By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
"I don't drown my sorrows; I suffocate them with chocolate chip cookies." -- Author Unknown
Here comes the rain. Welcome to the West Coast storms. The water (we don't get a lot of rain storms in the Sierras) reminds of an European island--like Sicily. It's a perfect day to play hooky from real life, stay home and cozy up to the fireplace and bake a batch of homemade gourmet chocolatey chip cookies. (I will do this today or tomorrow morning. Yep, still enjoying the healthful mini-fast.) The problem is, I can't decide to go for dark or white chocolate chips. So, I'm doing what Librans do: It's going to be a triple chocolate feat. That way I'll get both dark 'n' white chocolate chips and cocoa powder for the darker cookies, too...
These Sicillian cookies I've dreamed up have an Italian edge to them. One, I'm using 72% cacao chocolate chips. (It's an acquired taste and healthier, too.) Two, I'm using white chocolate, but less, as European chocolatiers do to decorate their chocolates. Three, I'm turning to premium unsweetened cocoa powder for half the cookies (so I can enjoy the best of both chocolate worlds). Also, for the double dark chocolate ones I'm going to use lime extra virgin olive oil (the roots of lime are from Sicily).
Pairing lime and dark chocolate (with nuts) reminds me of the scrumptious handmade chocolates I enjoyed during the research of my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate. The best part: You get two types of cookies with three types of chocolate. It's a serious chocolate lover's fantasy. No milk chocolate this time around.
Sicillian Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups all natural whole wheat flour (I use a bit more because of the high altitude)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup European-style butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup golden brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large brown eggs
1/3 cup 2% organic low-fat milk (optional)
1 cup Gourmet Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips,
72 percent cacao, extra bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup premium white chocolate chips
1/3-1/2 cup premium baking cocoa natural
unsweeetened cocoa powder
2-3 teaspoons of lime extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup premium hazlenuts, chopped (optional)
Cream sugars (add more to taste) and melted butter. (Be careful not to burn. I use the microwave and keep a close eye on it while my two Brittanys try and sabatoge my concentration.) Add beaten eggs and mix together. Combine flour, salt, soda, and powder. Divide batter into two parts. Add cocoa powder, dark chocolate chips (use 3/4 cup), hazelnuts, and lime oil to one part; add 1/4 cup dark and white chocolate chips and lime oil to the other part. (Chill the batter in fridge for several hours for better cookies). Shape dough into small-sized balls for a petite, sophisticated European look. Place on cookie sheets (ungreased parchment paper or nonstick ones). Bake at 350 to 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes till golden brown. Sprinkle granulated white sugar or Mediterranean sea salt on the dark chocolate chip cookies for a nice eye-catching and sweet or salty effect.
These Sicillian-style gems are a cut above the run-of-the-mill Toll House chocolate chip and walnut wonders I grew up baking and eating. I love the fact that these select ingredients have a gourmet touch and European taste. And it's these reasons why you can eat one or two and enjoy them like rich, exotic small luxury Italian chocolates. You won't want to overindulge in these cookies because they are special and deserve to be savored for their Sicillian charm.
Serve with a cup or two of hot tea (green and black tea are rich in antioxidants and chamomile is soothing) and fresh seasonal fruit. Oh, and I predict that the tell-tale sensual aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies will give your home a heavenly, lingering smell, rain or shine.