I’ve got myself figured out. At least some of the mysteries of self become clearer by the time you’ve lived over three decades. For example, I’m not a stress eater. I’m just an eater. I like to eat, especially copious quantities of vegetables and sweets (separately), and I don’t need a reason.
Just because I don’t eat more or differently than usual when under pressure doesn’t mean I don’t care about what I eat–I still want just as many tasty vegetables and indulgent sweets as always. The past couple of weeks have held more than their fair share of crap (why can’t the crap be spread throughout the year in an even fashion so it doesn’t beat you down all at once? huh?), but somewhere during the fray I made Chocolatey Spice Cookies and I’m glad I did.
These cookies allowed me to maintain my intake of homemade treats even during the stresses. We served them to guests, sneaked them between meals, and nibbled them with cups of tea while watching Netflix, and boy they were good. The ingredient list is quite heavy-handed with the spices and contains more chocolate than you’d think. After baking into adorable rounds, the cookies get a drizzling of lemon glaze, which nicely sets off the spices and chocolate. These would definitely be terrific for holiday times, but we liked them in the summer heat just fine. They seem exotic and comforting all at once, which is exactly what we needed.
Chocolatey Spice Cookies (adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook)
Yield: about 20 cookies
Note: the original recipe includes a lemon glaze, and while it is quite nice, I think the cookies are just as good (but different) without it. Decide for yourself whether you want it or not.
For the cookies:
2 cups minus 2 Tablespoons white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1-1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, grated (I blitzed mine up in the food processor)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 of a large, lightly beaten egg
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons brandy
For the glaze (optional–see note above):
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-1/3 cups powdered sugar
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, and dark chocolate.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and orange zest on medium-low, just until well-combined. Add the egg and continue to beat for 1 more minute. Add the flour mixture and the brandy and beat just until incorporated. Use your hands to knead the dough in the bowl until it sticks together and is of a consistent texture.
Use a spoon or scoop to portion out approximately 1-1/4″ balls of dough and roll each one in your hands until round. Set the balls on the prepared baking sheets, at least 1-1/2″ apart. Refrigerate the dough balls for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or longer as needed. The tops should be set but the cookies should still be soft inside. Set the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the wire racks to finish cooling.
While the cookies are still warm, prepare the icing by whisking both ingredients together with a fork. Pour the icing over the cookies. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to three days (best in the first couple of days, though).