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Monday, October 12, 2015

Oatmeal Cocoa Bean Cookies

After what seemed like an eternity of cookielessness, inspiration came to whisper into my ear, smelling of cocoa beans ans cinnamon.  This summer I visited the Valhala of chocolate.. The Valrhona city of chocolate where each step of the chocolate making process was accompanied by a taste test.  It was an interesting experience that tested touch, smell, and of course, the different parts of the tongue reacting to taste.  Aside from just gorging on quality chocolate, I was impressed the the cocoa tree and it's magnificent raw fruit, the cabosse.
The delicate white flesh from the cabosse is similar in taste and texture to a lychee, and the beans are actually the seeds of the fruit.  They must be fermented, then dried, then washed, then dried, then roasted before they can start to become what we know as chocolate.  They start to be edible after toasting, where they release their delicate chocolate aroma, but are still 100% bean, so not at all sweet.  Over the years I've been leaning more and more toward very dark the same way that I like my coffee black.  I feel like I'm tasting the real thing instead of eating candy.  Chocolate for me is more of a degustation than a snack.  It is a small taste of our Earth's many hidden treasures.  When I saw you could actually buy the whole untransformed toasted cocoa beans, I was thrilled.  They are slightly bitter but nice to chew on as the flavor develops while your saliva breaks it down.  When a good friend offered me a bag of these little beans, I decided to try cooking with them instead of just munching on them.  As it turns out, they work magic in oatmeal cookies!
Yield 3 dozen small cookies
115g (1/2 cup or 4oz) room temperature butter
105g (3.7oz) brown sugar or cassonade
1 egg
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1/2 tsp extract)
70g (2.5oz) flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
1 1/2 cup oats
100g (3.5oz) dark chocolate, broken into bits (mine had coffee beans in it)
85g (3oz) roasted cocoa bean, crushed with a mortar and pestle into chunks
1.  Sift the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt together and set aside.
2.  Cream the butter and sugar together.
3.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well until as homogenous as you can.
4.  At this point, I like to switch to a wooden spoon.  Add in the sifted dry ingredients a bit at a time until evenly incorporated.
5.  Stir in the oatmeal, crushed cocoa beans, and dark chocolate bits.
6.  Place 1 Tbsp sized balls of dough onto a baking sheet, separating each ball at least 1 1/2 inches apart.  With 1 Tbsp I had 3 dozen cookies.  They are a perfect size for me, but go ahead and make them bigger if that's what you prefer.
7.  Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C 375°F for 10-12 minutes.
8.  Remove and let cook on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before eating.

Ladies and Gentlemen.... cookie season has officially begun!

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