Butter. Chocolate. Chiles. A new food trinity! It’s found in spicy chocolate chip cookies (among other great dishes). Add the other basic ingredients and you can make all kinds of cookies: Chewy or crisp; thick or thin; bite-sized or humongous. A special treat in any case!
We’re also coming into Hatch chile season. Mild or hot, these are some great eating. I make all kinds of things with Hatch chiles when they show up here in central Texas: pepper jelly, fresh and cooked salsas, omelets, quiche and more. Many of these dishes use roasted chiles.
Roasting a Hatch chile is easy. You can blister it in a cast-iron skillet on medium-high, or put it on a baking tray under the broiler. You have to watch closely in either case, or you’ll burn the chile’s flesh. All you want to do is blister/blacken the skin. After that, pop the chile into a brown paper bag, roll down the top and let’er set for a while. (I’m practicing my Southern.) In a bit the chile will be cool enough to handle and peel; don’t start too early, as steaming in the bag loosens the skin. Hold under running water and rub the skin off. I also slit the chile open and take the seeds out at that point.
Now for the fun part: Making Zesty Chococookies! Here’s one rendition:
- 2½ sticks butter (No substitutes!), at room temperature
- 3-3¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups light brown sugar (packed)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 12 ounces chocolate chips (I like bittersweet)
- Sea salt or sanding sugar to finish
Set up the stand mixer, and grab out a large mixing bowl. Set the oven for 350° F, and line some baking sheets with parchment. (I now like this better than non-stick spray.) In the mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and the salt. Set that aside and go to the mixer. Cream the butter and sugars together. Once that’s nice and even, add the eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Finish with the vanilla extract.
Next, work the flour mixture into the butter mix, in small batches to prevent clumping. When all of that has come to an even consistency, turn off the mixer and grab a big spoon. Stir in the chocolate bits. Oh, and remember that diced chile? Stir that in too. Remember, at this point you don’t want to over-work the dough or you’ll get tough cookies.
Drop cookie dough, a tablespoon at a time, onto the prepared baking sheets. Space them out by at least a couple of inches, or you’ll get one big cookie! (Okay, that’s no disaster.) Bake for 10-12 minutes, then cool on a wire rack. The only trick is preventing them from disappearing as fast as you’re baking them.
Variations? Of course. Leave out the cocoa is a simple one. Use reconstituted ancho or pasilla chiles, with the addition of some cinnamon, to make molé-tasting cookies. Use a few habanero chiles, if you dare. Serranos, jalapeños, Thai chiles; they all work. Experiment to get the heat just the way you like!
The beauty is, somebody will eat all your “mistakes” …
The (Zesty Chococookie) Heat is ON!