These last few weeks of lockdown in the UK have been a little odd. I packed a last minute emergency rucksack of “essentials” and any food items into a bag for life on the night lockdown was announced, before uber’ing down to south west London to camp out at my boyfriend’s flat for the indefinite future. We recently decided to move in together and were in the process of putting his flat on the market and looking around for somewhere we could call home. Since then though, so much has changed and we inevitably moved in together sooner than we thought we would. Whilst we haven’t yet sold the flat, nor found another place to live, we’re happy being together and making the most of the time we’ve got with one another. It’s not often you’ll find yourself in a situation like this.
He joked recently that the whole point of me quarantining with him was so there would be loads of baked goods in the house – and he’d be the one to gobble them up! I didn’t though, for the best part of two weeks, bake once. It felt strange not to have my usual baking equipment, to photograph everything in a different light, with different props and none of my usual backgrounds. Everything felt so alien and frustrating because I LOVE sharing all of my recipes with you and seeing you bake them yourself! Being a perfectionist meant that I felt weird posting photos that weren’t just as I wanted them to look, but it’s meant I’ve had to adapt to the situation quickly and become accustomed to making the most of what we’ve got.
After sourcing some incredible black cocoa off Amazon from King Arthur Flour and coming across an amazing recipe from The Boy Who Bakes, I dove into creating a cookie for you all to enjoy making this weekend. This cocoa I a variation of cocoa powder that’s been dutched, meaning it’s been washed in a potassium solution that neutralises its acidity. This process also gives the cocoa powder a darker colour – think Oreo cookies (because who *doesn’t* love an Oreo cookie?!). Usually Dutch-processed cocoa powder will be paired with baking powder in a recipe to take care of the acid component in leavening our baked goods. The reason I use black cocoa here is to get that really deep, dramatic look to the cookie. Don’t worry though if you can’t get your hands on some black cocoa. These will still taste as good with regular dutched cocoa powder, I promise you.
The star of this recipe however, is our beautifully caramelised white chocolate. Some people are scared of doing this, because the chocolate can look grainy and “crumbly” in the oven – but persevere. As you slowly roast the chocolate at a low temperature, it will deepen in colour and subsequently add delightful caramel notes to the cookie. Choose something with at least 30% cocoa butter content as it will melt slightly thinner and be easier to work with.
Salted black cocoa sablés with caramelised white chocolate
Makes 15-20 cookies
For the caramelised white chocolate:
300g white chocolate
For the cocoa sablés:
140g plain flour
140g wholemeal rye flour (or plain flour if you prefer)
40g black cocoa powder
3/4tsp baking soda
1/2tsp flaked sea salt
220g unsalted butter, room temperature
125g caster sugar
125g light brown sugar
1tsp vanilla bean paste
200g caramelised white chocolate, roughly chopped
To make the caramelised white chocolate:
The Boy Who Bakes says that whilst the cocoa sablés only call for 200g of caramelised white chocolate, it’s best to melt 300g as it’s less prone to problems. I’ve done it with 200g before though and it’s worked fine.
- Roughly chop your chocolate into sizeable chunks and add to a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Place the baking tray into an oven that has been preheated to 125ºC. You need to leave it in there at this temperature for about one hour, to an hour and a half, until it’s reached a golden caramel. You just need to make sure you stir it!
- Set a timer for 10-15mins and remove the tray ever quarter of the hour to give the chocolate a good stir. Like I said, it can seem stiff, crumbly and grainy but bear with it. The chocolate will smooth out a little the longer it’s cooked. This also prevents the chocolate from burning so really try and smooth it out with the back of a spoon and mix it substantially.
- Once the chocolate is a beautiful golden tan colour, scrape and press it into a plastic Tupperware box, smooth it out with a spatular or the back of a spoon again and refrigerate it until solid. Once it’s set, you can tip it out like a block of chocolate and use it any way you like.
To make the chocolate sablés:
- Sieve the flours, cocoa powder and baking soda into a large bowl, pushing any lumps of cocoa powder through the sieve. Add the salt and whisk everything together.
- Put your butter and sugars into a bowl and using an electric whisk, mix on a medium speed for about 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Usually I would call for butter and sugar to be whisked for 5-7mins, but we don’t want to beat a lot of air into our mixture. Add the vanilla and whisk again until just combined.
- Pour in a third of the flour mixture and pulse gently with your electric whisk until just combined. Repeat until all the flour has been added and it starts to form a ball of dough. It should still look a little crumbly.
- At this point, you can add the chunks of caramelised white chocolate and mix briefly to distribute.
- Tip the dough out onto the worksurface (you can also work it together in your bowl if it’s big enough) and use your hands to briefly bring everything together as a uniform dough.
- Cut the dough into two roughly equally sized pieces and then form each half of dough into a sausage-like log that is roughly 4-5cm thick. Roll each log of dough in parchment and refrigerate until firm, about 3-4 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 160C / 140C fan / 325ºF and line a couple baking trays with parchment paper. Take your two logs of dough out of the fridge and leave them to come back to almost room temperature. This helps when you want to cut your rounds as if the dough is too hard it can crack. This should only take 15-30mins.
- Unwrap the logs of dough and use a sharp knife to cut into slices about 1/2 an inch, just over one centimetre, thick. Place them onto the prepared baking trays leaving just a little space between. The cookies will spread out but not significantly. Sprinkle each with a little extra flaked sea salt, then bake in the preheated oven for 14 minutes. Since the black cocoa powder makes the cookies so dark, you won’t really be able to tell if they’re done, but trust the process and as the cookies cool, they’ll harden up a little.
- These will keep for about 4-5 days in a sealed Tupperware container.
Recipe from The Boy Who Bakes