As we quickly U-turned and drove up to the café, AJ and I silently cheered that we found a perfect spot to parallel park, a mere two cars down from the café entryway (it’s the little things in life). We had been invited to Gigi’s 1st year birthday party. Gigi is the daughter of our friends, Karen and Ben, who we don’t see nearly enough since they moved over to Oakland. We thought we had scored the best parking spot ever (this is what city living does to you), until the adorable interracial lesbian couple (this is Oakland) rolled down their window and popped their head out at us. “Hey. You guys should take our spot! The meter’s broken so that means you don’t need to pay and can park here as long as you want!” They were clearly pleased to be giving the spot to another homosexual couple going to a children’s party. “Have fun in there! We just left our two year old nephew’s party!” they proclaimed as they drove away and we backed up into their spot, now a mere one car away from the café. AJ and I put our jackets in the trunk, along with the double chocolate dried cherry and toffee bit cookies that I had made for the event that followed after the party. That’s right, we were double booked for the day; a children’s birthday party and then the Omnivore Books cookie contest right afterwards. It was a day of double chaos for me.
Gigi’s party was total mad chaos but super fun. It was held at SadieDey’s Café in Oakland, and since nearly all of our friends currently have newborns, toddlers, or small children, chaos was inevitable. However Gigi took it all in stride and was a trooper throughout the entire party, enjoying the spotlight.
My brother and sister-in-law had driven all the way from Sacramento to come party with the kids as well, which was awesome, because any day I get to spend with my niece is a good day.
SadieDey’s Café is pretty awesome by the way. It’s a child friendly café that has food and coffee beverages during the weekdays (adults are free, kids are charged an admission) and rents out the café for private events during the weekend. Every single parent there, not located in Oakland, turned to me and said they wished there was a café like it to take their kids. The children played in the jump house and the big vat of
pinkeye balls for a bit while AJ and I ran around and took pictures of friends holding other friend’s kids.
And our friend Peter and Grant, who I think were the only other couple there that didn’t have kids, showed up as well.
After pizza and cake, the party shut down and we drove off, hoping that another cute gay or lesbian interracial couple would take our awesome parking spot. After fighting traffic on the bridge (making us realize the reason why we do not visit the East Bay more often) we zipped over to Omnivore Books, where AJ dropped me off into the chaos and he went to find parking. There may be more gay and lesbian couples in Noe Valley but none of them wanted to give up their spot for us.
I had never been to one of Omnivore Books food events and this one was MAD chaos. Samantha over at The Second Lunch has a great write up about it. I arrived not realizing that I was going to be one of over 60 cookie competitors! What the heck?!?!
My cookies, by the way, did not win. However the two winners had chocolate cookies as well, with the first place winner Julie Wiser winning $150! Wiser said she entered the contest because her son told her to, and that she was donating the winnings to his school, Mira Loma, which is awesome. The cookies, a chocolate toffee cookie with sea salt had a great chewy bite and a touch of salt to offset the sweetness. You can find the recipe, adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Bon Appetit over on Samantha’s blog post.
That said, AJ totally turned to me after the competition, and told me that my cookies were a winner in his eyes. Normally I would have just rolled my eyes at his obvious attempt to console me, but then he reached over and took a leftover cookie out of the ziplock bag I had brought them back in. His third double chocolate dried cherry and toffee bit cookie that day. After sampling all those cookies from the event, he still wanted another one of mine. And, so, he’s probably telling the truth.Try them for yourself and you tell me.
Double Chocolate Dried Cherry and Toffee Bit Cookies
Adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley
My potty mouth twitter pal Marc loves these cookies. Last December he tweeted that he was dreading going to a holiday cookie swap because he, in his own words, is a “baketard.” So I sent him an email with the original version of this recipe and he made 120 of them for the party. He still has friends asking for the recipe and when I went up to visit Seattle last month, he introduced me to his partner as “the guy that gave me that chocolate cookie recipe” in which his partner’s eyes widened with recognition. I’ve since played around with them a little bit to give the flavors a little more depth, but either way, the cookies are great.
This recipe uses some specialty flours that I highly encourage you to track down, as that’s what elevates these cookies from good to great. You can usually find them in health/natural food stores or Whole Foods. However, if you don’t have access to them, I’ve gone ahead and put substitutions for them in the notes below. Don’t worry, the cookies will still rock your world with or without those crazy flours.
Makes 48 cookies
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (120g) white whole wheat flour (see note)
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (120g) all purpose flour
3 tablespoons (30g) mesquite meal/flour (see note)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (50g) cocoa powder (natural, not dutch processed)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not refrigerator cold
1 cup (192g) packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (144g) white granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (142g) dried sour cherries
8 oz (230g) bittersweet chocolate chopped into chunks, or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (90g) toffee bits (like Heath English Toffee bits)
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Stir vigorously with a whisk to blend together.
3. Beat the eggs and the instant coffee together in a small bowl until the coffee granules dissolve.
4. Cube the butter into 1/4” cubes and add them, along with the sugars, into a mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add half the egg mixture and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and add the other half of the egg and repeat. Scrape down again and add the vanilla.
5. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat into the batter. Scrape down and beat 1/3 more into the batter. Scrape and repeat with the final 1/3 of the flour mixture.
6. Add the dried cherries, chocolate chunks and toffee bits. Using a wooden spoon or stiff large spatula, mix into the batter, until all of them are evenly distributed throughout cookie dough.
7. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet, about two inches apart. Bake for 12 -14 minutes or until barely set in the center of the cookie and the edges are firm.
8. Cool on the tray for about 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies keep for about 4 or 5 days in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
Note 1. You can use whole wheat flour instead of white wheat flour in a 1:1 substitution.
Note 2. If you can’t track down mesquite meal/flour substitute an additional 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder, making it a total of 1 cup of cocoa powder.