God, you have to be so selfless as a parent. I think about that most nights between about 7 and 8pm while I sit in a darkened room for an hour or longer while my small child rocks around the cot like a bucking bronco, spinning her favourite soft toy around her head like a lasso. WHY WON”T SHE GO TO SLEEP?! I HAVE THINGS TO DO!!
But you don’t always have to be selfless.
I first tasted one of these cookies in one of my favourite cafe’s in Bristol – Bakers and Co (if you live in or near Bristol and haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend a visit, although you’ll be lucky to get a table at busy times). It was so delicious that I set about trying to recreate them at home with absolutely no success. They are fudgy and light, heavy and chewy, rich, bitter and sweet all at once. Turns out that without the correct recipe these are extremely difficult qualities to emulate. I ate a LOT of chocolate cookies in the process though, and that was really quite enjoyable, so no regrets there.
Eventually I found the recipe! It is from Tartine Book No.3 and I managed to bake a batch that were not far off that first joyous taste. I baked them to take along to a little party that children were invited to. I considered warning the children off – a large label saying THESE ARE FOR ADULTS ONLY perhaps? But felt that as it wasn’t my party, it was perhaps a little presumptuous.
The inevitable moment arrived when a medium sized child grabbed one off the plate. She took one mouthful and slowly chewed. There was no look of joy and no second bite. She handed it to her mother who had no option but to eat the rest. Delicious! The mother said. Amazing! She cried. Ok, I might be embellishing a bit here, but you get the idea. These cookies are NOT for children. They are very adult cookies and they are truly delicious. Keep them on the top shelf where small hands cannot reach, and enjoy at your well earned leisure.
Apologies to UK folk that this is measured in cups. I recently bought a set of measuring cups that are turning out to be very useful so I’d recommend them (just seems easier than getting a set of scales out sometimes). Or there are lots of handy measurement converters online.
(Makes about 4 dozen small cookies)
2 2/3 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate (70%)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup whole-grain dark rye flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Good-quality sea salt, such as Maldon or flaky fleur de sel, for topping
Place a saucepan filled with 1 inch of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Set a heatproof bowl over simmering water, taking care that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, and melt together the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from heat and let cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed, adding the sugar a little bit at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated. Turn the mixer to high and whip until the eggs have nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add the melted chocolate-butter mixture and the vanilla. Mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, then mix in the flour mixture just until combined. At this point, the dough will be very soft and loose, which is normal; it will firm up as it chills.
Refrigerate the dough in the mixing bowl until it is just firm to the touch, about 30 minutes (the longer you chill the dough, the harder it is to scoop; if it chills for more than an hour, remove the dough from the fridge to warm up to room temperature before scooping).
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and scoop with a rounded tablespoon onto the baking sheets, spacing the balls of dough 2 inches apart. Top each mound of dough with a few flakes of sea salt, pressing gently so it adheres. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies have completely puffed up and have a smooth bottom and rounded top. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let cool slightly (the cookies may flatten a bit when cooling), then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. The cookies will keep up to 3 days in an airtight container.