Almond Brownie Cookies
Brownie cookies? Why not combine two of the greatest desserts of all time?? Maybe next week I’ll try marrying tiramisu and Baked Alaska…okay, maybe not.
These cookies have thin, irregular edges, which crisp beautifully during baking, with domed centers, housing brownie-like cores. Those beautiful striations crisscrossing the cookie tops are an artifact of the high baking soda content and the scooping method used to portion out the dough. And yes, that sprinkling of kosher salt on top is essential — minimize your sodium intake in the other facets of your diet, not in your desserts [Disclaimer: that recommendation comes from the baker in me, not the healthcare professional].
Like my previously-posted Mint Hot Cocoa Cookies, these brownie cookies call for a few envelopes of pre-packaged hot cocoa mix. As I mentioned before, I’m not really a hot cocoa drinker (I’m a coffee/tea purist), so when I get a box of hot cocoa mix for entertaining purposes, I search for other means of using the leftovers than straight-up drinking.
While some people choose to experiment with drugs, I choose to experiment with recipes (fewer side effects, though burn-risk is definitely a consideration). Having established a solid foundation of tried-and-true dough recipes — you know, classic chocolate chips, sugar cookies, chocolate cookies, etc — the world of dough has become my oyster. Testing out small changes in ingredients, flavorings, and/or mix-ins, I have made some delightfully delicious discoveries (as well as some really revolting results). Some of my better life-choices have resulted in the following chocolate chip cookie variants:
Recipe experimenting brings me great joy, as does finding good uses for items that would otherwise fossilize in my pantry due to prolonged lack of use (i.e. hot cocoa packets). This past weekend resulted in a Marie Curie-esque breakthrough combining both of these life-goals: Almond Brownie Cookies. Starting with my go-to chocolate cookie dough, I adjusted the existing sugar-to-unsweetened-cocoa-powder ratio to accommodate the hot cocoa mix envelopes that I happened to have on-hand (remember, unlike unsweetened cocoa powder, hot cocoa mix already contains sugar!).
I also swapped my standard chocolate chips for almond chunks and a chopped-up milk chocolate almond bar. I’m a big fan of chopping chocolate in cookies, since the inherent heterogeneity of the chopped pieces yields delightfully unpredictable dispersion throughout the dough — each mouthful is a mystery! The smaller shavings melt into the dough during baking, while the larger chunks keep their irregular form, ending up as pockets of smooth, rich decadence a varying size. Folding the chopped chocolate into the dough and blindly scooping out the dough for individual cookies randomizes the shavings and the chunks, so each cookie is a snowflake — that’s a form of unpredictability I can get behind!
Almond Brownie Cookies
1 stick unsalted butter, melted & cooled 10 minutes in fridge
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 envelopes hot cocoa mix [see *Note, below]
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 heaping teaspoons espresso powder
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg + 1 yolk, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + more for sprinkling
5.29 ounce milk chocolate bar with almonds, chopped into small shards & shavings
1/4 cup whole natural almonds (unsalted), halved
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together cooled, melted butter, brown sugar, cocoa mix, granulated sugar, espresso powder, and canola oil, until light and fluffy, ~3-4 minutes on medium-high speed. Shut off mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, turn mixer to medium, and add egg, yolk, and vanilla; beat for an additional 2 minutes. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, use a fork to combine and aerate flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Turn mixer to low, and gradually add dry ingredients, mixing ONLY until just combined. Fold in chopped chocolate and almonds. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and chill 24-48 hours (the longer, the better!).
Remove bowl from oven 45 minutes prior to scooping. Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Use a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop (I love this one, thanks Mom!) to portion out your cookies, spacing 2″ apart, and sprinkle tops with a fine dusting of kosher salt. Don’t smooth off those crinkly edges – they’ll turn into delightfully crispy edges during baking! If you don’t have a cookie scoop, that’s fine – you can just use two spoons to scoop out and roughly shape dough blobs, but, be warned, the craggy tops won’t be as defined using this method. Bake for 5 minutes, rotate baking sheet, then bake for an addition 4 – 4.5 minutes. Remove from oven, and allow cookies to sit on hot sheet for 3 minutes. Use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire racks for complete cooling. Store cooled cookies in airtight containers, with wax paper between layers, at room temp, for up to 5 days.
*Note: I used Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation hot cocoa mix. These packets are 1.25 ounces each and contain 18 grams of sugar apiece (which translates to 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar per packet). If your hot cocoa mix is more sugary or less sugary than this one, compensate accordingly with your granulated sugar quantity to maintain the taste and structural integrity of your cookies!