Recently, my brother in law who works for a chocolate company (unnamed, of course — that’s how we do it here) asked me if I would ever have any interest in getting my hands on cocoa butter or chocolate liquor. Thinking that maybe I could give myself a massage and get drunk on chocolate, I said yes of course. Â I really have never known cocoa butter to be anything more than a remedy for pregnant belly stretch marks — but I thought it might be interesting to fool around with it.
So I commenced with The Google and found out that it was used pretty infrequently in mainstream cooking and baking. Cocoa butter was used to make chocolate and sometimes in truffles or the like, but I rarely saw it used in anything else. Â I’m guessing the main reason is that it is hard to find and more expensive — but given the interest in plant-based, vegan fats, it seems like it might catch on. Â It is a bit harder at room temperature than coconut oil, but it softens up or melts quite nicely. Â And, of course, it imparts a wonderful essence of chocolate — which is great when you want a non-animal fat and aren’t in the mood for essence of coconut in all of your baked goods.
Beyond, it seems purely luxurious, doesn’t it? Â The idea of pure cocoa butter in a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert seems, well, pretty awesome. Â And then if you stuff that cookie full of melted dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate chunks, and white chocolate chunks? Â Well, send me to my room and draw the blinds. Â These cookies will not disappoint. Â And while I tried to stay sane (I used a bit of whole wheat flour), I didn’t cut back on the sugar because I knew I would lose the amazing brownie chewiness if I did. Â Feel free to experiment with less — but this is the one time (OK, maybe one of four or five times) of the year that you need to eat a cookie the way it was meant to be eaten.
Commence with the drooling. Â And if you want a source for food grade cocoa butter (and don’t have a brother in law), try here. Â The cocoa nibs are generally available in a chocolate store, a good grocery store, or gourmet store. Â I should add that if you can’t find cocoa butter, I am sure regular butter would be a perfectly delicious substitute. Â It just wouldn’t be cocoa butter. Â And on Valentine’s Day, how fun would that be?
Cocoa Butter Chocolate Chunk Brownie Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 dozen
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet dark chocolate, chopped
6 T cocoa butter (regular butter or coconut oil would work also), softened
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 t instant espresso powder
2 t vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
1 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
1. Â Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Â In a double boiler, melt together 8 ounces of chopped dark chocolate and cocoa butter until completely smooth. Â Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Â In a bowl, sift and mix together white whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt. Â Set aside.
3. Â In a large bowl with a mixer, mix together espresso powder, vanilla, and eggs until just combined. Â Add white and brown sugar and mix for about two minutes until the mixture is very thick and ribbony. Â Using a rubber spatula, fold in melted chocolate mixture. Â Add in flour mixture and fold until just combined.
4. Â Stir in cocoa nibs and chocolate chunks. Â After a minute of two, the mixture will stiffen up considerably and will seem almost like the texture of fudge.
5. Â Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto parchment lined baking sheets. Â I would not put more than six cookies on one sheet because they spread. Â Bake for 15-16 minutes until just done on top with a crackly crust. Â If you use more than one cookie sheet at a time, I would recommend switching the sheets midway through the baking time.
(BTW, Valentines pictured are courtesy of my daughter who was busy at work assembling them during our snow day today.)