Some of my readers may know that I started working at Common Sense Media early this year. Well, last week, I attended the annual holiday cookie swap for the first time, and there was one cookie that completely knocked me out. They were chocolate-pistachio sablés that had these salt crystals on top which made all of flavors jump right off the cookie. I had to find out who had brought these amazing a little treasures and what the recipe was. Well, parenting editor, Caroline Knorr had brought them and she happily agreed to do a guest post here on StreamingGourmet after I approached her about it. Thank, Caroline! – Amy/StreamingGourmet
Chocolate-Pistachio Sablés for the Annual Holiday Cookie Swap
The annual cookie swap at Common Sense Media is a festive — and dare I say — ultra-competitive event. We have so many talented bakers in our office that you really have to be at the top of your game to stand out. When I received my December issue of Bon Appetit, there were cookies on the cover, and I immediately pounced on the holiday baking feature, assuming that anything I chose from that section would attract attention.
I had actually made that issue’s caraway-rosemary shortbread a few times, thinking that I’d make them for the cookie swap, but though I loved them, I really wanted to make something chocolately for the party. I decided upon the chocolate pistachio sables partly because the recipe made A LOT — we have over 50 people in the office and my biggest fear is cookie shortage — and because the assembly was slice-and-bake logs and I thought it would be faster and more fool-proof than cutting shapes or doing drop cookies.
As for ingredients, I used Ghirardelli cocoa and bittersweet baking chocolate. I had to make a few substitutions because my grocery store didn’t have raw pistachios or maldon salt and the clock was ticking. I had to make do with roasted, salted pistachios in the shell and a sea-salt grinder. I was concerned that this combination would ruin the delicate interplay of salty and sweet flavors in the sables, so I compensated by sprinking on some coarse sanding sugar along with the salt.
The process was fairly simple once the logs were rolled. I was only able to chill them for about 3 hours, which was totally fine. I didn’t use a serrated knife, as the recipe specifies, because I discovered a sharp chef’s knife resulted in a cleaner edge. The only issue I ran into was that a few of the cookies were so crumbly when they came out, they fell right off the rack. That may have been due to the fact that I didn’t roll the logs tight enough — and that was because I didn’t want to make them too tough. No worries, though, my family was happy to eat the broken pieces!
On the day of the swap, I was still concerned that the cookies would be too salty for some tastes ( I loved them, though, but I LOVE salt). If you can find raw pistachios or at least unsalted ones, I would recommend using them or do what I did and sprinkle sugar on top along with the salt.
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Ghirardellie or Hershey's Special Dark will work)
¾ tsp kosher salt (option if using salted, roasted pistachios)
¼ tsp baking soda
1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¼ cups (lightly packed) light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg white
5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of a stand-mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. It will take about 4 minutes.
Gradually add dry ingredients while mixing on low just to combine.
Add egg white and mix on low to combine as well.
Fold in chocolate and pistachios with a spoon.
Divide dough into 4 pieces and roll each into a ball. Roll each piece into an 8”-long log about 1½” in diameter. If it feels crumbly, mush the dough together more firmly. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (The colder your dough, the easier it will be to slice. If you're rushed for time, you can also use the freezer.)
Preheat to 350°. Working with 1 log of dough at a time and using a serrated knife, cut logs into ¼”-thick rounds and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing ½” apart.
Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until set around edges and centers look dry, 10–15 minutes.
These Chocolate Espresso Brownie Cookies take things to a new level by bringing the fudginess and chocolatiness of brownies, to a cookie – and don’t forget the chips! Since these cookies have a higher ratio of chocolate to flour than average, the batter is not at all firm. You must use parchment paper, and basically spoon drop the batter (which will spread) onto the cookie sheet.
The softness of the cookies does make them more challenging than usual to remove from the pan once cooked, so allow them to cool first before even trying.
It’s all worth it for that melt-in-your-mouth, death-by-chocolate taste.
3 oz semi-sweet (62%-70% Scharffen Berger) chocolate, chopped into bits
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (Guittard are great)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp espresso powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a double boiler (I put a pyrex bowl on top of a pan of boiling water), combine the chocolate, half of the chocolate chips and the butter, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and espresso powder on high speed until very thick, about 3 minutes.
Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the bowl, whisking just until combined.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a spoon until just combined. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips.
Spoon heaping tablespoons of batter about 2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. The batter will be looser than normal cookie dough batter and will spread a bit. Sprinkle with sprinkles. Refrigerate batter between batches.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are cracked and puffed on top.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring to a platter.
For one, I’ve doubled the quantity so that you can use a larger pan (and make more at a time). The larger pan slows down the baking rate a bit, and I think helps keep everything moist. Also, this recipe calls one more egg than the average recipe. Eggs make batters more cakey, and normally, I wouldn’t want my chocolate brownie recipe to be too cakey. If it’s cakey, then it’s not fudgy, right? We’ll the balance of chocolate, butter, flour and eggs in this recipe seems to hit it just right. They’re fudgy and dark, but they hold together well.
One of the other secret ingredients in this recipe is the espresso powder. In the same way that vanilla functions, the espresso gives the chocolate flavor additional depth and complexity. It doesn’t make it taste like coffee, it just anchors the chocolate flavor.
Lastly,the chocolate chips give these brownies texture and additional chocolate umph.