Orange Chocolate Cookies

A lot of people ask me about my favorite basic cookie recipe, and these orange chocolate cookies is one of them.

First of all, the combination of chocolate and orange is my weak point; I absolutely love using these two ingredients in almost everything. Second, the cookies are so soft, buttery, and delicious that they are just… happiness in its pure form.

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In this post, I really want to stress on the importance of weighing your ingredients on a kitchen scale. After baking these cookies twice – once using a scale, and the second time using cups- I noticed that a slight difference in the amount of ingredients you add to your mixture changes the texture of the dough dramatically. I had a harder time shaping and flattening the dough when I measured my ingredients in volume and because of that it took me twice the amount of time to finish making them. At the end I was so frustrated because I could’ve easily used a scale for accurate and consistent results.

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Think about it, when you fill a cup with let’s say chocolate chips the amount in volume depends on several factors: the style of the cup, the size of the morsels, and how tightly you’ve packed it in. But you don’t have to worry about these inconsistencies when you start weighing your ingredients.

Despite all of that, I included in this recipe measurements in cups and spoons because I know that a lot of readers don’t own scales. However, if you are serious about baking regularly and trying out different recipes then I really recommend that you invest in a kitchen scale, no matter how basic.

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Ingredients: Makes about 24 biscuits
• 100 g (1 stick, ½ cup) soft unsalted butter, room temperature
• 40 g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
• Zest of ½ medium orange, finely grated
• 125 g (1 cup) flour, sifted
• 2 g (½ tsp) baking powder, sifted
• 100 g (½ cup) dark chocolate

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375 °F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Beat the soft unsalted butter with a hand mixer until creamy.
3. Slowly add the sugar and grated orange zest, beating until the mixture is light. Blend in the sifted flour and baking powder.
4. Using two teaspoons form the dough into balls about the size of a whole walnut and place on the baking sheet. Flatten dough with the palm of your hand.
5. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are golden. Remove from the oven and cool on rack. (Don’t overbake!)
6. Melt the dark chocolate chips in the microwave or over a bain-marie.
7. Dip each biscuit halfway into the melted chocolate and place on a new parchment paper. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until the chocolate hardens.

Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflés

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Valentine’s day is coming up soon and these light and decadent chocolate soufflés are perfect desserts for a romantic tête à tête dinner. They’re easy to prepare and bake, but they have to be eaten as soon as they are out of the oven or they will deflate quickly (Unfortunately, my soufflés deflated within 5 minutes of taking pictures). An ideal soufflé has crusty exterior and a super airy, cloud-like melting interior texture that has enough chocolate flavor to satisfy your cravings.

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Running your thumb around the tops of the ramekins opens a narrow channel between the mixture and the rim, which allows the soufflés to rise cleanly and evenly.

I am really fascinated by the science/chemistry involved in making chocolate soufflés. After doing a little bit of research I found out that the most important step in this recipe is beating the egg whites properly because this helps trapping air bubbles in the egg foam. When the soufflés are in the oven, the air expands and puffs up the small cakes. Now the best way to beat eggs whites is to have them at room temperature and place them in a clean* stainless steal bowl. Then whisk them with an electric mixer or in a stand mixture while gradually adding sugar until soft peaks form. Follow the rest of the instructions below!

*clean bowl with lemon juice and carefully rinse and dry.

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Ingredients: (from the Chocolate Bible)
• 30 grams (50-70%) chocolate
• 30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
• 120 ml water
• 1 egg yolk
• 20 grams cornflour
• 6 egg whites
• 90 grams caster sugar
• Icing sugar, sifted for decoration

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (355ºF)
2. Brush six 8 cm (3 inches) ramekins with butter and dust evenly with caster sugar, tipping out the excess.
3. Finely chop the chocolate and place in a bowl.
4. Stir cocoa powder and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
5. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate, stirring until smooth, set aside until cool.
6. Blend in the egg yolk then the cornflour.
7. Put the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until frothy. Add 30 grams of the sugar a little at a time, whisking until the egg whites are smooth and shiny. Gradually add the remaining sugar, whisking until stiff peaks form.
8. Whisk 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Use a spatula and carefully fold in the remainder in two separate batches.
9. Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins; smooth the surface with the spatula. Run your thumb around the tops of the ramekins to open a narrow (5mm) channel between the mixture and the rim.
10. Cook for 15 minutes, or until risen. As soon as the soufflés come out of the oven dust with sifted icing sugar and serve immediately.