I've exhausted stories about chefs I have actually met, in previous posts, but other cookbooks remain in my collection with more, delectable chocolate recipes. This recipe for chocolate cherry shortbread cookies comes from my copy of giada's ITALY, by Giada De Laurentiis. But it's also available here, so click the link and follow along :)
The first thing I learned about this recipe is I couldn't assume availability of a couple ingredients. Fortunately, I suspected that might be the case and made a few phone calls before getting in my car. Although my 'regular' grocery store didn't carry dried cherries, another nearby grocer did.
After I found out that my favorite food store also didn't carry pink peppercorns, I seriously debated substituting black peppercorns that we always have on hand. Although this is allowable in the culinary realm it does impart a slightly different flavor. I found the pink variety in a local spice store and hope to find plenty of other uses for them in the future.
Then there was the matter of adequately crushing the peppercorns for this sweet recipe. I pulled out an extra coffee grinder that I long ago relegated to grinding spices and gave them a good 'zap.'
The peppercorns made a pretty addition to the combo of flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
I chopped the dried cherries on a cutting board with a sharp knife because I thought they might become a gummy mess if I used my food processor. After combining the sugar + butter + egg yolks + the flour blend with my mixer, I stirred in cherries and chips by hand.
Although Giada's recipe calls for semisweet chocolate chips, I used Ghirardelli bittersweet, instead. I love the quality, but I'm also sentimental about watching early morning deliveries at the flagship store many years ago, on a chilly, early February morning near Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.
Giada's recipe says to wrap the cookie dough 'log' in plastic wrap before placing it in the refrigerator. Since I avoid plastic wrap due to environmental concerns, I crafted the log atop parchment paper before wrapping it tightly.
I couldn't wait for the log to become thoroughly chilled, baked, and cooled again. The result? A mildly sweet nice crunch with occasional bites of chewy cherry and unexpected bursts of chocolate chip flavor. The peppercorn flavor didn't stand out on my palate but I'm sure the cookies would have tasted different without it.
And I still have plenty of dried cherries-and pink peppercorns-for my next batch of cookies.
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