I was taken aback, while mingling at my annual holiday party in December, when my friend Matthew accosted me and pointed out a cookie that I had made for the festivities. It wasn’t the fact that a friend of mine liked my baked goods (this happens on occasion). Nor was it the fact that he was so vehemently excited about the cookie (I’ve experienced superlatives often, after all, a great number of my friends are food bloggers nowadays). It was the WAY he said it to me. “What are those cookies?!?” he exclaimed, pointing to a small round cookie encrusted with snow white powdered sugar and cracked all over exposing rivers of deep dark-as-midnight chocolate dough underneath. I looked at him, charmed by his enthusiam and told him they were my Black Forest Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and that they happen to be gluten free. His reply, eyes wider than I have ever seen them before, was the simple sentence “They are SEX. IN. MY. MOUTH.”
Now things got a little awkward after that declaration. After all, his boyfriend was standing next to him, and I really didn’t want to go down that road mentally, so I just smiled, said thank you and tried to excuse myself, but Matthew would have none of it. He repeated to me the statement “SEX. IN. MY. MOUTH.” at least twice more before I was able to escape the conversation, whimsically amused and slightly horrified at the description of my cookie. I certainly didn’t mean to create a cookie that could possible reproduce any carnal relations he might have with his significant other. Though, I have to admit, I thought the cookies I had baked were not bad.
Matthew is not a food blogger – despite his disposition to talk in superlatives. “It is the BEST. EVER.” “No, you don’t understand. It’s PERFECT.” “It’s AMAZING. SO. AMAZING.” All of those phrases have come out of his mouth, and I love him all the more for being willing to commit to the absolute 100% positive praise of something. Me, I can rarely, if ever talk about something as being perfect, amazing or the best. I’ve been asked to judge a few contests here and there, and I almost never give the top score to any of the entries. When I fill out those surveys that ask me to rate my experience I never say I am completely satisfied or dissatisfied, after all, things could be worse, or they could be better. Nothing is PERFECT in my eyes, nearly everything is always room for a little more improvement. Perhaps it’s the way I was raised, the ideal always slightly out of reach. This allows me to constantly be striving for something more, a smidgeon better, a touch higher. Praise, coming from me, is often in the form of “Huh. It’s not bad.” not “It’s the best ever.” which I find all too frequently in the food blogosphere.
But I won’t quibble with those food bloggers who want to talk about how their fresh mint lemonade is the perfect summertime drink or how their chocolate chip cookie is the best ever. I know that, on occasion, I probably have done the same thing in posts. It’s an easy crutch to fall back on. But I rarely cross certain lines and there I was, talking to a non-food blogger, a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a few years, and he had crossed that line. I doubled back and decided to grab one of my Black Forest Chocolate Crinkle Cookie and see if what he said was true. One bite, and I knew it. Matthew…had it wrong.
The cookie is nothing like sex in my mouth. True, a single bite of the cookie and I was suddenly reminded of the first time I took a bite of black forest cake. The whoosh of memories, like in Ratatouille, hazy in it’s history, me as a child, sitting down and being served a slice of sexy soft dark chocolate cake, covered in light-as-air slightly sweetened whipped cream, crumbly bittersweet chocolate shavings that melted at the touch of my tongue and boozy impossibly obscenely red cherries that dotted the top of the cake. This cookie, with it’s soft bittersweet chocolate interior and sweet crunchy exterior, followed by the bits of dried moist tart cherries found on the inside, transported me away from my crazy Christmas party, and for an instance, I was that child again, experiencing a beautiful cake for the first time. This cookie, the one that Matthew exclaimed was SEX. IN. MY. MOUTH. It was pretty good – maybe a step up from not bad. That’s as high praise as I’m going to give it. But that’s just me. Ask my friend Matthew and maybe you’ll get a different choice of words.
Black Forest Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (gluten free)
By Irvin Lin
I had a number of gluten sensitive friends coming to my party so I baked half of my desserts gluten free and half of them with regular all purpose flour. If you don’t have any gluten issues, omit the chia seeds (which act as a gluten binder replacement) and feel free to substitute 175 g (1 1/4 cup) all purpose flour for all the gluten free flours and starches. However, keep in mind that some of the flours (specifically the teff and mesquite flours) work really well with chocolate. If you really want to make these cookies extraordinary, track down those flours (they are often available at specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods, ethnic grocery stores and online) and use them as specified and just substitute 105 g (3/4 cup) all purpose flour for the remaining gluten free flours and starches. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with the results.
A note about the other ingredients and preparation: Kirschwasser is a clear cherry brandy that is traditionally used to make Black Forest Cake. If you don’t have any, feel free to substitute another cherry brandy or dark rum in its place. The dough needs at least an hour to chill in the fridge to firm up (two hours is ideal but I’m impatient). Be sure to take that into account when making these cookies. Better yet, make the dough one day and let it sit in the fridge overnight and make them the next day.
10 g (1 tablespoon) chia seeds
1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Kirschwasser liquor
225 g (8 oz) of quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
75 g (1/2 cup) unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
35 g (1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons) glutinous rice flour (sometimes called sweet rice flour)
35 g (1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons) superfinely ground white rice flour
35 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
35 g (3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) teff flour
35 g (3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) mesquite flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
113 g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter
330 g (1 1/2 cups) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
100 g (1/2 cup) dried tart cherries, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1. Place the chia seeds in a small clean dry spice grinder and grind to a fine powder (if don’t have a spice grinder you can place the chia seeds in a ziplock bag and using a rolling pin to crush the seeds). Pour the crushed seeds into a small bowl and add the milk, vanilla extract and Kirschwasser liquor. Set aside.
2. Place the chocolate into a large microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for an additional 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until completely smooth, making sure to not overheat. If you prefer, you can use a double boiler to melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool.
3. Place the cocoa powder, glutinous rice flour, white rice flour, cornstarch, teff flour, mesquite flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Using a balloon whisk stir vigorously until uniform in color and evenly distributed.
4. Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add one egg, beat to incorporate, and then the second egg, repeating.
5. Scrape in the melted chocolate to the bowl and beat to incorporate. Add half the dry ingredients, beating to incorporate, then repeat with the milk and ground chia seeds, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Add the dried cherries and beat on medium speed until evenly distributed. Divide the dough into four parts and flatten into 1 inch thick discs and wrap securely in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough until firm, at least one hour or overnight.
6. Once the dough has firmed up, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or piece of parchment paper. Place the cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl, and the cup of confectioners’ sugar in another bowl. Divide each disc of dough into 16 pieces (I cut each disc into quarters, and then each quarter into quarters). Roll each piece of dough into a 1 inch ball. Place the ball in the granulated sugar and roll to coat. Place the same ball in the confectioners’ sugar to coat. The first initial coating of granulated sugar keeps the confectioners’ sugar from absorbing into the dough too much as well as adds a bit of crunch to the cookie.
7. Place the coated dough balls on the lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake in the oven for 13 to 15 minutes or until the surface of the cookies crack. Try not to overbake. Cool on the sheet for five minutes before moving to the wire rack to cool completely to room temperature.
Makes 64 cookies