For the many people I know who feel that they are living in a sea of relentless anxiety, I offer two of my best chocolate cookie recipes: thin, chewy disks of intense chocolate called Planets, AND fist-size hunks of chewy/moist chocolate cake loaded with chocolate chips, nuts and whatever else you can think of, called Wonders (also known as Fatties, Globs, Volcanoes, Lava, Muchos and Swells).

They are sister recipes, born from the revelation I had years ago that with slight changes and excellent chocolate, a brownie recipe can become a dazzling cake, delicate wafers, and over-the-top hunks. The Wonders were inspired by the Chocolate Globs sold by the dozens at the Soho Charcuterie, who “adapted” a recipe by the great Maida Heatter.)

chocolate wonders and cake

The secret is to use the best chocolate you can find: – one with at least 70% cacoa mass – to ensure an utterly luxurious, profoundly chocolate flavor.  Reliable brands include Vahlrona,GhirardelliGuittard, Lindt, Callebaut and Scharffen Berger. Some come formed into easy-to-melt pastilles, feves, callets, and wafers, making chopping unnecessary.

To amplify the chocolate flavor, I like to include vanilla (either extract or the scrapings from a bean), a dribble of cognac and/or some expresso powder.

Maria Robledo
Maria Robledo

If you want to get fancy or experimental, there are a great number of flavorings that you can add to the batter, such as almond extract or grated orange or tangerine zest; liqueurs like Kahlua and Fra Angelica; spices from cinnamon and coriander to garam masala, chile peppers, lavender, Earl Grey tea and so on.

Recipe: Chocolate Planets
The simplest of ingredients yield quarter-inch-thick cookies with a tender, slightly chewy, melt-in-your-mouth texture and resonant, intensely chocolate flavor.

I sometimes serve the cookies with a bowl of whipped cream or creme fraiche to use as a “dip”.

Makes about forty 2-inch cookies.

8 ounces bitter or semisweet chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa solids) or 6 ounces semisweet chocolate and 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Prepare the oven and pans. Adjust two racks spaced equally from top and bottom (if you only have one rack, position in the middle of the oven.) Preheat the oven to 325′.

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil (shiny side up) and set aside.

Melt the chocolate with butter. Combine the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler, over simmering water. (Or, alternatively, combine n a small, heavy saucepan; set on a flame tamer/diffuser over very low heat). Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the dry ingredients. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Mix the batter. Combine the eggs, espresso and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip with a whisk or an electric hand mixer until combined; then add the sugar and mix until thick. Scrape the chocolate mixture into the eggs and blend. By hand with a whisk or with the mixture at low speed, blend in the flour.

Drop the batter onto the prepared pans. Drop the batter by heaping teaspoons onto the prepared pans. 

Bake. Bake the cookies 12-14 minutes until the tops look set and slightly cracked and dry. If you gently lift a cookie, it will barely hold together; the inside when will be soft but not molten or runny. If you are baking two sheets at a time, halfway through the cooking time, be sure to reverse them in the oven, top to bottom and front to back. Let the cookies cool to warm on the baking sheet before removing them with a metal spatula to a wire cooling rack..

 

Recipe: Chocolate Wonders

For improvising, imagine this recipe as having two parts; the batter, which is a rich, tender chocolate cake and the chunky additions in the form nuts and chocolate chips: 3 cups worth, like…
—semisweet, milk or white chocolate chips or chunks
—mint chocolate chips or peanut butter chips
—nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts (they are all best roasted), coarsely chopped
—dried fruit: raisins, currents, cherries
—candied or crystallized ginger or orange peel, chopped or diced (these are potent and should be used sparingly)
—candy bars, diced or coarsely chopped, such as Peanut Butter Cups, M&M’s, PayDay Bars (salty peanut caramel), Heath Bars, peppermint patties, and any kind of nut brittle

Makes about 20 big cookies

8 ounces bitter or semisweet chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa solids) or 6 ounces semisweet chocolate and 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup EACH semisweet chocolate morsels, coarsely chopped pecans and coarsely chopped walnuts OR 3 cups other chunky ingredients

Prepare the oven and pans. Adjust two racks spaced equally from top and bottom (if you only have one rack, position in the middle of the oven.) Preheat the oven to 325′.

Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil (shiny side up) and set aside.

Melt the chocolate with butter. Combine the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler, over simmering water. (Or, alternatively, combine n a small, heavy saucepan; set on a flame tamer/diffuser over very low heat). Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the dry ingredients. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Mix the batter. Combine the eggs, espresso and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip with a whisk or an electric hand mixer until combined; then add the sugar and mix until thick. Scrape the chocolate mixture into the eggs and blend. By hand with a whisk or with the mixture at low speed, blend in the flour.

Add chunky ingredients. Fold chunky embellishments with a rubber spatula.

Drop the batter onto the prepared pans. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons, or use a 1/4-cup measure, leaving 1 1/2 inches between each cookie.

Bake. Bake the cookies 16 or 17 minutes, until the tops look set and slightly cracked and dry. If you gently lift a cookie, it will barely hold together; the inside when will be soft but not molten or runny. It’s better to err on the side of underbaking; the cookies will firm up somewhat as they cool. If you are baking two sheets at a time, halfway through the cooking time, be sure to reverse them in the oven. top to bottom and from to back. Let the cookies cool to warm on the baking sheet before removing them with a metal spatula to a wire cooling rack.

To store the cookies, wrap them individually in plastic wrap. They will stay moist about 1 week and can be frozen up to 1 month. Allow to defrost in the refrigerator several hours, then bring to room temperature 1 hour before serving.

 

 

One thought on “Anti-Anxiety Cookies: Chocolate Planets + Wonders

  1. Esse biscoito é muito gostoso, só de ver já deu vontade de comer.

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