I have had a conflicted relationship with Valrhona cocoa powder. I mean, people whose baking I respect worship this stuff, so what the heck is wrong with me, a chocolate connoisseur, that I consistently prefer a natural cocoa powder like Scharffenberger? Dutched cocoa brownies do not taste like brownies to me, but natural cocoa based brownies are my favorite brownie. Whatever the reason, I have never cared much for any Dutched cocoas in baked goods (as far as I can remember these Dark Chocolate Cupcakes are the sole exception–but they also have chocolate in them).
I have been itching to bake something, preferably with the kids, but knew I did not want more sweets in the house since I still have citrus shortbread from my Christmas cookie experimenting the previous week (that recipe to come when I am sure it is perfected). When the Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies arrived in my (email) mailbox, I thought they looked perfect: simple with a wide appeal (chocolate plus homemade plus sugar cookie), I figured we would make them and send them into John’s work.
Loaded with a half cup of Valrhona cocoa powder, these cookies are to die for. Radically different from any other chocolate cookie I have made, probably because of the dutched cocoa powder which I normally avoid, these cookies are unique and addictive.
I followed the recipe exactly with 1 exception: I tried mixing in mini chocolate chips and sprinkling coarse sugar on the cookies. Neither of these changes were strictly necessary, but I do think both upped the ante even more, making these cookies just perfect. I also made the cookies smaller than Martha calls for, mostly because I do not have a big enough scoop–but I tried a perfect scoop, a rounded scoop, and 2 scoops, with my size-24 disher–I liked the results of rounded scoops the best and adjusted the baking times accordingly.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Very closely adapted from Martha Stewart Living
1 1/2 cups (190 g) AP flour
1/2 cup good-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder–I used Valrhona
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening OR substitute 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used the butter)
1 large egg
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
coarse sugar for sprinkling on cookie dough, optional
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, optional
Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in shortening (or additional butter). Beat again until pale and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions and mix until just combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chips by hand.
Using a 2 inch ice cream scoop or size-24 disher, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, 6 cookies per sheet. Using your hand, quickly and gently pat them slightly flat. Sprinkle coarse sugar on top of the cookie dough. Bake until edges are firm, 12-15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days.