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Mourning Cookies

September 9, 2007
     These little chocolate bites have taken my house by storm–although they came by way of a very sad occasion.  Our friend Debi–the magical one–lost a much-loved cat this week.  We were all so sorry.  My reflex, of course, in any bereavement is to head to the kitchen:  food can’t help, but neither can anything else, and at least it can’t hurt.  Debi is one of my favorite people to bake for, anyway, because she poses a set of unique baking challenges:  no wheat, no dairy, loves chocolate.  So I trolled all my favorite sites for something new.  I’ve already made her a batch of gluten-free homemade Oreos this month, and I wanted something a little less, well, sweetly goofy.  Sandwich cookies are not suitable for a mourning home.

    Smitten Kitchen, as usual, came through.  She calls them World Peace/Korova Cookies.  I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit while making it non-glutenous.  Everyone in my family ate one before I could get them to Debi, and then hung around the kitchen looking sad.  “Wish I had a chocolate cookie,” Little Sunshine said.  “Yeah, one that was crunchy but also gooey,” added a well-coached Tuxedo Boy.  So I followed up with another batch.

    In memory of Jack, a very fine cat.

    Mourning Cookies

    1 1/4 cups flour substitute*
    1/3 cup Hersheys cocoa powder
    1/2 t baking soda
    1 stick plus 3 T butter (that’s 11 T butter all together) at room temperature
    2/3 C brown sugar, packed
    1/4 C granulated sugar
    1/2 t kosher salt
    1 t vanilla
    1 C mini chocolate chips (I recommend Nestle, just because that’s what we always buy.  I’m stupidly, ineradicably brand-loyal about certain products.  Don’t even ask about the Clabber Girl.)

    Cream the butter with the two sugars and the vanilla very thoroughly.  While the mixer is doing its thing, sift the flour substitute, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Add this dry mixture to your creamed mixture, and stir as lightly as possible, just until the dry mixture is incorporated.  It will be sandy and crumbly, but don’t fret.   Pour in your mini-chips and stir again.

    Lay out a piece of waxed paper on the counter, and put half your dough on it.  Working with a very light hand, mold it into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap the waxed paper around it, and twist the ends in opposite directions to firm and smoosh your log.  Repeat with the other half of the dough and refrigerate for a couple hours, or until the logs are quite firm.

    Preheat your oven to 325, and put a Silpat or other liner on a couple of cookie sheets.  Take out your logs and carefully slice them into 1/2 inch rounds.  They’ll fall apart and leave little flakes of dough all over the counter, but stay with me, it’s worth it.  Just press the fragments together gently once they’re on the cookie sheet.

    Bake for 12 minutes.  They will look moist and rather crumbly, and not particularly done.  Take them out and let them cool on the cookie sheet until they firm up enough to transfer to your mouth, or a rack to finish cooling. 

    Deliver to friends in a nice tin, with wax paper between the layers, or on a pretty plate.  Excellent with milk, with coffee, or even, I’m told, with Scotch, although I find that hard to believe.

    *Gluten-free Flour Substitute, courtesy of Land O’Lakes

    2 C rice flour (plain old white rice flour from Win-Co works better than the fancy brown rice flour from the Co-op. Go figure!)
    2/3 C potato starch
    1/3 C tapioca flour
    1 t xanthan gum (this you’ve got to get from the Co-op–it’s in the bulk spices.)

    Mix well and store in an airtight container.  Use cup for cup as a flour substitute, but recognize that it has its limits.  You can’t make bread with it, or popovers, or noodles.  Cookies, heck, yeah.

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