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 These cookies were originally made with shortening.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. My tweaks are the substitution of butter, the addition of nutmeg and brown sugar, and increasing the amount of cocoa. I use the glaze recipe for the cuccidati, doubled, but instead of vanilla extract, I add 1/8 teaspoon anise extract. 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. Additionally, the entire cookie glazed, not just the tops. 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 Printable recipe
4 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 vanilla bean, scraped or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheets with parchment.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, spices, and salt; set aside.
Melt butter in microwave; add milk and instant coffee, then return to microwave for another 60 seconds. Stir until coffee has dissolved.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract). Mix until well combined, 3 minutes.
Add butter and coffee mixture to egg mixture, mix until incorporated.
With mixer on low, add flour & cocoa mixture, then pecans, until dough clumps around paddle and is well-mixed.
Using a small cookie scoop, portion dough, then roll into a smooth ball, about 1″ apart.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 9-10 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before glazing.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons whole milk
1/8 teaspoon anise extract
Microwave butter and milk together until butter melts.
Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
Add anise extract.
Once the cookies are cooled, immerse the entire cookie into the glaze and place on a rack to dry.
Allow glaze to set before serving.
Yield: 6 dozen cookies
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