What is your comfort food that you used to enjoy as a child and that has left a warm spot in your heart? For me, dark chocolate filled Berlin cookies are this food. I am not sure if anyone from Berlin has ever heard of such thing but this is how my mom, a great pastry cook, calls it. She used to make these cookies on special occasions and sometimes as a weekend treat. I remember how much I enjoyed “helping” her make dark hot chocolate glaze and then skimming the leftovers from the walls of the sauce pan with my fingers.
Berlin cookies are also that rare childhood comfort food that an adult palate would greatly enjoy and appreciate. The combination of crunchy dough browned in the oven, sweet and sour black currant preserves (we always used my granny’s preserves that she made every summer with black currants from our dacha) and slightly bitter dark chocolate is to die for.
0.6 pound wheat flour
15 tbsp unsalted butter
5 tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Splash of white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
For dark chocolate glaze
6 tbsp cocoa powder
8 tbsp sugar
Black currant preserves
Make dough – mix together an egg, sugar, butter, salt and baking soda neutralized with a splash of vinegar, then stir to make dough. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Cover a baking pan with parchment paper. Using approximately ¾ of the dough, use a rolling pin to roll it until approximately ¼ inch thin. Use your hands to help the dough spread evenly in the baking pan.
Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until cooked halfway through, for approximately 10 minutes. You can test it by carefully touching the dough with your finger – it should still be soft to the touch but firmer than the consistency of raw dough.
In the meantime, make chocolate glaze. Mix together cocoa powder, sugar and eggs. Gently whip all the ingredients until the glaze is universal in consistency and sugar melts.
From the remaining dough, make the crunch. Cover your hands with flour and start “fluffing” the dough and tearing apart small pieces until they are the size of green peas. If the dough sticks to your fingers, keep adding flour as needed.
Once the dough is cooked halfway through, take it out of the oven. Spread a layer of preserves evenly over the dough, then a layer of chocolate glaze and sprinkle the crunch on top. Put the baking pan back in the oven and bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 20 minutes, until the crunch lightly browns.
Take the baking pan out of the oven and let cool. Cut the diamond shaped cookies with a sharp knife and serve at a room temperature.
You can use your favorite preserves for this dessert (raspberry, blueberry or cranberry is an excellent option as well), but I personally prefer black currant preserves with full berries that give the cookies rich texture. Berlin cookies stay fresh for at least three days, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.