Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with a Twist

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I have a favorite chocolate sandwich cookie that I make every so often. It started out as a basic cookie, until I tinkered with the recipe. I increased the cocoa and decreased the flour. Later, after more taste testing, I replaced some of the cocoa with some black, extra dark cocoa I had ordered from King Arthur Flour. Perfection. Darkly chocolate, slightly crunchy cookies surrounding creamy vanilla filling that tastes slightly of butter. After a day or two in an airtight container the cookies get slightly softer, which I really like.

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If you don’t want to buy special cocoa for these, they are perfectly good with only natural cocoa powder. I have seen a few different kinds of darker cocoa in the grocery store, next to the regular cocoa. I have only used natural cocoa and a little of the black cocoa, as noted in the recipe, but feel free to experiment. If you use only natural cocoa your cookies might be a lighter brown than the pictures, but they will still taste fabulous.

The last time I made the cookies, we were brainstorming different fillings we could try. We came up with cinnamon, cherry and bacon. Cherry and bacon were a little more complicated than we wanted to mess with that day, so we decided to try cinnamon. I will tinker with the bacon and cherry possibilities some day soon.

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I wanted some cookies with plain vanilla filling, so I divided the filling in half and added cinnamon. I started with ¼ teaspoon, but it was barely discernable. So I doubled it. The cinnamon flavor was stronger, but I thought it might get lost against the dark chocolate of the cookies. So I added another ¼ teaspoon. Perfection – richly cinnamon without straying across the line into too spicy.

I started out dolloping a tiny portion of filling onto the middle of a cookie and then gently squishing the filling flat with a second cookie. While this made a pretty cookie, with smooth edges on the filling, there wasn’t enough filling. I went back to my old method of smearing the filling on and adding the top cookie. Not as neat, but definitely a better ratio of cookie to filling.

I could have pulled out a piping bag to pipe the larger amount of filling into the middle of the cookies, but that was way more complicated than I wanted to get. Full disclosure: I have used my piping bag just a handful of times over the 10 years I have had it. Maybe someday I will get inspired to use it more often, but I’m not holding my breath. If you want picture perfect cookies, you can certainly use a piping bag. But I’m in favor of saving the time and cleanup and eating my slightly less-than-perfect cookies that much sooner.

Download or print just the recipe.

 Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Adapted by The Cook’s Life
From 365 Great Cookies and Brownies
Makes 45 small sandwich cookies

If you want to bump up the chocolate flavor a bit, you can substitute 2 tablespoons of dark or black cocoa for 2 tablespoons of the natural cocoa. This is totally optional, but really good.

Cookies:
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup natural cocoa powder (see headnote)
¼ teaspoon salt

Vanilla Filling:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk, approximately

Cinnamon Filling:
1½ teaspoons cinnamon for the full recipe
¾ teaspoon cinnamon for half the recipe

Do not preheat the oven. The dough needs to chill before baking.

Beat the ½ cup butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again until well combined and light. Add the flour, cocoa powder and salt and mix on low speed until dough is smooth.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a long log, about 1¼ inches in diameter. Make the logs as smooth and uniform as possible so your cookies will be uniform. Wrap the dough logs in parchment paper or plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

While dough chills, make the filling. Beat the 2 tablespoons butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Add milk, a teaspoon at a time, until the filling is light and fluffy.

If you are making the cinnamon filling, add the cinnamon now. Use 1½ teaspoons cinnamon if you want to make all the filling cinnamon. If you want half vanilla and half cinnamon, divide the filling in half and use ¾ teaspoon cinnamon in one half. Beat the cinnamon filling until uniform in color with no lighter streaks. Cover the filling(s) and leave at room temperature until ready to use.

When the dough is chilled preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Work with one log at time, leaving the other one in the freezer until ready to slice. Use a sharp knife to cut the log into ¼-inch, or slightly thinner, rounds. Try to keep them uniform so they all bake at the same rate. Place the rounds fairly close together on the prepared baking sheets. They do not spread or rise very much at all.

Bake cookies, one pan at a time, for 5-6 minutes, or until they are firm to the touch, but not hard. The cookies will not change color, but they will puff very, very slightly.

Remove baked cookies to racks for cooling. When cookies are room temperature, spread 1-2 teaspoons of filling on the flat side of one cookie. Top with another cookie and gently press the cookies together. Leave filled cookies on the wire racks until the filling dries and sets up a bit, at least an hour. Store cookies in an airtight container for several days, or freeze for longer storage. The cookies will soften slightly after the first day.

