Monday, January 3, 2011

By the Batch - Chocolate Charms

It's time for the first installment of my new By the Batch feature! As I previously wrote, each week I'll be baking one of the recipes in Martha Stewart's Cookies and sharing the results with you. This week's cookie is Chocolate Charms.

According to Martha:
The dusting of cocoa on these little cookies, much like that on a chocolate truffle, may seem to promise a similar velvety interior, but the illusion is fleeting. One bite reveals the unmistakable crumbly texture of shortbread.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt into a bowl.

Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add sugar, and beat about 2 minutes more, until very light in color and fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add vanilla, if using.

Add flour mixture, and combine on low speed, scraping with spatula if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed with fingers. Form dough into a flattened disk; wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a spoon, form dough into 1-inch balls; place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake until firm, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool completely on wire rack. Dust with cocoa powder just before serving.

According to Sarah:
These cookies are very easy to make if you have a stand mixer. You could make due with a hand mixer but you'd have to spend a lot of time with the dough. I don't think you'd ever be able to attain the right consistency mixing by hand. I hate to sound like an advertisement by I absolutely love my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. I turned it on medium speed, set a timer for 5 minutes and came back to perfectly beaten butter.

I didn't use a spoon to make the balls of dough but instead just rolled them by hand. I left my dough in the fridge for more than an hour and it was rock hard when I took it out. The warmth from my hands helped to warm it up enough so that I could shape it. I was able to make about 3 dozen one inch balls and they baked up perfectly in 25 minutes.

These cookies are delicious; a smooth chocolate shortbread. The only change I would recommend is forgoing the cocoa powder dusting. It makes them look fancier but it really doesn't improve the taste and it makes them messier to eat.  Other than that, bake them exactly as directed and you won't be disappointed!

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