Let me start by saying I’m a crier. Certain times of the month find me far more emotionally labile than others, however, I can cry any day of the year. Happy tears, sad tears, angry tears….you get the point. I was the kid who sandwiched my head in the desk when my 4th-grade teacher told me I got an answer wrong. Saying goodbye can bring on the worst crying binges of them all. And I’ve been crying about my (one and only) daughter moving to Portland, OR this May since she announced it on New Years Day.
Chocolate Hippos (the blog AND the cookies) were born during this happy-sad time. When trying to decide what my first recipe would be on my first blog post ever, I knew that the connection would be to my daughter, Chelsea. My one and only daughter is moving ACROSS THE CONTINENT (yes, I’m going for drama here)….and I needed to find something that she loves (chocolate, Mexican spices, hippos) that could make the long journey in a priority mail package and still taste amazing (and remain intact!) when they arrive in her mailbox roughly 2,983.8 miles away.
The basic recipe is for a rolled chocolate sugar cookie. I added cinnamon, chili powder, and almond extract to give it the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate. A few of the shortcuts I have developed in baking are to add the spices and leavening agents to the creamed butter/sugar mixture, instead of sifting them in with the flour…because I hate needless extra steps, especially dirtying another dish. I also prefer to roll cookies and crusts between parchment. It keeps the countertop cleaner and doesn’t add all the extra flour to the recipe, which can dry out your cookies and crusts.
Mexican Chocolate Cookies (aka Chocolate Hippos)
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
These rolled cookies can be cut into any shape…I used hippos, as hippos are one of Chelsea’s favorite animals….her first stuffed animal was a blue rhino, except that Chelsea always referred to it as “Hippo”. Twenty-two years later and a hippo tattoo on her arm, hippos still rule in our family. These cookies also make great ice cream sandwiches (be on the lookout for some amazing homemade ice cream recipes later this summer!), in which a 2 or 3 inch round cutter would work best. If you are more of a “plain jane” cookie type, you can leave out the cinnamon and chili powder….but I encourage you to try it, as the spice really makes these cookies a standout.
I have done my best to include metric equivalents, as I am aware that not all of you live in the U.S. If I’ve made any errors, please let me know!
3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon (4.5 grams) salt
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons (about 1.9 grams) cinnamon
2 teaspoons chili powder (about 5 grams) (I used Rancho Gordo New Mexican Chili powder)
2/3 cup (85 grams) cocoa powder
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (0.6 ml) almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a separate bowl, combine flour and cocoa powder. In large mixing bowl mix butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and chili powder on medium speed until well combined. Continue mixing and add eggs, vanilla and almond extracts until smooth. Gradually add flour/cocoa mixture, and mix just until combined. Gather in a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for one hour.
Parchment Method (my preferred method):
Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll 1 piece of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper to 1/4″ inch thick. Cut with desired cookie cutter shapes (dipping cutter into flour prior to each cut). Place onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake approximately 9-12 minutes until edges are firm and centers are a bit puffy. I like my cookies a little on the soft side, but if you like them crispy, add an extra minute or two to the baking time. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough quarters and scraps, rechilling dough as needed to keep from being too “sticky”.
Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll 1 piece of dough on floured counter to 1/4″ inch thick. Cut with desired cookie cutter shapes. Place onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake approximately 10 minutes, until edges are firm and centers are a bit puffy. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough quarters and scraps, rechilling dough as needed to keep from being too “sticky”.
These cookies also store well in the freezer (up to 1 month in a sealed container or zip lock freezer bag), staying fresh for a dip in my afternoon iced coffee!