Dec 14, 2016

Spiced Chocolate Molasses Buttons

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 Photo by Leigh Beisch

Hi! Just a quick pop-in today, and I’ve got an A+ reason. With just a handful of days left to legitimately spend a whole day baking, eating, and sharing cookies, I realized that I’ve never shared one of my very favorite recipes. Last night I had the pleasure of teaching a super fun baking class at Give Me Some Sugar here in Chicago. The focus was edible gifts, and as the world solidified into a frozen tundra outside, the ovens were roaring and laughs were coming easy in the cozy shop. So good.

We had a grand old time, talking homemade marshmallows, Lemon-Vanilla Dream Bars from Pure Vanilla, and these gems: Spiced Chocolate Molasses Buttons from the pages of Real Sweet. The raves that this recipe received reminded me that I’d not shared it beyond the pages of the book, and that’s just not very Christmas-y of me, now is it? So in the spirit of not hiding our lights under bushels and all of that, here we are!

These cookies hit all the right notes–think super chocolaty gingerbread, or spiced chocolate sugar cookies. However you think of them, they’re a hit with chocolate lovers, the holiday spice cookie die-hards, and those aesthetes who are always drawn to the prettiest cookies in the tin. There’s a lot going on here texturally, too. Soft cookie, the crunch of sparkling turbinado, and a little pool of truffle-like chocolate ganache. I don’t see how this could not go well.

Spiced Chocolate Molasses Buttons
From Real Sweet
Makes about 4 dozen

This cookie gets a double hit of raw sugars: sticky dark muscovado in the dough and a roll through turbinado sugar that adds crunch and a naturally glittering finish. I highly recommend checking your local natural foods or specialty foods store for dark muscovado (or just being lazy like me and ordering via Amazon) because the dynamite flavor is so, so worth it. But if you can’t find it, standard-issue dark brown sugar from the supermarket will work just fine.

I recommend a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop, and make the scoops level so the cookies are uniform, you’ll get the 4 dozen yield as states, and so the cookies are not too big after baking–these are meant to be small but mighty.

For the cookies:

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (5 1/8 ounces/144 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
6 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces/36 grams) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces/142 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) dark muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 cup (3 ounces/84 grams) unsulphured molasses
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces/100 grams) turbinado sugar, for coating the cookies

For the chocolate filling:

2 ounces (57 grams) bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70% cacao)
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon unsulphured molasses

To make the cookie dough, into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, dark muscovado sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes until the mixture is noticeably lighter in color, transforming from a dark, gritty looking mixture to something fluffier and latte in color. Beat in the egg until completely absorbed. Beat in the molasses until smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually stir in the dry ingredients. Mix until the well-blended and even in color. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for about 2 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, position the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

To form the cookies, pour the turbinado sugar onto a plate. Using a small ice cream with a capacity of about 1 tablespoon, portion the dough into balls. Roll the dough balls in the sugar, coating them completely. Place on the prepared baking sheets, evenly spacing them, 1 dozen cookies per sheet.

Bake the cookies until they are set on the edges, but still very soft in the centers. Quickly pull the sheets from the oven (close the oven door as to not let all the heat escape!). Using deft thumbs, a spoon with a very deep well, like a melon baller, or a thick-handled wooden spoon, make a deep indentation in the center of each cookie. Return to the oven to finish baking, 3 to 5 minutes more. Let the cookies cool on the pans set over wire racks. If the indentations have become shallow, press them down again while the cookies are warm.

For the ganache, place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Melt in the microwave with 30-second bursts of high heat, stirring well after each interval. Stir in the molasses. Transfer the ganache to a small zip-top bag and work it towards the corner of the bag. Snip off a tiny corner of the bag. Fill each cookie with ganache. Let the cookies cool and set at room temperature until the ganache is firm, about 1 hour.

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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