Monday, November 06, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Viennese Chocolate Cookies

Page 174 in the old book / page 208 in the new book

These are very rich chocolate almond cookies that taste surprisingly light. I thought they were wonderful, but most of the cookie panel was less enthused than I. What I found most interesting and pleasing in these cookies was probably the very thing that spoiled them for those who thought the cookies came up short.

Among the expected ingredients (chocolate, almonds, butter, etc.), were the less expected (cinnamon and cloves), and the totally unexpected (grated lemon rind). I don't think the lemon was recognizable unless you knew it was there, but it brightened the flavor of the cookies. Others (Suzanne and Denny) felt the cookies weren't as chocolatey as they'd expected or hoped. This wasn't for a lack of chocolate in the cookies, so my guess is that the lemon, which I enjoyed, was perceived by Suzanne and Denny as diminishing the chocolate flavor. Oh well. As Tim Gunn would say, chacun à son goût!

The technique for making these is a little different - no mixer is used and the chocolate is added in the form of ground chocolate. You pull the crumbly dough together into a ball and then "break" it by smearing a little at a time on your work surface with the heel of your hand. Messy, but somehow satisfying. The resulting dough is very easy to handle and was a pleasure to work with. Once again, I decided to make some small cookies as well as some in the recommended size. I topped the smaller ones with a slice of blanched almond. The larger ones were topped as instructed in the recipe with half of a blanched almond that was toasted. I found the process of splitting the almonds tedious and a little difficult - next time I would just use slices.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "I love chocolate and nuts, but somehow these were not my favorite cookie. How could that be? I could definitely taste the lemon in the cookie and I think the lemon cut down the sweetness of the cookie. They looked and smelled like a chocolate cookie, but with each bite that deep chocolate taste was missing. I don’t think I’ve ever given a chocolate cookie a rating less then a 5 (maybe a 4), but my rating for this cookie is 3. Rating: 3.0"

Denny: "Good but I was disappointed by my high expectations. Chocolate and almonds are quite a combo, but this cookie took a bit from their normal synergy. A 3.0, with 2.5 being average. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "Delicious combination of chocolate and almonds - two of my favorites. Rating - 3.5"

Terri: "Outstanding! I could eat the entire batch. These have a light chocolate flavor - not too rich and the almonds add lots of flavor too. My 20 year old son thought they were great too! Rating - 5.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.6

Next Week - Tropical Sour-Cream Cookies

Nutrition Facts


Anonymous said...

Interesting observation on the lemon somehow diminishing the "chocolate-ness" of the chocolate. I think I read something about finding a balance between the two in one of Pierre Herme's dessert recipes for Riviera, a chocolate cake with tart lemon cream filling. But of course, that's Pierre Herme for ya!

Anonymous said...

I guess you didn't feel the need to go to the gym for a workout after making these...They look awesome.

Cathy said...

Hi Rowena! The chocolate lemon combination was a complete surprise for me, but I really liked the way it lightened the cookies. I was sort of prepared for them to be too heavy given that they were loaded with chocolate, almonds and butter, but that little hint of lemon really made a difference. I just bought both of Pierre Herme's books (only $12.98 and $14.98 - how could I not???), so I'll have to look and see if I can find his Riviera in one of them.

Hi Mari! Oh I wouldn't say that - why do you think I made those little ones? :) They didn't taste heavy, but they're still heavy on fat and calories.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Cathy - I meant, it looks like some muscle went into making them (since you didn't use a mixer). Well, I'm always in search of an excuse not to drag myself to the gym. Hee.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy! : )

Guess who? ; )

I've lots to tell you... and I will write soon, but just wanted to drop by and say hi first : )

These cookies and the Ischler ones look very good!

Take care!

Liz said...

If you're looking for more panel members, sign me up!

Cathy said...

Hi Liz! I'll keep that in mind - you're not far from the office!

Sammy said...

Hi! Nice site and nice recipes! I like how you rate the recipes and the comments at the back :)

Cathy said...

oops, just realized I never replied to Mari and Renee...

Hi Renee - that must be you, I'd recognize that wink anywhere! :) I can't wait to here what you've been up to!

Hi Mari - actually these didn't require as much muscle as some of the earlier ones... you work with the dough at room temperature, which helps. Ahhh, if only making cookies made going to the gym completely unnecessary! :)

Hi yummie! Thanks so much and thanks for stopping by!

Niki said...

Oh! I made this receipe just last week; I'd come home with some unsweetened chocolate (not available here). They were interesting; the lemon and chocolate combination was something I liked, but I'm not sure many others did. I think they weren't sweet enough for a lot of people. Did you find the same thing? I really like them though, despite the hassles I had rolling out the sticky dough!

Cathy said...

Hi Niki! Oh dear, I can't even imagine not having access to unsweetened chocolate, but I guess most recipes can be altered to accomodate a sweetened chocolate or cocoa. I like these a lot, but yes, people did think that they weren't sweet enough or chocolatey enough, so I'd attribute that to the lemon. I actually found this dough easy to work with for a change. Some of the others have been awful!