Thursday, December 12, 2013

Irene's Chocolate-Espresso Cookies

In case you're wondering who Irene is... she's a wonderfully talented baker I met in a yoga class, and I'd be hard pressed to name a kinder woman. I'm familiar with her culinary prowess because she made a habit of bringing her sinful concoctions to class with her: tiered cakes were brought in for friends' birthdays, cookies for a random Tuesday, even her homemade ice cream (in a myriad of delightfully creative flavors) during the heat of summer!

Needless to say, she was obviously quite popular with everyone in class.

Shortly before I left Michigan, Irene brought these chocolate-espresso cookies to share along with two other kinds of cookies. Please don't ask me what the other types were. As luck would have it, I chose this cookie to sample first... the other two didn't have a chance. One bite and I only had eyes for these babies.

Intensely chocolaty from the help of the espresso, this chewy delight is speckled with even more chocolate morsels and is replete with a tender crumb. I'm not hyperbolzing when I say it's the best chocolate cookie I've ever had!

I had to have the recipe.

Kindly, Irene obliged my request and sent me the recipe right away.

With cookie season in full swing for the holidays, it was the perfect excuse to make these dangerously good chocolate-espresso cookies, but Will and I didn't really need 35 cookies laying around to tempt us. Remembering the perpetual kindness of the woman who first shared this recipe with me, I knew exactly what to do with the bulk of the batch to pay her kindness forward.

I sent the cookies to my old veterinarian's office as a thank you for all the hard work they did over the summer to diagnose and treat my extremely sick puppy. As he lays by my feet now, curled up and sleeping, I'm so grateful that he's healthy and for the people who looked out for him when he wasn't. Thank you so much Dr. Brinker and Dr. Wallace!

Christmas 2012: Copper rebels against his Rudolph ears.

These chocolate-espresso cookies are easy to make, especially during the frenetic holiday season. Whether you want to thank someone too, need something for a cookie exchange or holiday party, or just want to fill your family's cookie jar, you can't go wrong with these. They are addictingly good!

Irene's Chocolate-Espresso Cookies
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens via my friend Irene
I think of these cookies as "Irene's," but when I contacted her about it, she got the recipe from a 2004 holiday edition of Better Homes and Gardens.
Even though espresso is in the title, once the cookies have cooled completely, it's barely detectable. The espresso only intensifies the chocolate flavor.
Yield: about 35 cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cook Time: 9 minutes (per batch)
12 ounces (roughly 2 cups) semisweet chocolate pieces, divided
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons instant espresso, or instant coffee powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sea salt, optional garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with racks positioned in the lower and upper thirds of the oven.
In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the semi-sweet chocolate pieces, the unsweetened chocolate, and the butter. Place over fairly low heat and stir until just melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
As the chocolate cools, combine the eggs, sugar, and espresso powder. Beat on high speed until thick and creamy, about 1 minute. Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir dry ingredients into chocolate mixture. Stir in the remaining semisweet chocolate pieces.
On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 1 1/2 inches apart (to allow for spreading). If desired, lightly dust cookies with sea salt. Bake for about 5 minutes, then switch the position of the baking sheets, also rotating each sheet 180 degrees. Bake for an additional 4 minutes, or until the cookies are set around the edges. Do not over bake!
Allow cookies to cool on the sheets until they can be safely transferred to a wire rack, about 10 minutes. [Better Homes and Gardens indicated to do this after only 2 minutes, but mine were still too delicate to be moved that early.] Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
-A few of the cookies spread a little too quickly, and I had a couple of crispy edges as a result. I prefer an extremely chewy cookie, so to combat this in the future, I think I might chill the portioned out cookies in the fridge for 10 minutes or so before baking to see if that will help.

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