It’s been a while since our last Cookbook Friday, so let’s ease into it with a cookie recipe. In fact, let’s just finish off the year right with nothing but cookie recipes. My family has a ton of them and the holidays will be upon us in no time flat.
I’m guessing this photo was taken in the 1950s. Inside the car in the center is my Great-Aunt Dava [Barbaresi] Catone. To the left is my grandmother, Dora [Barbaresi] Donroe, and to the right is what would appear to be the Wicked Witch of the West, but, in fact, was a close family friend, Emma, with an unfortunate hat. It’s happened to all of us at one time or another, my pretties.
Dava was a star baker, and she used to make amazing assorted cookie trays for weddings and other special occasions. These chocolate spice cookies were a favorite: a sort of soft chocolate biscotti. Scratch that: chocolate-FROSTED chocolate biscotti (biscotti just got doubly better).
Cooking time is important. Unlike regular biscotti recipes where you bake the dough once as a loaf, and then bake it again once it's sliced, these only bake once as a loaf. That said, if you get it wrong and underbake them like I did the first time, there’s nothing that says you can’t throw them back in the oven once sliced to firm them up. It’s certainly better than overbaking them like I did the second time I made them. They should not be hard and dry like biscotti. But should they somehow end up that way, I’m sure you have something in the liquor cabinet you could dip them into. Just tell everyone they’re supposed to be like that.
So, I am providing you with a range of times, a couple of clues, but in the end, you know your oven better than I do and you have to make the call. I’d take them out sooner rather than later.
Chocolate Spice Cookies
The spices make this a great cookie for the holidays. Recipe can be doubled.
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
¾ cup milk (or water)
½ cup cocoa, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. cloves
2 – 2½ cups flour
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1-2 Tbsp. milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, add oil and sugar and kind of mash it together. Stir in milk (or water). Add cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves, and mix well. Stir in 2 cups of the flour. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour a little at a time until a sticky dough forms. You may not need it all, but I did.
Divide dough in half and plop them on each side of the cookie sheet. With your hands, form them into loaves about 3 or 4 inches across and about 10 inches long. Do not get out a ruler. This is just a guideline. They should look loaf-like and be about the same size. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the tops crack and a toothpick inserted into the center indicates moisture but not a gloppy mess. Let cool. With a serrated knife, cut loaves at an angle into ¾-inch slices. The cook gets the ends.
Wait until the cookies are ready to frost before making the icing or it will stiffen. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cocoa. Add 1 Tbsp. milk and stir until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk, as necessary, until icing is the consistency you like. Frost cookies.
Dava [Barbaresi] Catone
New Haven, Connecticut – Hamden, Connecticut
1921 - 1998
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