We just completed our first ever A Little Yumminess Around the World summer camp with our friends at 18 Reasons where we cooked, ate and crafted our way across India, Japan, the Middle East, Scandinavia and Mexico with a great bunch of 6-8 year olds. One thing that I was reminded of is that you can never go wrong with cookies…. or chocolate. While the kids had a blast cooking everything from Indian paratha, Japanese onigiri, Swedish knäckebröd, and Middle Eastern meze we got an extra big thumbs up for these Mexican hot chocolate cookies. While they come from a not-so authentic source, Martha Stewart, they do combine chocolate and chile — two important and quintessentially Mexican ingredients.
You might experience some skepticism from little ones about the inclusion of chile powder in the cinnamon-sugar topping for these cookies, but the effect is subtle — rich and smokey rather than spicy. The combination is really fabulous and I think chile will be making an appearance on our cinnamon-sugar toast from now on. If you have a reluctant spice-eater, this is actually a great way to get them cooking with chile powder because I guarantee that they wont be able to resist the final product.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
(adapted form Martha Stewart, makes about 2 dozen)
What you need
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 egg
for the cinnamon-chile sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon chile powder (or more to taste)
How to make them
- Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, cream of tartar, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda).
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy (about 2 minutes), then add sugar and egg and beat another 2 minutes. [Forgot to let your butter come to room temperature? try this handy trick.]
- On low speed mix the cocoa-flour mixture into the butter. Add it in small increments, about 1/4 cup at a time, so the flour doesn’t fly out of the bowl as you mix.
- Once the dough is well combined, remove it from the bowl, wrap it in plastic and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to several days (you can also form the dough into a log and freeze it for slice and bake-type cookies).
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix the ingredients for the chile-cinnamon sugar. Taste the cinnamon-chile sugar and see if you are happy with the balance of flavors.
- Roll the chilled dough into 1 1/2″ balls, then roll in chile-cinnamon sugar.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Start with 10 minutes, then check for done-ness every 2 minutes. The middle will be set and top will be cracked. The cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft/chewy in the center.
Notes for baking with kids
- These are good tasks for small bakers: measuring and sifting the dry ingredients, cracking an egg into a separate small bowl before adding to dough, taking turns with the mixer.
- We shaped the dough into a flattened rectangle about an inch and a half thick before wrapping it in plastic and chilling. This made it easy to portion the chilled dough into equal sized squares so the kids could focus on shaping the squares into balls and rolling them in cinnamon-chile-sugar. You could also form the dough into a log for easy portioning.