Latin Twist: Mexican Chocolate Cookies

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Mexican Chocolate cookies

Way before sparky chocolate was popular here in the States, it was alive and well in Mexico…and when I was a little girl, my mom made Mexican chocolate cookies.

Like me, my mom always had an affinity for Latin culture, and spent some time in Mexico (actually both my parents did, even before they were married to each other!).  I tried to track down what inspired her to create these cookies, and my dad summed it up: “she got the recipe, she improvised and made it better!” As he reminded me, this has always been the nature of her personality; she consistently took recipes she found and thought in terms of how she could adapt, and ultimately improve them. Her Mexican chocolate cookies are a perfect example of this.

However, like many things my parents did, I didn’t appreciate them until later. Now I am thankful for so much, and, in retrospect, I realize that most of my culinary knowledge, inspiration, and passion came from growing up with them!

But back to the cookies, I like them not only for the nostalgic component, but also because of the flavor, and the ease of preparation. They are, I’m happy to report, of the slice and bake variety. What does this mean? It means you make them ahead of time, but bake them before your guests arrive. And, well, we all know there’s nothing like the smell of baking cookies, right?

When should you serve your Mexican chocolate cookies? Well, I enjoy them any time…but perhaps, and especially on snowy days like these, I’m thinking after shoveling with a cup of hot chocolate, OR with a Mexican Coffee! Whenever you decide to bake them, I know you’ll like ’em!  ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!

Latin Twist: Mexican Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 40 cookies

This combination of spices leads to rich chocolate flavor with a sparky finish! Of course you can turn up the heat, if you’d like! What’s nice about this recipe is the make-ahead feature: you can form the dough into logs, refrigerate, and then slice them—and bake them--whenever you’re up for these sweet treats (and oh, did I mention they make the house smell fabulous?!) Another great part of this cookie, aside from the taste—is the longer-term planning: The dough logs can be frozen for up to a month. To store, wrap the plastic-covered logs tightly in aluminum foil before freezing. Prior to using, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before slicing and baking.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon excellent-quality vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt in a medium bowl to break up any lumps; set aside.
  2. Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula.
  3. Return the mixer to medium speed, add the egg and vanilla, and beat until just incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with the rubber spatula.
  4. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the reserved flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it in half. Roll each portion into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
  6. When ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange the racks to divide the oven into thirds.
  7. Remove the dough logs from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place the rounds about 1/2 inch apart on 2 baking sheets (about 20 cookies per sheet).
  8. Bake both sheets for 6 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom and bake until the edges of the cookies are firm but the tops are still soft, about 6 to 7 minutes more.
  9. Place the baking sheets on wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a flat spatula, transfer the cookies to the wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days.
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About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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