy cookies! Enough to lift one's spirits in these short, dark winter days.

Anne said...

I have made this cookies before, although it did not turn out as pretty as yours nevertheless they were yummy. I love Alice Medrich book :-)

Abby said...

Let me just tell you that to combat this friggin' cold weather I went HANDBAG shopping TODAY! Steinmart has such good deals. ;)

And I do love Alice Medrich. These cookies look SO good. Definitely ones to cure what ails you!

Maria said...

I love Alice's recipes. I can't wait to try these cookies.

Elle said...

Ah, chocolate! These look perfect for the end of the gray month. Have you tried the Starry Starry Night cookies from Confessions of a Closet Baker? They have a good chocolate soul, too.

Melanie said...

I would love to make these but since I moved up north in November, I have gained 3 lbs. and I can't have any:( The look delicious.

Rose&Thorn said...

I come there just to hear about the cool weather - it is so hot here this month. Today it's 95°F, tomorrow it's 100ºF and Thursday it'll cool down to 89°F - I'm dieing and melting as I sit here! No air-conditioning in the office, and no cool breeze either.

Sweet and Savory said...

These look scrumptious with all the goodies packed in. I like that there is little flour --all the more chocolate flavor.