With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought a cute love story would be appropriate.
Clearly, it doesn’t involve me. It’s about my grandparents, who are just as madly in love today as the day they met.
One night while I was in California, my grandparents hosted a birthday dinner for my dad. I made this cake.
Anyway, I convinced my grandparents to let me film them telling the story of how they met. If you have 9 minutes to spare watching this video, I suggest you do. It’s quite a cute story.
Anyway, I’ve been looking for an excuse to let that story out.
And, with Valentine’s Day just a few weeks away, I must turn to the mother of all dessert ingredients: chocolate.
My love affair with chocolate goes back a long way.
Aside from wishing I could sustain a diet almost entirely of chocolate, I loved it so much that I even based my high school speech class on the history and processing of chocolate. Yes, I stood behind a podium, in front of 30 teenagers, speaking for ten minutes… about chocolate.
I sure hope they remember something from that.
I spent years as an international development geek, so when Divine Chocolate contacted me and asked me to write a post or two using their chocolate, I was ecstatic.
Divine Chocolate is a fair trade company that works with women in Ghana, a country that boasts the title of second largest cocoa exporter in the world. With the liberalization of Ghana’s cocoa market in the 1990s, one woman saw an opportunity to organize the cocoa farmers whose voices were not being heard (this hits so closely to what my last employer did that you’d think I’d deny its coincidence).
In this recipe, I used their cocoa powder — the cookies came out perfectly. And the packaging was so well-designed!
Try not to lick the screen.
Chocolate Espresso Sandwich Cookies, from Fearless Homemaker
For the Cookies:
1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
6 Tbs. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
For the Mocha Filling:
1 Tbs. instant espresso
4 Tbs.(2 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 Tbs. (2 oz.) cream cheese
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
Making the cookies:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt – set aside. In your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, beating until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until the dough is just combined.
Roll the dough out to an even 1/8-inch thickness. Use the cookie cutter of your choice to cut out your cookies. Arranging them on a baking sheet with an ince of space between each cookie, position a rack in the center of the oven, and bake cookies for 6 minutes, until they look dry and matte. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack for complete cooling.
Make the Mocha Filling:
In a small bowl, dissolve the espresso powder in 2 tablespoons of hot water. Let cool slightly.
In your stand mixer, whip the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and smooth. Reduce the speed to low, and slowly add half of the powdered sugar, mixing until just combined. Add the espresso solution and vanilla extract, mixing until just incorporated. Gradually incorporate the remaining sugar and the cocoa powder. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the filling is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more.
To assemble the cookies, transfer the cooled cookies to a work surface, flipping half of them over. With a piping bag, distribute a dollop of the filling onto each turned-over cookie. set another cookie on top of each filled cookie, pressing gently to spread the filling.