December 4, 2008

Fudgy Chocolate Cookies..with a dash of spice

This is just the sort of treat you do not expect to see sitting alongside a floral-print teacup and saucer. You know the type, unassuming and quiet, but incredibly tempting once you get to know it. Not the sort of devilishly enticing dessert you would normally see on tiered trays stacked alongside cold cucumber white bread sandwiches and pale white scones and cream. No, this cookie is far more intriguing. Playing on the classic combination of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate it makes use of the seasonal abundance of walnuts and raisins adding a little kick with some freshly ground black pepper that is reminiscent of Norwegian style gingerbread houses. The Norwegian gingerbread house after all is named a pepperkakehus

Now I must repeat the initial warning; this little cookie is simply addictive. After toying with a similar gluten free recipe that I produced some time ago, it seemed that the recipe should be taken to the next level by making use of the Fair Trade organic cocoa that I've been chipping away at for a while now- reluctant to use it for anything less than the thickest of hot chocolates.

I'm not a great fan of cocoa in baking- preferring to use a good quality bar of chocolate whenever possible. But given my expensive taste in chocolate it is, alas, not always possible, or in this case, even necessary. Having made some addictive fudgy brownies in the past I assumed that the melted chocolate was the key to success-especially in terms of flavour, but generally, at least where cookies are concerned, the fudgy quality really comes down to the right combination of ingredients, cooking times, and refrigeration before cooking always helps them maintain their shape in the oven.

So, I hope you enjoy this gluten-free chewy chocolate cookie recipe, to be produced as often as you desire. They will keep for at least 4 days in the fridge (but I couldn't say if they would last any longer...).

Fudgy Chocolate Cookies:

Makes 19 cookies

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa (Fair Trade and organic is recommended)
3-4 turns of a pepper grinder or approximately 1/2 tsp black pepper (optional)
1 cup gluten free flour blend*
3/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts or hazelnuts
1/2 cup raisins

*Gluten-free flour blend:
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum**
1 tsp baking powder

Cream the softened butter in a bowl, then add the sugar, mixing until completely combined. Add the eggs and mix until incorporated. Sift the cocoa into the mixture and stir well. Then add the black pepper, flour mixture, raisins and walnuts, and stir until completely blended into the cocoa mixture.

Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes while the oven is preheating. Working quickly, take a heaped tablespoon of batter and, with lightly wet hands, roll it into a ball and place on baking sheet with two inches between each cookie. Bake at 350°F for 9 minutes only or until the cookies have become firm around the outside but the top is still soft to the touch (they will continue to cook for a few minutes when out of the oven).

Leave the cookies to rest on a cooling rack for a few minutes before diving in to savour the chocolate chewy cookies at their most dangerous, accompanied by a nice tall glass of milk.

** Just a warning not to add a 1/2 cup of xanthan gum to these cookies. My poor boyfriend found this out the hard way in his sweet attempt to make these cookies whilst not being familiar with the inherent qualities of this bizarre ingredient. Although we discovered what was wrong ('Arrhh! Why is this dough sooo hard to mix??') before the dough went in the oven we decided to run with it, and take advantage of the mistake, to see what kind of results were possible. Unfortunately, the fatal addition rendered the final product quite inedible- the texture nearly that of chocolate-flavoured chewing gum. Luckily for me he didn't give up. Trying once again, he mastered the cookie recipe, and made enough to satisfy our chocolate cookie cravings.

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