Thursday, April 29, 2010

Martha, Martha, Martha: Martha Stewart's Chocolate Cracks

I have to admit- Martha Stewart intimidates me. She is just so perfect and so creative, making everything look so easy, that I avoided her magazine, her TV show, her cookbooks, and her website, because they all made me feel so incompetent.  A few weeks ago, though, I bought her cookie book for Emily, and after looking through it, decided I had to have it too.  There are so many delicious sounding cookies with pictures that make you want to get right to the kitchen. So here I am, slowly changing my Martha view, as I work my way through her cookie book (voted one of the 13 essential baking books by the James Beard Foundation).

The chocolate cracks are made with cocoa and bittersweet chocolate- very rich but not overly sweet.  The confectioner’s sugar and the way the cookies crack while baking make them look especially pretty.

Chocolate Cracks from Cookies by Martha Stewart
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 ½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar*
1 cup confectioner’s sugar*
*I needed far less of these two sugars to roll the cookies. I would suggest starting with ½ cup of each and adding more if needed.

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring.  Set aside and let cool. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Mix in eggs and vanilla, and then melted, cooled chocolate.  Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture in two batches, alternating with milk.  Divide the dough into four equal pieces.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Divide each piece into 16 one inch pieces and roll into balls. This will get a little messy as the heat of your hand warms the chocolate dough. Roll in granulated sugar to coat and then in confectioner’s sugar to coat.  Space two inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake until surfaces crack, about 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies.  They can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.
((post by susan))

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