This month’s We Should Cocoa challenge is being hosted by Janice over at Farmersgirl Kitchen, and she has chosen “cherry” as the special ingredient. I got all excited about this, because I adore cherries. My enthusiasm deflated slightly when I remembered that it’s very much not cherry season here, so I’m a little jealous if you live somewhere with fresh cherries in abundance. But whilst fresh cherries might be off the cards for me, there are plenty of other options: dried cherries, glacé cherries, preserved cherries and kirsch. Adding kirsch is one of my favourite ways of jazzing up anything chocolatey – I nearly always add a (liberal) splash of kirsch when making chocolate cake, and when we made Craig’s meerkat cake, the chocolate meerkat cookies were decorated with kirsch icing.
As much as I wanted to make something combining chocolate and kirsch, frustratingly I’ve yet to actually find kirsch here (I heartily welcome any information on how to resolve that). Luckily, I’ve had a recipe for chocolate and cherry cookies lodged in my brain for the past few weeks, and this was the perfect occasion to try it out (not that I really need an excuse). It comes from The Boy Who Bakes which I borrowed from the library a few weeks ago, and I’ve been wanting to try it since it jumped out at me as I first flipped through the book, particularly since it uses dried cherries so I wouldn’t have to wait until cherry season. A flawless plan, but for one minor detail: the small supermarket that I usually shop at apparently doesn’t sell dried cherries. Dried goji berries, no problem. But dried cherries, nope, I’d have to make a trip to the larger supermarket that’s further away. Not in itself a huge problem since it’s still within walking distance (though not so much with heavy shopping), I just needed to find the time.
Having finally stopped off at said larger supermarket on my way back from the aquarium yesterday, I stocked up on dried cherries which meant it was time to (finally) try out the cookies. It seems to me that adding toasted hazelnuts to chocolatey baked goods is the logical thing to do with it’s cold and windy outside, so I threw some in for good measure. A smashing idea if I might say so. Appropriately for We Should Cocoa, these cookies are very chocolatey, so if you’re not a big chocolate fan then these probably aren’t for you. The dried sour cherries cut through the intense chocolate nicely and the cookies themselves are just a little gooey in the middle, which I love. A little post-publish addition: these cookies went down an absolute storm with my labmates during our afternoon coffee break – one of them never has seconds for sweet things and ate two, and another is eating vegan all month but decided to make an exception because they looked so good… she also ate two. Actually, I think everybody ate two. I can’t give you a better recommendation than that!
Chocolate, cherry & hazelnut cookies
Makes 25 cookies
Adapted from The Boy Who Bakes
To toast the hazelnuts, spread them out on a baking tray, place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and roast for 10 min, until they smell toasty (be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn). Rub the hazelnuts in a clean tea towel to remove most of the skins, and allow to cool fully before using. These cookies are delicious accompanied by a cup of coffee to wash the chocolateyness down. They will keep for a few days in an airtight box.
350g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
130g all-purpose flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
60g toasted hazelnuts
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
150g light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
100g dried sour cherries
1. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C.
2. Melt 200g of the chocolate by breaking it up and placing in a heat-proof bowl over a bowl of simmering water (ensure that the water doesn’t reach the bottom of the bowl). Remove from the heat once melted and allow to cool slightly before using.
3. Meanwhile, roughly chop the remaining chocolate and the toasted hazelnuts and set aside. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a medium-sized bowl, stir together and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and two sugars using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one by one until well incorporated. Beat in the flour mixture a third at a time, until just incorporated. Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the mixture with the electric whisk on medium speed, beating until combined. Stir in the chocolate pieces, hazelnuts and dried cherries.
5. Form heaped tablespoons of dough into balls and place on the prepared baking trays, with up to six per tray. Bake for 13-15 mins until crisped around the edges. Cool for 5 mins on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.