Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Kid-Tested, Aunt-Approved Cookies

It began with Pragmatic Attic's Intense Fudge Nuggets; it was love at first taste. When I initially made them, they did this adorable thing in the oven which was swell up to a quasi-meringue state. But the following Pesach, maybe because I had a new mixer or I did something different in assembly, they all emerged flat. Delicious, but flat. 

No no no. I had them once as quasi-meringues; I would have them again. I say "quasi-meringues" because the interior isn't dry like a standard meringue, but almost fudgey; crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. This cookie was not going to defeat me. I proceeded to fiddle. It took some time and many, many bags of chocolate chips.

1) I discovered that the full ½ cup of cocoa weighs the batter down, so I cut it back to ¼ cup. It's still very chocolatey.

2) During the rest of the year (as opposed to Pesach) I use evaporated cane juice (not white sugar), and the large size of the granules also brought the batter low. So I pulverized some in the spice grinder, resulting in a confectionery-like powder. Now, the sugar easily melds into the whites. Stunning. That means that less is needed.
Before . . .
. . . After
White sugar would be fine as well. 

3) While PA's recipe does not call for whipping up the whites separately, in order to achieve the texture I sought, I discovered it was necessary. Sigh.

4) Sifting the cocoa makes a REAL difference. I place a small fine-mesh strainer over the bowl and tap it through. No effort at all.
5) It took me FOREVER to figure out the ideal oven temp and time. The niece who LOVES these doesn't like it when the exterior is chewy (the result of higher heat and shorter baking time), although no one else had any complaints. But I really like that niece. I think she looks like me. My nephew thinks she looks like me, too. Although no one else sees it.  

*Ingredient suggestions: (a) Ma discovered Bakto Flavors vanilla sugar in Homegoods that has actual bits of vanilla in there. Trust me, it ain't remotely like the other ones with "natural and artificial flavors." (b) I use high cocao content chocolate chips, and the kinfauna are none the wiser. Enjoy Life's has 69%, and my local kosher supermarket carries California Gourmet, boasting 45-48%.   

Pragmatic Attic's Slightly Modified Intense Fudge Nuggets (gluten-, oil-, and flour-free, Pesach friendly)

(approximately 25 cookies)   
2 egg whites
½ cup sugar (pulverized optional)
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 tsp instant coffee (I require decaf) 
¼ cup cocoa (a little more would be fine)
½ cup to 1½ cups chocolate chips

1) Beat egg whites. When they get white and foamy, slowly add the sugar and vanilla sugar, allowing it to get incorporated bit by bit. 

2) When the whites are stiff and whatnot, mix in the coffee. Then lower the speed, and add the extract. 

3) Sift in cocoa, then fold in by spatula. (It'll look scary for a few minutes, but it's all good.)

4) Fold in chocolate chips. My family doesn't like so much chips so I opt for about ½ to 1 cup. 

5) Spoon out delicate batter on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Place in 300° convection/325° standard oven. 

6) Bake for 12 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE.*

7) Leave in oven (door closed) for a minimum of ten minutes. Remove and allow to cool before plucking off the sheet. Keeps well on countertop in container. (Not that they last so long.)

*I have also successfully doubled the recipe, filling two cookie sheets. Halfway through, I switched the trays for even baking.     

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