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Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies

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Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies

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.

Baking

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..

Comments

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Those just cry out for a rich cup of coffee ... a doppio espresso would serve.


David

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Thanks David,


You are so right. Not tried it yet but I am sure it would be a good pairing :-)


Best wishes, Daisy_A

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

fantastic-looking cookies!   Loved the pepper addition, quite intriguing, I've never had anything joining choc and pepper, although I know it's quite fashionable.    I need to go out more!  ;-)


 


thanks for posting, this goes into my "to try soon" folder!

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Sally,


Many thanks for your kind comment!


Don't get out - I thought you just went halfway across America? Stay in and do them instead - it's warmer ;-)


In all seriousness, a lovely cookie, certainly worth putting in the folder.


Kind regards, Daisy_A

TNBentRyder's picture
TNBentRyder

your cookies do look wonderful; great images!


I gotta try these. Recipe sounds really tasty.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Thank you for your kind comments. They are indeed extremely tasty :-)


Best wishes, Daisy_A

ananda's picture
ananda

my kind of "sweet" too, Daisy_A.


Maybe I use even less sugar than you in the home?   I'll give these a go..they are indeed very Christmassy.


All good wishes


Andy

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Many thanks for your message.


You use less sugar than me? I'll arm wrestle you...Oh no, hang on, you'd win ;-)


Seriously it must just have been a few teaspoons a year for my da-in-law's tea, then off to the back of the cupboard again. Am using it a bit more now for baking.


However these are quite strong-tasting - dark chocolate, chile, coffee. What's not to like?


Do try them. 


Best wishes, Daisy_A

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Daisy,


These look sooo good, and the recipe has three of my favorite flavours in them, chili, chocolate, and cinnamon.. well actually four if you count the coffee/Kahlua one as well. I'll have to send this to my in-house cookie baker and ask if she'll whip me up a batch at her earliest possible convenience. Thanks for sharing the recipe.


Cheers,


Franko

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Franko,


Thanks for your kind comments. They were indeed 'muy bueno' :-). You're right - I think the liqueur would have been Kahlua. Great flavours like you say. Hope you can try some also.


Best wishes, Daisy_A

happylina's picture
happylina

 lovely Chocolate Cookies! Chille chocolate! It's new taste for me. I will try in someday.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Thanks for your kind words! It is definitely worth a try. The formula I tried had the equivalent of a 1/4 teaspoon of chile for 320g of final dough. However I'm sure it's possible to start with just a pinch of chile and see how it goes. For me it really did complement the chocolate.


Love your picture, by the way! Welcome to TFL.


Best wishes, Daisy_A

saltandserenity's picture
saltandserenity

Oh Daisy,


These are gorgeous.  I just may have to add them to my holiday baking list!! Thanks for sharing.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Thank you for your kind words! I'm sure they would be good for a range of celebrations.


Wishing you happy baking and a good holiday celebration!


Best wishes, Daisy_A

EvaB's picture
EvaB

the Kaluah as well, so maybe I shall have to try this, a good thing for a cold day. Its -32C here -25.6F for those centigrade impaired people, so warming up the house baking some yummy cookies (even though I can't eat them very much) sounds good, I can always see if my kid will come over and have coffee and cookies, she'd love the chocolate, and her husband is always willing to eat cookies!

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi EvaB,


If you have the ingredients I'd go for it! Doesn't matter that you can't eat so much as they are so intensely flavoured that a small amount is still satisfying. They are good to share also, tho. not too sweet, as I say.


I had to do a double take at your post as I thought C32 was not cold, then realised it was minus C32! Have been at -C20 in Scotland. Breathe was freezing once released from our nostrils. We took comfort with some small tots of mature single malt whisky and a roaring log fire! 


With best wishes, Daisy_A

EvaB's picture
EvaB

with my coffee maker, its suddenly quit. That is an imperitive, I must have coffee!


Then I have to do soem work in the kitchen so I can actually get to the cookie making, then I will definitely do them. I know several family members who will eat the results, even if they aren't perfect! Its chocolate after all! LOL

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Ooh, minus 32, that's not a good time for the coffee machine to give up :-( Got to have coffee to keep the workers warm LOL


I know what you mean about chocolate always being welcome :-) They'll be great, honestly.


Best wishes, Daisy_A

EvaB's picture
EvaB

expensive gift from my daughter for my birthday a couple years ago, and I do mean expensive as it was over $100, it heats the water and keeps a pots worth warm so you can make coffee very fast first off! Takes about 3 minutes a pot! Some how the plug in got turned off, have no idea how or why, but its now back on and working, so am a happy camper that way.


The weather has warmed up somewhat, they say -21 in town which sits in the bottom of a hole surrounded by hills and its always colder there, here it was close to 0 so that is ok, unless of course I want to make it up the hill of my drive, then its slick! Can't win! I really and truly hate winter, its far too long, and between the cold, the bad drive and the ugly snow I get very depressed and down.


