If you've been keeping up with our Twelve Days of Cookies, you've already made Alice Medrich's peanut butter meringues, Evan Kleiman's Italian taralli, Sherry Yard's canine-friendly cookies, and Richard Ruskell's chocolate salami. If you haven't been baking along the way, well, you've got a solid week or two to make up for lost cookie time. Meanwhile, we're moving on to today's recipe from Cake Monkey Bakery pastry chef Elizabeth Belkind, a recipe for Mexican hot chocolate “sammies” with chocolate-chipotle ganache. Much as we agree with readers that it's time for the word “sammie” to go (unless you're under the age of 10, in which case it's fine, just fine), we really, really love this spiced-up chocolate sandwich cookie that Belkind created for the bakery's 2010 holiday menu. Plus, the former pastry chef at the original Grace restaurant location is a stellar baker, so we forgive her.

Belkind says she was going for the “warmth and spice of traditional holiday desserts” without the “usual suspects” of holiday baking in the ingredient list (cloves, allspice and nutmeg, she's talking about you… with all due respect, of course). She peppers a soft chocolate cookie with chile de Arbol powder and Mexican cinnamon, then fills them with a chipotle-spiked chocolate ganache. Sort of like a naked Moon Pie amped up on chocolate-chili acid. Now that's a recipe worth turning the page.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Sammies with Chipotle Ganache

From Elizabeth Belkind, Cake Monkey Bakery

Note: The decorative sanding sugar is available under the brand name Bright White Sugar from IndiaTree.com. You can find chile de arbol powder at Mexican grocery stores and well-stocked supermarkets. Chipotle chile flakes, a more roughly ground version of the smoked jalapeños than the powder, are available at well-stocked spice stores and online.

Makes 12-15 sandwich cookies.

For the cookies:

2 1/4 cups pastry flour

1 cup high quality Dutch process cocoa powder, such as Valrhona

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground Mexican cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chile de Arbol powder

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs, whisked

1 teaspoon high quality pure vanilla extract

1 cup white sanding sugar for decoration

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and Arbol chili powder. Set aside

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, at medium speed and using the paddle attachment, paddle the butter until soft and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue mixing until light and fluffy.

3. In a small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla, then add them to the butter and mix until fully incorporated.

4. Add the dry ingredients in three or four increments with the mixer running on medium-low speed until fully incorporated. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour before baking.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, or 325 degrees if using a convection oven. Using a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop, scoop medium rounds of cookie dough on to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not worry about arranging the cookies properly at this time.

6. Place the sanding sugar in a small bowl. Dampen your hands lightly and roll each mound of dough into a round ball, then press the dough between your palms to flatten slightly. Dip the top of each cookie into the sanding sugar, making sure each cookie is completely and evenly coated on all sides. Arrange the cookies on the baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches on all sides of each cookie.

7. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes,rotating the tray front to back halfway through baking. The surface of the cookies should look cracked. If they do not, bake for another minute or two. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a cookie rack before you fill them with ganache.

For the chipotle ganache:

1 1/4 cups high quality bittersweet chocolate (Valrhona 66%) chopped finely and evenly

3/4 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup dark caramel sauce (available at specialty markets)

1 teaspoons to 2 teaspoons chipotle flakes (to taste)

1. Place the chopped chocolate in a large metal or glass bowl.

2. In a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine the heavy cream and the chipotle flakes. Over medium heat bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Turn the heat off and allow the cream to steep for 15 minutes. Strain the cream to remove the chili flakes. Bring the cream back up to a rolling simmer. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Allow the cream to melt the chocolate slowly. Do not stir for 10 minutes. Add the caramel sauce.

3. With a spatula, begin to stir together the chocolate, cream and caramel sauce. If necessary, use a whisk to fully incorporate the ingredients. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to scoop, twenty to thirty minutes, before using (if you refrigerate the ganache overnight, you will need to let it come almost to room temperature to give it a spreadable consistency).


1. Spread about 1 tablespoon of ganache on half the cookies, then top them with another cookie to create a sandwich.

2. Press the cookies together gently between the palms of your hands to flatten the filling slightly and distribute it more evenly between the cookies.

LA Weekly