I love chocolate! I always have a stash in the cupboard in the kitchen and some times I carry some around in my purse. Usually around 3 in the afternoon I start thinking of what little chocolate delight I’m going to indulge in. I have no guilt where chocolate is involved-I love it and I need it.
I used to work in a wonderful, small bakery in Rancho Santa Fe, California. At the time I was working as a personal chef for a family and looking for another part time job in the food industry. My employer directed me to this charming spot a few towns away saying “You’ll love this place-you should work there.” A few days later I drove out and found the bakery hidden in a courtyard with a huge cedar tree and bouangnvilla growing over a trellis.
I remember walking in and seeing the case filled with coffeecakes and bars and loaf cakes. On top of the case were large glass jars, each piled high with a different type of cookie. Nestled next to these jars was a large pitcher holding the most beautiful display of flowers that looked like they had been picked in someone’s garden. The counter held a large basket tray brimming with muffins. All the signs for the baked goods were hand written and this added to the feeling of being in someone’s kitchen. There were 4 or 5 tables inside, each with a small bouquet of flowers and about the same number outside in the small courtyard.
I asked for the owner, inquired about a job, was hired and then proceeded to treat myself to a box of cookies. As soon as I got in the car I tore into the box and that’s when I began my love affair with “Charlie’s Chocolate Cookie”.
Charlie was an actual person-the stepfather of one of the owners of the bakery. He loved these cookies and used to keep some in his pocket as he walked around town. The recipe actually came from a Maida Heatter cookbook (I’m not sure which one they are from and can’t remember her name for them-possibly “chocolate whoppers”). Maida (the queen of American desserts) was a friend of the owners and was their mentor while they working to open this shop. They used many of her fabulous recipes, but this one has always been my favorite.
The “charlies” are large cookies. Today I made mine a little smaller as I wanted to have enough to hand out in class tonight and still be able to have some left at home! The first time I tried them I thought that I’d never be able to eat the whole thing. I ate half, put the rest in the box, drove a few blocks, opened the box and ate the rest. They’re soft on the inside and stuffed with large pieces of walnuts and chocolate chips. The better the quality of the chocolate that you use, the tastier the cookie. If I could only have one cookie for the rest of my life, this would be it.
Charlie’s Chocolate Cookies
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 stick butter
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon powdered instant coffee or espresso
2 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chips
4 ounces (generous 1 cup) walnuts (do not chop up)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment.
Melt butter, unsweetened chocolate, 6 oz. semi sweet chocolate in double boiler. Cool slightly.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
In mixer beat eggs, sugar vanilla and coffee on high for 4 minutes.
Beat in melted chocolate and butter on low, just to mix, then fold in flour.
Stir in chips and walnuts. Use 1/3 cup measure and scoop batter onto cookie sheets.
Bake 16 minutes, rotating sheets half way through. Remove from oven and leave cookies on baking sheets as they cool. Yield 15 large cookies.