Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cocoa Nib Cookies for a Chocolate & PX Brownie Cake

If someone asked me what was the best thing to come out of starting this blog, the answer would be obvious to me. The friendships I've made through blogging were an unexpected surprise at first, and some of the people I have met have become some of my dearest, closest and most trusted friends. I'd give up the blog in a heartbeat if I had to choose between it and these friends. A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of becoming so close to people who I had only met through the internet, but now it seems inevitable that through reading each others blogs and bantering over twitter that we would be drawn together by our similar interests and views. This post is for all the amazingly creative and wonderful people I have connected with through my blog.
In particular I want to talk about my lovely baking blogger friends Karen and Lisa. I love these two girls like they were my sisters, and even though I've only known them a few years it feels like we've known each other forever. It's incredibly special and somehow satisfying to be surrounded by people who just get you and all your quirks and weirdness. A couple of weeks ago Lisa and I were having one of our usual daily gmail chats and we were brainstorming crazy baking ideas when she came up with a pretty spectacular one. Karen's birthday was looming, and we were planning to take her out to an awesome lunch at Universal restaurant. Lisa suggested we make her an epic birthday cake as an extra present. A sexy chocolate cake. With Pedro Ximenez sherry. Slathered in an even sexier ganache. Oh and how about some salted butter & cocoa nib cookies? If you know Karen or you've ever read her blog then you would understand. She is a lover of all things chocolatey, sexy and salted buttery and is obsessed with dessert booze. We couldn't make this cake anymore like Karen unless we somehow managed to build it legs so it could go frolicking in the fields.
Full credit goes to Lisa for dreaming up and baking this incredible Chocolate & PX Brownie cake, which she carefully carried all the way over to my house (and nearly dropped on the pavement outside the door), and then slathered the whole thing in a thick layer of super luscious and very sexy dark chocolate & PX ganache. The smell in my kitchen of all that chocolate and PX was incredible. My small contribution was the cute little heart-shaped Cocoa Nib & Chocolate Chip Cookies, which we stuck on to the side of the cake and decorated with a ribbon. It was so much fun working with Lisa to come up with the final cake, and since we had some free time we couldn't resist pulling out some props and snapping a few shots, so I'll just use it as an excuse to share the cookie recipe with you and link to her amazing cake. The biscuits are pretty freaking awesome on their own though, they're a little different to my Salted & Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies as they are thin and crisp and have a great nutty flavour and crunch from the bits of cocoa nibs. They're just a little bit sexier and sophisticated. You can cut the dough thicker and bake them for less time if you still prefer your cookies a little chewy in the middle. I actually overbaked the cookies a bit so they were extra crunchy because I was worried they might go soggy once they were sitting in the chocolate ganache on the cake. The addition of the salted butter makes them so addictive, I had to force myself to give away all the leftover biscuits that we didn't use on Karen's cake or I would have eaten them all myself! Good luck trying to eat only one. And make sure you check out Lisa's incredible recipe for her Chocolate & PX Brownie cake. She's a genius.
Cocoa Nib & Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes about 6 dozen cookies depending on how large and thick you cut them, adapted from this Food & Wine recipe)
120g dark chocolate or chocolate chips, finely chopped (I blitzed mine in the food processor to break it up)
4 tbsp (approx 35g) cocoa nibs
2 1/2 cups (approx 300g) plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
280g (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (approx 200g) sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Sift flour, bicarb, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. Beat salted butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 mins. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure it mixes evenly. Beat in dry ingredients at a medium-low speed and then fold in chocolate and cocoa nibs. The dough should be easy to handle and quite firm.
If making regular round cookies, roll dough into 4 separate logs, about 5cm (2 inches) in diameter, wrap well in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least half an hour. If cutting out heart shapes, split dough in two before wrapping and chilling. You can refrigerate this dough for up to a week, or freeze it for up to a month (defrost overnight in the fridge).

