Will you forgive me for sharing a recipe without pictures? A Christmas cookie recipe, no less?
See, on Wednesday my mom got here and we frantically started packing the house. She left on Thursday, and I spent Thursday and Friday baking what felt like a billion cookies, for a cookie swap and for a soldier in Iraq (more on that in a bit). While at the playgroup cookie swap party on Friday, I snagged 3 of these Espresso Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot, realizing I had not saved any for myself–to eat or photograph. Then I found out our move-in date has been postponed by 4 days–trivial except it takes us past Christmas. I spent the evening crying and trying to re-arrange Christmas plans (yes I know I should have expected it). I made my sister cry when I said I had to come home the weekend she would not be there. Could not sleep all night. Woke up this morning (at 11:30 after about 5 hours of sleep) and ate all 3 mandelbrot in a blur. Re-arranged my plans yet again so my sister could see her nieces. Possibly upset baby brother because he probably won’t see me now (not sure–have not heard from him yet). Cried some more. Made dinner rolls for John’s department’s holiday party. Collapsed asleep on the couch while they rose.
The high point of my morning was the cookies–but gee darn by eating them I have nothing left to photograph.
It is no great loss because frankly as tasty as these mandelbrot are (and they are–a year later my hairdresser is still begging me to make her more), I am terrible at getting clean slices of mandelbrot (and other biscotti-type cookies). So I guess just imagine golden brown biscotti type cookies flecked with chocolate chips and you will get the idea.
I used to think mandelbrot was chocolate chip bread, because a Jewish friend of mine in college kept her grandmother’s mandelbrot in her dorm freezer, after the first bake, and just sliced it frozen and ate it as it thawed (it was terrific). Searching for a similar experience I made King Arthur’s Over The Top Mandelbrot several Christmases ago and really enjoyed them (and discovered that they were traditionally meant to be baked twice, although my friend tells me she knows lots of people who eat it at the “bread” stage). Last year I decided to try this espresso variation, and it was so successful I have abandoned the original incarnation–although I suppose if I had time I would make it both ways since these are not so kid friendly.
These are also a great cookie for long distance gift-giving during the holidays. I don’t think I have ever had them go stale–and they are, in calmer years, one of the first cookies I make during the holidays to sit out on our table in cookie tins since they last so well. So naturally they were one of the first cookies I thought of for my first participation in Operation Baking Gals. The solider I sent cookies to got these Espresso Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot, the Mini Chip Peppermint Thins, and the NY Times Chocolate Chip cookies. I chose the thins figuring they should also not go stale too fast (they have a shortbread/meltaway base), and I chose the chocolate chip cookies because I think many homesick Americans want chocolate chip cookies–I know I do–and I hoped that the giant, extra-thick bakery style would help them to not get too stale. If you like to bake and have always wanted to send baked goods to the troops, be sure to check out the Baking Gals website–they make it very easy. If you are curious, I am baking for Team Clarkson–head on over to The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch to learn more.
One note about the flour: I have never measured it by volume. The King Arthur recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups, or 14 3/4 oz, but I add 1/8 oz because of the extra liquid from the espresso.
Espresso Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
3 large eggs
1 cup (7 oz) vegetable oil
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
1-2 T espresso (1-2 t instant espresso dissolved in 1-2 T water–more if you like a strong coffee taste)
1 t salt
14 7/8 oz AP flour (3 1/2 cups plus a little extra, 1/8 oz, to account for the liquid espresso)
1 t baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups cappucino chips
In a large bowl, beat together the first 6 ingredients at medium high speed until thick and lighter colored (because of the espresso it will not get too light), about 5 minutes. Whisk together the flour and baking powder and then stir them into the wet ingredients. Fold in the chips. Cover tightly and chill for at least 3 hours–I find it best to do this much the day before to really firm up the dough.
Place the oven racks in the upper middle and lower middle levels. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line with silicone or parchment paper 2 baking sheets.
Separate the dough into 4 equal pieces, about 13 1/2 ounces each. Working with one piece at time, shape the dough into logs, roughly 8 by 2 inches long, and place on the baking sheet. You will place 2 logs on each cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
Bake the logs for 28 minutes, rotating top to bottom and front to back halfway through. They should be lightly browned. Let them cool for 10 minutes on their sheets, before transferring them gently to a cutting board. [edited to add I have discovered I can get much cleaner slices by allowing the logs to sit for several hours, up to overnight.] Turn the oven down to 300 F. I have started trying lightly spritzing the logs with water to decrease crumbling before slicing. Slice the logs into whichever length cookies you want, and then return them to their baking sheets, spacing them apart and standing them upright (you want them to toast). Return them to the oven, and bake another 25 minutes at 300 F, once again rotating front to back and top to bottom halfway through. They will become quite golden brown because of the espresso. Cool on the baking sheets–they will crisp up as they cool, but will never be really hard like a fat-free biscotti, but rather more crumbly, like a butter-based biscotti.