I grew up eating these cookies every year during the holidays. I've always called them earthquake cookies because of the cracks in the tops. Not your typical chocolate cookie, these are light in texture, yet full of a deep chocolate flavor (thanks to the good quality chocolate, and the brandy), and not too sweet at all - almost like chocolate truffles. They're melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Adapted from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse recipe (we switched out all-purpose flour for spelt), my mom has been making them for as long as I can remember. They're our go-to around the holidays, and I hope you like them as much as we do.
Yields 40 cookies
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (best quality, such as Scharfenberger)
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
¼ c. brandy
1 c. ground almonds/almond flour
½ c. plus 2 Tbs. white spelt flour or cake flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. sugar, plus extra for rolling
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl. Stir in the brandy. In another bowl, mix together the almonds, the flour, baking powder and salt. In a third bowl, beat the eggs with ½ c. sugar until pale yellow. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until just mixed. Fold in the flour mixture. Chill the dough, until it is firm enough to scoop; if you chill it several hours you’ll have to let it soften a bit again at room temperature. Roll into 1” balls. Roll the balls first in granulated sugar, then in powdered sugar. Bake on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet a couple of inches apart (they don’t spread much) at 325 d., until the tops are cracked, about 10-12 minutes. The cookies are done when they lift easily from the sheet. When cool, they should be slightly chewy. Do not over-bake or they will be dry and hard.
Adapted from Chez Panisse Café Cookbook by Alice Waters