Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Spicy chocolate pecan cookies

spicy chocolate pecan cookies

Valentine, Texas is a squint of a town in far West Texas. If you’re heading to Marfa from El Paso, then you’ll drive through it as you head to your destination. Though if you’re not paying attention, you could very well miss it.

While Valentine is indeed small, it is large enough to have a post office. And every year people send their valentine cards to Valentine, Texas to get a special postmark. That post office, however, is the only business around. So, for instance, if you’re hungry then you’ll have to keep on driving. But that’s okay, as Marfa is only a few more miles down the road.

Now Marfa isn’t large either, but it does have a fair number of places to eat. You’ll find Mexican food, American food, Italian food, falafels, grilled cheese sandwiches, a Dairy Queen, and pizza. There’s also a quirky cafeteria, which has delicious proteins, sides, sandwiches, and homemade cookies for dessert.



The last time I was in Marfa, I ate lunch at the cafeteria, which is called Future Shark. It was a fine meal and after a week of stuffing my face with nothing but cheese, tortillas, and chili gravy, it felt good to get some fruits and vegetables (besides chips and salsa) into my system. As good as my meal was, however, I declined grabbing one of the cookies on display because I was too full.

This turned out to be a mistake. And as I drove out of town and continued on my road trip, I kept wondering if perhaps I should turn around and go back for a cookie. Well, that didn’t happen. The West Texas sky was magnificent that day and I was soon caught up in taking pictures of clouds. And the nice thing about Texas is that there is an abundance of good food so I found plenty to eat once I hit Alpine, the next town down the road.

But I kept thinking about those cookies. Fortunately, when I got back to New York, a little research lead me to a recipe for a spicy chocolate cookie by the cafeteria’s chef, Krista Steinhauer, which I found in the book “Sweet on Texas” by Denise Gee. I’m not certain if it was one of the desserts on display when I ate at the cafeteria, but I knew that I could at least bake one of her tantalizing creations at home.

In my haste to make the cookies, however, I soon realized that I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, such as pepitas. But I did have pecans, which make for a fine substitution, and I found that the rest of the recipe was also extremely adaptable.

spicy chocolate pecan cookies

Are you a fan of chocolate along with a little heat? Then this spicy chocolate pecan cookie is for you. Starting with a rich cocoa base, the cookie gets additional jolts from espresso powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and orange zest, along with pinches of ground clove and cayenne for a bit of fire. And then to keep things texturally interesting, you add handfuls of oatmeal and toasted pecans, along with some chocolate chips.

Each crisp yet tender bite is rich with deep, nutty chocolate. Though speaking from experience, you might have to eat several cookies in a row to confirm that this is indeed the case. Also know that if you’re a dunker, these go extremely well with a glass of milk or a cup of creamy morning coffee.

spicy chocolate pecan cookies

As chocolate and valentines go together like rice and beans, what could be more appropriate than a chocolate cookie inspired by a Texas town also named after that particular saint? (Okay, admittedly its inspiration was a few miles down the road, but it’s close enough.)

You’ll want to share these spicy chocolate pecan cookies with someone you love—on Valentine’s Day or at anytime, because like love, cookies are always welcome. And if the big sky and vast, scratchy dessert of far West Texas are also in your heart, then perhaps eating a plate of these will keep you satisfied until it’s time to hit the road again.

Spicy chocolate pecan cookies (Adapted from "Sweet on Texas" by Denise Gee)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
3/4 cup all-purpose four
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped roasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or line with parchment paper two baking sheets. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest and beat until creamy.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa power, espresso powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne. Add the dry mixture to the liquid mixture. Stir until well combined. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and pecans.

Working in batches, form the dough into walnut-sized balls (if it’s too soft, you can place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes) or scoop out the dough using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoope, and then place on the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart.

Bake one sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies have expanded and puffed. When they come out of the oven, the cookies will still be soft but as they cool, the cookies both harden and flatten. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Repeat for the remaining cookie dough.

Yield: about 30 cookies

Note: Espresso powder is a dark, finely ground instant coffee. You can usually find espresso powder next to the regular instant coffee at the supermarket or at gourmet stores. If you can't find it, then finely ground coffee beans, preferably a dark roast, can be substituted instead.

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23 comments:

Carol said...

What good timing. I was just thinking (when I should have been proofreading) that I should bake something for dessert tonight and went to your site for inspiration. Checked the cupboard and all the ingredients for the chocolate pecan cookies are on hand so I'm going back to the kitchen to start baking. They sound so yummy although I'll leave out the coffee.

Katrina @ WVS said...

Mmm so much yummy spice in this recipe! I love the sound of these cookies!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Carol--Don't you love it when you have everything you need on hand? Have fun baking!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Katrina--The spices definitely make these cookies wonderful!

Carol said...

The cookies are every bit as yummy as promised and, bonus, the house smells great. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Carol--You're welcome--I'm so glad you like them!

Kate said...

Love chocolate with a little kick! And, um, pecans. Obviously. Thanks so much for sharing this!

marcy b. said...

I'm so going to make these for my husband!! I do have pepitas so I'll make half pecan and half pepita. How about some Abulita Mexican hot chocolate to dunk theminto? That's what I'm talking about, y'all!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kate--You can never go wrong with pecans!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Marcy B.--Dunking them in Mexican hot chocolate is a brilliant idea!

Shelley said...

Some pecan tree somewhere is gratified by these results.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Shelley--I like to think so!

Rosie O'Grady said...

I went to school at Alpine to get a degree in mid-management and loved the atmosphere. That country has a culture all its own! The cookies are next on my list to try. Thanks for the recipe.

ninivepisces said...

They found their way to Germany and are so great, thank you!

Patrice said...

The thing I love most about this (besides how delicious these cookies sound) is that your cookie sheet looks just like mine... well-worn and loved!! :)

Karin Anderson said...

Sounds really nice, and I love spicy chocolate. Will give them a try - better have a nice warm cookie with tea, than shoveling another 3 feet of snow.

Jennie @themessybakerblog said...

I can't blame you for not being able to shake the thought of these cookies. They look delicious. I love the combo of chocolate and spice.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Valentine sounds like my kind of place. The town I live in is very similar - I love small towns!

These cookies, what can I say? They're going to haunt me until I make them...

Caroline said...

When I rode my bicycle across the US in 2010 from St. Augustine to San Diego I passed through Valentine and Marfa ! We had our own food so we went into the sweet little library in Valentine and sat in their kitchen and ate our packed lunch. What a welcoming spot on the map. The library has a wonderful story behind it. In Marfa we saw the interesting display, along the road , of beautiful high heel shoes...one of each pair...it was and Art Show !! Amazing place...Texas. Will make these cookies since we didn't see the main part of Marfa so missed the restaurants. Glad to find your blog . c

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Rosie--You're welcome! And what a wonderful place to go school. It's so beautiful there.

Ninivepisces--These cookies are well travelled!

Patrice--Those are the best kind of cookie sheets.

Karin--Hopefully spring will arrive soon!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Jennie--Isn't it an excellent combination?

Rocky Mountain Woman--Small towns are the best!

Caroline--What a wonderful story! I'll have to look for the library next time I"m there.

Shikha Kaiwar said...

Mmmmm I love spicy cookies!

Stacee said...

Oh Valentine! I will never forget the little town where the high school kids got so excited to have a 5th boy in their school so they could finally have a basketball team. It is also where I learned to make tamales. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

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