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Chocolate Chunkers: The Cookies That Didn't Get Me Fired
Posted By admin On March 4, 2009 3:42 PM In Cookies, Potluck Posts, Recipes, Sweets | 27 Comments
This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers made the Chocolate Armagnac Cake, which is subtitled "The Cake That Got Me Fired" (it's on page 279 of Baking From My Home to Yours). It's one of my favorite cakes -- a low, sleek, one-layer cake that's made with lots of dark chocolate, ground pecans and Armagnac-flamed prunes -- and the fact that I can still love it after it got me fired from a job I was happy to have, is a testament to its goodness.
The short version of my getting the heave-ho is that, many years ago, I was an apprentice pastry chef in a very popular restaurant in Manhattan. It was my first job in a professional kitchen and, being the last person in and the least experienced, my job was to come in early and make the cake and batches of chocolate cookies. The cake was a chocolate torte made with ground almonds and studded with whiskey-soaked raisins. It was the restaurant's signature cake and it was my job to make sure it showed up perfectly made and on time when the lunch crowd was ready for dessert. And that's what I did -- until I didn't.
One morning, not so long after I started at the restaurant, I got bored and so, instead of mixing the chocolate batter with ground almonds, I used pecans; instead of whiskey, I used Armagnac; and instead of raisins, I used the funny fruit, prunes; and, maybe worst of all, I never mentioned the swaps to anyone. I can only imagine how surprised the regulars were when they discovered prunes in their beloved cake! That afternoon, the owner of the restaurant called me into her office, told me she thought my cake had been great and then, despite having liked my Playing Around rendition, fired me on grounds of "creative subordination"! It was a tough blow, but at least she called me creative.
As I wrote in Baking, I lost my job, but got a good recipe.
Actually, the other recipe I had to make, the cookie recipe, was also a great one. Originally called Mulattoes, the recipe for the cookies came from the wonderful Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts. And, just as I still loved the chocolate cake after having had to make it over and over again, I never lost my affection for these cookies even though I had to make 100 of them every morning. In fact, I loved them so much that I put a version of them in Baking, where they're called Chocolate Chunkers (page 70).
As you can see, the Chunkers live up to their name. They've got four kinds of chocolate, unsweetened, semisweet, bittersweet and milk or white, as well as cocoa powder, nuts and raisins or bits of apricots. Mix up a batch and you'll see that you've got more add-ins than dough. Of course, you can play around with these. You can add different kinds of chips, fold in different kinds of nuts, add a pinch of cinnamon or a tad of grated nutmeg and take whatever cookies you can snatch from the kids and mix them into some ice cream, storebought or home-churned.
Here's the best part: you can be as creative or as insubordinate as you'd like, and you won't get fired!
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 cup store-bought chocolate chips or chunks
6 ounces premium-quality milk or white chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 cup store-bought chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped nuts, preferably salted peanuts or toasted pecans
1 cup moist, plump raisins or finely chopped moist, plump dried apricots
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add the butter, bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate and heat, stirring occasionally, just until melted -- the chocolate and butter should be smooth and shiny but not so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the heat and set it on the counter to cool.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until they are pale and foamy. Beat in the vanilla extract, then scrape down the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted butter and chocolate, mixing only until incorporated. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl, then, on low speed, add the dry ingredients. Mix just until the dry ingredients disappear into the dough, which will be thick, smooth and shiny. Scrape down the bowl and, using the rubber spatula, mix in the semisweet and milk (or white) chocolate chunks, nuts and raisins -- you'll have more crunchies than dough at this point.
Drop the dough by generously heaping tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch of space between the mounds of dough.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 10 to 12 minutes. The tops of the cookies will look a little dry but the interiors should still be soft. Remove the baking sheet and carefully, using a broad metal spatula, lift the cookies onto a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remaining dough, baking only one sheet of cookies at a time and making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.
If, when the cookies are cooled, the chocolate is still gooey and you'd like it to be a bit firmer, just pop the cookies into the fridge for about 10 minutes.
PS. The cookies in the picture were made by scooping out about 2 tablespoonfuls of the dough and flattening the mounds of dough slightly.
Article printed from Dorie Greenspan - On the Road and in the Kitchen with Dorie: http://doriegreenspan.com/
URL to article: http://doriegreenspan.com/2009/03/chocolate-chunkers-the-cookies-that-didnt-get-me-fired.html
Copyright © March 4, 2009All text and photos are copyright by Dorie Greenspan. All rights reserved.