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Daisy_A's picture

Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies - Daisy_A

My, these were delicious and soo simple, too - no really!

I am no pastry baker but have been trying to produce a small, flavoursome treat to be eaten at the end of meal with coffee (a bit like the French mignardises), or to give away as gifts. I have been trying macarons, with greater and lesser degrees of success. However I longed for a break from their minxy ways and have realised that it is maybe not a great idea to start with macarons on rainy, autumn days, sigh…Enter the cheering Mexican chocolate cookie.

I have to say from the off that this is not an overly sweet biscuit. It is made with strong, dark chocolate, cut with ancho chile. Although the pepper brings out the flavour of the chocolate, rather than dominating it, the overall effect is of eating a rich, dark chocolate mousse, intense but not particularly sweet. Outside of baking days it takes us over a year to get through a bag of sugar so this is just the effect I was looking for. However it may not be everyone's cup of tea.

It makes me laugh when British food critics praise the pairing of chocolate and chile as a daring new combination. It's thousands of years old, a Mayan or Aztec food. I don't know if these cookies are made in Mexico. I'd be glad if anyone could enlighten me. However, following recent debate on Eric's post about spicy sugar, I think one could make them from Mexican chocolate, particularly the dark chocolate discs used to make drinking chocolate, which are infused already with flavours like chile, cinnamon, vanilla and orange. The formula I used lists chocolate and spices separately. For this bake I used Green and Black's Organic 70% cocoa solid Dark Chocolate with spices added to the dry mix. Would love to try this with Mexican chocolate, though.

I first came across a number of formulae for this biscuit on Tastespotting. I first used a Spanish version from the blog L'Equisit. That post drew on this formula in English from Kitsch in the Kitchen. Both were adapted from a recipe in Cindy Mushet's (2008) Art and Soul of Baking. Josim also adapted a similar recipe from Leanne Kitchen's (2008)The Baker on this blog, which makes key adjustments such as using brown sugar. I haven't had time to try that version but it looks good too! Thanks to Sonia, Taranii and Josim for bringing these cookies to my attention and into my life, :-)

This is the basic formula from Taranii's Kitsch in the Kitchen, 19 August, 2010. I used grams but halved the weights and made a few adjustments. as noted below. I've made some notes on method but fuller information is on the links above.

Formula for Mexican Chocolate Crackle Biscuits (adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking) makes about 20 biscuits

20g (1 1/2 tablespoons) butter

2 teaspoons coffee liqueur

85g (3 oz) bitter-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1 large egg

50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, plus 50g (1/4 cup) extra for coating, if desired

50g (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour

45g (1/4 cup) whole almonds, lightly toasted

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon anco chile powder 

45g (1/3 cup) unsifted icing sugar (reserve to coat the cookies before baking)


Adjustments and notes on method

The formula I followed this time did not have vanilla or orange zest in but I would certainly like to add those another time. I also didn't add cinnamon, despite it being a key ingredient. This is because I managed to make myself allergic to it when living in Granada, Spain by brewing a cinnamon tea so strong that it made my lips blow up bigger than Mick Jagger's. Cinnamon/canela is such a signature Latin spice, though, I'm sure it is well worth adding it if you can. To compensate, I added a tiny pinch more red pepper. I also added a tiny pinch of salt as I was using unsalted butter.

The formula calls for ancho chile, which is quite mild and sweet. It suggests regular chile powder as an alternative. Ancho chile is available at Mexican grocers in London but is not widely available elsewhere. However I think many regular store brands of chile would be too harsh for this recipe. I used a sweet and aromatic Spanish red pepper powder (pimentón dulce).

I didn't have coffee liqueur and didn't fancy stoking up the coffee machine for just one teaspoon so added a particularly aromatic artisan-made grappa that my dear pil brought back from Italy. Not a Mexican flavour but it worked well :-). I also added an extra edge of the knife's worth of baking powder to the dry ingredients and a tiny, tiny pinch of cream of tartar to the egg and sugar while beating the mixture.

I made half the mixture as a test run. This would normally make the measuring of tiny amounts of spices difficult. Luckily my kitchen drawer contains coffee as well as teaspoons. Given that these are around half the size of a teaspoon, if the formula calls for 1/4 of a teaspoon I use a 1/4 of a coffee spoon :-)

Another key change I made was to use almond meal rather than using whole almonds and grinding them. This was because my food processor doesn't chop nuts that well and I had meal around due to the previous macaron making. I realised when reading the recipe back that this meant that the almond wasn't toasted. Another time I would still use meal but toast the meal itself in the oven, as some bakers do to dry it for macaron making. However not having to use the food processor for such a small amount of almond flour made mixing the main dry ingredients that much easier. I put them all into a small jam jar, stirred them round, put on the lid tightly and gave them a good shake about until they were well combined. (Picked up that tip from Stan who does that to mix leaven and water - thanks Stan). In my version the dry mix was almond meal, plain white UK flour, baking powder, spices and a tiny bit of salt. The icing sugar was reserved for a coating.

