Actually, it’s not. It’s any of these three things, alone or in combination:

  1. Fluffy orange dog (Chester) sleeping on my blanket
  2. Dark chocolate-espresso-hazelnut chewies (cookies)
  3. Lanky sheepdog (Felix) sleeping on a pile of boxer shorts (clean)

Ideally, I would be lounging with the dogs eating the cookies and drinking an iced espresso, but despite the fact that this couch is 8 feet long we can’t all fit on it at once because someone is a sprawler and hogs four whole feet of couch to himself, Felix.

It’s a swingin’ Saturday night, and Brian is out at a beer-tasting party. I’m not there, because (1) there are lots of people I don’t know there, and small talk makes me break out in hives and (2) I already know what kind of beers I like and I’m sticking to them (Belgian, fruity lambics, Magic Hat #9). Instead, I’m having a women’s night in, which means hanging out alone at home, watching part of a Top Model marathon on Bravo, feeling dirty, watching part of a Dirty Jobs marathon to wipe the image of Tyra’s crazy-ass weaves out of my head*, and then deciding to go bake some cookies.

That might not sound like the ideal Saturday, but allow me to assure you that really, I’m a lot of fun. If I liked people, I’d totally hang out with you; I’m sure we’d paint the town red.** Unfortunately, I don’t like the vast majority of people. (Note: This does not apply to any of you. I mean the other people, the people who do not have the good sense to read this blog.)

*Also Mr. Jay’s hair, because what the fuck is up with that? How do you get your hair to be silver? And why is that desirable?

**Other thing I considered doing tonight: painting the den. The paint we bought several months ago is still sitting around, glaring at me, waiting to be used. But then this episode of Dirty Jobs came on about a cloth diaper service and I was oddly compelled to watch, because I am extremely pro-cloth diaper despite a complete lack of diaper-needing persons (babies or elderly) in my house.

I wanted chocolatey cookies, but not chocolate chip cookies because really, how pedestrian. I like those fudgy chocolate cookies with the crackly tops, and I wanted something not very sweet. I cadged a basic recipe from Short and Sweet, a book of quick desserts using 8 ingredients or less by Gale Gand, the pastry chef at Tru in Chicago. (She also used to have a good show on the Food Network, back when they had actual chefs and weren’t the MTV of food.)

Her recipe seemed too far to the sweet side and involved a lot of chocolate chips, so I was forced to make some modifications. Literally forced. It’s a powerful little book.

See, I was just starting to get over the “literally” thing, when I heard a young man on the subway in deep discussion with his subway partner talking about someone or thing that “literally, it like, blew his mind,” and then my dander was up all over the place again. Although I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that his brain did literally explode in his head, thus explaining his terrible command of the language. I do try not to expose too many people to my dander on the subway.

So, cookies. They have 4 main components: eggs and sugar, beaten together until light and fluffy, along with some espresso (pictured up above); dry ingredients like flour and whatnot, not pictured because it’s flour, for Christ’s sake; hazelnuts, shown above getting nice and toasty on the stove prior to going under the knife; and copious amounts of 72% chocolate (I would have gone even darker, but that’s what I had around). Witness:

Chocolate. Chopped. Melting with butter. Mixed into cookie dough with chopped toasted hazelnuts. Delicious any way you slice it.

Okay, maybe not so delicious with an unmelted slab of butter. But in any other state: delicious.

Like brownies, these have hardly any flour in them – a quarter cup in the whole batch. The dough was thick and easily scoopable, and the cookie sheet went into the fridge while I headed downstairs to watch Mike Rowe making bird food out of suet and dehydrated fly larvae. Also, there was a part where he had to kill a bag full of maggots. Apparently the way you do this humanely is to douse them with boiling water, causing them to die instantly. When one does this, the water turns brown. Why? Because they shit themselves to death. Literally. When I say literally in this case, I mean literally.

There seems to be a shit theme running through the evening, what with the diaper service, the maggot genocide and the chilled cookies, which I am fully aware look like little lumps of dog shit. I apologize, and can only hope that the finished cookies will make up for it. I would send you some, but I don’t know where you live and I don’t really want to share them anyway.

Because they are damn tasty. Rich chocolate flavor enhanced by the espresso, which deepens the already dark and complex chocolate and adds just the right amount of up-front coffee flavor. Texture wise, they’re a nice juxtaposition; slightly crackly on the outside, moist and chewy on the inside, with crunch from the nuts. Not too sweet just like I wanted, and perfect with the iced espresso that I did have even though I had to sit on the couch all by myself because the traitor dogs wouldn’t budge from the front door where they were pathetically waiting for The Fat Man to come home. Like I’m not good enough to curl up on the couch with.

FINE, I didn’t want to curl up with you anyway. You’d just get dog hair on my cookies. And now The Fat Man is home and has already gone to bed, and so did they, and I’m still alone on the couch writing about cookies because these dogs are THANKLESS. Whatever, suckers; more cookies for me.*

*I would never actually give these cookies to my dogs no matter how irritating they get, and let me tell you, when they see a squirrel running along the backyard fence and they cry and hurl their bodies against the back windows, it’s REALLY IRRITATING. I just like to taunt them sometimes when there’s really yummy people food that they can’t have. And then I immediately feel bad and give them a hunk of raw meat.

Dark Chocolate-Espresso-Hazelnut Chewies
1 3/4 c. dark chocolate of your choice
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. espresso grounds
1/4 c. AP flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 toasted chopped nuts. I like the hazel, but you can mix it up.

In a double boiler or bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together. As soon as everything is fully melted and combined, remove it from the heat.

In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until they lighten in color and turn fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add the espresso.

Mix in the chocolate mixture; once that’s combined, add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until combined – you’ll have a thick batter. Take the bowl out of the mixer and fold in the nuts by hand.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat, and drop generous, rounded tablespoons of dough; they can be fairly close together – 2 inches or so – because they won’t spread that much in the oven. Chill them for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour or so. You can also freeze them, bag them, and bake them off later.

Preheat the over to 375. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on whether they’re coming out of the fridge (8) or the freezer (10). Depending on how big you’ve made them they may take a few minutes less or a few minutes more; keep an eye on them and remove them when the tops start to crack. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, remove to a cooling rack, and try not the burn your tongue eating them.

ONE YEAR AGO: Daring Bakers: I Brake for Cake