Friday, September 30, 2016

The Fruitvale - Mexican Chocolate Cherry Surprise Cookies

For today's Oakland-inspired cookie, I'm thinking of the Fruitvale district, historically known for the many fruit orchards ("Fruit Vale"), primarily apricot and cherry, that dominated the area in the late 1800s. The area became part of the City of Oakland in 1909 and his now home to Oakland's largest Latino population.

To celebrate Oakland's Fruitvale district, I present a bit of a twist on Mexican Chocolate Cherry Rounds. I could not for the life of me find candied cherry halves, as this recipe calls for, but I did have a jar of maraschino cherries in my fridge. So I decided to bake the cherry in the cookie, similar to this recipe. Delightfully surprising, as Oakland tends to be.

Mexican Chocolate Cherry Surprise Cookies

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2⁄3 cup powdered sugar
~30-36 maraschino cherries

Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water (or in microwave) until smooth; allow to cool. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients in medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat 1 3/4 cups sugar and butter in large bowl until light. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla and chocolate.Gradually add dry ingredients, beating just until combined. Chill dough until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Place powdered sugar in shallow pan. Form dough into 1-inch balls, flatten, and then shape around one maraschino cherry so that the cherry is sealed in dough. Roll each ball in powdered sugar to coat; shake off excess sugar.

Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until cookies puff and crack but are still soft, about 12-14 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack and cool completely. Makes about 30-36 cookies. Enjoy!

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