I wasn't sure how much egg to use for half a 'large egg'. I ended up using 1 small to medium egg and this was fine. However the cookies were so yummy I'll use full measures next time.

First step is to combine butter, chocolate and liqueur in a double boiler or heat proof bowl over a pan with 2 inches of boiling water. Final mixture was lovely and glossy.

While that is cooling the egg is beaten with the granulated sugar for 5-6 minutes until light in colour. I added a knife's edge of cream of tartar to this mixture.

Chocolate mixture is folded into the egg mixture, then the other dry ingredients are added and folded in. At this point the mixture looks like a stiff and glossy chocolate mousse. I chilled it for 1 hour, but it can be chilled for up to 2 hours.

I halved a recipe for around 20 cookies so I was expecting to produce 10. I couldn't, however, work out how I could get 10 equal sized cookies by moulding them with a tablespoon, as advised, so got all bakerish and weighed them. This came out of macaron experiences, which made me realise that the best way to get delicate cookies to bake through evenly in a very short period of time is to make them the same size. It also avoids arguments over who got the biggest cookie!

I was unsure how big to make the original balls so went for 19-20 g. I got exactly 8 balls of that size out of the dough I had. Some recipes roll the balls in granulated sugar and then icing sugar; some icing sugar only. I went for the second option. I think I could have rolled them a bit more lightly. I felt I had to really press them to get the sugar on but I suspect now that this is not necessary. The icing sugar started to absorb into the surface after about a day, although enough lingered to maintain the contrast. I don't know if adding granulated sugar as well would minimise this? Didn't do it as I didn't want such a sugar rush. If using the cookies for gifts or for a dinner party it's also best to move them with a slice. Picking them up leaves fingerprints - ask me how I know! Only did it once...

The balls looked like little truffles going into the oven. Once in, though, they spread out and crackled quite a bit, ending up the size of small, regular cookies. They were great! However if I wanted a smaller size to go with coffee, I think I would have the confidence to start a bit smaller next time.


While baking In the oven, the mousse-like mixture spread, developing lovely-looking cracks on the outside, which were highlighted by the white icing sugar. The method I used advised cooking for 11-14 minutes at C160 (Gas Mark 3), turning the cookies once. I went for a time in the middle - baking 6 minutes, turning, 6 minutes more. I used a stout steel pan and a 'bake-o-glide' sheet, in the middle of the oven. After 12 minutes the biscuits released from the paper and seemed done.

I then read other recipes, which called for a baking time of up to 25 minutes and was worried that my biscuits would still be mousse-like in the middle. However, you can see from the 'crumb shot' that they were fine. I have to say though, that correct cooking is probably an oven by oven thing. I am beginning to suspect that my oven bakes higher on the lower Gas Marks than advertised. Can't currently check this as my internal oven thermometer bit the dust.

The cookies cooled down, got glammed up. had their pictures taken and then got eaten - SUPER YUM!

Apparently they will keep for a week in an airtight container (like they'll go that long without being eaten), so one poster suggested making them for Christmas presents. Their other name is snowball cookie. Aren't they just so Christmassy, like little, edible baubles?


© Daisy_A 2010 FIrst published on The Fresh Loaf, November 22, 2010 at 16.36 GM time. I love to share bread stories and read other bakers' posts about bread. If you republish this page for 'fair use' please acknowledge authorship and provide a link to the original URL. Please note, however, I do not support the unauthorized and unattributed publishing of my text and images on for-profit websites..

Floydm's picture

I made a potato bread today, using Dan Lepard's recipe from The Art of Handmade Bread (AKA The Handmade Loaf) as the basis and tweaking it a bit.  If memory serves me right, I used:

300 grams water

200 grams mashed potatoes

500 grams bread flour

1 tablespoon sourdough starter (cold from the fridge)

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon instant yeast

I gave it quite a while, 10 minutes or so, in the mixer, then let it rise slowly most of the day, folding it a couple of times when I noticed it cresting over the edge of the bowl..  I shaped it an hour or so before I wanted to bake it, then baked it with steam at 465 for 15 minutes then 400 or so for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Potato Bread

Potato Bread

It has a relatively tight crumb but is really nice and soft.  I'm thinking I may make this as rolls for my Thanksgiving day feast this year.

