This is the week for family recipes, I suppose. First the cuccidati, and today the chocolate cookies. So, along with the tradition of fig cookies at Christmas, we also had these cookies. They are also quite prevalent on St. Joseph’s Altars. Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I can’t leave well-enough alone, meaning if there is a recipe to be tweaked, I will be tweak it. And, so it goes for today’s post. These cookies were originally made with shortening. I always liked the flavor of cinnamon and cloves, but the texture was dry and crumbly. Additionally, the glaze contained anise extract; in fact, at times, my grandma referred to these as anise cookies because of the glaze. I used butter rather than shortening, and sometimes I used vanilla in the glaze rather than anise. If you’re not a fan of anise, make the glaze with vanilla extract, the flavor is still complementary.
So, the cookies. I remember one of my cousins telling me he’d break these cookies into pieces, place them in a bowl, pour milk over them, and eat them like cereal. They were dry, so I see the attraction. My version produces a moister cookie while still preserving the spicy flavors. The cookie is not very sweet, so I think the glaze is necessary. I grew up eating these, and I love them. Just like the cuccidati, they are a traditional Christmas cookie in my family, and it’s not Christmas without them.
Next week, I’ll share another cookie from my mother-in-law, Miss Nettie. If you are a nut lover, particularly a pecan lover, you’re going to love next week’s cookie!
Grandma Josie’s Chocolate Cookies, revised
4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder, optional
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups nuts, toasted (pecans or walnuts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toast nuts for in oven until fragrant, 7-8 minutes, remove, cool and coarsely chop; set aside.
Line baking sheets with parchment.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, spices, espresso powder and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer cream butter and sugar until fluffy; add eggs one at a time, beating between additions, finally, add vanilla.
With mixer on low, add flour & cocoa mixture, then pecans, until dough clumps around paddle and is well-mixed.
Chill dough for at least 30 minutes; overnight is fine, too.
Using a small cookie scoop, portion dough, then roll into a smooth ball, about 1″ apart.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 8 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before glazing.
2 cups Glazing sugar or powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon anise extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dip cookies into glaze and place on lined sheet until dry.
Cookies freeze well; allow them to come back to room temperature on the counter.
Yield: 6 dozen cookies