double-chocolate pecan cookies and chocolate chocolate chip cookies: for a commemeration of a continual celebration.


So I decided last year to start a tradition - on my boyfriend's family's birthdays I make a cookie I think they will like. Considering it was my boyfriend's brother's celebration of his birth year a few days ago, it was time to make cookies that were ooey-gooey moist goodness (that's the way he likes any kind of food). The flourless recipe was my first attempt at making cookies for the birthday boy.
Unfortunately, these cookies didn't work. They came out much more of a stiff meringue texture than ooey cookie. I guess that I thought that egg whites would equal soft - a bit nonsensical. (Note - the day after, these cookies were amazing! They softened right up, and were great to give as presents.) Real butter has no equivalent in cookie recipes - margarine produces a lifeless, 'ugh' cookie. If shortening is used, its actually a decent alternative because it holds its shape (it has a higher melting temperature) and doesn't allow the cookie to spread out as much.  But in terms of taste - butter wins. Shortening adds nothing to the flavor, while butter, oh butter, has no equivalent. And, be careful not to over-bake. That is a cookie-maker's nightmare. Also use good chocolate - such as Ghilardi.
Also most cookie recipes, in my opinion, only use 1/2 of the vanilla that is needed (also, only ever use real vanilla extract, the fake stuff is a pale comparison). Vanilla was first used in general to flavor drinking chocolate - a popular drink among the rich in Europe. However, as industrial production of vanilla started, true vanilla was siphoned out of the products, and the use of the cheaper synthetic vanillin became used instead. 
So, after learning my lesson with the first batch, I decided to apply my secret to making good shortbread cookies to my chocolate chip version - cornstarch. Most people associate the humble starch with sauces and gravy, but it is this main ingredient in American Chinese cooking that makes cookies chewy and moist. It is the secret that everyone should know about. So for all you chocolate fiends out there - I present you with, the best chocolate cookie ever, thanks to cornstarch.

Flourless Double-Chocolate Pecan Cookies
(adapted from Everyday Food)

3 c. confectioners' sugar
3/4 c. dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c. chopped pecans (or almonds, or other nuts)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large egg whites, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, sift together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in chocolate and nuts. Mix egg whites and vanilla extract. Add the wet to the dry and stir until just incorporated (careful not to overmix!).

2. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 3 inches apart, onto two greased baking sheets. Bake until the tops crackle - about 25 minutes. Rotate the sheets after 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever
(adapted from a lot about nothing blog)

1 c. unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. dutch-processed cocoa

1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 c. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt

1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. almonds (coarsely chopped)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease baking sheet, or line with parchment paper (not wax paper, trust me, I tried to be cheap and use that in leu - it didn't work). In large bowl, mix together butter and sugars until fluffy - about 3 minutes on medium with a hand mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated - about 1 minute.

2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3. Fold dry ingredients into wet, and stir well until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and almonds.

4. Drop a tablespoon of cookie batter onto the sheet, leaving about 2" between each cookie.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are golden.
6. Remove from oven and let rest about 5 minutes before placing on a cooking rack. 
Enjoy with a big glass of milk, or, if lactose intolerant, almond milk.