[Chocolate and Cacao Nib Cookies]
Soft and cakey and thrice chocolate-flavored -- from the velvet of melted chocolate, the strength of cocoa powder, and the aromatic crunch of cacao nibs -- these bite-size cookies should fit into either one of these Valentine's Day scenarios:
1. You tend to throw yourself rhapsodically into the whole gift-and-card-and-flower-giving thing: it's fun, it's red, and it gives you the perfect excuse to buy and eat chocolate. In this case, you can bake a batch or two of these cookies, wrap them up in all manner of glossy ribbons and heart-shaped tins, and spread the love.
2. You couldn't care less about Valentine, funny or otherwise, and February 14th is just a normal day for you. In fact, you have obliviously made plans for the evening that do not include your sweetheart, but neither of you has given it a thought. In this case, these cookies can simply be added to the pile of "things you want to eat".
3. You are adamantly opposed to this contagion of smoochy silliness. As an act of civil disobedience, you plan on being particularly unpleasant and grating and difficult for the whole 24 hours. That way, people will better appreciate what a treat you normally are to live with. It's an interesting strategy, but may I suggest you bake some of these cookies the next day to make up for your attitude?
Biscuits Chocolat et Fèves de Cacao
120 g (4 oz) good quality bittersweet chocolate
110 g (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten
100 g (1/2 C) brown sugar
120 g (1 C) all-purpose flour
90 g (3/4 C) unsweetened cocoa powder*
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (substitute 1/4 teaspoon regular salt)
4 tablespoons (1/4 C) cacao nibs
* Update: Some bakers have found this amount to be too much, resulting in cookies more bitter than they like. I believe this depends on the specific cocoa powder you use, some are sharper in flavor than others; you should also note that these cookies mellow out overnight. In any case, this is the amount I use, but you can use a little less cocoa powder (60 grams or 1/2 cup) if you prefer. Make up for the difference in flour.
Makes about 60 bite-size cookies.
Melt together 90 g (3 oz) of the chocolate and all of the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Tranfer into a large mixing-bowl and let cool for ten minutes. In the meantime, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in another mixing-bowl, and set aside. Finely chop the reserved chocolate, and set aside.
Whisk the eggs into the cooled melted chocolate. Add in the sugar and mix again. Sift in the flour mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. The batter will be thick. Fold in the chopped chocolate, cacao nibs and fleur de sel.
Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F) and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop out rounded teaspoons of batter, shape them into balls with the tips of your fingers, and line them up on the cookie sheet, leaving a one-inch space between them. Put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for ten minutes (if the sheet and batter are cold, the cookies are less likely to spread). Put the cookie sheet into the oven to bake for eight to ten minutes, until the tops feel just dry to the touch. Don't overbake, or they won't be as moist inside.
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