It should surprise you not at all that I am a fan of chocolate, so when a friend told me about the rapture that is the chocolate cocoa nib bars baked at the Rustic Bakery in Larkspur, I ordered some online. Immediately.
Eight itty bitty bars come in the pack, and I'm embarrassed to say I ate them all over a two day period. Alone. Fortunately, I had the forethought to order some other scrumptious Rustic Bakery favorites, and I ate them too. Alone.
I'm usually not such a human vacuum cleaner with packaged cookies. But these were like no other cookies I'd ever had. And I wanted more. But at $5.95 for eight of them, I figured I'd better learn to make them myself. So I did.
I found a recipe that sounded very close on washingtonpost.com. I made them as written, except I used Dorie Greenspan's technique of putting the dough in a Ziploc bag and rolling it out to the desired thickness. I had bought a fancy shortbread cutter, but it was being temperamental, so I sliced them up into rectanglish shapes and baked them, lurking by the oven, sniffing madly.
When they had cooled on the baking sheet for the required 5 minutes, I sampled one warm. It was lush, crunchy with cocoa nibs and redolent of good cocoa with a teaser of salt at the end. With a generous supply at the ready, I only ate three. And I shared. Now that's growth!
Adapted from The Washington Post, December 12, 2007
Makes about 36 small cookies
1 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons cacao nibs, crushed or chopped very fine in a food processor
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
Combine the flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Combine the nibs and sea salt in a separate small bowl.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low; add about 1/2 of the flour-cocoa mixture and mix well, then add the remaining flour-cocoa mixture, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Stop the motor and add the nibs-salt mixture. Beat for 1 minute. The dough will be sandy and fairly stiff. Put the dough in a gallon size ziptop bag, and with a rolling pin, roll out until uniformly 1/4". Refrigerate dough until needed, up to one week.
Slit open the sides of the bag and cut the dough into even rectangles. Transfer to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1" apart, and bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back; bake for 8 minutes or until their aroma is apparent and the cookie bottoms are crisp. Let them cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.