Sunday, December 30, 2007

Guest Recipe: Lisa's Mayan Mystery Cookies

I used to date a man who loved the cocktail hour at wedding receptions; the combination of elegant mixed drinks with a panoply of carefully prepared finger foods proved too irresistible. Forget the cake, or the carefully plated fish-or-chicken entrees, the cocktail hour was where it's at.

After last night, I'm reminded why I agree.

Nancy hosted an end-of-the-year cocktail party last night, replete with lots of little nibbles: focaccia and olives, several wedges from the European cheese shop, shrimp cocktail, grilled mushrooms, pretzels and spicy mustard -- all delicious.

But my lust for sweets is never vanquished so, as soon as Lisa and Kip, two of Nancy's friends, showed up with a huge platter of cookies, I was on them like white on rice (the cookies, not the couple).

Heaped on the tray were scores of dark chocolate cookies, glittering with a light coating of sugar. They had the lovely, heady aroma of cocoa and cinnamon (a combination I love).
Taking a bite, I was rewarded with a tender cookie and a rich depth of flavor -- the chocolate and cinnamon, of course, but also little bursts of pure chocolate, followed by a gentle Cayenne heat. So delicious -- and a nice departure from the usual holiday-time cookie flavors.

I took a few home with me, but they're all gone now: sacrificial virgins to my hungry sweet tooth god.

Thanks to Lisa and Kip for the delicious treats (and the tip about the mechanic!) and to Nancy for hosting a terrific shindig.

Mayan Mystery Cookies (source)

Note: the recipe directs "tuck[ing] about 5 chocolate chips into the center of each one." Doesn't that seem like a lot of extra effort for what's otherwise a very simple recipe? (Lisa thought so, too.)

After thoroughly combining the vanilla into the dough, and just before chilling, I'd fold in about 6 oz. (half a standard bag) of semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate chips, check to see if that was enough chocolate for my preferences, and add more if need be.

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon finely and freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Semisweet chocolate chips (see note, above)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Cream the butter and ¾ cup sugar in a food processor. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, spices and cocoa in a medium bowl and add to the butter mixture. Add the egg and vanilla and process until the batter is uniform.

Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Using your hands, roll the dough into balls about the width of a quarter. Tuck about 5 chocolate chips into the center of each one. Put some sugar on a flat plate and roll the balls in the sugar to cover lightly.

Place the balls on the baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, being careful not to overbake; the cookies should be delicate and soft in the center. Let cool on the baking sheets.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.


Megan said...

I love this flavor combo! I'm on these like white on rice?
Thanks for getting the recipe.

Peabody said...

LOL- "the cookies not the couple."
I too love a good cocktail party. I feel less guilty eating all those little bites.

Gretchen Noelle said...

These sound *delicious* and I cannot wait to make them!!! Happy New Year!

Sorina said...

This looks so delicious. I am looking forward more posts from you!