My kids and I also made fresh butter in Mason jars as discussed here

Bread and butter

The kids had a blast dancing around the living room shaking the jars (we put some music on) and the butter was truly delicious.  It is well worth the effort!

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

After many months of studying other's attempts, I finally baked this bread. I apologize for not including a picture. I followed the formula to the letter, had a bit extra to put in a loaf pan, which I froze for my next batch. Overall, I'm very pleased with my first attempt. It came out beautifully dark, nearly black. The crumb is dense but chewy, very complex in flavor despite the absence of spices. I love the whole rye berries. I think the crust is a little too tough, perhaps I overcooked? At 12 hours, there was still some steam and moisture so I continued until 14 hours at 225, perhaps next time I will stop at 12. This is a keeper recipe. I don't see the need to bake this as a pudding, I think covered at 225 for 12 hours with plenty of hydration that it does just fine. I do need to keep practicing to perfect it though, for now I prefer Mini's Favorite Rye over this formula.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Well, this week was a little disappointing one in baguette land.

I only made two seemingly minor (intentional) changes from last week:  First, I endeavored to proof until the baguettes "felt ready" (about 65 minutes this week), rather than waiting for a 75 minute proof.  That I think went well.  Second, I switched from KA Bread Flour to Stone Buhr White Bread Flour.  I generally prefer the Stone-Buhr, but my local grocery stores stopped stocking it.  Last week,  all of a sudden Save-Mart had a small supply with a "Close-Out" price-tag, and I snapped up 3 bags while I had the chance.  In the past, I've gotten much more sweet, nutty wheat flavor out of the Stone-Buhr in breads that rely heavily on the flour for flavor, such as baguettes. In particular, Stone-Buhr gave better results than the KA, Gold Medal, or the Sunny-Select store brand with Peter Reinhart's formula for pain a l'ancienne, which I used to make pretty frequently.  For several editions of my weekly baguette quest, when I've liked the shape and scoring, but not the flavor, I've wondered if a little Stone-Buhr would fix everything.

Anyway, the big problem this week is that the poolish over-proofed after only 10 hours on my counter--I could smell the booziness of it but forged ahead, and ended up with somewhat pale, chewy bread. Ah well. The big question is this: why did it overproof so fast?  I have a few potential theories:

  1. The flour is to blame: Perhaps Stone Buhr has more free sugars, which explains my experience of great flavor, and a fast proof.

  2. The yeast is to blame: I may have over-yeasted the poolish.  I've been trying to approximate 1/16 teaspoon of yeast by half-filling a 1/8 teaspoon measure, and it isn't easy.

  3. My apartment is to blame: The apartment was a bit warmer than usual Saturday morning when I took temperatures in order to figure out the right water temp.

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, here are the results.  Only two baguettes are pictured because I sent one home with my parents (who had stopped by to see their grand-daughter) prior to taking a picture.  Take my word for it that baguette #3 looked much like #1 and #2.




Crust was pale, and very tough and chewy.  Scoring placement was pretty good, although I'm thinking part of the problem is that I'm not scoring deep enough.  Crumb was moderately open, but oddly dry.  Flavor wasn't too bad despite all that.

At least I had more luck with my Sunday bake, a rendition of dmsnyder's lovely San Joaquin Sourdough.  Haven't sampled the inside, but the outsides look nice and they smell phenomenal.  Still, for a picture I decided they needed a cute-ness enhancer.


hmcinorganic's picture

Made the old standby again.  I really love this bread.  I have a question though.  First, the recipe:

9 oz starter (100% hydration)

9 oz whole wheat flour

9 oz white flour

9 oz bread flour

18 oz water

1 T salt

I mixed it all in my KA for about 5 minutes, then did 2 stretch and folds over an hour.  The dough was VERY wet so I folded in about 1/8 cup flour.  It retarded overnight in the fridge, then one more stretch and fold, divide, preshape.  Rest and rise for about an hour.  Then shaped and pulled taut.

Cooked with steam in a 450 °F oven for 35-40 minutes.  It had good oven spring, and looks GREAT.

Here is my question:

my bread is pretty flat before I put it in the oven.  It doesn't hold its shape while rising.  Maybe I shouldn't worry about it, but would slightly drier dough help here?  my dough is very wet, but it usually tastes great.  Any thoughts?  I supposed I could rise it upside down in a towel-lined-flour-covered bowl or wicker basket.  But I don't have 2...

dmsnyder's picture

The recent discussions regarding baking breads in hot versus cold Dutch ovens - those from "Tartine Bread" in particular - prompted today's experiment.