Note: If you want to make the dough ahead of time, make four shorter logs and slip them into a ziploc bag. If it is tightly wrapped, you can freeze the dough for a month or so before using. Slice directly from the freezer and bake as directed.

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Deep Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies

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My mind was wandering the other day as I was cooking dinner. I wondered if anyone had actually made any of the recipes I have on the blog. And then I thought about all the food blogs I read. I can probably count on one hand the times I have actually made anything off of them. I decided I needed to make more of an effort to actually make some of the recipes and then either blog about them or comment on them to the original poster.

I had been thinking about these deep dark chocolate cookies since I read about them on The Monday Box in early November. They are part of a post explaining the traditions behind Chanukah and the chocolate gelt that children traditionally receive during the holiday. Wendy, the author of The Monday Box, painted her cookies with edible gold glitter to resemble the foil wrapped chocolate coins.

I couldn’t forget her descriptions of the deep, dark chewy cookies. I had all the ingredients, so I decided to make them one evening. I cut the recipe in half. I do this a lot of times when I don’t want a huge amount of treats hanging around the house, tempting me.

It would have worked beautifully, except I somehow used the full amount of baking soda. Yes, baking soda is a leavener, which should make things rise. But if you use twice as much as you need, it makes things very, very, very flat. As in so flat that the mini chocolate chips in the batter were the high points. Note to self – don’t mix up cookies while you are doing two other things.

The flavor was there in the flat cookies, so I saved them to top ice cream sundaes and mixed up another batch. This time I was careful to pay attention. The cookies baked up into chewy, dark chocolate disks of deliciousness.

I got about 24 small cookies from the half batch – I made them about half the size of the original recipe. Next time I might make the full batch, but for now I am satisfied with the smaller amount of cookies. Those are the amounts I am posting in the recipe below. I did increase the vanilla extract. I like the added depth this gives to dark chocolate baked goods. Visit The Monday Box to get the full recipe. Or you can just double all the amounts listed.

Recipe Note:
I adapted the recipe from The Monday Box. She in turn adapted it from Something Swanky. I love the evolution of recipes as we change them to suit us.

Print the recipe here.

Deep Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies
Adapted from The Monday Box
Makes 24 small cookies

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons hot water
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment.

Stir flour, cocoa powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.

Beat olive oil and egg with an electric mixer until slightly thickened, 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla extract and mix until sugar is no longer gritty.

Stir in flour mixture until almost combined. Add dissolved baking soda mixture and stir well. Add chocolate chips to dough.

Use a small cookie scoop or a spoon to place dough on baking sheets. Leave room between the cookies for them to spread.

Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes, or just until edges are set. The cookies will puff up and then crack as they are close to being done. The tops will not look completely baked, especially inside the cracks.

Cool on pans until room temperature. Store cookies in an airtight container for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Triple Chocolate Cookie Bars

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I have been on kind of a cookie bar kick lately. I tend to make them more in the summer, when I want to get any necessary baking done as quickly as possible, to keep the house cooler. And yes, there is such a thing as necessary baking – baking for parties, baking for friends and baking because it has been too long since we have eaten something laden with butter and sugar. Okay, that last one doesn’t happen ever often around here, but it probably does for some people.

Just about any cookie recipe can be pressed in a pan and baked as bars. Recipes that use a cup of butter, about two cups of sugar and about three cups of flour will usually fit in a half sheet pan (or two 9 by 13 pans) and make beautiful bars. Cookie recipes vary, of course, but those ratios are pretty close to what most cookie recipes make. If you are experimenting with a larger or smaller cookie recipe, just take into account the depth of the dough and adjust the baking times accordingly.

Calvin and I made triple chocolate cookie dough the other day. Well, actually, Calvin made the dough and I washed the dishes. He was all for baking them as cookies, but we were crunched on time and I didn’t really want to have the oven on for that long on a hot summer’s day. I pressed them in a half sheet pan and had them baked off in ten minutes. Then we went on our merry way, running errands while they cooled.

