Chocolate Buckwheat Cocoa Nib Cookies

Quite some time ago I came across a recipe for buckwheat pancakes. I, of course; went out and bought the buckwheat flour to try it out. The pancakes were extremely good and have been my preferred recipe when I have a pancake and maple syrup craving! My dad with my mom on there last visit to Seattle.

I must admit that there was an underlining reason I was so happy that these pancakes were so good. This is because my father loves buckwheat pancakes. I envisioned that the next time they visited I will have them over for a buckwheat pancake brunch! Unfortunately, we have not had any brunch opportunities as of yet. But I am still waiting, and in the mean time I have this bag of buckwheat flour sitting there. Each and every time I open up the cabinet door it looks me in the eye and begs - “Please! Please! Make something with me!?!” I could hear it whisper - “I am good for so much more than just pancakes!”

Of course I started to look into many different types of recipes I could sub buckwheat flour into. Being the cookie monster I know I am it was only logical I start there. it was my thought that buckwheat’s earthy sweetness pairs perfectly with a deep chocolate flavor. A few recipes were tried before i realized how much I like this one: Chocolate Buckwheat Cocoa Nib Cookies. I made them and was smitten. Then I ate a few more the following day with a cup of tea; could it be they were even better? I did some research and discovered many others who tried cookie recipes said the same thing, the flavor of the buckwheat developed and mellowed out a bit the following day. The cookie became more crisp, deeper in chocolate flavor, and the earthiness of the buckwheat made the cookie overall less sweet and more satisfying.

Cookies cooling from the oven.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. My father’s birthday was approaching and I asked him if there was anything he wanted. He responded with: cookies! When I asked what kind he said, "Any cookies you make, like the ones you use to make." I was a bit baffled being I do and have made many, many cookies over time; but I knew any cookies I would make would be good in his opinion. (If there is anything my father and I share it would be our Cookie Monster tendencies.

So I whipped up a couple different kinds, along with the the Chocolate Buckwheat Cocoa Nib Cookies. I may not be able to have a pancake brunch yet with them being we are thousands of miles apart. But cookies... cookies always ship quite well, that is what my dad and I think at least. Great minds think alike…cookies and all. (Happy Birthday Dad! I hope you are enjoying your cookies.)

Chocolate Buckwheat Cocoa Nib Cookies...crispy and yummy!

Chocolate Buckwheat Cocoa Nib Cookies (makes about 40 - 45 cookies)

1 1/4 cup of flour

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

10 oz butter (at room temp)

1/2 tsp of sea salt

2/3 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup roasted cocoa nibs

Sea salt for Sprinkling (flaked sea salt is great for this, it is also a great time to try out flavored salts. I used an espresso salt, but plain old sea salt is just as good.)

First, whisk together both the flours, sea salt, and the cocoa powder. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Next, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment place your butter and your sugar. Mix it together until it is light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and mix it well. Once it is all combined well, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix it until it is combined and formed into one even dough.

Then, mix in the cocoa nibs and generously flour a smooth surface to roll out your dough. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin (generously flouring the dough too) until it is about 1/4 inch thick. *See note at bottom. Cut into desired shapes and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Chill until firm.

Finally, once the dough is firm sprinkle the top of each cookie generously with the extra sugar. Pinch a bit of the extra sea salt in the center of each cookie dough. Place the baking shtiks in the oven for 10 - 14 minutes until they are set, but with a little give. Let them cool on a rack and wrap tightly in plastic until ready to eat. They are best if eaten within a week.

**NOTE: I find when rolling out any dough it is always best to roll the rolling pin in one direction only. rotate the dough 45 degrees and roll again. I keep repeating this process until I get the thickness needed in the dough, and flour it as needed. You will find that by doing this the dough sticks less to your work surface, and you end up with a more evenly rolled out dough.

Double Chocolate Muffins with Fresh Cherries

Cherries are back in season.  Excuse me as I bow down to the cherry gods to give thanks for these perfect, little orbs of deliciousness. I wait all year for the cherries to show up at the local markets, and come down in price. As tempting as they may seem at first sight, the prices can be a bit crazy. So as soon as they come down to a somewhat moderate level I jump at the chance to bring them home and enjoy them. I picked up a few handfuls of cherries two weeks ago at the farmer’s market. Unfortunately, I ran short on time for what I had planned with them. When I came home from work ready to bake with them – Brian said he had tossed them in the compost that morning. They were as he explained: mushy and moldy. I am the only one to blame, but I was disappointed. I was planning on making muffins with them. Not just any muffin, but a double chocolate one with the cherries chopped and folded in.

Double Chocolate Muffins with Fresh Cherries

So the next day I went off to the market, and I picked up more cherries. I was determined. I was going to make those muffins! And I did! I melted down some chocolate with butter and buttermilk. The buttermilk was used to keep these muffins extra moist, and with just the right amount of chocolate these muffins were chocolaty without being overly sweet.  The contrast the fresh cherries bring an element of brightness along with a sweet sourness to the moist chocolate muffins.

After baking these up I must say, there were delicious, and impressive. Brian went back for seconds! I packed up the remainder and sent them to work with Brian, and when he came home he said they were a big hit. I can see why, I had to hold myself back after just one. I could have easily eaten three. These are a lightly sweet, and I can see them enjoyed with tea or coffee any time of day, but I really think they would be perfect gracing the table of a brunch. It would be the perfect little gratification to a menu of more breakfast like / savory items. I am so glad we will have at least a month or two of these perfect little fruits to enjoy. I’m sure you can find me making these again.

These muffins were delicious, and the fresh cherries were warm and extra tasty in them.

Double Chocolate Muffins with Fresh Cherries (makes 12)

*Note: this recipe will make 12 regular sized muffins. They make look a bit short in the picture, but that is only because I only had large muffin wrappers.

3 oz butter

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp of vanilla extract

7 oz bittersweet chocolate (70 %), chopped small

2 eggs

1 1/3 cup of AP flour

½ cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¾ tsp sea salt

1 ½ cup of cherries, pitted and chopped into quarters

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Using cupcake liners or wrappers, place them inside the cups of a muffin / cupcake pan and set aside.

Next, in a small sauce pan place your butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and 3 oz of your chocolate in the pan over medium heat. Stirring it constantly until the chocolate and butter have melted and are smooth. Remove from the heat, and let it cool slightly. Once cool whisk in eggs and set aside.

Then, in a bowl place your flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Whisk it all together and then slowly add in your chocolate mixture until it is just combined. (Do not over mix, it will make the muffins tough and / or dry.) Once combined fold in the remainder of the chocolate (4 oz) and the chopped cherries until they are just barely mixed in.

Finally, divide the batter evenly among the lined pan and bake about 20 minutes, rotating it half way through. Test to be sure the muffins are done by inserting a sharp knife into the center of one or two. The knife should remove cleanly but a bit moist. Let the muffins cool about 10 minutes before removing from the pan and serving. Can be made a day ahead but best enjoyed within the day they are baked.