Rich and decadent, the recipe for these luxurious cookies was the result of a visit to Café Ilio, an artisan chocolatier in northern Tehran, run by husband and wife team Sahar Hossein-Najari and Mehrdad Aghameeri. The pair spent six years travelling around Belgium, France and Italy, honing their craft, before introducing Iranians to the wonders of fine chocolate, incorporating traditional ingredients – like saffron, pistachio and cardamom – into a whole new world of truffles, macaroons, jams and cakes. Thanks to their winning combination of dark chocolate and sour cherries, these cookies are loved by adults and children alike.
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
5 oz (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup soft dark brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup sour cherries (or regular dried cherries), roughly chopped
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
Place the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
In an electric mixer with a beater attachment, or in a bowl with a wooden spoon, cream the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, then gradually beat in the cocoa-flour mixture. Stir in the dark chocolate chips and sour cherries, then cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge for an hour (up to 2 days).
Pre-heat the oven to 325ºF. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
When the dough is firm, take it out of the fridge and roll it into 12 balls about the size of a golf ball—about 2 inches round, 2 oz in weight (an ice cream scoop is ideal for measuring the balls out). Place the balls on the baking trays, making sure you leave plenty of room (about 1/2-inch) between them, as they will spread out a lot (don’t be tempted to pat them down).
Bake the cookies for around 14–18 minutes. They are ready when a fork stuck into the middle of a cookie comes out clean. If you are baking the cookies on different shelves in the oven they will cook at different speeds so you may have to take one batch out earlier than the other; keep a close eye on them.
Leave the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the trays, as they will be too fragile to move straight away, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. I like to sprinkle mine with a little sea salt at this stage to offset the sweetness of the chocolate, but that is entirely optional.
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Recipe reprinted from The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan. Copyright 2017 Bloomsbury USA.
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