What I'm reading: Taken, by Robert Crais
First, thanks to Colleen for sharing a great Valentine's Day post yesterday. Don't forget you can win her book by leaving a comment. You have until Friday to leave a comment, and remember to check back over the weekend to see if you won.
One of the things I'm planning with my new book, since the heroine is trying to open a new bakery, is to include recipes. Her shop is called Confections by Ashley, and if you're not all "chocolated" out after Valentine's Day, here's one of the recipes that will be in the book. And an unedited snippet to go with it.
"If it's all right, I need to get this batch of cookies going." Ashley gestured to the cooling rack where her earlier cookies waited. "Help yourself. Those are a new recipe, and I'd appreciate an outside opinion."
She scraped the softened butter into her mixer and began creaming it with the sugar, keeping an eye on Scott as he sampled one of her cookies. First, he broke the ball in two, studying the two halves. The chunk of bittersweet chocolate she'd placed inside the dough oozed enough to tempt, not enough to drip. He popped one half into his mouth.
He chewed, then his eyes widened. He coughed. "Whoa. These have some kick."
"Too much? I call them my spicy Aztec chocolate drops, and I've been playing with the amounts of cayenne and black peppers."
Were his eyes watering? She grabbed one from the rack and sampled it. The bittersweet richness of the chocolate and the sugary topping were rapidly replaced by a strong burn on her tongue. She strode to the fridge and got a carton of milk. Pouring two glasses, she said, "Definitely a bit heavy on the cayenne. Drink some of this, and if you're willing, try one of the others. It's a milder batch."
Like Ashley, you can adjust the recipe to suit your own tastes for heat. And here's the recipe. Credit goes to my brother, former pastry chef extraordinaire.
Spicy Aztec Chocolate Cookies
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp finely ground coffee (or instant)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
⅛ tsp. cayenne (Note: this will give a warm aftertaste. If you want more of a kick, increase the cayenne, up to ¼ tsp.
½ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup softened unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup sugar, divided.
1 tsp vanilla
Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, coffee, black pepper, cayenne & cocoa powder.
Cream the butter with 1 cup of the sugar until light. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine.
Resift the dry ingredients just until mixed. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Longer is fine.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 350
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Put the remaining ¼ cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll a piece of the dough into a ball about the size of a walnut, and then roll in the sugar to coat. Place on the cookie sheet leaving about 1-inch between each ball.
Bake for eight minutes. They will appear to be underbaked.
Makes 35-40 cookies.
**Variation: when forming the balls of dough, make an indentation, place a piece of chocolate inside (several chocolate chips will work, or a good quality chocolate bar cut into pieces) and seal the dough around it before rolling in the sugar. Bake as above.
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