I seriously don’t know where the time is going. I just know that there doesn’t seem to be enough of it right now, which is why I’ve been sort of off-the-radar for the past week plus. I’m back though, with cookies, because… you just have to make time for cookies. Duh.
BUT, today isn’t just about the cookies; it’s about the chocolate: Kallari chocolate – have you heard of it? Well if not, here’s my 1-minute chocolate-ography for you. Kallari is made by a cooperative of cacao farmers in Ecuador; they grow the cacao, harvest it, and turn it into chocolate locally, rather then sending the cacao off to be mass-produced by another company. This is good for them, because they earn much fairer wages for their work, and it’s also good for us, because their chocolate is sublime. It’s made with less sugar than many well-know brands, and yet it remains irresistably creamy and luxurious. PLUS it’s sustainable and organic. All profits from chocolate sales go back to the Kichwa families who make the chocolate, so if you’re like me and you have a chocolate addiction, you can erase all your chocolate-buying guilt by spending your money on chocolate that goes towards a good cause in a developing nation.
I got to try Kallari’s 70%, 75%, and 70% dark chocolate, and they were all intense – a good kind of intense. I’m a die-hard dark chocolate fan, but even for me, 85% chocolate sounds like “Woah!” Chocolate THAT dark usually tastes more bitter than sweet, but Kallari’s 85% wasn’t bitter in the slightest. It almost tasted like it was infused with wine. At first I thought I was just crazy for tasting that, but then I read that a Swiss chocolate expert said it reminded him of the taste of a California Cabernet… soooo, I guess I’m not so crazy after all! (It’s more like I have a really refined sense of taste, right?!) The 70% isn’t quite as deep and dark as the 85%, but it’s just as smooth and creamy. Then there’s the 75%, which sits somewhere in the middle in dark chocolate bliss. Kallari just finished a kickstarter campaign to raise money for the equipment needed to make chocolate chips from these three types of chocolate, so eventually, we’ll be able to get their amazing chocolate in chip form too! Pretty cool.
I just had to make cookies with all this luscious chocolate, and I wanted these cookies to be just as intense as the chocolate. Enter vanilla bean-infused brown butter and dark brown sugar – ohhh yes. Together, the brown butter and brown sugar make the cookie dough taste insanely good and toffee-like. Once they’re baked, the cookies have this complex background toffee flavor with rich, dark pools of chocolate in every bite. It makes me happy. :) Plus, they’re thick and soft and BIG, because I like my cookies on the large size ➝ cookie heaven.
I think you should do two things this weekend: 1) get yourself some Kallari chocolate and 2) make these cookies. And promise me, if you make these, you’ll try some of that cookie dough before baking it. It’s swoon-worthy. ♥
P.S. If you want to read more about Kallari, the New York Times wrote a great article about the Kichwa families and how they started this business. You can follow along with Kallari on Facebook and Twitter, and find out where to buy Kallari chocolate here.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Big, thick cookies with rich notes of toffee flavor, studded with pools of deep dark chocolate in every bite. Vanilla-bean infused brown butter, dark brown sugar, and chunks of dark chocolate make these cookies intense!
- Yield: about 15 cookies 1x
- 6 ounces (¾ cup) unsalted butter, diced
- 1 vanilla bean
- 9 ½ ounces (2 ¼ cups, spoon and level) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ⅝ teaspoon salt
- 10 ⅜ ounces (1 ⅜ cup, packed) brown sugar (preferably dark brown)
- 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature*
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 2 ½ ounces each of Kallari’s 70%, 75%, and 80% chocolate, plus another 1 ½ ounces of 70% bittersweet chocolate)
- extra chopped bittersweet chocolate, for tops of cookies
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook , whisking occasionally, until the butter has melted completely and starts to bubble. Continue to cook while whisking more frequently until the butter turns a rich golden-hazel color with brown specks forming on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat immediately and transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in seeds from vanilla bean. Submerge vanilla bean pod in butter and let steep for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until evenly combined.
- Remove vanilla bean pod from brown butter and add brown sugar. Whisk together for 1 minute. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes to allow the brown sugar to begin dissolving into the butter, and then whisk together for 1 more minute. Add the egg and egg yolk one at a time, whisking each in just until incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold in with a rubber spatula just until combined, with no dry streaks visible. Fold in the chopped chocolate in two parts until evenly dispersed in the dough.
- Scoop the dough by 2 ½ ounce or ¼ cup portions and roll into balls. Press a few extra pieces of chopped chocolate into the top of each ball of cookie dough. Place spread apart on the prepared baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator until very firm, 1-2 hours. Once firm, cookies can be baked immediately, or dough may be transferred to an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator for up to about 1 week before baking.**
- When ready to bake cookies, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350ºF. Place formed cookie dough balls on prepared baking sheet, with no more than 6 cookies on the sheet at once. If the dough has been chilling for more than a couple hours, allow cookie dough balls to sit at room temperature to soften just slightly, about 20-25 minutes. Bake cookies on middle rack of oven for 9-11 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the time, just until tops of cookies no longer look wet (they may look slightly underbaked). Cool cookies on pan for about 10 minutes, and then lift with parchment and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
*To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, crack whole egg and yolk into a small bowl and place in a larger bowl filled with warm water, making sure that the water doesn’t spill over into the eggs. If you do this at the start of the recipe, the eggs should be at the right temperature by the time you’re ready to add them.
**These are best fresh, so I highly recommend baking just a small amount at a time, and keeping the rest of the dough in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake more. They will, however, keep just fine for a few days once baked.
Disclosure: Kallari provided me with samples of their dark chocolate for tasting and recipe development purposes. I wasn’t compensated for writing this post, and I decided to write about them because I truly believe in their product and purpose!