A Toasted Twist on Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

Cacao is all the things we sometimes can’t be: luxurious, sophisticated, smooth,  luscious, bitter & sometimes even nutty.

Native to the Americas, specifically South, cacao is a fermented & dried pulpy seed of the Theobroma cacao. Although the name may not sound familiar, cacao is the seed from which cocoa powder, butter, & solids come from. The nibs are more common than you’d guess; heating & grinding the them creates chocolate liquor & adding a bit of alkali turns cacao into Dutch processed cocoa powder.

Cacao not only tastes wonderful, but it also boasts a healthy does of magnesium & supplies the body with antioxidant compounds called flavonoids. Magnesium is vital for women around the time of menstruation as it quells headaches & prevents muscular cramps. In the case of phytonutrients, flavonoids work in the body to prevent the oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LDL) aka “bad cholesterol”. Now, before your get your heart set on eating cacao at every meal, bathing in it, and praying to, it there are some things you should consider:

1. Raw cacao is what is going to give you benefits.  2. FAIR TRADE chocolate or cacao should be a priority while purchasing  3. The mass growth & production of cacao is leading to deforestation- consume wisely.

Toasted Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour,   1/2 cup wheat germ,  1/2 tsp baking soda,  1/2 tsp baking powder,  1/2 tsp sea salt,  1/2 cup unsalted butter,  1/2 cup brown sugar,  1/2 cup cane sugar,  2 large eggs,  2 tsp vanilla extract,  1 Tbsp dark rum,  2/3 cup toasted* almonds,  1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds,  1 cup sweetened cacao nibs** (extra dark baking chocolate or semi-sweet chips work just as well)

* to toast sesame seeds and almonds place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with brown sugar & place in the preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes. The almonds should be fragrant and crunchy when they’re finished.

** sweetened cacao nibs should be available at your local health or specialty food store.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, place racks in middle. Coat baking sheet with oil.

Whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the butter (with an electric mixer) until light and fluffy, then add sugars, beating until the consistency thickens. Add the eggs one at a time, beat until fully incorporated before adding the next one. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl while mixing. Stir in the vanilla & rum. Add half of the dry mix at a time, mixing between each addition. By hand, mix in the toasted almonds, sesame seeds & cacao nibs. Work dough until everything is evenly mixed.

In heaping tablespoons, drop cookies onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Be sure not to over-bake, these cookies are the best when they’re soft.

Enjoy with a scoop of ice cream nestled between them, or dunk them into hot coffee.

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