Sunday, September 4, 2016

Roasted Almond Chocolate Bomb Cookies

Well, this self professed chocoholic has struck again!

I honestly thought I had a recipe for something like this already but after searching my recipe files - both on the computer and on paper - I realized that I didn't have a Chocolate, Chocolate Chip and Almond Cookie that used sour cream as one of the main ingredients!

The idea came to me while reading a culinary mystery by Joanne Fluke. The lead character, Hannah Swensen, is the owner of a small town bakery/coffee shop called "The Cookie Jar". She is a creative baker with a wide variety of recipes and also solves murders on the side! The author - Ms. Fluke - is also very generous in sharing many of her (and Hannah's) recipes in each book.  It should also be noted that the Hannah Swensen mysteries really must be read in sequence to fully appreciate the various character developments and ongoing storylines

In the novella - "Candy For Christmas" - there is a recipe for "Chocolate Mint Softies" that looked interesting. The recipe can also be found in "Joanne Fluke’s LAKE EDEN COOKBOOK". (Okay, a lot of the recipes in this series look interesting and it is really hard to resist drooling on my Kindle, but today I'm taking about this particular one!).

There were however some things I decided to change to more accurately suit my tastes. I'm not a huge fan of mint. I prefer it in toothpaste or breath fresheners but very sparingly in my food. I rarely have any unsweetened chocolate baking squares in my pantry and pecans are too expensive. I also didn't want to frost the cookies after they'd cooled.

So, I did a recipe search for Sour Cream Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was specifically looking for ones that didn't use chocolate squares. As expected, I found many but settled on one from Taste Of Home.

I did a side by side comparison of ingredients that also included the direct substitute for unsweetened chocolate squares:
   3 level tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 
+ 1 tablespoon butter, margarine or shortening
= 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate

After a bit more ingredient and measurement tweaking, I came up with a draft recipe to try.

I used block margarine rather than butter (butter may taste better in baking but it 's too costly for my budget!). I added 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons) of unsweetened cocoa powder rather than the 6 Tablespoons from the direct substitute but also upped the margarine by 2 Tablespoons. I did a 50/50 split of all purpose and whole wheat flour. I swapped out the peppermint extract for almond extract and the pecans for roasted almonds. I also added chocolate chips as one can never have enough chocolate!

The batter came together well and the dough was quite thick as I added the last of the dry ingredients. This recipe works best in a stand mixer. If using an electric hand mixer, you will need to take a few breaks while adding in the dry ingredients so as not to overheat and/or burn out the motor.

Once the dough is mixed, it is quite sticky which makes it a bit hard to work with for dropping onto baking sheets, so it is best to chill it for an hour or two first.

Hopefully Ms. Fluke (and Hannah) would approve of this recipe!

I took samples of the cookies to several friends for tasting and they loved them! I also asked my friends if they had any name suggestions. The best one I got was "Roasted Almond Chocolate Bomb Cookies". I asked what had inspired the name. My friend said the cookie was soft and when they bit into it, there was the immediate flavour burst of chocolate and almond but when you bit into a chocolate chip the flavour just exploded!

Now, while your reading the recipe and making these cookies, I'm going to grab a couple of cookies and start reading another Hannah Swensen mystery to see what she's baking up this time and what is happening with the good folks in Lake Eden!

Roasted Almond Chocolate Bomb Cookies
3/4 cup chopped almonds, roasted
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons block margarine, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup white (granulated) sugar
1 large egg (at room temperature), beaten with a fork
3/4 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips

Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spread the almonds over the paper. Roast in a preheated 350F oven for about 5-7 minutes - stirring at least once or twice during that time. 
Note, that these can go from perfectly roasted, golden brown to burnt in a matter of seconds so DO NOT walk away or get distracted. Remove the pan from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before adding to the dough.

While the almonds are cooling, combine the flours (do not sift or pack the flours), cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the softened margarine and sugars till very creamy. Add the beaten egg and extracts. Combine thoroughly.
Mix in about 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
Mix in about 1/2 of the sour cream.
Add about another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix.
Add the remaining sour cream and mix.
Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are well mixed. Add in the roasted almonds and the chocolate chips. Mix in completely. Dough will be a bit stiff and very sticky at this point so too frustrating to drop evenly on baking sheets. Transfer the dough to a smaller bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or two. (Overnight is also fine but no more than a day)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Drop dough by teaspoon on parchment lined baking sheets. These spread very little so flatten slightly for more even baking.
Bake at 350F for 9-11 minutes. Note: When the cookie dough is so dark, it can be really hard to tell when they are fully baked - the cookies are done when they have risen slightly and are firm around the edges. DO NOT OVERBAKE! Carefully slide the parchment paper and cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Makes about 6 dozen scrumptious cookies depending on size.

Note: The taste testers and I agreed that these are best eaten slightly warm or within a few hours of baking as the chocolate chips are still very soft and you get a more intense flavour burst with each bite. If eaten later, then warm them in the microwave for a few seconds first. That way the chocolate chips are softened and just explode with the flavour when you bite into them. That being said, these can also be frozen, however they should be thawed and warmed slightly before eating - about 6-8 seconds in the microwave should do it.

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