Blog Mocha Cookies

Blog Mocha Cookies

This week, I offer you a little history to go with your milk and cookies. Did you know that one of the people we have to thank for the existence of instant coffee is George Washington? This particular George was not the father of our country, but a British chemist who commercialized the process of making powdered coffee around 1910. (People had been drinking reconstituted coffee at least since the 1800s and a man named Satori Kato invented a powdered form at the turn of the 20th century, but his enterprise didn't take off.) Instant coffee has thus been available commercially for 100 years, and was extremely popular during World War II. Well into the 1970s, it defined most Americans' taste in coffee. As our national palate became more sophisticated, however, many of us eschewed freeze-dried granules in favor of whole bean coffee, ground just before brewing.

Now, of course, gourmet coffee is a huge business, and you can find local coffee roasters in most cities and many small towns. But instant coffee, along with its cousin, instant espresso, still has a purpose: adding flavor to baked goods, particularly the chocolate variety. A hint of coffee deepens the taste of chocolate, and a bit more creates the flavor we call mocha.

Mocha is a city in Yemen that is historically a major marketplace and trading center for coffee. The coffee beans grown in Yemen are known for their rich, chocolaty flavor and so, even though Mocha the city has nothing to do with chocolate, as a flavor, mocha has come to mean a combination of coffee and chocolate.

Depending on how you are using it, you can add coffee or espresso powder directly to a recipe, but for best texture and flavor dispersal, simply dissolve it in a small amount of liquid (often, any extract you may be using, such as vanilla, is enough). Bakeries that go through large amounts of instant coffee often pour just enough water into a container of coffee powder to dissolve it and use the resulting coffee concentrate to flavor buttercreams and other goodies.

This week's cookie recipe produces cookies that are tender and flavorful, thanks to egg yolks and plenty of cocoa. They also include a scoop of good-quality instant espresso to give the flavor real punch. Enjoy!

My favorite shapes for Mocha Cookies include the Dog cookie cutter, the Firefighter Hat cookie cutter, and the Cow cookie cutter.