KITCHEN NOTES: Recipe Development::Amethyst Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I ventured into my garden yesterday evening and looked at the beautiful flowering Amethyst Basil plant - the flowers a rich orchid color, the leaves an interesting combination of bright green and deep purple. I walked to the chocolate shelf in the pantry and took out a bar of Valrhona Caribe (66%) chocolate and wondered how the combination of basil and chocolate might work out in a chocolate chunk cookie.

A few weeks ago, I started researching and developing a recipe for chocolate chunk cookies. I realize that there are countless versions out there for the "best" chocolate chip cookie and that my pantry is well stocked with at least 9 bags of chocolate chips purchased long ago, still waiting to be used. However, I wanted more than small chips of chocolate. I did a quick search on Google for "basil chocolate" and stumbled upon a recipe  for a chocolate cake using sweet basil. One day I will need to make that cake. For now, I decided to chop up almost the entire bar of chocolate into 1/2 inch pieces instead of using the chocolate chips.

I then selected the nicest leaves on the plant (about 20 of them) and pulsed them in the food processor together with granulated sugar.

I thought about adding lemon zest, then decided against mixing together too many flavours and saving that thought for another cookie recipe in the near future using sweet basil instead of the Amethyst basil. My intention was to make a thin, chewy cookie which is why I used baking soda, brown sugar, and melted butter. I found an informative article about the differences of using baking soda and baking powder. The recipe started out using one whole egg and one egg yolk along with 113 grams (one stick) of unsalted butter. However, as I was mixing the dough, I realized my mistake of not using enough liquids.

A quick decision had to be made: add a cold egg or melt more butter and wait for it to cool. I chose adding an egg as I didn't have the time to wait for butter to cool. I also didn't have time to wait for an egg to reach room temperature even though I realize I could have warmed it in a bowl of warm water. Regardless, the dough came together nicely. After chilling the dough for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, I baked up a batch of nine cookies curious to see how they tasted. The result? Yum! noted in my recipe journal - a note I use when the recipe is worth trying again.


Amethyst Chocolate Chunk Cookies

this batch made 25 cookies



113 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled

10 grams Amethyst basil leaves (about 20 leaves)

125 grams granulated sugar

225 grams all-purpose flour

113 grams cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

100 grams dark muscavado sugar

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

180 grams Valrhona 66% chocolate, chopped in half-inch pieces



Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove saucepan from heat and let butter cool to room temperature.

Combine basil leaves and granulated sugar in food processor and pulse until leaves are finely chopped. Set aside.

Stir together the flours, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the melted butter. Add the basil sugar and dark muscavado sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamy (took over 5 minutes). Add the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and continue to beat for another minute. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Beat just until combined. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

Cover and chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a baking sheet (I used a jelly roll pan) with parchment paper and drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls spaced about two inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet - or eat the cookies warm if you're as impatient as my children.


THE NOTES (as jotted down in my blue journal):

I started out wanting a flat and chewy cookie. After researching what would contribute to the flatness of a cookie, I discovered that using melted butter, brown sugar, and baking soda instead of baking powder would do the trick. However, this batch of cookies turned out soft, cakey, and not the least bit flat. No regrets on that "mistake" though. Flat cookies will be the challenge for yet another recipe (with my omitting the cake flour).

The dough needed more liquid with only one whole egg and one egg yolk, so at the last minute I added another whole egg. The result was a soft, cakey cookie that had a great taste with flecks of basil throughout.

Saffron, my 5-year old daughter, said the cookies were very messy and that perhaps I should make them without chocolate next time. No chocolate?! Is this my daughter? I do plan on developing another cookie recipe with the sweet basil and lemon zest, so I will reduce the chocolate in this recipe my dear daughter. :)

Changes I would try for next time:

* Use more melted butter instead of an extra egg (170 grams butter)

* Reduce chocolate amount to 100 grams instead of 180 grams to partially satisfy my daughter's request. :)

* Sprinkle Pink Himalayan Sea Salt on top of cookies before baking


***For the flatter cookies, I will experiment with using all-purpose flour as the only flour.