Take dough out of fridge and unwrap. If making rounds, use a sharp knife to cut rounds, about 3mm (about 1/8th of an inch) thick. If making hearts, roll dough between two sheets of baking paper to the same thickness and cut with a cookie cutter. Place cut dough on prepared baking sheets (leave about 1.5 cm space for the cookies to expand) and bake for about 20 mins, until they are golden. If you want them to be a little chewier, cut them a tiny bit thicker and then keep an eye on them after 10 mins and take them out as soon as the edges turn golden. For the heart-shaped ones in the picture I overbaked them slightly so they were very crunchy, to make sure they didn't go soggy when stuck to the cake. Leave cookies to cool on trays for 5 mins and then cool completely on a wire rack. Best eaten fresh while the chocolate is warm and gooey but can be stored in an airtight container for several days. Works great as decoration for this Chocolate and PX Brownie Cake. (I also brushed the cookies with some PX right after they came out of the oven for the cake)
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  1. Awww I love you woman. We are awesome.

  2. Quite honestly considering giving up my "beach-in-4-weeks" diet for a slice of this. Heavenly!

  3. I love the heart shaped chocolate chip cookies! You come up with the best ideas!

  4. What a wonderful gift you guys made. I love how you guys brought the things Karen loves and turned it into an impressive cake. And woo to making good friends via blogging :)

  5. So cute! I love the heart shaped cookies on the outside!

  6. Funny how you mentioned Karen 'frolicking' just as she calculated 11 uses of the word in her 3rd year post. Having made some of my best friends through my 8 years of blogging and still going on at it, I know where you girls are coming from.

    I have all the ingredients for these cookies too, thanks for the recipe!

  7. Hahaha frolicking desserts! Love it!! This is one of the best cakes I've ever had and it's not surprising since it had my absolute favourite things in it! Awesome seeing the photos of it coming together :)

    I can't thank you both enough for everything. Love you girls like crazy xx

  8. Naw, you guys are so sweet - like the cake, I imagine... ;)

  9. What a cute post :) You girls are the best!

  10. Wonderful cake .... and cookies too!
    love your blog! :)

  11. Seriously. YUM.

    Also, I love the way you plotted it to be a Karen extravaganza. I love how blogging brings people together.

  12. definitely an epic cake! and the cookies are gorgeous. i love to hear you have made such good friends :)

  13. Mhhhhh, looks soooooo delicious and the heart decoration is so so so so cute :)

    Greetings from Germany

  14. Where do you buy your cocoa nibs? I keep finding these in recipes I want to try and haven't been able to find them in kitchen/food stores I've looked at?

    This looks absolutely delicious :)

  15. Madeline (ThursdayNightBaking) - I got mine from a speciality baking store in Sydney called The Essential Ingredient. Maybe try looking online? Good luck!

  16. WOW - this looks sensational, every inch of this cake looks devine - love the ribbon!

  17. Wow. This cake looks so incredible. For some reason I've never put PX and chocolate together - that's what I've been missing all my life! :-)

  18. This looks incredible, I couldn't think of a better combination of goodies!

  19. that looks amazing - and I adore the little heart shaped cookies on the outside too !

  20. Mmmm looks good! 6 dozen...I think that will be enough for me:) Too much! :)

  21. Best line EVER!

    "We couldn't make this cake anymore like Karen unless we somehow managed to build it legs so it could go frolicking in the fields."

    So true.

  22. Such a beautiful and inspiring post, especially for someone like me who is new to the rather overwhelming world of food blogging.

    Your photos are stunning too, and the cake looks stunning - good work! :)

  23. I'm with you. I treasure the friendships I've made since starting my blog.

  24. such a great idea and beautiful too. you guys are geniuses!

  25. I had some cocoa nibs in the cupboard so thought I would give the cookies a go... Very yummy. Perhaps a little crispier than desired but I think that is my oven (a little on the ancient side). Will be adding these to my recipe book for sure.

  26. How many heart shaped cookies did you need to go around the cake? Im thinking of making the cake and cookies for my boyfriends birthday...

    1. I used 11, but obviously it will depend on the size of your cookies and the size of your cake!


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