A long while ago, I lived in Miami and spent a few years working at a wine store; tasting, spitting, not spitting (a job perk), unloading cases of wine and every once in a while selling wine to customers.
One of my clients was none other than Maida Heatter, renowned cookbook writer and baker. She lived (and probably still does) in Miami Beach and would come in periodically to stock up on wine and gourmet goodies. She had a sweetly disarming way about her; she’d usually bring in some of her cellophane-wrapped homemade cookies for us to sample.
When we’d swoon with delight and thank her profusely she’d yell, “Honey, I can’t hear you, I’m deaf as a post. Now where’s that chardonnay I bought last time?”
I hope that she’s been outfitted with one of those high-tech hearing aids these days, because if she were listening I’d tell her, loudly, about how I’ve been collecting her cookbooks and using her delicious, never-fail recipes for cookies and sweets for years and years now. I just love her.
In fact, my most favorite cookie is Maida’s Chocolate Whopper, a big, fat, brownie-like confection with a crisp, shiny top and a moist, dark and nutty chocolate interior worthy of the word “devilish”.
They come together in minutes, and all you need to do is drop blobs of the batter onto baking sheets.
You will be very popular if you make these and then give them to people. Just keep a few for yourself, too.
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup walnut halves, broken into large pieces (or use all pecans; I do because I’m not a walnut fan)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until gently until just melted.
Whisk the flour in a small bowl with salt and baking powder. Beat the eggs, sugar, espresso and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Mix in the chocolate mixture until just blended. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Use a 1/3-cup measure to form the dough and drop onto baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.
Bake 17 minutes on the upper and middle racks, or until the tops are dry and shiny, shifting the sheets halfway through baking. Slide the parchment with cookies onto wire racks to cool completely.