Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Double-chocolate pecan cookies

Double-chocolate pecan cookies

Tomorrow’s the first day of Chinese New Year, and instead of baking festive goodies like pineapple tarts, I produced cookies. Cookies as in chocolate cookies, as in double-chocolate pecan cookies, as in cookies made 56% of chocolate.

If you don’t  understand the gravity of it all, I’ll put it simply – more so for myself actually, because I am still reeling from disbelief – that is a hell lotta chocolate.

I’ll be honest here, because this is something I should have accepted eons ago.

I fail at cookies.

Or at least I fail at following cookie recipes.

Tweaking recipes, as I have learnt, will never turn out for the better. Unless you are well versed in the exact molecular science that occurs within one tiny cookie or unless you have raked up years of cookie experience, I have one solid advice for you: Stick to the damned recipe, word for word, ingredient for ingredient.

When I was but a wee kitchen explorer a year or so back, honey, brown sugar, molasses were all synonyms for sugar. I liked the taste of honey, so I dumped honey in where sugar was required. For those of you have done just that, substituted ingredients because you think it will compliment the basic recipe, you would know what I mean.

My oven vomited out a single, charred sheet of shlop. There wasn’t even one lone cookie to speak of. Just a…slab… because they all oozed and bonded merrily with each other like social butterflies.

Cookies are a merciless bunch I’ll tell ya. They’ll find any opportunity to send you stumbling out of the kitchen, spattered with batter and looking like you barely made it out of a Michael Jackson mosh pit alive.

Waking up one day and deciding you want to bake cookies is a one way ticket to hell if you’re as ambitious as I am. But don’t despair just yet. If you possess the bounteous love for simple cookies and adore simple recipes, I’d say you’re safe. If, however, you find yourself even thinking that perhaps kahlua would taste criminal with chocolate…slowly retreat out of the kitchen and kindly ask someone to straitjacket you to a chair till you stop thinking of marrying chocolate to anything else.

Alright, I’m over-exaggerating a little. I tend to do that when I produce less than desirable goods. So here’s a few pointers to note before even attempting to adjust a recipe according to preference:

1.Beware of the water content/hydration of the batter, or for any baking recipe for that matter. Just a tad more water in a cookie batter would make the lumps slip-slide all over the place till they meet resistance (Read: One another). So be cautious when thinking of adding flavoured liquors (kahlua, rum, bailey’s..) or even water when you suspect your batter is stickier than it should be. It isn’t. Do not add any liquid other than any specified.

2.Do not substitute white sugar/castor sugar with anything else. I understand there are certain health implications with using white sugar, but switching to brown sugar may very well result with utterly flat cookies because they refuse to hold their shape due to the higher water content in brown sugar/molasses/honey/syrup.

3.Always give utmost attention to the state of the butter required – and heaven forbid you so courageously choose to substitute with heart-friendly olive oil – because, for example, cold, rock-hard butter will not make for good brownies. In fact, it won’t even mix well with anything. Softened butter is butter that has been allowed to sit at room temperature till soft, and melted butter is butter melted over a stove till liquid. They are not the same. Been there done that.

I know there’s something else about the amount of sugar and cookies holding their shape, but I’m not too sure. Those above are based on my observations and batches upon batches of edible, but less than appealing cookies.

I committed the crime of adding in additional liquid to the melted chocolate today, and needless to say, I spent more quality time than needed with the batter because it wouldn’t adhere enough to form tiny mounds. Pfft. I’m through with cookies. For now. I’ll return burning with a desire for vengeance and vindication I tell you.

A very important thing to note for this recipe, is that since it contains oodles of chocolatey goodness, it had better be quality chocolate that you’ll be using, especially if you’re making these for yourself or the family. I thought the dark chocolate covertures I purchased from Redman/Phoon Huat would have been quality enough. Apparently not.

I haven’t experimented enough with baking temperatures and times enough either, so my cookies came out crisp on the outer edges and brownie-like in the center. If those are the sort of cookies that float your boat, well hooray for you. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations of my cookies, but I’d like them either very crunchy, or gooey. Am I asking for too much? Meh.

Well, they tasted nice. I rarely use the word ‘nice’, but these were…nice. They weren’t mind-blowing/out of this world/ unforgettable/ stunning/ makes-me-want-to-gobble-up-all-36-cookies. (I could’ve made more than 36 cookies, but because a lot of the chocolate was beyond salvage from the sides of the bowls I used – even with my brother licking it up.)

I’ll be back, Cookies. I’ll be back.

Double chocolate pecan cookies

Makes 36 cookies 8cm in diameter

Ingredients:

  • 250g bittersweet chocolate covertures (or chopped good quality chocolate)
  • 90g semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 90g milk chocolate covertures (or white chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 120g white sugar *
  • 30g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Melt the 250g of chocolate covertures/ chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Stir till smooth then set aside.

2. Measure out the sugar and butter and cream them in a bowl**. Add the eggs separately, ensuring that one is well incorporated before adding the other. The batter should be free of lumps.

3.In another bowl, measure out the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the mixture to the egg mixture, mixing till just combined.

4. Pout in the melted chocolate followed by the chocolate chips and pecans. Mix gently until even distributed. Do not over-mix.

5. At this point, the batter would be too fluid to spoon directly onto a baking tray so either put the bowl into the fridge for half an hour or so, or pour the mixture into a wide, flat tray and then into the fridge so it will cool evenly. You may put it in the freezer to speed things up but be careful not to leave it in too long or you’ll have to wait for it to thaw when you take it out. ***

6. Preheat oven to 190C and prepare a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

7. Take the mixture out of the fridge/freezer and spoon equal amounts onto the baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes (as an average, because mine took 16 minutes maximum. Anymore and it will burn and have a nasty taste). The cookies are done when they stop bubbling and the centres remain squidgy, but do not yield to gentle pressure. Once done, let cool on a cooling rack.

*Adjust the amount of sugar you would want to use by tasting the sweetness of the melted chocolate. It depends on the percentage of cocoa of the covertures/chopped chocolate you chose to use.

**I used an electric beater. You may just use a wooden spoon or spatula and mash the butter against the sides of the bowl.

***Do note that I definitely had to put my mixture in the fridge for longer because I added liquid. My batter would be more runny than if you were to follow the recipe exactly. It should be easier to handle than mine.

4 responses to “Double-chocolate pecan cookies

  1. Oliver February 23, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    God those cookies will make you fat! You know strangely enough I don’t think I’ll like cookies to be that chocolate-y.

    And you write like so expressively. HAHA seems different from your previous writings. More… life in your writing here!

    • Christine Leow February 24, 2010 at 10:17 pm

      Is it? It’s different when I’m writing fiction because there’re plots to follow and characters to shape. Much more difficult actually. Eh, chocolate is good. What, you’d prefer salty cookies? I make you biscuits la! Haha.

  2. Oliver February 25, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Nope I rather you make creamy pasta HAHA! No squid ink please😛

    Anyway I like your style of writing here more. More character and life to your writing.

    • Christine Leow February 25, 2010 at 4:36 pm

      Creamy pasta…meh. Of course I can make. But it’s just not one of my favourites. The last creamy pasta I had was Canele. Not too rich. Just the perfect viscosity. Eh, where are the photos! I wanna vet!

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