As I raised the blinds this morning I was blinded by the glare of freshly fallen snow. It looks pretty at first but after days of constant flurries it is enough to send me back under the blankets to continue my hibernation. I want to shut myself off from the dreary grey skies and colorless, early dusk. Before the holidays I love the snow, the twinkle of Christmas lights, the warmth of a fireplace, and the smoky-sweet smell of the chimneys as I walk through town. I like to fill the house with the scent of sugar cookies baking in the oven and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa to warm my hands as I watch the huge snowflakes drifting down and sticking to everything.But now its January and springtime is still 4 months away. The Christmas tree has been stripped of its ornaments and all the decorations packed away, everything is back in its normal place, but now the house seems so plain. The last few days we have been pounded with layers of snow that melt slightly during the day then freeze like iron overnight giving everything a dull dirty gray color. Its beginning to take its toll on my mind and body and I yearn for the warm breezes and sunny weather enjoying fresh fruits and salads and sunny days that last longer than the nights. I decided I needed a cheering up so I switch on the fireplace, turn on all the lamps to drive away the gloom, put on my big fluffy sweater and step into the kitchen. I need something chocolatey.
I preheat the oven and reach for the cocoa powder. You may think you know where I’m going with this, but you’re probably wrong. I measure out the flour, sugar, butter and eggs. In a big mixing bowl I add some room-temperature butter and pour in both granulated and brown sugars, mixing it until it becomes light and fluffy. I crack open the eggs and begin to blend the mixture together. As I sift the flour into the bowl I notice how much it looks like falling snow. After the flour is blended I add a pinch of salt, a dash of baking soda and finally the cocoa.
With everything blended its time to roll the dough into small balls and place them on a baking sheet. I slightly press them flat and put them in a hot oven. I wait impatiently as the smell of warm cocoa drifts throughout our home and when the timer rings, it’s time to take them out and sprinkle a bit of sea salt while they are still hot. I put the next batch in the oven and take a couple of these delicious little truffle cookies for myself. The warm, chewy cookies are almost brownie-like but with a tang of sea salt to balance the rich chocolatey taste. I instantly start to feel better and my glass half-full attitude becomes a milk glass just plain empty.
Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Sea Salt
makes 4 dozen
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
sea salt for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Place parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl (or electric mixer), add the room temperature butter and blend for about a minute till soften. Add both sugars and blend till light and fluffy, about a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. When sugars are incorporated into the butter, add the two eggs and mix. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and vanilla extract and mix. The cookie dough will be extremely thick.
Wet your hands with water then begin to roll the dough into 1-inch balls, placing them about 2-inches apart. Flatten the cookies with two fingers or your palm. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top of each flatten cookie dough ball, then bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle a tiny bit more sea salt, and let them cool for at least 3 minutes on the baking sheet. You can test one by twisting it gently to release it from the parchment. Once removed, place on a wire rack till completely cooled. Or go ahead and dig in they are delicious straight out of the oven! Just try to resist!