TWD: Cafe Volcano Cookies (aka Great Personality Cookies)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

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I remember when I was in high school, my mother once tried to convince me to go out with the dorky son of one of her bridge buddies.  “What does he look like?” I asked.  She replied, “Looks aren’t everything.  He’s got such a great personality!” I knew I was doomed.   Trust me.  When words like that come out of your mother’s mouth, run for the hills!

Why am I bringing this up now?  Because that is exactly what I would tell you if you asked me about this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Cafe Volcano Cookies.   They’re not much to look at, but they have lots of personality.

Cafe Volcano cookies are little brownish lumps of craggy, crispy, crunchy and nutty deliciousness.   And, you can count the number of ingredients needed to make them on one hand. They’re a kind of meringue cookie, but there is no actual meringue involved.  All you do is heat some toasted nuts, sugar, espresso powder and egg whites together in a pan, plop little spoonfuls of the mixture on a cookie sheet and bake.  That’s it!  No sifting, creaming, beating, whipping, whisking, folding or chilling necessary.  It literally doesn’t get any easier than this, unless you just buy your cookies at the store.  And even then, you’d have to take the time to drive there. 

volcano-cookies-3

Dorie’s original recipe calls for a combination of walnuts and almonds.  I swapped out pecans for the  walnuts because I’m a Southern gal and I like pecans better.  I also used some of my divine Valrhona cocoa powder instead of espresso powder, because…well, because I just felt like it.  I think it gave my volcano cookies even more personality!

I honestly have to say that I wasn’t really expecting much from these cookies.  I made them almost begrudgingly because, you know, it was Tuesday and all.  But, when I took my first bite, I was very pleasantly surprised.  Somewhere along the very short path from start to finish, the ingredients were transformed.  I didn’t get the mouthful of chewy, sweet nuts I anticipated, but rather a light as air, crackly cookie that shattered upon contact with my teeth and soon dissolved into sweet nothingness.   Dorie calls theses the “Pop Rocks” of cookies.  I didn’t notice any fizzy explosions in my mouth, but I can definitely see where she’s coming from.

Cafe Volcano Cookies are a lot like the classic Italian cookie, Brutti ma Buoni, which means “ugly, but good”, except that they’re even simpler to make.  And, they might even be just a tad bit uglier.  While it’s true that these cookies won’t win any beauty pageants, I think they’re a shoo in for the  Miss Congeniality award.

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Many thanks to MacDuff of Lonely Sidecar for choosing such a tasty and easy recipe for this week.  If you’d like to make your own Cafe Volcano Cookies, you can find the recipe here.  And of course, stop by the TWD site to see lots and lots more “great personality” cookies!

26 responses to TWD: Cafe Volcano Cookies (aka Great Personality Cookies)

  1. On December 15, 2009 at 10:45am, patsy said...

    Looks like they are filled with yumminess! Your photos make me want one now!

    • On December 22, 2012 at 2:51am, debby said...

      i can’t find the reciep for these cookies , can you help me ? please ,thank you

  2. On December 15, 2009 at 10:49am, LizAnderson said...

    Doh! If only I’d read this *before* grocery shopping for Teacher’s Treats. Next time, folks, next time….

  3. On December 15, 2009 at 11:30am, Margaret said...

    He’s got a great personality. How many times did we hear that statement growing up. UGH!!!!

    Yes, these are ugly, but so incredibly easy and so wonderfully delicious.

    Great looking pile of cookies.

  4. On December 15, 2009 at 12:00pm, tia said...

    Mine were a failure, but yours look fantastic!!! Makes me want to try again!

  5. On December 15, 2009 at 1:18pm, The Food Hunter said...

    I think I would swap for pecans too. These look great.

  6. On December 15, 2009 at 4:47pm, Simone (junglefrog) said...

    Sometimes the best things turn out the be really really simple and this does look very good. It is jumping out at me from the pictures!

