The inclusion of ancho chile powder adds an unexpected richness to these light, chewy cookies. As baker Cindy Mushet writes, "The could of chile powder adds an intriguing backnote - not heat exactly, but a sultry earthiness that enhances the chocolate flavor." Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur or cooled brewed coffee 6 ounces 70-percent bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 2 large eggs 1 cup sugar, divided use 3/4 cup flour 1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted and cooled completely 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder (optional) 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup unsifted powdered sugar Bring 2 inches of water to boil in the bottom of a double boiler. Place the butter, liqueur or coffee, and chocolate in the top of the double boiler (off the heat). Turn off the heat, then set the chocolate over the steaming water. Stir occasionally with a spatula until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove and cool slightly while you whip the eggs. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and 1/2 cup of the sugar on high speed until very light in color and thick, 5 to 6 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, though you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Scrape the melted chocolate mixture into the eggs and whip until blended, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Place the flour, nuts, cinnamon, baking powder, chile and salt in a food processor and process until the nuts are very finely chopped, 60 to 90 seconds. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Stir gently. a few times with a spatula to make sure there are no patches of unincorporated flour lurking near the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until firm.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and position an oven rack in the center. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pour the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the powdered sugar into two separate bowls. Scoop the chilled dough into tablespoon-sized balls using an ice cream scoop or a spoon. Roll each dough ball in the sugar and then in the powdered sugar. Be sure to coat the dough generously with the powdered sugar -- in this instance, more is better. Space the cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
[amazon-product]0740773348[/amazon-product]Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking time, for 11 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and cracked. If you nudge a cookie, it should slide on the sheet rather than stick. It is better to underbake these slightly than to go too far -- when overbaked they are dry and unpalatable. Transfer to a cooking rack and let cool completely.
Makes 36-40 cookies.
Adapted from "The Art & Soul of Baking" by Cindy Mushet