Double Chocolate Cherry Truffle Cookies

August 5, 2009 at 5:34 pm 36 comments

You know you love something when you love every single step of it. Take baking for example.

I love the initial spark of creativity, the moment when I know I want to be in the kitchen. I might be driving home, staring into the distance, when an image of white chocolate and matcha powder floats into my head. Or maybe I’ll be sitting in French class conjugating verbs when I’ll suddenly start writing up a shopping list. It’s strangely fun to brainstorm flavors and think about dessert.

I love the whole process of baking, too. I love how structured and precise it is to cream the butter, warm the eggs to room temperature in a bowl of water, measure out the sugar with a spoon. I know some people find it restricting, but I love following recipes to a T.  I love the smell of flour that sifts up when I open the container. I love the dusting of spices that ends up on my fingers when I clumsily open the caps. I love the silence except for the quiet humming in my head and the sound of the mixer churning magic.

And you know I’m smitten when I tell you I even like the dishes. I like putting everything in the sink all at once, so that I can hardly turn on the tap without getting water everywhere. It’s comforting somehow, the repetition of cleaning and the warmth of the water. When the dishes are finally clean, the oven timer usually goes off. And I love it when my timing is just right.

And of course, who doesn’t love the next step… taste testing. I nibble the ugliest cookie of the bunch, level the cake and sample the scraps, cut off a tiny crusty corner of brownie. I usually force my mother to try it, and she does, grudgingly.

But would you believe that truly, honestly, my favorite part is what comes next – wrapping my baked goods, tucking them in tupperware, and sharing them. At school, I love to pass them out to my friends. I love to see their expressions perk up when they see the cake carrier, and when I tell them what I brought. I get to see their reactions right then and there at the lunch table, and figure out how successful it really was.

But it’s another story when my mom brings something to work. She comes home, tired, throws down her heavy bags and the empty containers rattling with crumbs. “Well?” I ask. “Did people like it?”

“Yes,” she replies.

“Well?” I press for details. “What did they like about it?”

“I don’t know. They said it was good.”

Basil Ice Cream Sandwiches with Double Chocolate
Cherry Truffle Cookies, melting in 100 degree heat

It doesn’t matter that I want feedback and that I am alright with criticism. I guess the truth is this: most people are not very good at describing food. They know that they like it, but they can’t tell you why. “Appearance? Texture? Flavor? What was the best?” simply elicits a little shrug and a smile. They just don’t know what to say.

As I’m working at my mom’s office this summer, I decided to take advantage of my presence. I set out a batch of these Double Chocolate Cherry Truffle Cookies in the kitchen along with a notepad: “Eat and leave me a comment.” As I filed, stamped, and stuffed, at least six people popped their heads in, chewing, and said, “This is great!”

Twenty minutes later, someone came in with the empty box. She handed me the notepad. There were a few comments on it – “Yummy!” “I loved it!” “Thanks!” I read them quickly and gave a little sigh. I looked up as she smiled and said, “I think the fact that the box is empty speaks for itself.”

I couldn’t help but laugh – I had to agree.

These Double Chocolate Cherry Truffle Cookies are amazing. I found the recipe from Kate Zuckerman, who has never disappointed me before with her book The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle. The recipe also appears in Baking with Julia, and I have made it multiple times (uncommon for me). It is, to date, the only recipe my dad has ever asked for. I got a very special kind of glee when he admitted once that he’d made them and they weren’t as good as mine. Seriously, I might even take back what I said earlier about my all time favorite cookie.

It’s a very adult cookie in every sense. I added the world “truffle” to give the warning: it’s extremely rich and demands a glass of milk. The texture is soft, a little chewy, and melt-in-your-mouth in the most literal way possible. Might I also mention that the batter is divine too, if that’s how you roll.

The eggs in this recipe are whipped a full 10 minutes, and the cookie puffs and falls a bit after baking, giving it a crinkly and pillowy appearance. It’s made with three types of chocolate – unsweetened and bittersweet in the batter, and semisweet chips. Dried cherries add something sweet, chewy, and tart. And the secret weapon – ground coffee – gives the cookies depth and a rich, grown-up flavor. As I said, I’ve found that adults enjoy this cookie more than kids.

