Chewy Mexican Chocolate Cookies

Mexican Chocolate Cookies 3
This is one of my most favorite cookie recipes.  I found it a few years ago in a baking issue of Cooking Light magazine.  I’ve made it several times and I always get requests for the recipe.  The original recipe is soft out of the oven but then it hardens up pretty fast and becomes sort of like a short bread or pecan sandy texture.  I love the original, crunchy, good-with-coffee version, but I’m a soft and chewy cookie kinda gal.  So I adapted the recipe a bit to make the cookies more flat and chewy and I LOVED the results!  Crispy along the edges, soft in the middle – with a bite from the pepper and cinnamon!  As you can tell, I’m a fan of the Mexican chocolate flavor and I hope, within my life, to incorporate it into as many baked goods as possible.

Chewy Mexican Chocolate Cookies
I hope you try this recipe out!  If you’d like the cookies to be the original crunchy style, leave out the extra egg and cut back to 4 TBS butter.  But I don’t think you will want that after you taste these 🙂

Chewy Mexican Chocolate Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

5 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I use Ghirardelli 60% chips and skip the chopping)
3.4 oz AP flour (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
a few grinds of black pepper
a pinch of cayenne
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 TBS butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the chocolate in a small glass bowl and microwave for one minute, stir and microwave 30 seconds more to fully melt.  Stir with a rubber spatula to full incorporate and ensure it’s all melted and set aside to cool.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, cayenne and black pepper and stir well with a whisk.

Combine sugar and softened butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer or by hand until well blended.  Add the eggs and beat well.  Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until just blended.  Fold in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.

Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I’ve tried it without and they will come off a regular sheet pan if you spray it with enough oil.) Bake at 350F for 12 minutes or until cracked on top and almost set.  Let the cookies cool on the pan for a couple minutes and then transfer to a wire rack until cooled completely.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies 2

*recipe adapted from Cooking Light magazine, 2010

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Mexican Dark Chocolate Waffles with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Mexican Chocolate Waffles with Cinnamon Cream

As I was drifting off to sleep after our New Year’s Eve party, I suddenly shouted out, “Mexican chocolate waffles!  Wouldn’t that be great?! And served with cinnamon whipped cream!”  “or dulce de leche,” Matt said.  YES! It was one of those ideas I knew would work.  I had some Mexican chocolate in our pantry that I hadn’t used, yet, and I usually like to think of a fun breakfast when we are all home together.  So New Years Day seemed like the perfect morning for a fun breakfast, laced with chocolate.

It worked as good as it did in my dream-like state at 1:30 a.m.  The chunks of Mexican chocolate gave the waffles a chocolate/spice/sugar grit throughout, and the waffles were crispy and as I brushed them with melted butter, I knew we had a winner.  I’d recommend these for any time you want something a little out of the ordinary.  The girls at the grocery store seemed to think me mad for buying Ibarra brand instead of Nestle’s Abuelita.  I really am not well versed in Mexican chocolate, but next time, I’ll avoid the scorn and buy Abuelita brand.  However, for tasty little chunks in a dark chocolate waffle, Ibarra worked just great 🙂

You can serve these with the simple cinnamon vanilla whipped cream, or like Matt suggested, I think some warmed dulce de leche would be amazing.  Or even some simple chocolate syrup.  No matter what you do, these waffles stand delicious on their own!

Mexican Chocolate Waffles

Mexican Dark Chocolate Waffles with Cinnamon Whipped Cream*
makes about 6-8 small waffles, or 4-6 Belgian

3-1/2 oz AP flour (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
1 oz. (1/4 cup) cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 TBS dark cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
6 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large egg, separated
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Ibarra Mexican chocolate (half a baking bar), chopped fine

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 TBS cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 200F.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine the milks, oil, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla extract and blend well.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg white with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.   Set aside.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry with a few simple stirs, then mix in the chopped chocolate and then gently fold in the egg white until fully incorporated.  Don’t overmix!  The egg white makes these waffles crisp!

Cook the waffles according to your waffle maker directions.  I use a stove-top waffle maker and it takes about 1-2 minutes per side over medium high heat and I use about 1/2 cup waffle batter spread over my waffle iron per batch.

As you bake, place the finished waffles directly on your oven rack to keep crisp and warm until ready to serve.

For the whipped cream: In a tall cup with an immersion blender, or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, blend the heavy cream, cinnamon, vanilla bean paste and sugar until soft to medium peaks form.  Give a generous dollop per waffle and top with shaved chocolate or cinnamon.  Enjoy!

