For my Chocolate Dessert Class that I taught at The American Table in Collingswood, I made 4 chocolate desserts - an Earl Grey infused Chocolate Cake with a Warm Chocolate Sauce; Low-fat Chocolate Pots de Creme (from a recipe I created about a year ago). And then there were these sinfully rich little chocolate morsels which I called Chocolate Aphrodisiac Cookies. They're called this because because I used black pepper, cinnamon and saffron in the ingredients. My "original" recipe was created back in 2007 for a Halloween Cooking Class I taught at Williams-Sonoma. I have no idea where I pilfered the original recipe before I doctored it and made it my own. For that class, I made these Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Cookies. I used cayenne pepper, black pepper and pumpkin pie spice in that recipe. For my current class, I wanted to make these sexier. I hit upon using saffron because it's an exotic spice and costs a lot - thereby equating the exotic and expensive with desire.
In ancient times, during the spice trade, these ingredients were thought to have medicinal properties and aphrodisiac qualities. To some extent, these ancient people were correct - as far as the medicinal properties are concerned. Pepper and cinnamon are anti-inflammatory.
Perhaps the aphrodisiac qualities comes from the facts that these spices were exotic, came from far-flung places and cost a lot of money. Money is power - the ultimate aphrodisiac!
Saffron is one of the most expensive spices known to man. It is the pure stigmas of a crocus flower, hand picked, during a tiny window of time in the brief life of a spring crocus. A little goes a long way. You can find inexpensive “saffron” in Mexican and Asian Markets, but it’s not as pure, since it contains stigmas and other filaments.We had a good time coming up withe all the reasons why these cookies were aphrodisiacs - aside from the spices and that chocolate trips the same sensory feelings in you that sex does! In all seriousness, these are really good cookies. The cookies are dense, rich and buttery, almost like a shortbread dough. The recipe makes 3 batches; you can cut it in half but I think making the entire batch is worth it. You can freeze the dough and work/use/bake what you want when you want. Plus the dough is great to work with, allowing you to roll it out and make cut-out cookies.
Chocolate Cookie Ingredients:
- 3 Sticks Unsalted Butter - softened
- 1 3/4 Cups Sugar
- 2 Eggs - lightly beaten
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Cups Cocoa Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 5-6 Strands of Saffron (optional, but use the best you can afford!)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare cookie trays - line with a SILPAT, Parchment or foil.
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl or in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 5 minutes or until the mixture is fluffy, scrapping down sides from time to time.
- Add the eggs to the butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is fluffy about 3 minutes.
- While the butter, sugar and eggs are mixing, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon and saffron. Whisk well to fully incorporate.
- Stir in the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture, a bit at a time, with the mixer off. Turn mixer on low speed to incorporate the flour mixture, then increase speed slightly. Work in batches and scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Beat until all the flour mixture is thoroughly combined.
- Divide the dough into thirds and wrap each piece in plastic wrap or parchment. Before you wrap the dough, roll it into a ball and then form a long log. It will be easier to cut cookies out this way.
- Chill well, at least 2 hours or freeze up to 2 months.
- Work with one log at a time. Use a serrated knife and cut each log into 1/4-inch slices - you should get at least 30 to 36 cookies from each log. Place the cookies onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until crisp but not darkened. Cool cookies on wire racks.
- Let the cookies cool and harden completely before serving or storing.
- The cookie dough is fairly dense and very rich. The cookies do not spread, even though there is a lot of butter in the recipe. You can place each cookie on the baking trays with about 1/4-inch space between each cookie. This will allow you to bake a large batch on each tray.
- The cookie dough is a good one - forgiving enough - to be rolled out and make cut-out cookies with cookie cutters. Use a well-floured surface and remember to keep your dough well-chilled. Place any dough that you are not using in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.