Monday, August 31, 2015

Rona Matisoff's Mocha-Nut-Butterballs

Years ago, I clipped some prize-winning holiday cookie recipes from the Boston Globe.  Made these once and wrote "good!" on the recipe.  These days, I have so many tried and untried recipes that it is easy to lose track of whether I tried them or not.  If we like the recipe, I write a note on it.  If we like but with reservations, my note includes what might be changed to make it better.  If we aren't enthusiastic, I pitch it. 

Sometimes, I pitch the recipes  I don't visualize myself EVER making, due to labor, ingredients, too high-calorie, or whatever.  Do I ever miss these?  No.

This weekend, wanting to make cookies but without a huge amount of labor, or a trip to the store, I hit upon the mocha-nut butterballs.  This exact recipe is NOT on the web.  Oh sure, there are lots of mocha-nut-butterballs,  but I couldn't find Rona's, and the others did not have the exact measurements.

They were easy AND delicious.  Warning:  these are not the typical American over-sweetened cookies.  Only 1/2 cup of sugar plus what you sprinkle on.  If you like overly-sweet (you know who you are), then go at it with the powdered sugar.  And these cookies are crisp, not chewy.  If you insist on chewy, find another recipe. 

Rona Matisoff's mocha-nut butterballs:
Makes about 40

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter   (always bake with unsalted butter)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T. espresso powder
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 cups choped pecans   (mine were coarsely chopped)

Confectioners sugar for dusting

1.  Set the oven at 325 degrees
Have 2 large cookie sheet on hand, NOT greased

2.  In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light.  Beat in the vanilla.

3.  Add flour, cocoa, coffee, powder and salt.  Beat just until combined.

4.  Remove bowl from the mixer stand.  Stir in the pecans.

5.  Shape cookies into 1 inch balls and set them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

6.  Transfer to the hot oven and bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes or until firm.  Do not overbake.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for several minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

7.  Roll cookies in confectioners' sugar.  Store in an airtight container.

notes: you will  need to keep baking until all the dough is used up.  I made 4 baking sheets worth (various sizes of sheets).  I also chilled the dough a bit before rolling into balls.  I also froze some of the baked cookies.  Once frozen, store in an airtight bag in the freezer.  So nice to have these waiting for one.   
It can be hard to find instant espresso powder in supermarkets.  Sometimes Stop & Shop in the Boston area has it.  I have taken to buying it on the web so I don't have to run all over town.  There are several brands.  I think King Arthur Flour also has it.  It's a nice ingredient to have around.

You can put the dough in the refrigerator and bake the next day or at will.  I baked the last batch two days later. 

The coffee-chocolate-pecans combo is so delicious.  Good at holiday time or any old time.  Like August 29th! 

You can mix some espresso powder, cocoa powder, a bit of sugar or artifiical sweetening, a spoonful of milk or cream and some ricotta cheese for a 5 minute dessert that is satisfying.  A takeoff on the South Beach Diet dessert.  



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