Several weeks ago, Mr. SGCC’s paralegal, Joanne, raved about a recipe she’d made and loved. One of the things I love about Joanne is that she’s an adventurous foodie who is always willing to try new things. She’s a girl after my own heart. The recipe she spoke of was for something called Smoky Chocolate Crackers. Hmmm. Chocolate crackers, huh? I was both skeptical and intrigued at the same time.
The next day, Joanne brought me a little bag filled with said chocolate crackers, so that I could try them. They were a deep, dark brown – almost black – flecked with bits of chopped almonds. They were crisp and buttery, with an almost cookie-like texture and intensely rich chocolate flavor. The crackers were sweet, but ever so slightly so - just enough to remind you that there was chocolate in them. And, they were good, people. Really, good. So good, in fact, that I managed to polish off the whole bag in the car before I even finished the two mile drive home. Now that, dear readers, is a recipe worth keeping. And, sharing.
As soon I got home, I called Joanne and made her promise to bring me a copy of the recipe. I had to make these delicious crackers for myself. The sooner, the better!
The next day, when I got my hot, little hands on that recipe, I understood. It was one of Dorie’s. Of course! It was just the kind thing she would come up with – elegant, nuanced and classic.
While scanning the ingredients, I learned that the “smoke” in the crackers came from a healthy dose of smoked paprika. Ooooh! I decided to take it a little further and also added a pinch of cayenne pepper to the mix. I think that chocolate is such a wonderful backdrop for assertive spices. I could totally see this recipe working with an earthy curry or Chinese five-spice seasoning as well.
This dough is truly a thing of beauty – incredibly soft, smooth and supple. It was a dream to work with! I used a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out my crackers. But, you can use different cookie cutters to make them in whatever shapes you want.
These crackers reminded me a lot of Dorie’s iconic World Peace Cookies - dense, yet tender and ultra-chocolatey. But of course, more savory.
Smoky Chocolate Crackers are meant to be enjoyed with cheese. I’ve paired them here with a soft, creamy Brillat-Savarin studded with bits of papaya. I thought that the hint of sweetness from the papaya and the tang of the cheese was an absolutely brilliant match for the crackers. I’ll bet they would be insane with a fruit-laden Stilton too. I also served them with a gorgeous, runny, ripe Camembert, and I’m still drooling. Joanne says that they’re fantastic with a nice, sharp white cheddar. I say, bring it on!
Seriously, folks. You have got to try these Smoky Chocolate Crackers. They really are fabulous. And, they are not at all difficult to make. Besides, they’re from Dorie. Enough said.
Smoky Chocolate Crackers
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds, toasted
- Sift flour, cocoa powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and salt together in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with a stand or electric mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add both sugars and beat for 2 more minutes. Reduce to low speed, add egg whites and beat 1 minute more. (The egg whites will curdle the batter, but the dough will come together when the flour mixture is added.) Still on low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until it disappears into the dough. Stir in the chopped almonds with a sturdy spatula.
- Turn the dough out onto your work surface. It should be smooth and soft. Divide it in half, and shape each half into a disk. Place a disk between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and roll it out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Repeat with remaining disk of dough. Freeze the rolled-out dough for at least 30 minutes.
- With a rack positioned in the center of your oven, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
- Working with half the dough at a time, use a 2-inch biscuit cutter or cookie cutter of your choosing to cut as many crackers as you can. Save the scraps of dough. Place the crackers about an inch apart on one of the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake 6 – 8 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. Remove from the oven and cool 5 minutes. Transfer crackers to a wire rack and to room temperature.
- Repeat with remaining dough, using a cool baking sheet. Combine the scraps of dough, shape into a disk, roll, and freeze 15 minutes. Cut and bake as above.
Makes approximately 40-45 crackers.