These chocolate cookies are no joke. Seriously. They are not for the faint of palate. Save these for hardcore chocoholics. I’m talkin’ Olympic-level chocolate lovers who aren’t interested in a super sweet bite but those who delight in a rich, intense, truly chocolate flavor.
To me, these cookies are the perfect cookie texture — slightly crisp edges, soft center. The fact that one basic batter can be easily adapted into two completely different, yet delicious, variations on a chocolate theme is a bonus. Ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper yield a spicy-as-you-like-it Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie. Stir creme de menthe bits in for a classic chocolate-mint combination. How’d those cookies get so chocolatey? Two words – cocoa powder but which one to choose?
Cocoa Powder vs Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder is the brown powder left behind when almost all of the cocoa butter or fat is removed from cocoa beans. (You can can the skinny on how chocolate comes to be and get my recipe for Chili with Dark Chocolate here.) It’s known for its extremely strong, acidic or bitter flavor.
Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder is a kinder, gentler cocoa powder. It’s treated to an extra round of processing to neutralize the acids naturally present in cocoa powder. (In technical, science-y terms an alkaline solution, like potassium carbonate, is added to Dutch-processed cocoa powder to raise its pH.) Dutch-processed cocoa powder is darker in color with a milder, less bitter or acidic flavor. It’s also less likely to lump together, making it easier to blend with other ingredients. Keep in mind that because the acids in Dutch-processed cocoa powder have been neutralized, it won’t react in recipes calling for baking soda. Baking soda needs a liquid AND an acid to react. So unless there’s another acid present in your recipe, like citrus juice, vinegar, or cream of tartar, your chocolate cake/muffins/etc won’t rise. To be prepared for all cocoa powder situations, keep one of each on hand.
Rich Chocolate Cookies – Three Ways
Now, back to these cookies! They make an excellent holiday or hostess gift for the chocolate lovers in your life. Be sure to package or store them separately so the simple chocolate cookies don’t absorb the flavors of the mint or spicy cookies.
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch salt
- Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper adn 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to dry ingredients.
- Stir 1/2 cup creme de menthe chips into batter before shaping cookies.
- Cream butter and sugar together in mixer until fluffy, about 1 minute. Stir in egg.
- Whisk flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt together. With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients to butter and sugar until well-mixed. Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and continue mixing until batter is one even color and no streaks of flour remain.
- Chill dough in fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicon baking mat.
- Remove dough from fridge and roll into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place dough on prepared baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake 7-9 minutes, until cookies are set, but still soft. Remove from oven and cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool to room temperature.