I made two boules of the Country Rye from "Tartine Bread." One I baked starting in a room temperature enameled cast iron Dutch oven. The other I baked in the same Dutch oven, pre-heated. The breads were identical in weight. They were cold retarded overnight in bannetons and then proofed at room temperature for 2 hours before the first bake. The loaf baked in the pre-heated dutch oven proofed for 45 minutes longer, while the other loaf was baking. The second loaf was baked for 7 minutes longer than the first loaf, to get a darker crust.

Boule baked in cool Dutch oven on the left. Boule baked in pre-heated Dutch oven on the right.

In spite of the fact that the loaf baked first was relatively under-proofed, the loaf baked second, in a pre-heated Dutch oven, got slightly better bloom and oven spring. I won't be slicing these until next week. They are for my Thanksgiving guests. So, I don't know if there is any difference in the crumb structure.

Overall, I'm happy with both loaves. The differences are very small - arguably of no significance. While pre-heating the Dutch oven does appear to result in slightly better oven spring, the convenience of not having to pre-heat the Dutch oven may be more advantageous for many bakers.

Addendum: Okay. So, I'm weak. I had to try the bread, since it was the firs time I'd baked it.

The crust is crunchy-chewy. The crumb is less open than the "Basic Country Bread," as expected. The 17% (by Robertson's way of doing baker's math) whole rye does make a difference. The crumb is very cool and tender. The aroma is rather sour, but the flavor is less so. The surprise was the prominent whole wheat flavor tone, even though all the WW is in the levain, and it only amounts to 50 g out of a total of 1100 g (my way of doing baker's math). I expect the flavors to meld by breakfast time tomorrow. I think this will make great toast with Almond butter and apricot preserves.

Country Rye, cut loaf

Country rye, crumb


Submitted to YeastSpotting

manicbovine's picture

This bread is a variation of a recipe for Dinkelvollkornbrot by Nils' from Ye Olde Bread Blogge. The original recipe, found in his excellent book, calls entirely for spelt. I've made quite a few recipes from this book and each has been extraordinary. Nils' formula produces a moist bread with mildly sour undertones. I enjoyed it with cucumber sandwiches and also with a thin smear of plum butter. The formula needs no modification, and I wouldn't have bothered if I hadn't run out of spelt meal.

My goal was to make a more assertive bread without compromising all of the original's pleasant qualities. My variation is to omit yeast, use blackstrap molasses, use extra water, and use rye meal. I actually made this bread twice. The extra water necessitated a longer baking time, but I underestimated the first time and ended up with a rather gummy center. In addition to giving it a longer bake at a lower temperature, I let it rest for an additional 12 hours before slicing. These simple steps cured the gummy center.

Formula - Sunflower Seed Spelt 


Spelt Sour

  • 75g whole-spelt flour

  • 45g water

  • 1 tsp mature 100% rye sourdough


  • 75g sunflower seeds

  • 25g flaxseeds

  • 150g rye meal

  • 340g water


Final Dough

  • 170g whole-spelt flour

  • 130g water

  • 15g Blackstrap molasses

  • 10g salt



  • Prepare the soaker and spelt sour, let sit for 15-20 hours. 

  • Mix all ingredients until smooth and knead lightly in bowl for around 5 minutes, or until gluten from spelt develops.

  • Bulk rise for around 2 hours, pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment, and proof for an addition 1-2 hours.

  • Bake under normal steam at 450F for 5 minutes, reduce to 400F for 20 minutes, and finish off at 375F for 55 minutes. Wrap tightly in cloth towels and let cool for 36 hours before slicing.

Nils' recipe calls for yeast, which I omitted. My rye starter is not as happy to feed on spelt, so my rising times were probably a little longer than what I've indicated above.

This bread was excellent with Turkey, cream cheese, sprouts, and cranberry sauce. (Vegan versions for me, but I'm sure it's just as good with the regular stuff).


This is a poor picture due to sloppy slicing and a bum exposure. The crumb is actually denser than the photo would indicate.

Sunflower Spelt


overnight baker's picture
overnight baker

When I was working part time looking for a job I found bread baking to be a fulfilling enjoyable part of my day to look forward to. Since starting work full time as a teacher however my bread baking has dropped to zero as lesson planning has taken up more and more time. Then a couple of weeks ago I found out I would be teaching microbes to year 8's (~12 years of age), so I couldn't resist the chance to combine something I love with what should hopefully be a good way to teach some of the topic.

