Friday, December 9, 2011

Crispy Pecan and Cocoa Nib Cookies


12  oz (360 gr) pecans
 4   oz (120gr) cocoa nibs
 6   oz 180gr) all purpose flour
 1   oz (30gr)  cocoa powder
 8   oz (240gr) butter
 3   oz (90gr)  honey
10 oz (280gr) sugar
 2  pinches salt
 2  tsp espresso powder
 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Have 2 parchment paper sheets ready on 2 baking pans.
(You can also use 2 silicon-baking sheets)
1 large round cookie cutter


Making the dough
Chop the pecans and cocoa nibs until no large pieces remain, don’t make powder... Alternately, you can do this in a food processor. In either event, toss the chopped pecans and nibs with the flour and cocoa and set aside.
In a medium pot, melt the butter and honey together. When they’ve liquefied, add the sugar, salt, and espresso powder. Bring this mixture to a boil; stir occasionally to insure the sugar dissolves completely. Once is begins to boil, turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and dry ingredients. Stir well, reserve for one hour at room temp.

Preheat the oven to 350° (180°c)
Use a small ice cream scoop or Tablespoon to measure out even, rounded portions of dough. Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, bearing in mind they will spread considerably; leave about 4 centimeters between each cookie. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until they have spread thinly and turned uniformly dark and lacy. You may find some of the cookies spread enough to assimilate their neighbors. Don’t Worry. You can cut them free later. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the pan for about a minute before trying to cut them out with the cookie cutter.

Cutting the cookies
To cut the irregularly shaped cookies into clean rounds, you’ll need to use the largest round cookie cutter you have. The goal here is not to “cut out” the cookies like you would with an unbaked cookie dough, but rather to stamp “perforations lines” onto each soft, semi-molten cookie. Don’t worry about trimming away the excess. Just stamp.
Once the cookies have cooled completely, simply pick up each cookie and snap off the ragged edges. The excess will break away cleanly, leaving you with a perfectly round cookie. (Do not, under any circumstance throw away the scrappy crumb type bits! You must save them, in a zippy bag, to sprinkle over ice cream or possibly breakfast cereal. You will thank me for this reminder someday.) If at any stage in the game, the cookies become too hard to stamp, just pop them back in the oven for 30 seconds or so, then try again. You can keep these cookies in a glass jar or in a metallic box for a few days.

Nota Bene:
Cocoa nibs are basically raw chocolate, pieces of cacao beans that have been roasted, hulled and prepped to the point where all that there is left to do is process them into bars. Nibs, on their own, taste vaguely similar to roasted coffee beans. Nibs are a bit crunchier than coffee beans, since some coffee beans can become quite delicate after roasting, but give primarily the same textural effect when covered in chocolate. Cocoa nibs are always found in small pieces, rather than coffee bean-sized pieces. The flavor is slightly nutty and, while there are definitely some chocolate notes in there, they are primarily going to contribute texture and a hint of bitterness (the same as raw cocoa powder).

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