It's not often that chocolate shows up in desserts 'round my apartment.
That would be my fault. Brandon jokes that I hate chocolate. I don't. But I also don't crave it—at least not regularly.
The other week, Brandon went and made brownies. He cracked a fissure in the retaining wall, and, when the last of the brownies were eaten, I needed more chocolate. Immediately.
The decade or so that I lived in San Francisco, the legendary baker Flo Braker became a fixture in my food-writing world. She had a regular baking column in the San Francisco Chronicle for more than two decades. Seeing her words, recipes and byline were a comforting marker of familiar reliability.
It made sense to turn to her when the chocolate need clung. I cracked open David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert and flipped to the recipe for Flo's Chocolate Snaps.
It's a recipe I have encountered numerous times: Lebovitz has it in a couple of his books. Other people have exclaimed how great the cookies are.
There is minimal room for improvisation in baking recipes. I will comfortably fuss and fiddle with a savory recipe. Playing with cookies? Not the wisest idea for someone who bakes as little as I do. So I slipped into a panic when the recipe called for Dutch-processed cocoa powder. We only had natural cocoa on-hand.
After some frantic internet searches and book scouring, I learned that, in general, it's safe to substitute natural cocoa when Dutch-processed cocoa is listed in a recipe. It's not possible, however, to switch cocoa types the other direction. Oh, baking, you cruel, precise science.
The cookies were simple to make. They were crisp, with a focused chocolate flavor. I thought they were delicious. Brandon did not. They weren't for him anyhow.
Makes about 60 cookies
The dough is quite easy to assemble. I did tweaked the baking instructions a bit, though. The original recipe said the yield was close to 80 cookies; I wound up with closer to 60. No catastrophe there: The cookies are so intense, having fewer is fine. Also, you will probably need to bake the cookies in batches. Or save part of the dough for a round of baking another day. I included the weighted measurements, too—as Lebovitz does in Ready for Dessert—because in baking especially weight is the surest way to a successful result.
- 3 cups (420 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (75 grams) unsweetened cocoa (preferably Dutch-processed, but natural works too)
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces/225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1¼ cups (250 grams) sugar, plus extra for finishing
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a bowl and wooden spoon), beat together the butter and sugar at medium speed until smooth, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Add the vanilla, then beat in the egg and egg yolk.
Set the mixer at the lowest speed and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until completely incorporated. There should be no streaks of butter visible.
Divide the dough into four pieces, each about 7 inches (18 cm) long and 1½ inches (4 cm) in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, at least an hour. The dough keeps in the refrigerator for about 5 days and can be frozen for up to 1 month.
To bake the snaps, position the oven racks in the center and upper part of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice the logs into ½-inch-thick (1.5 cm) rounds and place on the lined baking sheets about ½ inch (1.5 cm) apart. Bake for 5 minutes, rotate each baking sheet, then bake another 5 to 7 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and slightly firm. Remove the cookies from the oven and sprinkle the warm cookies with sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough.
When the baked cookies are warm enough to handle, use a spatula to transfer them to wire racks. Allow to cool completely. They will continue to firm up and get "snappy" as they cool. Once they have cooled, store the cookies in an airtight container for up to a few days.