Alice Medrich, chocolate expert and cookbook author, wrote “Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts” during the height of the low-fat craze of the mid-90s. In the book, she tried to completely rethink her recipes to achieve deliciousness with fewer calories and less fat, instead of simply writing a pamphlet that consisted of a few instructions like “replace butter with applesauce.”
In the months after I bought the book, I baked quite a few of the recipes, primarily the cookies and bars, with good success. The cocoa wafers, however, are a “go to” cookie that I make regularly.
Here is the recipe, along with several things that I have learned through experience. These are refrigerator slice and bake cookies, so you need to plan ahead a little bit.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa see note 1 below
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature see note 2
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg white see note 3
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Combine the sugars in a bowl, pressing out any hard lumps of brown sugar. Beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy, then add the sugars and vanilla. Beat at high speed for about 1 minute then beat in the egg white. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.
- Get a piece of parchment or waxed paper with length of about 16 inches. Lay it on a countertop. Gather the dough into a ball and roll it into a 9-10 inch log on the paper. Wrap the log with the paper, being careful to keep the ends flat. Chill for at least 45 minutes (or freeze for future use).
- Place the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, a non-stick sheet (e.g., Silpat), or aluminum foil.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if frozen, let thaw until soft enough to cut). With a sharp knife, cut the chilled dough log into rounds a scant 1/4 inch thick. For crispier cookies, slice them thinner, down to 1/8 or 1/16 inch. Place slices 1 inch apart and bake for 10-14 minutes (or less if you sliced them very thinly). Rotate baking sheets about half way through from top to bottom and back to front.
- Cool completely before storing or stacking.
- Mint Chocolate Crisps - add 1/4 teaspoon mint extract with the butter.
- Mexican Chocolate Cookies - add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (the flaky cinnamon sold in Mexican groceries is recommened), a generous pinch of black pepper, and a generous pinch of cayenne to the sugars. It might even be possible to replace the brown sugar with ground piloncillo (raw cane sugar) for even more Mexican flavor.
- Double chocolate crisps - add a big handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips with the flours (about 1/2-1 cup). This makes the log a lot harder to slice, but gives the cookies an extra chocolate burst. You could also use chopped chocolate.
Make a double or triple batch and freeze the extra logs for a rainy day.
- Dutch processed cocoa has a different pH (acidity level) than non-Dutched cocoa, so deviating from the type specified in a recipe can theoretically lead to unexpected results. I rarely follow the instruction for Dutch-processed cocoa and the results are always good. Perhaps this is an excuse to have a "test kitchen" match between Dutch processed and non-processed cocoa.
- The original recipe called for 3 T. butter and 3 T. stick margarine. I never buy margarine, and don't want to eat it, so I always make the cookies with 100% butter.
- I have had good luck using a single egg in a double batch instead two egg whites.
Adapted from "Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts" by Alice Medrich