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Sweet Little Bite of Mexico

Simple, elegant. I wanted a sweet treat to serve at a casual tequila tasting party, and these little cookies are a one-bite surprise of bittersweet cocoa, cinnamon, and ancho chile.

Once a month, our group of friends gets together for a wine tasting party. At least that’s how it started. After two years of blind tasting everything from a Chenin Blanc to a Ruby Port, things got repetitive, so this August we decided to try another juice: one from the Agave plant—tequila! So, since I try to always pair appropriate foods with whatever we are drinking that month, and I was having a major chocolate craving, these shortbread cookies were born.

I don’t eat gluten, so I adapted a common shortbread recipe to this gluten-free option, only by substituting my favorite GF flour: Namaste Perfect Flour Blend Mix (Couer d’Alene, Idaho) for standard all-purpose flour. The addition of ancho chile seemed natural for that Mexican kick, and since this cookie is only slightly sweet, a nice accompaniment is a fresh raspberry chutney, which adds layers of jammy and tangy flavors that enhance the spices in the cookies. (Recipes follow).

SPICED CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or your favorite gluten-free flour blend)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar (powdered sugar or granulated sugar can be substituted)
  • 1/3 cup Agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1/4 cup water (as needed for dough consistency)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

In a separate bowl, blend together flour, cocoa powder, chile powder, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, sugar, agave nectar, water, and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Then sift in the dry ingredients, a little at a time, mixing in between each batch until well blended.

Form dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap, then put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Dough must be cold when working with it. From here, you can either slice the cookies from the log to 1/4″ thickness, or roll out and use a cookie cutter.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Makes about 72, 2″ round cookies.

RASPBERRY CHUTNEY

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, (ribs & seeds removed), chopped
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 (6-ounce) container fresh raspberries or 1 cup frozen (thawed)

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until aromatic. Add the chicken broth, jalapeño, honey, vinegar, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens, about an hour. Add the raspberries and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chutney cool. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.

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