• Diana Lee

#DistractiBaking: Easy, Salted Chocolate Fudge Cookies Recipe


Headlines today on the New York Times: Italy, Pandemic's New Epicentre, Has Lessons for the World.


When I am not reading about the Coronavirus, I am watching the news about Coronavirus. I go to sleep thinking about the Coronavirus. What if my mother in Sydney gets Coronavirus? I woke up to the repeated words pouring out from the speakers of the local police car passing below my bedroom window: "state a casa, fate per voi e gli altri, uscite solo in caso di necessita..." (stay at home, do it for you and others, go out only if absolutely necessary...).


I feel for the people who are less fortunate than I am. Working freelance means that half my jobs are up in the air right now, but what about those who have lost their jobs entirely, who are without a roof over their heads, who are having to forgo meals to feed their families, the small business owners, the hospitality workers, the anxious and overworked doctors and nurses...


Coronavirus, you have entered and taken over the lives of millions all over the world.


But you won't win over our souls. We will keep ourselves safe, we will adapt, as we humans always have. We will get through this.

In the meantime, we will namaste to Adriene's YouTube yoga lessons, cookalong with Massimo Bottura and his family, virtual rave along with thousands of others to Brooklyn's Nowaday's parties, chill out to Yo Yo Ma's #songsofcomfort, have happy hours over Zoom and FaceTime, even ALONE if the moment calls for it.

Everything we do right now is important. Previously insignificant actions take on greater meanings, from the simplest action of scratching your chin that can potentially put us in danger, to waking up early and getting dressed that goes past daily routine but can help you create a sense of normality to your day.


And when you feel like you just can't, get yourself off the couch, turn off Netflix and YouPorn, and do something that gets you out of your head.


Baking is one, and these chocolate cookies can help.


The list of ingredients are short - the only fresh ingredients involved are butter and eggs. You will need some dark chocolate, and it doesn't even have to be 'quality' type. Just grab a block of regular dark cooking chocolate, or any simple chocolate you can find at the supermarket. (And whilst you're at it, grab a few more blocks for your cupboard, just in case you know, chocolate never hurt anybody.)

These cookies are chocolatey, fudgy, with a touch of salt that also makes them feel very adult-y, if you get me.


There's really not much that can go wrong, and when everything seems to be going wrong outside, that's a good thing. So go grab some chocolate, gather up a handful of pantry ingredients, crank up your oven, line your baking tray, it's time to bake something that will make you feel really, really good.


A helpful tip in times of #procrastibaking (or #distractibaking, if you prefer) is that, as with most cookie recipes, you can easily freeze the cookie dough to bake later. This is handy of course, if you are stuck in quarantine on your lonesome.


How to freeze cookie dough: this always follows the same logic. Shape your balls first, then place them on a tray or large plate and freeze them first for a couple of hours in the freezer. When they are partly frozen this way, you can dump them all in a plastic bag and save them in the freezer. When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven, and place the frozen cookie balls directly onto the lined baking tray and bake as usual, adding a minute or two to the baking time, max. There's no need to defrost them this way.

How to make salty, fudgy chocolate cookies

The ingredients

As mentioned, the ingredients for these fudgy chocolate cookies are pretty basic. There's a small amount of flour (40 grams, that's 1/3 cup in cup measurements), which can easily be substituted for gluten-free flour. Then there are the usual suspects of salt, baking powder, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, butter plus obviously, chocolate.


For the chocolate, I would usually go for a dark chocolate of around 60% cocoa content, but I've tried this with a standard 50% dark chocolate (sold in Italian supermarkets in big blocks, from a brand called Zaini) and it turned out super delicious. Don't fret, it's not time to fret over pedantics these days.

The batter

The only (not-so-)tricky part is melting the chocolate over a gentle heat so that you don't burn it. I melt the chocolate over a bain marie, meaning resting a metal bowl with the chocolate over a medium-size pot with an inch of simmering water that's not touching the bottom of the bowl, and stirring over this residual heat to melt the chocolate along with the butter.


If you have a microwave however, you can place it in a microwave-safe container and melt the chocolate with the butter over 20 second intervals. Heat for 20 seconds, then take it out, give it a stir, then repeat until the mix is entirely smooth.


The batter will be gooey. If it feels too liquid, cover the entire thing and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up. It will make it easier for you to scoop out and roll the dough into balls so that every cookie can be even size and shape.


Place the balls about 5-8 cm apart from each other on a parchment paper lined baking pan to allow for space to spread. Maldon salt sprinkled on top just before they go into the oven is optional - I always have a pack of this salt at home, but if you don't it doesn't matter. The cookies will still be super delicious. Keep it simple.


Easy Salted Chocolate Fudge Cookie Recipe


Makes 12-15

Grab a block of dark chocolate from the shops at your next grocery run and make these chocolate cookies. This recipe uses basic pantry items but the result is nothing but basic - actually they feel so gourmet, you will feel like - at least for some very precious moments - that you everything is under control. If you like them gooey, pull them out at about 8-9 minutes, otherwise go ahead with the full 10 minutes of baking. They're delicious just out of the oven, just try not to finish the whole lot.


Ingredients


40 g plain flour or gluten free flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder


30 g butter, cut in small cubes

225 g dark chocolate, chopped


100 g sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


flaky sea salt


Method


1. Mix the dry ingredients: In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.


2. Melt the chocolate with the butter: Add the butter and chocolate to a medium heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan on medium-low heat with an inch of simmering water to create a bain marie. Melt the butter and chocolate, stirring continuously with a rubber spatula until smooth. Remove from heat, set aside to cool.


3. Beat the eggs and sugar: In another bowl, add the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for a couple of minutes until creamy and light in colour.


4. Drizzle in the chocolate mixture to the egg mix, and beat on medium-high for about 1 minute.


5. Add the flour mix, beat on medium-low for about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides with a spatula.


6. Cover and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This is so that the batter hardens up a little so it's easier to handle. You can skip this step and bake straight away also.


7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 175C. Scoop out large tablespoons of the batter, roll into rough balls (about 35 g each) and place on a lined baking sheet about 5 cm apart from each other.


8. Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will crack on the tops and remain just cooked in the middle. Let them cool on the baking sheet, then cool completely on a wire rack.



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