Getting Your Chocolate Groove On

Marcel Desaulniers is hard-core when it comes to chocolate. His e-mail moniker is Goganache, for crying out loud. In 15 years, the chef-author has written six choco-filled cookbooks, covering every nook and cranny in the cacao world from cakes to pie, brownies to truffles, and then there's ice cream, of course. If you're still looking for a holiday gift for the chocoholic in your life, Desaulnier's latest endeavor, "I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas," may be just the ticket. Nothing seems too complicated in this collection of 70-plus recipes, which read clearly and offer guidance.





Golly Polly's Doodles. (Kim O'Donnel)

Earlier this fall, Desaulniers, who's chef/owner of The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Va., and I shared a table at The National Press Club's book fair, a proximity that allowed me to get a real mouthful of treats from his new book. I immediately fell in love with his Golly Polly's Doodles, a chocolate-peanut buttery combo cookie-cake-confection that will makes you want to jig, and yesterday I gave the recipe a test run. Below, snippets from my e-mail conversation with the chocolate-meister himself, followed by recipe notes for his amazing Doodles.

You've been cooking for a lifetime -- shucks, I think you graduated from the CIA before I was born! Has chocolate been a life-long passion or did you fall in love with the stuff once you became a chef?
I graduated from the CIA in 1965, but my love for chocolate predates that as my Mom got me hooked on it when I was a little kid.

I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas is your sixth book on the subject. How is this one different from the others?
The new book is more accessible than my previous books with lots of easy to prepare recipes that although quick to make have the necessary chocolate wow factor.

As much as people love chocolate, it trips them up in the kitchen. Is working with chocolate really that intimidating? What kind of advice would you offer to a wanna-be choco-cook?
Like any other ingredient chocolate needs to be treated with respect, but that does not mean fear. Read the recipe before starting out and make certain you have all the ingredients on hand.

Complete this sentence: Chocolate makes me feel...
...more satisfied than any other ingredient.

Is there such a thing as bad chocolate? What kinds of factors should folks keep in mind when shopping and storing? Any favorite brands you'd recommend?
Yes, bad chocolate exists. Read the ingredients on the package to make certain the chocolate contains cocoa butter not coconut or palm kernel oil. I use Baker's for recipe testing because it is widely available.

Top three choco-moments/dishes in your life:
The first time I ate my Mom's fudge (I was 2), eating a truffle (I was 10) and winning the James Beard award for "Death by Chocolate."

Ever since I tried one of your Golly Polly's Doodles, I've been dreaming of them. Are they easy enough to whip them up on a weeknight? I think Santa needs to experience this treat.
The Doodles are my favorite, they are easy to prepare and only take six minutes to bake.

What's on this year's holiday menu at your house? Would it be incomplete without chocolate?
We will have chocolate cookies and chocolate ice cream for our Christmas Day brunch.

Golly Polly's Doodles
From "I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas" by Marcel Desaulniers
KOD recipe notes in parentheses

Ingredients
Doodle Dough

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces and softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Doodle Filling
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
(After doing this recipe twice, I discovered I needed closer to double this amount, so I highly recommend doubling filling)

Method
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, and sift.

Cream softened butter, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the peanut butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle or in the bowl of a food processor. (Do not use an electric beater; it ruined my first batch of dough.) Mix for about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl.

Add egg and vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds; scrape sides of bowl to make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Gradually fold in dry ingredients; mix until incorporated (with a food processor, that means using the "pulse" function), about 30 seconds. Remove dough and use a rubber spatula or your hands to finish mixing ingredients until thoroughly combined. (Dough should be moist and soft, not crumbly and dry.) Wrap in plastic and chill dough while making filling. Do not chill for more than 20 minutes; otherwise, dough will be difficult to form into desired shape.

Make Doodle Filling
In a standing mixer or in the bowl of a food processor (make sure it's clean!), combine peanut butter and confectioners' sugar. Mix for about 30 seconds, until just combined. Portion 17 level teaspoons of the filling onto parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Roll each portion into a smooth round ball.

Using a heaping tablespoon or level #50 ice-cream scoop, portion 17 pieces of dough. Roll each portion of dough into a smooth round ball, then flatten ball in the palm of your hand into a three-inch diameter circle. Using your thumb, make a small indentation in the center of the dough. Place a filling ball in indentation, then fold dough around filling and roll into a smooth, round ball. Roll balls in remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar to lightly coat.

Place Doodles on prepared baking sheet about one inch apart. Bake for six minutes, until barely firm. Overbaking will cause these cookies to become hard. Remove cookies from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Store in a tightly sealed plastic container.

Ship well in tightly sealed resealable plastic bags.

