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I hardly ever bake cookies. The reason is because unlike cake, which is fun to bake but not my favorite food, I actually eat cookies. A lot. One cookie is usually fewer calories than a slice of cake, which means there’s a certain amount of portion control possible, but the fact that cookies travel easily shoots the portion control thing in the foot. You can stick a couple in your coat pocket on the way out the door to walk dogs. They’re good car snacks, are easy to grab as you go by on your way to do something, are a welcome sugar-boost in the afternoon and are the last sweet things you crave before you go to bed. Then, having eaten a batch or two in fairly short order, you wear them for weeks and struggle to button your pants until you manage to work them off again. Or maybe that’s just me.

Despite their down side, cookies are an integral part of the season for us: they make the house smell like the holidays, and baking cookies is something I’ve done with my kids since they were tiny, which adds a nostalgia factor that’s even harder to resist than the cookies themselves.

Like most bakers this time of year, there are several recipes without which it would not feel like all-you-can-eat month (the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, after which you switch to clear soups and salads). Thumbprint cookies, a chewy-crumbly brown sugar shortbread rolled in crushed walnuts with a dollop of jam in the middle where you’ve pressed your thumb before baking. Chocolate toffee bars, which are dead easy if you throw the ingredients for the short bread into the food processor. Pecan balls, brown sugar stars with orange peel that are really good with the lethal eggnog I make, lemon bars and sugar cookies. Even though I love chocolate, which has prompted several friends to thrust chocolate cookie recipes on me over the years, baking chocolate into a cookie always dilutes the main ingredient to a level where I think: What’s the point? I had never found a true chocolate cookie that I really liked. Until now.

Hunting around on the internet a couple of days ago, I stumbled on ‘Michele’s Chili Chocolate Cookies’ complete with video instructions by her husband, Chef John from Foodwishes. I was intrigued. I’ve had chocolate chili truffles with a lovely hint of passilla chili, and truffles with ground smoked chili and loved them both. So the name for these cookies piqued my interest. But it was the ingredients that really seduced me. In addition to bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate, the recipe calls for cinnamon, dried currants plumped in Kahlua, black pepper (fresh-ground of course) and cayenne. Who wouldn’t want to know how these things actually tasted?

The first time I made a batch, I was just pulling them out of the oven when Phil stopped by to drop off a tool he had borrowed from Gary, and was happy to taste-test with me.  While we’re a small sampling of the local population, as far as Phil and I are concerned, these babies are winners.  It would be a rare palate that could name all the ingredients since none stands out identifiably in the end result, but the combination gives the cookie real chocolate bite. In short: a chocolate cookie worthy of the name. I’m making this year’s batch with a little espresso powder, which, like the coffee-flavored Kahlua, heightens the chocolate-y-ness of the chocolate and goes well with chili. (All those south of the border people really know how to use their local ingredients).

See what you think.  Here are the ingredients. Video instructions available through the link below.

Chili Chocolate Cookies

½ cup dried currants

2 tblsp Kahlua

2 oz bittersweet chocolate

4 oz unsweetened chocolate

3 tblsp unsalted butter

½ cup flour

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 room temp eggs

¾ cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips

 http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Make-Chili-Chocolate-Cookies-213125289

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