~ Loco for Cocoa: Spicy Chocolate Cherry Cookies ~
This recipe started off back in the 1980's as a simple-to-make but excellent chocolate chocolate-chip drop-cookie recipe. It was so kid-tested and mother approved there was a period in my life when I had it committed to memory. Those were the PTA bake-sale days -- these and a few other cookies of mine (gingersnaps, snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies) made a few elementary schools quite a few dollars. I remember making 25 dozen of these chocolate cookies for Park Forest Elementary's Thanksgiving play (Jesse, in the 1st grade at the time, played the role of Christopher Columbus and opened the show by discovering America)!
This recipe, originally 'kids stuff', matured over the years!
I went loco for cocoa (powder). I'm at a loss for the original porportions of flour to cocoa powder, but, every time I made these cookies, I found myself wanting more chocolate flavor, so, the next time I baked them I would subtract 2 tablespoons of flour and make up the difference with extra cocoa powder. It never affected the outcome of my recipe, it only made it better. I stopped the experiments when I arrived at equal amounts of flour and cocoa powder. This was not a scientific study -- it worked in this recipe, but, I cannot guarantee the same outcome in others.
Remove the cherries from the ingredients list and you're looking at my original recipe. They got added in the latter 1990's, after Joe planted a sour-cherry tree in the backyard. This prompted me to add a splash of cherry extract, and, upscale the cocoa and chocolate too. The cayenne pepper was a 'no brainer' after experiencing a few Mexican chocolate mole sauces!
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder (Note: I originally used Hershey's cocoa.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
8 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons firmly-packed dark brown sugar
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure cherry extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces Lindt 70% cacoa dark chocolate, 1 cup after chopping (Note: I originally used Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate morsels.)
1 cup dried sour cherries, coarsely chopped after measuring (Note: You can purchase dried sour cherries, but, in the event you too have your own cherry tree, check out my post ~ Culinary Jewels: Dehydrated Sour ("Pie") Cherries ~ in Categories 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 15 or 20!)
~ Step 1. Chop the chocolate, then the cherries, as directed and pictured above. Separately, set each aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
On highest speed of hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, using a large rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl almost constantly.
~ Step 3. Remove the mixer -- you are done with it. Using the spatula, gradually add and fold in the dry flour mixture, in two or three parts, until a rich, thick, dark, chocolately cookie dough forms. Take a taste -- you've earned it.
Note: This will take a couple of minutes to do, and, take the time to do it right -- make sure there are no pockets of unmixed dry mixture.
Working one pan at a time and using a 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place rounded scoopfuls of dough, 12 on the first pan. Place pan in the refrigerator for 6-8 minutes. Repeat this process with second pan while first pan is in the refrigerator.
~ Step 6. Bake cookies, one pan at a time, on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for about 13-14 minutes, or until cookies are puffed, slightly shiny, and cracks appear across the surface. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool in pan for 5-6 minutes prior to using a thin spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop; cooling rack; small spatula
Cook's Note: For another one of my favorite cookies containing the great taste of tart, dried, 'pie cherries', you can find my recipe for ~Oatmeal & Savory Dried Sour Cherry Sensations ~ in Category 7. You can thank me later!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)