Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Intense Chocolate in a Cookie

If you are a baker and love baked goods, it's likely that at some point you have thought about opening a bakery. Imagine the fun of making cakes and pies and cookies and bread for others to enjoy...and making money doing so.

If you, like me, have had that fantasy, you might enjoy reading Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado. She was a Hollywood hack and gave it all up...gladly! rise in the wee hours, drive treacherous roads to a small town bakery and spend her days making all sorts of wonderful baked goods for sale in her bakery. The upside includes the regulars and the opportunity to ride that baking passion and play with flour and sugar on a daily basis. The downside (besides that wee hour of the morning thing) include bureaucracy, not much profit, lots of worries and baking the same thing over and over and over, among other things. I highly recommend you read the book. It is well written, pretty short, and moving if you have a baker's soul...funny, too. Oh, and there are a bunch of great recipes, as well.

One of the recipes that I knew I had to make was the Starry Starry Night Cookies. Don't you just love that name?

Deep dark chocolate, crunchy sugar, and not too big, plus they use almond powder and I still have some on hand from when I made the Daring Baker macarons:

These are not quick to make morsels. Similar to truffles in some ways, the chocolate-almond-egg-sugar mixture has to chill to become firm enough to scoop. Then you scoop it into tiny balls and roll those in sugar. More time is taken freezing the tiny balls for at least an hour. We still aren't ready to bake them because they get rolled in sugar again!

Were they worth the wait...and that significant amount of bittersweet chocolate?

I would say yes!

They are just a little chewy, very chocolaty, not too sweet and not too large...a nice chocolate delight when the chocolate beast comes to call. Besides, they can be frozen...a good thing at this time of year when visions of cookie assortments start dancing in my head.

Starry Starry Night Cookies
From Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado
Makes about 80 mini cookies

8.2 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
2.6 oz (about ¾ cup) slivered almonds ground to a fine powder (about 5/8 cup slivered almonds measured before grinding
½ teaspoon salt (I would reduce it to ¼ teaspoon)
1 tablespoon non-dutch processed cocoa powder
2 large eggs at room temperature
2.4 oz. (1/4 plus one tablespoon) sugar, plus additional for dipping
1 tablespoon honey

Note: To get almond flour, grind almonds and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in a food processor until they become a meal, almost floury, but be careful not to process so long that the almonds become a paste.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over simmering water or at half power, 1 minute at a time in the microwave (stirring after each minute) until melted. Cool slightly. Set aside.

Toss the almond flour, salt, and cocoa in a bowl until well combined. Set aside.

Combine the eggs, sugar, and honey in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the whisk attachment on high speed until the mixture reaches a thick ribbon stage.

Add the almond-cocoa mixture to the melted chocolate and mix until fully incorporated. Add one quarter of the whipped egg mixture to the chocolate mixture to lighten it.

Stir until no egg is visible. Gently fold the rest of the egg mixture into the chocolate until well combined, being careful to maintain the aerated quality of the eggs.

Chill well until firm.

Place a few tablespoons of sugar into a small bowl. Using the smallest cookie scooper available (I used on the size of a melon baller), scoop individual cookies, dip them in the sugar, and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan ½ inch apart. Freeze uncovered until very hard, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Just before baking, dip each cookie in sugar again. Bake 10 minutes, turning the baking sheet front to back after 5 minutes to ensure even baking. Cookies should be slightly cracked but he sugar should not be browned.

Notes from Gesine: “Starry Starry Nights are black with chocolate. Dipped in sugar twice before baking, they take on a complex crackle of shiny white sugar offset by veins of ebony. They are profoundly chocolaty, matching a pure ganache truffle for cocoa value ounce for ounce. But they don’t melt and you can freeze them. And, of course, they are baked.”

These cookies “are as much careful process as they are high-quality ingredients. It’s easy to cut a corner and court disaster. Pay attention: to the chocolate, to the eggs, to the temperature and feel of your ingredients at every stage. Make sure to have extra chocolate on hand to nibble as your work; it calms the impatient baking beast beautifully.”


  1. oooooooooo these sound divine! Will have to try them, and read that book too :)

  2. I'm looking or a good chocolate cookie recipe to send as gifts! This sounds just perfect.

  3. Yes, yes, I've often thought about opening a bakery or cafe or something like that. Guess I should go read the book! Those cookies do look rather scrumptios!!

  4. Oh these look amazing. At first I thought there were ginger snaps & then I read the post - YUM!

  5. I do love that name. Very poetic for a cookie.

    Whenever I think about working in a bakery, I think about how bored I'd get making the same thing over and over and over. A friend who owned a bakery said it was the monotony that got to her. She'd get sick of making an item, but couldn't stop because her customers demanded it.

  6. Lovely little cookies.
    And appropriately named to celebrate Carl Sagan Day. ;)

  7. The recipes ... are just to tempt us into buying the book, so we'll know what we only thought would be the horror of having to cook on demand, 7 days a week! :)

  8. Joyce, Do try them (if you are in a hurry check out the 'revisited' post for a faster baking version) and the book is a great read.

    A and N, These would make fab gifts!

    Dharm, I suspect that you are more of a people person than the author. That changes the perspective on running a bakery. I would only do it if I had lots of interaction with people. The cookies are scrumptious.

    Chez Us, I like ginger snaps, but these aren't crisp and are super chocolaty.

    Lynn, It is a great name! I think the key to a bakery would be only a few 'regular' items and lots of daily specials :)

    Andreas, this is one reason I treasure you as a blogger friend...I had no idea there was a Carl Sagan Day, but these are a perfect cookie for the Day. Thanks for telling about it.

    DaviMack, You could just eat the cookies :) the book is also about being passionate about baking, so it is a fun read.