I’ve left the recipe as is (why tamper with perfection?) but this cookie is also good with chopped almonds. I made some sandwiches using the basil ice cream I made earlier, and oh boy. Chocolate, cherry, and basil is one good combination. This would also be great with chocolate, coffee, cherry, pistachio, or vanilla ice cream too. In the uncharacteristic Seattle heat wave, the sandwiches were very melty and very messy, but very tasty.

Double Chocolate Cherry Truffle Cookies
From The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle
Makes 30 large cookies

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tbsp freshly ground coffee
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (4.5 oz) dried cherries, chopped

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar and set aside.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and butter in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir frequently and remove from heat. Allow chocolate to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed. Add the sugar and beat until the eggs triple in volume and hold the lines of the whisk, about ten minutes. Add the ground coffee and beat another minute.

Add the melted and cooled chocolate to the eggs on low speed. Beat until incorporated, then add the dry ingredients, chocolate chips, and dried cherries. Beat until just combined – do not overmix. Finish mixing by hand with a rubber spatula. The batter will be very runny. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, or up to two days [I find that batter chilled 2 hours makes nicer cookies than batter chilled for 2 days.]

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. For large cookies, use two tablespoons to scoop the batter into large mounds. Place 2″ apart on sheet and bake 12-15 minutes. For small cookies, scoop the batter with two teaspoons and bake 8-10 minutes. The cookies puff in the oven and fall a bit once removed. Let cool on the sheets. Enjoy with milk!

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My Favorite Ice Cream Georgetown Chocolate Cupcakes and 7 Things

36 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Valérie  |  August 5, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    This was a wonderful post. Your description reminds me of everything there is to love about baking.

    These cookies look… I believe scrumptious is the word. I can almost feel their texture in my mouth!

  • 2. Wendy  |  August 5, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I’m totally with you about what’s to love about baking! At school, my concentration would just suddenly escape from the lesson on, let’s say, biology. I start thinking about a cookie or cake or dessert I want to create, I imagine what it will look like and would draw it out on the worksheet in front of me. And then I’d tap the person next to me and say “I want to make/eat ____ now.” And then I’d be called crazy!

    And I love the photo of the ice cream sandwich with the melting ice cream – the runny icecream dribbling out makes it even more alluring and attractive!

  • 3. Katie  |  August 6, 2009 at 1:24 am

    I made cookies very similar to this in the Sweet Melissa Sunday baking group and they were to die for! Just a shame, in England it’s quite hard to find dried sour cherries.

    Katie xox

  • 4. fillmyrumblingtummy  |  August 6, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Gosh, I know EXACTLY how you feel. It’s really hard to improve when someone just tells you that it tastes good, but you don’t know good in what sense. Anyway, I’ve really missed emailing you! I’m so jealous. You get to bake, while I’m only able to SEE what you bake! ):

  • 5. thea  |  August 6, 2009 at 6:25 am

    they look delish! can’t wait to make them. how much sugar?????

  • 6. Dolce  |  August 6, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Most people like sugar because it’s a taste that is easy to comprehend. That’s also the main reason why most people don’t actually like dark chocolate. It’s not sweet : it’s bitter, it’s acid. And yet, it can fill your mouth with such delicate flavors such as white flowers or spices… But, again, should it be chocolate, wine, dessert in general or anything new you come up with, people look for the simple flavors they know. If they don’t recognize and they still like it, you will get a “great” comment. It’s flattering, still, but sometimes annoying indeed. I love when people taste something I just made and tell me “there is something inside. That’s different. What is it” – like having cardamom in a crumble instead of cinnamon can throw most people off balance.

  • 7. flory  |  August 6, 2009 at 9:49 am

    i almost did a double-take at the phrase “Seattle heat wave”, but then i remembered what summer was like there when i visited it, and then i saw the word “uncharacteristic”. this recipe sounds incredible – i recall making something similar, but it was an Alice Medrich recipe with yoghurt in it.

    don’t know if you’re a movie buff, but since you like random acts of kindness (who doesn’t?) you’ll love Amelie – s’a french movie, if you haven’t heard of it. Le Fabeleux Destin D’Amelie Poulain, to be exact. ohgodiwanticecream

  • 8. Baking Monster  |  August 6, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    These look soo good. and I love all those things with baking too. I also have my mom bring my baked goods in to work and i get the same answer from her.

  • 9. evan  |  August 6, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    you are a very talented writer. i’m a delurking reader and a senior in college, and i’ve yet to come across many people my age or older who have your knack for words.

    i just had to comment, because i enjoy reading your blog more than many of the some 150 that i keep track of. please keep nurturing your talents for cooking and writing, they’re important skills that will bring you great things.