I cut them later, while Calvin was at a friend’s house. I had to try one, because, well, it was a triple chocolate cookie bar. Does there need to be any other reason? I was blown away by how good they were – velvety, deep dark, chocolate punctuated by gooey pools of melting chocolate chips. I ate three before I came back to the real world. The original cookies were fabulous, but I think the cookie bars might be better. They might just be the best cookie bars we have ever made. And I don’t think I am exaggerating much.

Download or print the recipe here.

Triple Chocolate Cookie Bars
From the Cook’s Life
Makes 5-6 dozen cookie bars

The whole wheat gives a fuller flavor to the cookie bars and will be that “mystery ingredient” in your cookies. You can use all-purpose flour instead, if you prefer.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set out a 12 by 17 inch half sheet pan or two 9 by 13 inch pans. If you only have one 9 by 13 pan, you can bake half the dough at a time.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and melted chocolate and beat until well combined. Add flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda and mix on low speed until well combined. Add chocolate chips and mix on low or by hand.

Spread and press dough evenly into pan(s). Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour if it sticks to your hands.

Bake 9-10 minutes, or until just set in the middle, but still soft. Cool in pan on a metal rack until just warm before cutting into small squares. Store in an airtight container for several days, or freezer for longer storage.

Black Devil’s Food Cupcakes

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I have posted on black devil’s food cake before, but not on the cupcakes. I love this cake, in whatever form I can get it. I have doubled the recipe, made a half recipe, iced it with its original fudge icing, used cream cheese icing, served it with chocolate sauce or next to ice cream. When I thought chocolate was giving me migraines, I made it with carob powder instead of cocoa. The long and short of it is – this is a great all-purpose chocolate cake. It goes together with no more than a bowl and a spoon and it bakes up in a flash.

I am giving you the half recipe today, which makes 12 cupcakes. I did not cut the icing recipe in half though. In my opinion, you can never have too much of this icing. I often double the amount when I am making the full-size cake, as it makes a nice thick coating that way. You will probably have icing left over after you ice your cupcakes. Leftover icing is never something to complain about.

I sometimes use vanilla in the batter, and sometimes not. The original recipe didn’t call for it, and made that way it is a taste of childhood. Rich, vanilla lover that he is, prefers to use the vanilla. Make the recipe the way you prefer. And if you have to make the cupcakes twice and do a side-by-side taste test, who am I to stand in the way of science?

One note – don’t use paper cupcake liners when making these. Too much of the cake sticks to them and they don’t come off cleanly. Just lightly grease the wells of the pan and the cupcakes will come out just fine.

What recipe do you make over and over again, changing it to suit your mood?

Download or print just the recipe here.

Black Devil’s Food Cupcakes
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 12 cupcakes

If you have time, make these the day before you need them. They only get better with age – the icing softens a bit and starts to soak into the cake and the chocolate flavor intensifies. They are also perfectly fine the day you make them.

Cupcakes:
1 cup flour
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
⅓ cup vegetable or canola oil
½ cup buttermilk*
1 teaspoon vanilla, optional
½ cup strongly brewed coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan. Set aside.

Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking soda in a large bowl. Add oil, buttermilk and vanilla, if using, and stir well. Carefully stir in coffee. Batter will be very thin.

Using about ⅓ cup of batter per cupcake, fill pan. Wipe off any drips before baking. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until tops spring back when touched lightly.

Cool cupcakes in pans about 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool to room temperature. Wait until cupcakes are cool to ice them.

* Commercial buttermilk works best. But if you don’t have any, you can substitute slightly less than ¼ cup plain yogurt and slightly more than ¼ cup regular milk, mixed together. Or measure 1½ teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup and fill to the ½ cup mark with regular milk. Let stand for a few minutes before using. The cupcakes won’t rise quite as high with either substitution.

Fudge Icing:
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup sugar
dash salt
¼ cup milk
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all but vanilla in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat slightly and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir until very thick (it will look like a thick milkshake). When you draw a spatula or spoon across the bottom of the pan, the icing will only slowly start to fill in the gap.

You need to work quickly at this point. Dip the top of each cupcake in the icing, spinning the cupcake to get a thick coat of icing. Place each cupcake back on the cooking rack for the icing to set up. Icing will run down the sides of the cupcakes, which will make them look absolutely fabulous. If icing gets too thick to dip the last few cupcakes, use a knife to spread icing on those.

There will be icing left over. It is perfect on graham crackers, pretzels or fingers.

Store cupcakes in an airtight container for several days, if they last that long. You can freezer for longer storage.

