Last Thursday at Casa Yllika (our home in Lima), we surprised our dear housemate, Luna, with a birthday sign and balloons strung up outside her bedroom. It reminded me of the high school days when my friends and I would decorate each other’s lockers whenever there was a birthday. 🙂
As part of a little birthday treat for Luna, I put together this new cookie recipe, which was inspired by one of my favorite cookie recipes of all time: Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. (Stay tuned in the coming weeks for that recipe.)
In a previous post, I wrote about the difficulties in finding certain cookie ingredients in Lima groceries. Well, another ingredient I still have yet to find here is chocolate chips! Although a good amount cacao beans are harvested and exported from the Peruvian Amazon, quality chocolate products seem to be a second thought here. Most chocolate bars sold here are imported from the UK, America, or Switzerland. The closest thing to Peruvian baking chocolate that I have come across is this brand, Cobertura:
But check out the main ingredients for this “bitter chocolate” bar…
In Europe and North America, chocolate bars are typically comprised of cocoa butter, cocoa solids, milk (if milk chocolate), and sugar. Sugar (azucar as we see above) shouldn’t be the first ingredient of a chocolate bar though! That was a big turn off.
I really wanted these cookies to be made with real chocolate and strictly Peruvian ingredients, so I turned to… the hot cocoa section! It was there that I found Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa, Nesquik powder, Ovaltine, and other Peruvian alternatives to cocoa powder. They also sold the Abuelita hot chocolate bars, which I’ve had before and are very delicious. However, since Abuelita is a Mexican hot chocolate brand, they wouldn’t work for my Peruvian hot chocolate cookies. Finally, I came across this brand of hot chocolate bars, Sol Del Cusca:
Ingredients included: cocoa paste, cocoa powder, soy lecithin thickener, and vanilla. I could do without the soy lecithin, but this was the closest thing to pure Peruvian chocolate that I could find!
To make these cookies, I melted the Sol Del Cusca chocolate bar, let it cool, and mixed it in with some other traditional (and not so traditional) cookie ingredients. The resulting cookies were chewy and chocolatey with a little cinnamon spice. Best of all, they stayed soft for days to come! Please do give them a try in your own kitchen, and let me know what hot chocolate bars you are able to find in your groceries!
Peruvian Hot Chocolate Cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 9-11 minutes
Makes: about 30 cookies
3.2 oz Peruvian hot chocolate bar
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick), softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
First, roughly chop the hot chocolate bar. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl.
Use a double boiler to melt the chocolate:
– Fill a medium saucepan with just enough water, so that the bottom of the stainless steel bowl does not touch the water when fitted over the saucepan.
– Over medium low heat, allow the water to come just to a boil. Place the stainless steel bowl with the chocolate pieces over the saucepan. Stir continuously with a spoon until all of the chocolate has melted. This should only take 1 – 1 1/2 minutes.
– Turn off the heat, and set the chocolate aside immediately. You do not want to burn the chocolate! Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, as the melted chocolate cools, whisk together your dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, paprika. Set aside.
When the chocolate is cooled, use an electric mixer to mix together the melted chocolate, sugar, and softened butter in another large bowl.
Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until the eggs are just incorporated (you don’t want to overmix). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Use the rubber spatula to gradually add in the dry ingredients. Mix gently until you can no longer see the white dry ingredients in the cookie dough. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once more. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cookie dough for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Use an ice cream scoop or 2 spoons to shape about 2 tablespoons of cookie dough into rounds. Stagger them on your lined baking sheets about 3 inches apart.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the center no longer looks too moist. Cool for 1 minutes, then use a metal spatula to transfer to a cooling rack.
And now I leave you with this… an adorable video of Cookie Monster dealing with the possibility that cookies do not exist in the UK: