Double Mocha Chip Cookies

I <3 Caffeine

I ❤ Caffeine

I love coffee.

I love chocolate.

I love coffee and chocolate together.

I remember the first time I had chocolate covered espresso beans.  I bought a big box of them from Trader Joe’s because I thought they’d be a good study snack.  I sat down at my desk and tossed a couple into my mouth.  Chewing, my eyes grew wide with excitement.  “They tastes like mochas!” I said, smiling a big, goofy, open-mouthed grin.  I continued snacking on them while studying.  Sometime later, around midnight, I realized I’d eaten half the box . . . it was then I remembered that they were caffeinated . . .

Yeah.

In preparation for the fast-approaching school year, I’m working on my caffeinated study snacks.  In general, it’s difficult to find truly vegan chocolate covered espresso beans.  So my latest attempt is a cookie based on the flavors of those delicious nuggets of joy.

There’s an ingredient in there that may be a surprise:  ground coffee.  Yes, you can eat coffee beans.  No, the texture isn’t off putting.  Yes, there is a lot of caffeine in them . . . that’s why they’re in there.  You want to use a really high quality coffee in this recipe.  You’re going to be tasting the beans themselves, not just a drink brewed from them, so they better taste pretty damn good.  I used Peace Coffee French Roast beans.  They’re my favorite, and I’m a fan of ethical coffee.

This recipe is based on one I found on VegWeb a while ago and have been using pretty much exclusively for my chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies are pretty much the standard when it comes to vegan cookies.  So they made a good base for this recipe.

Double Mocha Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

The Dry . . .

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 – 1 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
  • scant 1/4 cup good quality coffee beans

The Wet . . .

  • 4 tablespoons instant espresso
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup granulated unrefined sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or sucanat
  • 1/2 cup light flavored oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Method:

The Dry . . .

Your beans should look about like this.  Click to enlarge.

Your beans should look about like this. Click to enlarge.

(Before you start mixing your dry ingredients, it’s a good time to put the kettle on the stove for the boiling water you’ll need in the next step.)

Preheat your oven to 35o degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder together until thoroughly combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

In a good ol’ fashioned blade style coffee grinder, give the coffee beans about 5 1-second pulses.  I shake the coffee grinder a bit between each pulse, just to make sure things are more or less evenly ground. You want a really coarse grind on the beans, but you don’t want chunks so big that when you bite into the cookie you feel like you’re crunching into beetles or something . . . eeew.

Stir your ground coffee into the rest of the dry ingredients and dig yourself a nice little well in the center.  That’s where you’ll be pouring your wet ingredients later.  Set the bowl aside.

The Wet . . .

It's like 10 shots of espresso concentrated into a 1/2 cup of liquid.In a small bowl, mix the instant espresso powder with the boiling water and stir.  Set this aside so it can cool.

In a medium size bowl, mix the granulated sugar and the brown sugar.  Add the oil and stir very, very well.  Stir in vanilla.  Add the water to your espresso mixture to cool it down, and pour this into the bowl, mix well.  I use a whisk at this point to get everything emulsified.

What you should have now is a very dark looking syrupy mixture.  It’s delicious . . . taste some, I dare you.  It’s like pure espresso/sugar madness!  Anyway . . .

The Rest . . .

Pour your wet mixture into the dry mixture.  Mix well.  You may need to use your hands because this makes a very stiff, very sticky dough.

cookie ballsLine your baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using your hands, take about three tablespoons of dough and make a rough ball.  It should be a bit larger than a golf ball.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, you’ll be squishing these in a moment anyway.

As a side note, the chocolate chips don’t like to stick to the dough very well, so be sure to bury enough of them into each ball so that there is a goodly amount of chocolate in each cookie.

Squishing cookiesBecause these cookies don’t spread very much, and come out of the oven about the same shape as they went in, you’re going to need to squish them.  Using something flat, in my case, the bottom of a stainless steel measuring cup, squish the balls of dough down to about 1/2 an inch of thickness.  Again, they don’t spread very much, so you don’t need to worry about having much space between them 1/2 – 1 inch is fine.

As a hint, the dough likes to stick to anything it can, including what you’ll be using to flatten it with.  What I discovered (after I squished the first pan of cookies) is that using another piece of parchment paper on the bottom of your squishing device works wonders for getting them to release cleanly.

Bake at 35o for 10 minutes.  Turn the pan around about half way through the baking time if your oven tends to bake unevenly.  You want these to be soft when they come out of the oven.  I baked my first batch a little too long and now they’re a little firmer than I had hoped.  If you like firm cookies that are quite suitable for dunking, bake these 2-3 minutes longer.

See, not much bigger than when they went in.

See, not much bigger than when they went in.

When they come out of the oven, allow them to rest on the pan for 2 minutes.  Then, transfer them to a cooling rack. and allow them to cool completely (yeah, right) before indulging.

Yields 20-24 cookies.

These are VERY caffeinated.  The espresso concentrate is about 10 shots worth . . . and then there’s the coffee beans . . . and the chocolate.  I haven’t calculated how much caffeine is in each cookie, and I don’t really want to.  All I know is that when I sampled one, I was quite alert afterward.  Still am.  That’s why I’m blogging in stead of sleeping.

Bonus:  This is Mr. Lucky.  He’s trying to “help” me take good pictures for the blog . . .

Naughty little kitty . . .

I'm helping!

UPDATE!

