Creating seasonal recipes that are inspired by my passion for local, organic foods

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Salted Chipotle Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I made a lot of cookies over the holidays. But these aren't your ordinary cookies. These are complex cookies with character. The kind that makes your taste buds report in waves of flavors.

First, I took a standard, chocolate chip cookie recipe that I've had success with in the past (and, more importantly, was quick - I was strapped for time). In this case, it's the Ghiradelli Chocolate Chip cookie recipe. And then I doctored it up with some spices, most notably chipotle, cinnamon and cayenne and then sprinkled some sea salt at the finish for a sweet, salty, spicy (with a hint of smoky) flavor profile.

I recommend getting Ghiradelli bittersweet bars and chopping them into chunks or you can use Scharffen Berger chocolate chunks (it ends up being cheaper than the bars). Just make sure you use good quality chocolate. I would have used Guittard, but didn't want to wrestle with chopping up the bulk chocolate. For the rest, I used all organic ingredients, house made vanilla extract and eggs from our backyard chickens.

These end up being mildly spicy. If I weren't baking these for other people (and eating them myself), I would increase the chipotle and the cayenne. So, if you like things spicy, feel free to double the cinnamon, chipotle and cayenne!

Salted Chipotle Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/4 cup unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks
fleur de sel (or fine sea salt)

Heat oven to 375ยบ F.

Stir flour with baking soda, salt and spices and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated.

Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chunks. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle fleur de sel or sea salt on each unbaked cookie.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for three minutes and then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling. Then stuff into mouth.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blackberry, Rum and Black Pepper Jam

We just ran out of homemade jam. It is quite the horror and I'm wondering if I should bust out the frozen berries to make more jam.

Last summer we didn't do as much canning as we normally do because we were out of town for almost a month during prime canning season. This year, I'm sure I'll more than make up for it, but I wanted to let you all know about my favorite jam that I've come up with so far. It's a fantastic mix of blackberries, spicy and complex flavors.

Last summer, I was trying to figure out what additional flavors would go well with blackberry and decided to give fresh ground black pepper and barrel aged rum a try. I was not at all disappointed.

Blackberry, Aged Rum and Black Pepper Jam


5 cups packed (not crushed) blackberries, preferably organic
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 package Ball (or SureJell) natural fruit pectin
7 cups sugar
1/3 cup aged rum*

Makes 9 half-pints.


Rinse and measure blackberries and add them to a large, non-reactive pot. In the meantime, sterilize 9 half-pint canning jars and lids in a water bath canner.

Heat the berries over high, adding in the grated lemon peel and blending. As the berries start to reduce, freshly grind in about 2 teaspoons black pepper on a medium or coarse grind. As the berries further reduce, gradually stir in the fruit pectin.

Bring mixture to a full boil until it cannot be stirred down. Add the entire amount of sugar and stir. Return to full boil and boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Immediately take mixture off the heat and add in the rum. Stir until the rum is well incorporated and the alcohol is cooked off from the residual heat (it will reboil when you add in the rum).

Fill your canning jars with jam, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Apply lids and process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude as per the instructions that come with your pectin).

Remove jars and allow to cool for 12 - 24 hours and store. Assuming you don't eat it all as soon as it's cool.

*For the rum, I used Barbancourt Rhum Reserve Speciale, aged 8 years in oak.

Photo courtesy of Outdoor Blogging