February 10th, 2010
I wanted to make something different for Valentine’s Day. Something chocolate, of course, but with more. With a twist. My burning desire for something new led me down a long road paved with failed experiments before coming up with these gems. I wandered (way) far afield before remembering that it’s little adjustments made to the familiar things we know and love that make for the most pleasant surprises.
These chewy chocolate chunk cookies, first discovered on Orangette, are a staple at our house. I hate to admit it, but the first thing that drew me to Molly’s recipe was its use of yogurt (she suggests full fat, but I use non- or low-fat Greek style which always works). There’s still some butter and a cup of sugar, so I’m not claiming that these are completely guilt free (c’mon people—if you’re going to make cookies, enjoy them!), but they aren’t gut bombs either. Which might be why it didn’t occur to me right away to adapt this recipe for our Valentine’s Day treats. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be sinful, right?
All weekend I churned out decadent treats that just weren’t right. Then, it occurred to me: Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be over the top. Instead, it can be mellow and warm. Familiar yet surprising. Quietly romantic. And that’s just what my new version of these cookies are.
This may sound corny, but the shift in my thinking about Valentine’s Day reflects a larger shift in my life. (I know. I’m laying it on thick, but just go with me…) How I feel about becoming a mom for the second time is a perfect example. Everything was (still is) so intense with my first ChowBaby. He and I share a big, loud, boisterous love. My little ChowBaby and I, on the other hand, have an easygoing connection. A peaceful, steady love that warms my soul and gives me quiet comfort. I love them just the same, but motherhood is different this time. It’s a pleasant surprise. And it has less to do with the kids than it does the fact that a second baby is a small(ish!) adjustment to something already familiar, being a parent.
These cookies are different than your average super-rich Valentine’s Day treats, but you’ll love them just the same. The small adjustment of adding warming orange zest and a whisper of cardamom makes these familiar treats brand new. A pleasant surprise. But in a mellow kind of way.
Happy Valentine’s Day. I wish much love to you all.
OH—and one more thing! Two of my favorite food bloggers, Jennifer at Savor the Thyme and Kelsey The Naptime Chef, have joined forces to bring us the Food Is Love Challenge. It’s a fun way to share the foods you use to express love to your family… or, like with these cookies, the way food reflects your feelings for them. Check it out and join the fun.
Orange Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from Orangette, makes about 20 cookies
(can be served to kids 12+ mos)
1 c organic all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp organic cardamom
4 tbsp organic butter (1/2 stick)
2/3 c organic granulated sugar
1/3 c organic light brown sugar
7 tbsp organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c plain organic yogurt (I use non- or low-fat Greek style)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest
½ cup organic semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom.
2. Place butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave briefly, until just melted. Add sugars and sift in the cocoa (you can skip sifting if you are in a rush). Stir to blend well. The mixture will be somewhat thick and pasty, like wet sand.
3. Add yogurt, vanilla and zest and stir to mix thoroughly. Add dry flour mixture and stir to just combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.
4. Drop dough by generous tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. You should be able to fit about 8 or 9 cookies, nicely spaced, on a standard sheet pan. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the tops of the cookies have crackled slightly and look set. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and cool cookies on the pan for 10 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining dough.
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