Double Dark Chocolate Chip Brownies

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These are our second favorite brownies, right behind One Bowl Brownies. We have used them as a base for caramel brownies, cream cheese brownies, Mexican s’mores brownies and as the bottom of countless brownie sundaes. They are a good, basic brownie – fudgy more than cakey, studded with dark chocolate chips. Eat them slightly warm so the chips are melted and gooey. You can always nuke them a few seconds in the microwave if you aren’t eating them freshly baked.

Unlike the butterscotch brownies I posted about on Friday, the whole family agrees that these brownies are the bomb. I don’t really know what else to say about them. They are good – deep, dark and chocolatey. They come together in just minutes and require no more than a bowl and spoon to make. You don’t even need to have baking chocolate on hand – they use cocoa instead of melted chocolate. Make these. Today.

Download or print the recipe here.

Double Dark Chocolate Chip Brownies
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 9 by 13 pan, 24 brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli 60% cocoa chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 by 13 inch pan. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave. Stir in cocoa powder until well mixed. Add sugar and stir again. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in vanilla extract. Add flour and salt and mix gently until about half-mixed. Add chocolate chips and stir until there are no white streaks of dry flour. Spread in prepared pan and level top.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or just until the middle is set and a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

These are fabulous as is, but you can also microwave each serving for a few seconds to melt the chocolate chips. These freeze very well if you don’t plan to eat them all in a day or two.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I tend to forget to do things if I don’t write them down. I know it is a product of having too many things to do and thinking about too many things at once, but sometimes I wonder about my memory. I promised a post on the flourless chocolate cake we made for Rich’s birthday and I am writing it before I forget again. That is not to say that this is a forgettable cake. On the contrary, it is a cake we will be talking about (and making) for years to come.

I have had flourless chocolate cakes that weren’t really flourless, cakes that were more like a slice of a giant truffle, cakes that were too dark and bitter and cakes that weren’t worth the calories. This recipe from Chocablog is none of those. It was just dark enough, just sweet enough, fudgy without being too dense and deliciously worth every calorie.

The original measurements were metric. I converted them to cups and ounces to make the cake easier to make if you don’t have a scale. I skipped the part mentioned in Chocablog’s post about adding some of the batter at the end and barely baking it. I wanted to make it easy to control the portions, so I baked it in 12 ramekins so we would each have our own little round cake for a serving. I also added vanilla, which I almost always use in chocolate recipes – I think it adds a depth that can sometimes be missing in chocolate desserts.

I thought I would be able to turn the leftover cakes out of their cups for freezing, but they were too fudgy (which is a good thing), so I froze the leftovers right in their cups. We haven’t eaten any of those yet, but I’ll let you know how they are when we do (which might be tonight – writing about them makes me want one).

We served the cakes with barely sweetened cream whipped just until thick, but not anywhere near stiff. We could have skipped the cream totally and just let the cake stand on its own, which is exactly what I did after the cream was gone.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Chocablog
Serves 12

This makes a very fudgy, decadent cake. Plan to serve it in the ramekins if you use them. If you don’t have ramekins or a spring form pan, you can use a 2-inch deep 9-inch round pan, but grease and flour it and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, or plan to serve it right out of the pan and count on a few less-than-pretty slices (they still taste fabulous!).

2 sticks (1 cup) butter
8 ounces dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s Pound Plus, dark)
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 eggs, separated
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease 12 1-cup ramekins or 1 9-inch spring form pan, or grease a 2-inch deep 9-inch round cake pan and cut a circle of parchment or waxed paper to place in the bottom. Grease the paper and flour the whole thing. If you are using ramekins, set them on a cookie sheet to make it easier to get them into and out of the oven. Set your prepared pans aside.

Melt the butter and the chocolate together in the microwave. Stir in the cocoa and the vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly.

Beat the egg whites with ¼ cup sugar and the salt until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until very pale yellow and tripled in volume. This could take up to 10 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is.

Using low speed, mix the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the beaten egg whites by hand, to keep as much volume as possible.

Divide the mixture between the prepared ramekins or pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top of the batter.

Bake the ramekins for 20-25 minutes or the larger pan for 30-35 minutes. When cake is done, it will have risen and the tops will look baked. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out with fudgy, but not raw, batter. Do not over bake, or you will lose the luscious texture.  Cool in pans on racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Download the recipe here.