  7. On December 15, 2009 at 5:07pm, Megan said...

    Mine went way past the ugly stage – they weren’t even that good! Ok, they weren’t that bad, but I was expecting something more, you know?

  8. On December 15, 2009 at 8:04pm, The Duo Dishes said...

    Whoa. these look intensely good. Pecans sound better than almonds for this one.

  9. On December 15, 2009 at 10:58pm, MaryBeth said...

    WOW…very delightful looking cookies

  10. On December 16, 2009 at 3:40am, laura said...

    wow those things are UGLY! Love the analogy though, you must be mom to come up on the bright side of things!

  11. On December 16, 2009 at 5:09am, Karen Anne said...

    I wonder why the warming in a saucepan step is necessary? I think I will try it without that, just mixing.

    Yah, you have to be older and wiser to realize personality/character is far more important than looks.

  12. On December 16, 2009 at 5:32am, bellini valli said...

    These do sound like something that needs to be on our list of things to try Susan.

  13. On December 16, 2009 at 8:19am, grace said...

    tee hee. ho ho. hardy har. i LOVE your alternate name for these “beauties.” seriously, they still look delicious to me, and so unique!

  14. On December 16, 2009 at 8:46am, Sally K said...

    Why do I keep thinking that some cocoa powder might be good in addition to (or instead of) the espresso powder? I’m going to try these!

  15. On December 16, 2009 at 11:58am, Chaya said...

    I think we all felt the same way. We broached this with great hesitation. Was it really a cookie? Then, we moaned at its looks and then we took a bite. Some loved it. Some did not. We all had something to say, though.

    Your look great though. It may be the photography but yours are tempting to look at.

  16. On December 16, 2009 at 12:18pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    They look beautiful to me. Really, if it looks like it has chocolate, it is going to look beautiful to me! They just invite a big bite.

    Sometimes a winning personality is all you need. In high school I was auditioning for a community theater production and I saw this less-than-handsome guy about my age there. I might not have given him a second look, but then he got up to sing. His voice was gorgeous. After I got up and auditioned he complimented my performance and we got to talking. We got along quite well. Unfortunately, he ended up not being in the show due to a conflict, and I never saw him again after the first rehearsal. I knew what high school he went to, so I hoped I might somehow find him if I could get in touch with people from his high school. When I talked about him to my friends and described his looks, (which sounded horrid in description) they said, “Why are you interested in him?” I kept saying, “Because he was so NICE. We got along so well!”

  17. On December 16, 2009 at 2:10pm, katie said...

    hahaha I see what you mean about the appearance but the cragglyness is rather appealing. They sound delicious

  18. On December 16, 2009 at 6:49pm, Caitlin said...

    Brutta mu buoni are exactly what I thought of as well! So glad they didn’t live up to the “good personality” hype though – I loved how crunchy and nutty they were.

  19. On December 16, 2009 at 8:17pm, The Local Cook said...

    Hmmm, espresso powder? I’m trying this!

  20. On December 20, 2009 at 10:17am, Kevin said...

    Those cookies look so good! What an amazing texture!

  21. On December 20, 2009 at 6:09pm, Daily Spud said...

    Now those sound like some cookies I’d love to meet and get to know better :)

  22. On January 04, 2010 at 11:10am, ashley h said...

    These look so good, kinda unique, dont thinl ive seen a cookie like that before

  23. On January 04, 2010 at 5:16pm, Maggie said...

    Sometimes the most delicious foods are the least beautiful ones! Consider omlettes: when they get “messed up” and consequently look like a disorganized pile of egg, cheese, and sauteed veggies, they somehow always taste better! Judging by the apperance of these Cafe Volcano Cookies, they’re other worldly!

  24. On January 05, 2010 at 12:57pm, Jannett said...

    I have her cookbook from the library….these cookies look really interesting… this cookbook seems to be very popular….Love the photos… :)

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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