I've been on a "spicy chocolate" kick. It all started with Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream a couple of months ago. That Queen City Cayenne and Thai Chili (now called Bangkok Peanut) mix of sweet and spicy flavors just spoke to me and so now whenever I see anything with those combinations, I'm all over it.
My latest obsession is one I discovered in Whole Foods the other day.....Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co. chocolate bars. I was first drawn to them because it said they were "stone ground in Nashville, TN" and I love discovering and supporting businesses close to home. I picked up three different flavored bars.....Sea Salt, Coffee, and Mexican Style Cinnamon Chili. They were all fabulous but guess which one was my favorite? Yup...the spicy one!
So when I saw this recipe in "The Art and Soul of Baking" I thought this would be a perfect place to use my new favorite chocolate. It was. Mr. B downed a dozen of them before I could blink. I left out the ancho chili powder called for in the recipe and substituted the Olive and Sinclair's Mexican Chocolate in place of the bittersweet, but if spicy is not your thing, simply leave out the chili powder and use plain bittersweet chocolate. They'll still be delicious.
Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies
"The Art and Soul of Baking"
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur or cooled brewed coffee
6 ounces 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted and cooled completely
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used 1/2 tsp because chocolate had cinnamon in it too)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder (optional)
3/4 cup unsifted confectioners' sugar
Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in the bottom of a double boiler. Place the butter, liquor and chocolate in the top of the double boiler (off the heat). Turn off the heat, then set the chocolate over the steaming water. (I simply use a pan with a glass bowl on top since I don't have a double boiler.) Stir occasionally with a spatula until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove and let cool slightly while you whip the eggs.
Place the eggs and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in the bowl of a mixer and whip on high speed until very light in color and thick, 5 to 6 minutes. Scrape the melted chocolate mixture into the eggs and whip until blended, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Place the flour, nuts, cinnamon, baking powder and chili powder (if using) in the food processor and process until the nuts are very finely chopped, 60 to 90 seconds. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Stir gently a few times with the spatula to make sure there are no patches of unincorporated flour or butter lurking near the bottom of the bowl. Cover the dough with plastic and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until firm.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and position an oven rack in the center. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop the chilled dough into tablespoon-size balls using an ice cream scoop or a spoon. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in one small bowl and the confectioners' sugar in another. Roll each dough ball in the granulated sugar and then in the confectioners' sugar. Be sure to coat the dough generously with the confectioners' sugar - in this instance, more is better. Space the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking time, for 11 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and cracked. If you nudge a cookie, it should slide on the sheet rather than stick. It is better to slightly underbake these cookies than to go too far - when overbaked they are dry and unpalatable. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
These cookies are best the same day they are baked. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.