Monday, July 18, 2011

Welcome Home Cookies

chookiesI offered one of these to Jaimee last night, and “chocolate cherry cookie” came out “chookie.” Rich, chewy, zingy from the dried cherries, and crunchy from the toasted pecans – these have a hint of coffee flavor as well.
Thanks to The Pastry Queen and her amazing cookbook, these Café Chocolate-Cherry Bites were the perfect welcome home for Kevin, my coffee-loving son who is here for a few days.
I’ve checked out all 3 of Rebecca Rather’s cookbooks from the library and so far every recipe has been a winner. She’s a Texas gal who owns her own bakery in Fredericksburg (Road trip anyone???)  and certainly deserves her title. The Pastry Queen, Pastry Queen Parties, and The Pastry Queen Christmas will be keeping me busy for quite a while!
What this recipe teaches: Toasted = terrific! Pecans (and any other nuts) always taste much better if you toast them before adding to the dough.  It’s an extra step that doesn’t take much time but pays off. Toast before chopping and there is less chance of burning.
1 c. pecans
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
1 1/4 c. light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 T. instant espresso powder
1 T. boiling water
1 T. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Nestle’s Dark Chocolate Chips)
1 1/2 c. dried cherries (These are pricey. I used a package from HEB. It was probably slightly over a cup but I didn’t bother with buying a second package.)
Preheat oven to 350. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7-9 minutes until golden brown and aromatic. Cool then coarsely chop.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.
In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed. In a small bowl, stir the espresso powder into boiling water until dissolved.
Add espresso and vanilla to the batter and beat for 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until just incorporated. Add the nuts, chips, and cherries. The dough will be softer and wetter than average cookie dough.
Using a scoop, drop the dough on the prepared sheets and bake for around 10 minutes, until the cookies have spread and the dough looks the same in the center and on the edges (that is, not raw in the middle). Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer to wire racks.

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