  • 10. nutmegnanny  |  August 6, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    These look amazing! I bet they taste even better :)

  • 11. Livy  |  August 6, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I love adding coffee to rich chocolate desserts. I put it in chocolate buttercream and brownies.

  • 12. Hilary  |  August 7, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Sharing is what I love most about baking, as well. I’d much rather share and give pleasure to other people than eat it myself!

  • 13. amy  |  August 7, 2009 at 9:44 am

    ohmy. that sounds sooo decadent and delish! like a blackforest cake in cookie form:)

  • 14. Basht  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:36 am

    i’m drying cherries right now so that i can make these, and because you said it was good (and i’m really interested to see how they turn out) i made the basil ice cream last night :)

  • 15. Madison  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:48 am

    They look delicious. Yes, an empty box lets you know you’re doing something right.

  • 16. Akila  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I know exactly what you mean – when I ask people whether something was good, they invariably say yes, but I want to know why. Is it the sourness, the pucker, the sweetness? What is it that makes it so delicious? At least you have an empty box that ensures that they loved it!

  • 17. Laura  |  August 7, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Reading your descriptions of the conception of a recipe to that wonderful moment when you find your goodies gone and vain hope that someone will have an insightful comment… It was like reading my own mind!

  • 18. betchacanteatjustone  |  August 7, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    So wonderful to read, and the cookies look amazing!

  • 19. Marta  |  August 8, 2009 at 9:52 am

    You know, I’ve tried about 15 different brownie recipes at home to try to find the best one… but most of my family members found them all “good”, “delicious”, “fudgy”, etc… so, I concur with you, most people are not sufficiently eloquent at describing food! I guess that’s why not everyone is a food critic!
    I’m in awe of your creativity and classiness… this combination is truly worth it of a five-star restaurant!

  • 20. maris  |  August 9, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I love mint chip ice cream. Not HUGE on cherries with chocolate but I think I could get past them for that delicious mint/chocolate combination!

    • 21. Elissa  |  August 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm

      Maris – The cherries are so good with the chocolate, but you could probably omit them and the cookies would be fine. Or you could experiment with other dried fruits. Also, the ice cream is basil flavored, but mint chip ice cream is one of my favorites too.

  • 22. Megan@Feasting on Art  |  August 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Wow, these look so delicious and basil flavored ice cream has me very intrigued.

  • 23. Puppydogs  |  August 9, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Hi, wow these look amazing!
    Can you please help with a question…coffee? as in coffee grounds, not instant or espresso powder?

    doesnt it make the cookies grainy?

    • 24. Elissa  |  August 9, 2009 at 9:47 pm

      Puppydogs – Hi, I do mean freshly ground coffee. It doesn’t make the cookies grainy. It’s a small amount and the ground coffee is reasonably fine/small. All it does is bring out the flavor of the chocolate. It’s delicious!

  • 25. peabody  |  August 9, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Those look yummy.

  • 26. stephchows  |  August 11, 2009 at 7:35 am

    A perfectly on target description of why I love to bake :)

  • 27. Ash  |  August 11, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    These cookies look quite delightful and sinful.. but I’m willing to take that route! :)

    Just found you’re blog by the way… great stuff!


  • 28. Sara@SproutedKitchen  |  August 16, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    loovveee cookies and ice cream! i love you blog, so great! You are an exceptional writer. I’m glad you like the preciseness of baking – that takes a special person… I can’t do it ;) Keep in touch!

  • 29. Tanya  |  August 25, 2009 at 3:45 am

    These cookies look AMAZING! I’m seriously going to get the oven mitts out this weekend to try them out for myself :)

    Just did a cookie post on my blog as well, feel free to check it out!

  • 30. Michele Norine  |  October 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    OH MY!!! What is not to love about this cookie – sounds like a bite of heaven to me…..chocolate, cherries, butter and sugar?? I’ve got to try it. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • 31. Chocolate Cherry Cookies « Baltimore Nesties Cookbook  |  November 25, 2009 at 6:03 pm

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    Wow! I saw you on the AOL homepage and clicked. I’m reading your stuff and i think it’s amazing! You are a fantastic artist! And I play cello! So naturally, your cello cake made me like, so excited. Haha, it looks so tasty!

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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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