One of the best things about learning to be better cooks in the kitchen is that Paul and I have been eating a whole lot healthier these days than we were even a year ago (with much more trips to the market and WAY less take-out). And we're continually learning and making better choices, which is helped along by all the great information we get online and in our cookbooks.
So I was really happy to meet Roxanna, whose blog, WholesomeHedonist, is all about making better, healthier choices. Of course, healthy does not mean boring - just check out the name of the cookies she submitted for the Cookie Advent Calendar!
Here's a quick bio about Roxanna:
Roxanna Kassam Kara is a former processed food marketer who runs WholesomeHedonist.com, a site that demystifies marketing claims, helps people navigate the supermarket and features yummy natural food ideas. She spends her spare time with her husband and toddler, whom she would refer to as El Guapo and Hefe on her blog if only they would let her. You can follow her on Twitter at here or on Pinterest here.
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There is nothing better in the world than holiday baking – I love waltzing around the kitchen, Christmas music playing in the background, surrounded by sticks of butter and chocolate and tins of brown sugar. That’s my idea of heaven. But even better than the baking is planning the baking - going through my stack of cookbooks and earmarking the recipes I’m going to make. I have a long list of requirements: they must be able to be made ahead, they must store well once baked (to give in cookie tins,) they must be a little bit different, and above all, they must be GOOD. Not treat-in-the-lunchbox good; not even eat-for-breakfast-tomorrow good. They must be constantly-on-your-mind, sneak-one-every-fifteen-minutes, dear-God-did-he-eat-the-last-ONE? good.
So when I first heard of World Peace cookies (named so because – yes- they are so delicious that they could bring about World Peace), I had to try them. And friends, they didn’t disappoint. The intense chocolate flavour, the sandy, crumbly texture and the hit of sea salt at the end make these a stand out Christmas treat. I added my own personal twist – a hint of cayenne pepper – to add some warmth and really bring out the flavour of the chocolate. Now they have become a staple in my holiday cookie boxes (if they actually make it into the boxes, that is.)
Adapted from this recipe by the indomitable Dorie Greenspan, as featured on The Splendid Table.
You can refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 2 months. You don’t even need to defrost the frozen dough before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.
dark chocolate sables with sea salt and chili
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips (I like 70% dark chocolate for a really indulgent cookie.)
1. Mix together the flour, cocoa and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Make sure they are well combined.
2. Beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
3. Turn off the mixer. Pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. The batter won’t be totally mixed at this point, but it should be 80% there.
4. Taste the batter. Add more salt and cayenne pepper powder as necessary (you want to really be able to taste the salt and a little bit of heat.) I usually add a few generous sprinklings of salt at this point and maybe a dash more pepper.
5. Use a spatula to finish mixing the dough - do not overmix or the cookies will become hard. The dough will look a little crumbly, but that’s just how it’s supposed to be. Add chocolate pieces and fold in just to incorporate.
4. Shape the dough into 2 logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Warning: they will look like, well, poo at this point. Soldier on – they will look much better once baked. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours (I just freeze them for 30-45 minutes if I’m low on time.)
5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
6. Slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you're cutting them - don't be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.
7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes - they won't look done, nor will they be firm, but that's just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.
The recipe and all photos used in this blog post belong to Roxanna Kassam Kara and should not be reprinted without her express permission.