Of course it could always be worse, I might have to go back to boiling water to make coffee in the Melita filter! LOL

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

If it's that chilly and icy out you need the comfort of coffee and cookies :-)


Best wishes, Daisy_A

TNBentRyder's picture
TNBentRyder

couldn't resist any longer. these are quite tasty little pillows. No coffee liqueur so I used my vanilla Jack with 1/4 tsp of instant coffee and 1/8 tsp of cayenne for the pepper.


Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi TNBentRyder,


Those do look delicious and they sit so well on that presentation plate - what a great image! Glad you went for it - they came out so well!


Vanilla Jack is vanilla Jack Daniels? Mmm - vanilla sounds good.


I'm so glad they worked out under different baking conditions. Can you tell me did you use the same or similar oven temperature and time or did you have to adjust them?


Best wishes, Daisy_A

TNBentRyder's picture
TNBentRyder

for my vanilla Jack I just add 6 split vanilla beans to a liter of Jack Daniels and set it aside for 6 weeks. Yes, I baked at 325 F for 14 minutes and they turned our very nice. Next time I may go a minute or 2 longer to get just a little crispy. Think I'd up the coffee just a bit next time too.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Glad that you liked these enough to try them again. Will definitely be doing that in our house.


Kind regards, Daisy_A

italianlady61's picture
italianlady61

I found that adding just a touch of coffee liqueur or Baileys added a little something to it - be careful not to overcook since they do become crispier when cooled and the chocolate may end up tasting burnt or bitter.  The taste intensifies as time goes on as long as it's in a tight container - they keep really well.


 


 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Daisy_A, I don't even know where to start. Thank you so much for posting about your gorgeous little cookies.
I simply must try to make these at the first possible opportunity!  Thanks!!! from breadsong

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Do try these - they make a lovely little mouthful :-) Best wishes, Daisy_A

Franko's picture
Franko


Hi Daisy,


I just wanted to let you know that I finally got to taste your Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies for the first time this past weekend. Holy Smokes Daisy, are these ever good!


Marie is the person in this household that makes 99.9% of any sweets, so I just forwarded your recipe to her, hoping she'd look it over and choose to make it at some point. When I arrived home from work on Saturday the house was full of the smell of chocolate and cinnamon ...and something else I couldn't quite identify. Sure enough Marie was baking cookies from your recipe. The first one I tasted was still warm from the oven and very soft, but delicious. Three hours later I tried another one and the flavour was even better, having had some time for the flavours to meld. These little cookies are amazing for how much flavour they pack in each one. Marie increased the chili to 1/2 tsp, knowing how much I love the stuff, and to my taste this worked out perfectly with the chocolate and cinnamon ratios of your recipe. What a great find and many thanks to you for sharing it with all of us.


Franko


 

happylina's picture
happylina

Hi Franko 弗兰科


Lovely chocolate cookies! Maybe your  family baking this cake time  same  with me (^_^).


I'm happy to know 1/2 tsp chili still very good. I post this cake in my blog yesterday. My friend ask me if my chili chocolate very hot. For me very good. But I don't know if it's hot to her.


I think I will try cinnamon with chocolate after I get cinnamon.


Happylina

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Really glad that you liked these. I agree with you about the flavour. I was thinking of what it reminded me of tasting and it was liqueurs. Not just because it has liqueur in it but because of the different intense flavours in such a small amount of ...stuff. 


How lovely of Marie to make these for you to come home to :-)


Best wishes, Daisy_A

italianlady61's picture
italianlady61

Wow Daisy A - great cookie - have been baking these for years and adding orange zest and some juice makes it a great combination - you are right - they are truly easy to make and delicious to eat! 


 


Have a good holiday and bake away! 


 


Cristina

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Cristina,


Thank you for your kind comments! Good to hear from someone with expertise baking these that orange would be good, as that appeals to me also. I have actually just got some orange flower essence to build up to making my first panettone (wish me luck!). Do you think a dab might be good in these cookies also?


Wishing you the best of the season and happy baking!


Daisy_A


 


 

italianlady61's picture
italianlady61

OK - not sure on the blogging thing!  my kids would be ashamed!  LOL  I replied to the e-mail sent and I don't think I was supposed to - oh well, I finally figured out the link and here I am!  I don't see it doing any harm - it's a more subtle approach but good to try - let me know how it works out.  Good luck on the panettone - it's a difficult thing to master the first time around but have no doubts that you will do beautifully!


 


Cristina

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Glad you got here via the link. Thanks for the advice on flavourings. I will try orange juice and zest. I do like the taste of zest in recipes. 


Thanks for your encouragement about the panettone. I am quite a new baker of sweet things so am doing a test version before I let myself loose on a larger amount of dough! We shall see...


Best wishes, Daisy_A