Golly Polly's Doodles
From "I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas" by Marcel Desaulniers
KOD recipe notes in parentheses

Ingredients
Doodle Dough

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces and softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Doodle Filling
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
(After doing this recipe twice, I discovered I needed closer to double this amount, so I highly recommend doubling filling)

Method
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, and sift.

Cream softened butter, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the peanut butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle or in the bowl of a food processor. (Do not use an electric beater; it ruined my first batch of dough.) Mix for about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl.

Add egg and vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds; scrape sides of bowl to make sure all ingredients are incorporated. Gradually fold in dry ingredients; mix until incorporated (with a food processor, that means using the "pulse" function), about 30 seconds. Remove dough and use a rubber spatula or your hands to finish mixing ingredients until thoroughly combined. (Dough should be moist and soft, not crumbly and dry.) Wrap in plastic and chill dough while making filling. Do not chill for more than 20 minutes; otherwise, dough will be difficult to form into desired shape.

Make Doodle Filling
In a standing mixer or in the bowl of a food processor (make sure it's clean!), combine peanut butter and confectioners' sugar. Mix for about 30 seconds, until just combined. Portion 17 level teaspoons of the filling onto parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Roll each portion into a smooth round ball.

Using a heaping tablespoon or level #50 ice-cream scoop, portion 17 pieces of dough. Roll each portion of dough into a smooth round ball, then flatten ball in the palm of your hand into a three-inch diameter circle. Using your thumb, make a small indentation in the center of the dough. Place a filling ball in indentation, then fold dough around filling and roll into a smooth, round ball. Roll balls in remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar to lightly coat.

Place Doodles on prepared baking sheet about one inch apart. Bake for six minutes, until barely firm. Overbaking will cause these cookies to become hard. Remove cookies from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Store in a tightly sealed plastic container.

Ship well in tightly sealed resealable plastic bags.

By Kim ODonnel |  December 20, 2007; 9:27 AM ET Chocolate , Cook's Library , Desserts
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Comments

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Hi,

Thanks for this great article. Is there a way we can get the post to have this in printer friendly format with pictures included? I like to save and print your discussions.

Thanks! Best holiday wishes to you and yours. Hope Mr. Santa found you something awesome!

Posted by: HSmith | December 20, 2007 10:56 AM

Cover me with chocolate!

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | December 20, 2007 11:54 AM

My son is allergic to peanuts so I was wondering if I could make this with almond butter or soy nut butter or cashew butter? Would I have to make any other changes do you think? have a great holiday!

Posted by: montgomery village md mom | December 20, 2007 12:08 PM

I have to ask: what's the difference between a standing mixer and an electric beater? Is an electric beater what I would call a hand-held mixer?

Posted by: Lois | December 20, 2007 1:06 PM

Someone in the chat asked for a drop butter cookies recipe and just made these today; they are sooo good! Very easy too. I got the recipe from a newspaper a few years ago. They were labeled 'meltaways'.
You mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup powered sugar, 2 sticks soft, unsalted butter, 3/4 cornstarch together well. Drop by teaspoons onto pan, bake 12 min at 350. Do NOT overbake--they will stay whitish with brown edges and bottom. Cool. You can frost with a cream cheese icing; I brushed with water and sprinkled Christmas colored sugars on top before baking. Enjoy!

Posted by: Sunshinegal | December 20, 2007 2:52 PM

Another idea for drop butter cookies, use any recipe meant for spritz cookies.

Posted by: Sweetie | December 20, 2007 4:12 PM

Sunshinegal - for the Meltaways how much cornstarch do you use?It says 3/4 but 3/4 what? Thanks - can't wait to try these. Happy Holidays everyone.

Posted by: MB | December 21, 2007 10:26 AM

Kim, the Food section had a recipe this month for a cookie from Marcel Desaulniers' book - Grasshopper Chocolate Chunk Cookies. The ingredients list 4 oz. of semisweet chocolate -- but then there are two times in the recipes when chocolate is called for (in the batter and in the topping), but it doesn't say how much of the chocolate to use in each case. Can you help?

Posted by: CJH | December 23, 2007 2:10 PM

CJH: Just looked at the recipe in Desaulnier's book, and it recommends about four ounces of melted chocolate for drizzling on top of cookies. The online recipe in WP database indicates four ounces of choc for the batter. Hope this helps.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | December 24, 2007 9:32 AM

For a printer friendly version, what I sometimes do is copy and paste into a Word document. Position the cursor at the beginning of the recipe. Hold the ctrl button down while moving the cursor to the end of the recipe. This highlights it. then go to edit, copy, then open a word document and paste it in.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 24, 2007 12:10 PM

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! to the anonymous poster who taught me how to copy and paste the recipes! I do not know why, but when I tried it before it never worked. Thanks again.

Posted by: Nancy | December 25, 2007 11:44 PM

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