Oh lordy these are good.  After they cooled, I stuck the cookies in a freezer bag and put them in the fridge because I like it when the chocolate resolidifies in my chocolate chip cookies.  When the flavors blended overnight in the fridge these got SO TASTY!

I thought they were kind of mediocre when I tasted them last night but my good christ these are delicious.  And the ground coffee in combination with the chocolate chips makes these taste like there’s bits of chocolate covered espresso beans in them.

OMG I wanna go eat the whole batch!

Just another quick note . . .

Using the internet, I did go and estimate the caffeine content of these cookies.  I couldn’t find statistics on the caffeine content of just coffee beans that weren’t brewed, so I’m guessing based on chocolate covered coffee beans.  My estimation is that these have somewhere between 60 and 80 milligrams of caffeine per cookie.  Two cookies contain more than a cup of coffee.

I ate two this morning in stead of drinking coffee . . . 🙂  And then I had one at work when I was on break.

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Let’s Talk about Pie

Pyrex closeup

Pie and I have a history.  I’m bad at pie.  I can bake just about anything on the planet, but for some reason pie gives me trouble.

First, it was the crust.  No matter what I did my crust would never turn out like the pie crusts I grew up with, flaky yet sturdy enough to keep their shape.  My dad has always been the pie baker in the house.  He has a signature crust recipe that he always used and it always turns out exactly like you expect pie crust to be: tender and flaky.  Me, being as stubborn as I am, would always try different recipes than the one my dad used.  I tried the one on the bag of flour . . . it didn’t work.  I tried an oil pastry crust recipe . . . it was gross.  Even when I tried Alton Brown’s recipe for pie crust it fell apart on me.

I was at my wit’s end.  When finally, I gave up and called my dad.  I asked him to read his recipe to me.  Listening to it, I was thinking “That’s it?”  It’s so simple and so easy that I refused to believe that it would work.  I tried it that day . . . lo and behold, it worked.  And it was perfect.  It’s now the only pastry crust that I make.  As much as I love Alton Brown, my dad makes a much better pie crust . . .

Pie Crust

For a single crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 4 tablespoons ice cold water

For a double crust:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 7 tablespoons ice cold water
This is what it should look like before you add the water.

This is what it should look like before you add the water.

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together with a fork or a wire whisk.  Using a fork or a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until very well combined.  Add ice water and –as my dad says– “stir like hell!”  Mix well and knead for 2 or 3 strokes until you can form a nice solid ball in the bowl.  Cover this with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes while you clean up your work area.  Proceed with your pie crust as you normally would.

Now, you have several options with your pie crust.  You can either roll it out, put it into your pie plate, fill it up, and bake it like that.  Or, if you want to fill your crust with something that has to be refrigerated, you can blind bake it . . . which is what I did.

Blind Baking:

dough diskTo make a blind baked crust, use the measurements given to make a single crust.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Before you roll out your dough, with your hands form it into a disk that is about 1 inch thick.  Then, using a rolling pin, starting from the middle, roll out your dough, always rolling from the middle outwards, until the diameter is about 2 inches larger than that of the pie plate, meaning if you were to place your pie plate on top of your rolled dough upside down, then there would be about one inch of extra pie dough all the way around it.  Then, using your rolling pin, roll the crust up on to it and transfer it to the pie plate.  Gently press the pie dough down into the pie plate, pushing it to the sides.  With a sharp knife, trim off all the extra dough.

crust pinchNow, you want to make it pretty.  Using your thumb and forefinger of your left hand and the thumb of your right hand, pinch the edge of the crust as shown.  It takes a bit to get the hang of it, but really you just pinch with your left hand while using your right thumb to smush it all together.

Once you have done this all the way around the crust, you’re just about ready to bake.  Prick the bottom of your pie crust all over several times with a fork.  This lets the extra steam escape and prevents the crust from puffing up in the oven.  (If it puffs up, there won’t be enough room for filling! Gasp!)

full of beansNext, take a sheet of parchment paper a couple inches larger than the pie crust and place it on top.  Now, fill your pie with beans!  Yep, beans.  Any sort of dry beans will work (I don’t think you’ll be able to eat them afterward, so just pick up whatever is cheapest at the store.)  Here, I’ve used pinto beans.  The beans weigh the pastry down and also keep it from getting all puffy.  Make sure to push the beans all the way to the edges of the crust and evenly distribute them in your pie dish.

Now, it’s time to go in the oven.  Bake this at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Mine took the full 20.

it's donePeek under the parchment to check if it’s done.  You want the edges to be a nice, light golden brown and the bottom may look a bit wet, still, but it will look drier and more done as it cools.

Remove the beans by gently lifting the parchment paper out of the pie plate.  Set them aside to cool somewhere, as you can use them for pie weights again.  Place the crust on a cooling rack and let it cool completely before you fill it.

Now . . . as for the pie I actually made with this crust.  I said I’m bad at pie.  That hasn’t changed.  It’s not that the pie I made was gross or inedible or something, I’m just not happy with the recipe.

My idea was to make a pastry cream filling, bury some fresh strawberries in it and cover it with a delicious strawberry glaze.  The pastry cream I made tasted good, but the texture was all wrong.  I used some tapioca starch and it ended up gelatinous . . . not creamy.  And the glaze I put on top of the pie looked great when it was fresh.  But after a night in the refrigerator, it has started to separate and look . . . less than appetizing.  So while my pie tastes great, (actually, it tastes like strawberry ice cream!) the texture is off and it looks ugly.

Oh well . . . my pie adventures have not come to an end.  There will be another day for pie and me!