“And a big white hen standing on one leg. And under the hen was a quiet egg,” a line from one of our most treasured board books, The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown.
Today was a momentous day for our little backyard flock of four hens. It was a day we’ve been waiting for… for 21 weeks since they hatched.
Someone laid the first egg, ever!
It was a small, perfectly shaped, light brown egg. I’m fairly certain it came from Dexter since she is the only one squatting and singing a clucking, egg-laying song. But there were both red and black feathers in the nesting box, so it could be Tollie, our one red chicken.
This is a gem of a cookie recipe. And the best part is that it’s a “light” recipe. I very first found this recipe in one of my Cooking Light magazines. Cayenne is the secret ingredient, which adds a great punch of complexity that you can’t place, but know it’s what makes it all work. I don’t know what it is, but chocolate and red pepper go so well together.
The key to making this a wonderfully scrumptious recipe is to use really good chocolate. It needs to be bittersweet with 60% cacao minimum. Good brands that are easily available are Ghirardelli, Lindt and Baker’s. Don’t forget to look in the “candy” aisle for the good chocolate.
If you can get to a luxury grocery store, like Central Market, you can find tons of good chocolate. Scharffenberger is the very best American chocolate (HSO). Valharona is overpriced and overrated (another HSO). (HSO=Hot Sports Opinion).
If chocolate is the star of the recipe, use the good stuff. Life is too short for crappy chocolate regardless. For other recipes with Scharffenberger see Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
Just remember mediocre chocolate = mediocre results.
This is perfectly melted chocolate. Look how shiny and smooth it is.
You don’t want to pinch cayenne pepper with your fingers. The oils adhere to your skin and God forgive you if you accidentally rub your eye or nose (or any other precious body part with tender skin!). This is the dandiest trick to adding just the right amount of cayenne. Stick your knife into the spice bottle and get a dab on the tip of the knife and add to the dry ingredients. If you would rather use measuring spoons, it will be equivalent to about 1/8 of a tsp.
It’s hard to believe this recipe only has a ¼ stick of butter in it. Just for reference, traditional chocolate chip cookies have 1 cup of butter (4x the butter in this recipe). Believe me, the two greatest flavor-adding ingredients are butter and bacon grease.
I had my favorite sous chef in the kitchen today. I love cooking with my little boy. Hopefully he will know a few recipes by the time he’s 12 or 13 and can be responsible for cooking a meal a week (totally ripped this trick off from Dr. Jen.)
It is Friday night, after all. And the best way to keep from eating all the dough is to drink a beer while you work. Beer and cookie dough is a no go.
If the dough is good the cookie will be even better.
The cookies will have a slight crackling to them. This is perfect. When you break them open, the outer shell should be crispy.
A little dusting of powdered sugar for a festive look … and voíla. Chocolate cookie awesomeness.
Mexican Chocolate Cookies
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3.4 oz. all-purpose flour (3/4 cup)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Dash of pepper
Dash of cayenne
1 ¼ c. sugar
¼ c. butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put chocolate in glass bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted. Set aside to cool.
Weigh or measure the flour and put in a small bowl. Add cinnamon, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. Give all the dry ingredients a stir.
In a separate (and larger bowl), beat the [soft] butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until just combined. Add the cooled chocolate. Beat for a few more seconds, then add the dry ingredients by stirring it in until just mixed. Use a tablespoon or scoop to drop uniform dollops of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are just set. When cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.