*base waffle recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

Coffee Infused Tres Leches Cake

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There are three things that make a dessert experience truly great:
1. The occasion
2. The company who helps you eat it
3. The number of leches involved

This particular dessert experience was one I will always remember.  My friend, Becky came into town for a few short days and because of her husband’s nomadic ways, they have traveled far away from Lubbock, I fear, never to return.  I cherish the times she comes back into town and actually spends some good, quality time over at our house.  I shot Becky and Trevor’s wedding four years ago and we became fast friends, immediately glued together by our love of food and cooking.  I was elated when she said she’s spend the better part of the day with me, so the first question we naturally discussed was, “What are we going to bake?!”

Becky is one of those people who knows how to cook.  It’s in her soul – she was taught from a very early age how to work her way around a kitchen, learning from her father and grandmother.  Becky’s happy place is in the kitchen, and so naturally, we both had a zen-like afternoon baking together.  We shared stories, we complained about bad food and we ATE our creation with gusto and silent, head-nodding approval between bites.  It was perfect.

We decided to do Rick Bayless’ Coffee Infused Tres Leches Cake that I’d recently seen on his show, Mexico, One Plate at a Time.  Rick Bayless is one of those safe names in the cooking world.  If the recipe is from his show, or from one of his many restaurants, or amazing cookbooks, you can rest assured the recipe will work, and will become one of your favorites to return to again and again.  This has happened to me many times and this cake happily joins the ranks.

This cake is intense.  It should be paired with a strong cup of black coffee and nothing else.  The addition of the coffee in the milk mixture is pure genius.  It cuts the richness just right and adds depth where there might just be a generic sweetness.  It has this incredibly creamy texture with hints of cinnamon and coffee.  It’s the best tres leches cake I’ve ever had.  (And I grew up around here – I’ve had plenty.)  It made me think of the wonderful flavors of horchata, and I think next time I make this, I’ll replace horchata for the heavy cream.

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Coffee Tres Leches Cake*
serves 6

For the cake:
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
Salt
4 eggs at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably Mexican
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the milk mixture:
1 cup heavy cream
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup freshly brewed espresso or strongly brewed coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably Mexican
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar
5 egg whites at room temperature
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
extra cinnamon for dusting (or cocoa powder – or espresso powder would be good, too!)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan that makes 6 large muffins with muffin papers. Or, I don’t have a huge muffin pan, so I used little ramekins and lined the bottom of each with parchment.  Just do it and you won’t be sad, scraping your cake off the bottom of the dish.
Place the flour, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Separate the eggs, dropping the whites into the bowl of a mixer and the yolks into a medium bowl.  Add the oil, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of water to the yolks and mix well. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they start to thicken and form soft peaks.  Gradually add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg yolks and mix well. Gently fold in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites. Repeat, alternating the flour mixture and egg whites until everything is thoroughly combined.  Scoop the fluffy batter into the prepared muffin tins, place in the hot oven and bake until the tops spring back when touched, 20 to 22 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then take the individual cakes out of the dishes and invert them into a deep 13×9 inch baking dish.

Combine the heavy cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a bowl and mix well. Slowly pour the mixture over the cakes, soaking them thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the milks to be absorbed into the cakes.  It actually took longer than that for mine to absorb.  We spooned the mixture over the cakes and poked extra holes in them so they’d soak up more milk.  In the end, I still had some leftover, so don’t worry about that.

Combine the sugar with 1/3 cup water in a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, swirling the pan gently until all the sugar is dissolved.  Dip a brush in water and use it to clean the sides of the pan so no sugar crystals remain.  (This is an important step in keeping the syrup from recrystallizing.) Lower the heat to medium and boil the syrup until it reaches soft ball stage (about 240 degrees).
While the syrup is boiling, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until the whites form soft peaks.  Drizzle in the hot sugar syrup very slowly while the mixer is running.  Continue to beat until the bottom of the bowl is cool.  This takes forever, so do what Becky does and place ice packs on the outside of your bowl.  Or peas.
To serve, place each soaked cake on a plate, decorate with a big dollop of meringue, toasting the peaks with a kitchen torch.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon or cocoa and eat with great gusto!

*only slightly adapted from the original recipe

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Thank you for that afternoon, Becky.  It will sustain me for months to come.  Until next time!  XOXO