For just over a weeks time I have booked out a food technology lab for 1:40 minutes and I'm looking for a good bread recipe to go from separate ingredients to finished loaf/rolls in this time (ideally one and a half hours but I know I'm pushing it). Has anyone ever done this before or can anyone point me in the right direction for an appropriate recipe?

N.B. My students will have access to fairly good ovens, parchment covered trays and mixing bowls. I'm looking for a fairly simple wheatflour and dried yeast style recipe but one that can be individualised so the small groups they are working in can choose to either make individual rolls or club together to make a big loaf. However any suggestions that people have will be greatfully received.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Having been through a series of bakes with the basic Tartine loaf, I thought the right balance would be to go over to Hamelman for something. I chose the Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain because it seemed like a nice alternative to the white flour/open crumb quest of my recent Tartine baking.


Hamelman is a very good teacher and there are multiple useful lessons in this bread, as throughout his book. While I think of Tartine as a storybook, I view Hamelman as a textbook. He points out that the greater percentage of prefermented flour, and the whole grain, in this case dark rye, will contribute to a tightening of the gluten, as well as a somewhat tangier (and richer) taste. He advises the baker not to expect an open crumb, nor the kind of volume that would result from using white flour alone and less prefermented flour. He is right on both counts, although I have no problem with the profile of this loaf.


I made the first loaf pictured straight through, fermenting and proofing on the bench. It was baked under a bowl, and with a roasting pan beneath, into which a preheated brick and two towels had been placed, and boiling water poured over. The second was retarded overnight in the fridge and baked with the same steam setup, but without the bowl. The brick-plus-towels idea gives good steam throughout the first 15 minutes, even without microwaving. The excellent oven spring from this method is apparent in a couple of the pictures.


Since I changed more than one variable, I can't be sure if the superior crumb in the second loaf is from the scoring pattern, or the absence of the bowl or the retarding. The loaf from the fridge is just slightly more tangy. Both have a nice contrast of the crunch of the crust with the smooth, rich mouthfeel of the crumb. This is a god bread with good lessons from a good teacher.


Anyway, here they are. This is a delicious variation on his straight Vermont Sourdough, which is high on my list after having seen Wally's unbeiievable crumb.








longhorn's picture

In my initial efforts at the Tartine Country loaf I mostly followed Robertson's process except that I used a cloche instead of the cast iron cooker. In my first attempt I found the 77 percent hydration dough a bit and troublesome. Ditto my second effort at 75 percent. For this third effort I decided to blend the Tartine method with my own and to drop the hydration to 70 percent. I am sharing my observations in hope that some of you on the site will find them useful.

My first comment has to involve the hand mixing. After years of avoiding hand mixing as messy, the Tartine book pushed my over the edge and I know prefer hand mixing. There is magic in feeling the dough change character as you add the final water and salt. And, while the initial mix remains messy it is amazing how well the dough behaves after the first few turns and how well developed the dough becomes using the multiple stretch and fold processes endorsed by Robertson.

My SD starter is not very sour so I feel no need to use the high expansion ratio used at Tartine. I began with 100 grams of 100% starter and added 100 grams of WW and 100 grams of KA AP and 200 grams of water and let it sit on the counter overnight. Next morning I added 150 grams of WW, 1070 of KA AP, and 780 of water. From there I did S&F every half hour for two hours. I formed the boules at 2 1/2 hours and gave them a half hour rest. Then final forming and into bannetons. At 70% the dough at forming was very well behaved and only minimally sticky. I began baking them in cloches three hours after placing them in the bannetons in two batches so two loaves are more underproofed.

Due to sticking issues with alder in previous Tartine batches I had decided to try both alder and plastic bannetons. With the drier dough, neither presented any sticking problems. They did, however yield somewhat different looking results as shown in the photographs. I heated the cloches to 500 degrees F and measured the temperture of the cloches at 485 to 495 with my infrared thermometer. Baking time was 20 minutes with the lid on and 25 minutes uncovered at 450 degrees. The lids were held in a second oven at 500 during the uncovered baking and the bases were recharged at 500 before baking the second set of loaves.

The four loaves. The two on the left were done in alder bannetons, the ones on the right in plastic. The loaves on the left received about one hour less proofing than the ones on the right. The underproofing is visible in the oven spring.


The plastic bannetons require (and hold) less flour so the loaves are darker. 


The alder bannetons hold more flour and yield a more dramatic effect. The impact of underproofing on oven spring is clearly evident.

Three of the loaves were used at a party. I hope to get a crumb shot of the fourth to share in a later email. The crumb was significantly less open than the 77 and 75 percent hydration loaves. However, the crumb was certainly not "dense". All in all a very pleasing result.

Here is the belated crumb shot!




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