Chilli-infused double chocolate chip cookies

This is a post about cookies, an astounding cookbook, and a teensy bit about boys. Skip to the bottom if you just want the cookies. I understand. The real issue here is infusing browned butter with chilli and then mixing it with big shards of dark chocolate.

Chilli-infused double chocolate chip cookies | The Littlest Bakehouse

Anyway. The sun is finally shining, and the spring cleaning is underway, but today I’m taking a brief trip back to December. It was Christmas morning – too early for everyone else, because I’d been awake for hours with excitement – and the seven of us, all long legs folded and squished into various corners of the living room, were diving into the frankly ridiculous pile of presents.

My mum was frowning, watching me tear open the wrapping paper on a gift she’d bought. Pulling it off like a 5-year-old, I revealed the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book. I’d not requested it; she’d gone a little off piste, based on a love for the Cook’s Illustrated magazine. “Is it okay? It’s not in colour! It came and I panicked because…it’s not in colour. And it’s full of drawings!”

Of course it was okay. It was perfect – old school drawings are half the point of Cook’s Illustrated, along with rigorous testing and gloriously geeky scientific explanations. I put it to one side, carried on unwrapping other gifts, every now and then just resting my hand on its cover or flicking to the contents to see what awaited.
At the time, I reluctantly gave it second place on the list of the best Christmas presents of 2014, an oh-so-close runner up to the boy who’d popped into my life at around the same time, only to rearrange it just the tiniest bit –  like a visitor who returns a book to the shelf at the wrong point in the alphabet – and then swiftly leave again. I’ve learnt lessons from both, but only one of these two things has ever brought me incredible cookies, so Cook’s Illustrated, you get the #1 spot. Good work.

It’s been sat on my desk ever since I returned to London in January, untouched but reminding me every morning that I should just pick it up and let it take me away. It’s a hefty thing, not a book for flicking through in a shop – it commands a cup of tea, a comfy chair, and your fullest attention. Yes, it’s cake and cookies and all the best things, but more than that, it’s the science behind all of them. It teaches you new words and tells you why you have to pay attention to the colour of your baking tray. You will feel bad about writing the British conversions in the white space, and then you’ll remember the warmth that spreads through you when you spot your mother’s handwriting in the margins of old books, and  just go for it, in your neatest scrawl.

Chilli-infused double chocolate chip cookies | The Littlest BakehouseOr to be less verbose: if you care about the science behind cake, buy this book. Let’s get to the cookies, shall we?

Notes

  • Allow the baking tray to cool between batches. Using a hot tray will melt the dough prematurely and give you overbaked edges. Ew.
  • Don’t be tempted to make smaller cookies. Using the right amount is important to ensure you get the crunchy edges and chewy middle.
  • We add the chilli in two ways – first infusing the butter with fresh chillies, and then adding a little mild powder to the mix. It’s kind of weird – a flavour that you taste more with your nose than your tongue.
  • Check the ingredients in your chilli powder! Different brands use the same name for different powders – use one that’s just chilli powder, not one of the ones that’s a blend of spices like chilli, cumin, and garlic! Unless you want your cookies to taste a bit like curry.
  • Like all cookies, they’re best served warm. If preparing ahead of time, pop them into the oven for about 4 minutes before serving just to get that gooey, melty centre again.

 

Adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book.

Yields 14-16 large cookies

 

Ingredients

190g plain flour
60g cocoa
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp mild chilli powder (see notes)
200g butter
2 red chillies, top, pith, and seeds removed, sliced into quarters lengthways
150g dark brown sugar (light brown will also work, if you don’t have dark)
100g granulated sugar
1tsp salt
1tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg + 1 yolk
200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, bicarb, and chilli powder, and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pan with the chillies over medium heat, swirling continuously until it takes on a darker colour and nutty aroma (1 to 3 minutes). Transfer to a large heatproof bowl and add the sugars, salt, and vanilla extract, followed by the eggs.
  3. Whisk until smooth – about 30 seconds – and then leave well alone for 3 minutes. Exercise a little, dance to Beyonce. Whisk again. Wait and dance again. Whisk again. Wait and dance again. The mixture will be thick and shiny – the sugar has dissolved and it’ll give you a super caramel-y cookie. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the flour mixture until just combined, then add the chocolate chunks.
  4. Using about 2 tablespoons of the dough for each cookie, roll into balls and place on the baking tray, about 2 inches apart (you’ll have to do them in batches, baking one tray at a time. See notes). Bake for 10-13 minutes, until the edges have firmed up but the centres are still somewhat soft – they’re done when pressing the centre lightly leaves a slight indentation – and rotating the tray halfway through the ensure an even bake. Transfer, still on the parchment, to a wire rack immediately to cool.

 

Filed under All Recipes, Biscuits & Cookies, Desserts

The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I'm that person who doesn't let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door. I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I've returned to Norfolk after eight years away, but little bits of my heart still belong to London, where I lived for almost fives years, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

2 Comments

  1. I made healthy cookies today from Leon. You made better cookies today from Cooks Illustrated. I think its obvious who had the better day. This books been in my Amazon wish list for so bloody long, how do I part with 20 odd quid?!?!

    • Hannah Jade

      With GREAT JOY, that’s how. Seriously, it’s a game changer. It’s astonishingly wonderful.

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