My friend Ruth says she knew I was pregnant with my daughter (who is now in her twenties), because I served store-bought cookies when she came to my house.
These days, I bake less often than I used to, but that’s because we eat sweet desserts less often, not because I don’t have energy to make them from scratch.
The Mocha Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from the second issue of Chocolatier (summer 1984) is a longtime favourite. I still have my ingredient-stained copy of the magazine, billed on the cover as “The Magazine for Gourmet Chocolate Lovers.”
The $3 issue ($3.25 in Canada) was an affordable indulgence, and I’m sure I read it more times than I remember.
I always said that the cookies looked boring but tasted great. The mocha flavour, a combination of chocolate and coffee, is rich and complex, and the cookies are probably better than any other cookie I’ve ever made. Plus, they’re easy to prepare. Chocolatier gave them a “foolproof” rating – one chocolate kiss out of a possible three for more complicated recipes.
The original version – credited to a cookbook called Mrs. Witty’s Monster Cookies – includes a generous amount of chocolate chips, which add texture and complement the mocha flavour.
Recently, for a change, I decided to reduce the quantity of chocolate chips, and add candied ginger as well. I thought its sweet, pungent taste would be an interesting counterpoint to the chocolate mocha, not to mention that ginger has health benefits.
I also added some cinnamon and ground ginger to the dough, but I think a bit of cinnamon is enough on its own. Or maybe not necessary at all. Best not to mess with the chocolate, or mocha, flavour too much.
I think the recipe can still be tweaked. But you can’t go wrong with it as is… unless you don’t like ginger.
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tbsp. instant coffee (if in crystal form, crush before measuring*)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cinnamon (optional)
¾ cup candied ginger, cut in ¼” pieces
¾ cup chocolate chips
1. Beat butter until soft. Beat in brown sugar, then white sugar. Add egg and vanilla, and beat again.
2. Sift flour, cocoa, coffee powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon (if using). Stir into creamed mixture with a wooden spoon. Stir in candied ginger and chocolate chips.
3. Form dough into 1” balls, and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. They will spread, so leave space between them. Flatten balls with the heel of your hand, and bake in preheated 350 degree oven 10 to 12 minutes. Don’t overbake.
*To crush the instant coffee, I put it onto a large piece of wax paper, fold the paper in half over the coffee, and roll it with a rolling pin or a can of food.
*A note re candied ginger: although it’s high in sugar, candied or crystallized ginger is said to retain fresh ginger’s health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and combatting nausea. Enjoy it in moderation. More info is available in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as from Dr. Leo Galland at huffingtonpost.com, from Dr. Andrew Weil’s blog, and at livestrong.com .