My traditional Christmas cookies: Chocolate Frosted Chocolate

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cookie_chocolate_banner.jpgMy sister doesn't bake much because she is trying to stay on a heart healthy diet. Christmas, and our family tradition of cookie making, leads her into temptation. My answer is to bake with much-better-than-average ingredients and eat half as much.

Since I was born, there was not a Christmas that my mother didn't  bake a dozen different Christmas cookies. The chocolate cookie with creamy chocolate frosting was my favorite one, but I think my mother said mine was divinity.  My sister would probably argue that this cookie was my brother's favorite. He's older, so they were already taken. If my mother had not pre-labeled my even older sister with a crummy favorite -- date bars --  because my mother wanted an excuse to make them, I think my sister might say that these chocolate cookie were her favorites, too.

At least these are the one's that she chose to make when, after a long break, she decided to make Christmas cookies. They turned out terrible and so we checked my recipe against the one on the scrap of paper that she has from mother.

This is the recipe that I use from the New High Altitude Cookbook by Beverly M. Anderson and Donna M. Hamilton.
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 oz. chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Creamy Chocolate Frosting
The recipe also calls for 1/2 tsp. of baking soda to be dissolved in the milk. I don't think that is necessary unless you substitute buttermilk or yogurt. So I usually skip it, and it's not on my mother's recipe. Otherwise they are the same. My sister wondered if the baking soda and powder she used was too old to rise this cookies that should look rounded like a big water drop and taste like a little cake.

I think the egg will do more to rise these cookies than the powders, so that wasn't the major problem. My sister substitutes something low-fat for butter, and used OLEO (her term) instead of the butter. I don't think anyone should make anything with a manufactured fat. How much less fat it has than butter can be made up for by just eating fewer cookies and enjoying them more. Why not use a really fine expensive European butter. It doesn't have more fat per gram just more flavor.

Use a really wonderful and  expensive type of chocolate: Scharffenberger or Valhrona. This way you are forced by budget to make less and value them more.

For this cookie, I cut the amount of melted chocolate by half because I like it to be much more subtle than the frosting, which is very chocolaty, but each baker can make that decision for themselves, and for me, it varies with the chocolate. Most importantly cut down the butter to 6 tablespoon instead of the 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup or one stick equals 8 tbls).

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter and chocolate gently, add to brown sugar, add beaten egg, milk and vanilla. Sift flour, or stir with a fork if you don't have a sifter. Then measure it. Add the salt and baking powder to it. Gradually add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and mix until very creamy. Drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheet. It should be between a dough and a batter and ease slightly onto the cookie sheet, which should be lightly greased. If you are not careful to make them round on the sheet they will have a more organic look like mine. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Frost warm.

Here's the frosting recipe we used. I modified this from 6 tbs of butter to 3, and use about 1/2 cup less powdered sugar. I'm still playing with this.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tbs water
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Melt chocolate, water and butter together over water in a double boiler or heat carefully in a good pan on a very, very low gas flame. Don't let it burn. Cool, and beat in the egg yolk and salt. Reheat, then blend in powdered sugar.

These should have the consistency of a good chocolate chip cookie, so they must be stored in an airtight container after the chocolate frosting is allowed to cool.

This recipe makes 48 cookies that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  tablespoons of butter, 1/6 of a tablespoon of fat.

Eat just one. Taste and imagine the best chocolate in the world. Hopefully, it's in this cookie.

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I've eaten these cookies before, and as I was photographing them, they seemed to have a consistency that wasn't as smooth and cakelike as I remember. Did you use some granola-head substitute?

I didn't have brown sugar, so I used turbinado raw sugar.

My first attempt after many years was not good, as reported above by my sister. However, I went out today and bought real butter and some good chocolate. I plan on making them again tomorrow. Your cookies sort of look like Mom's. Your presentation was good and I like your new blog.
I'll let you know about the cookies.

If you don't have brown sugar, which is white processed sugar with molasses added, so you can use white, but let the sugar absorb the molasses first. Otherwise, you lose some moisture that the brown sugar usually provides. If you creamed brown sugar and butter you would have a more homogeneous mixture, and maybe a better texture, in general.

What to substitute if you don't have brown sugar or molasses? Honey is a weird thing to bake with, I avoid it like the plague.

So it's worth having some brown sugar around.

And, regarding the leavening. You add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to balance the acidity of the chocolate, not for leavening. You should use it to return the PH back to zero. If you do it right, neutral will be achieved. Baking powder is perfectly balanced. If you're making plain scones, it will call for baking powder. If you throw in cocoa powder you're going to have to add baking soda to neutralize it. Chocolate -- no matter how milky or expensive -- will never be neutral on its own.

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