Greetings, Citizens! Here are instructions for manufacturing your own "Coal Cookies" from the mines of District 12, with a recipe straight from the Mellark Bakery! Taking inspiration from our favorite Girl On Fire, these geologic treats are infused with a little heat with the addition of cayenne pepper. These are wonderful to send into the Hunger Games arena, to spice things up as an unexpected Valentine's Day gift or to tuck into someone's stocking as a surprise at Christmas time.
Good luck in making them, and MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR!
Step 1: Start the Fire!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2: Be Your Own Prep Team
Time to get your ingredients ready!
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
1 tablespoon vanilla extract*
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper**
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa*** (for cookie dough) + 1 tablespoon (to decorate cookies)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup black sanding sugar****
* Always use pure vanilla extract in baking, not imitation. Makes a huge difference!
** This teensy amount of cayenne pepper in the dough gives it a subtle spicy kick at the end. Makes you want to eat more! This was mild at best, but you can bump up the spice up to half a teaspoon more if you'd like. Just add it in a quarter of a teaspoon at a time and taste the dough as you go.
*** Please don't substitute regular cocoa baking powder in this recipe. Dutch-process cocoa is less acidic and has a more rounded (less bitter) flavor that's a perfect pair to the heat in this recipe. Find it online or in baking supply shops under the brand names Valrhona, Droste, Lindt, Poulain or Pernigotti (among others).
**** Colored sanding sugars are available in baking supply shops, but you can also make your own with sugar and gel food coloring.
This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour's Coal Cookies. Thank you to my geek of a husband for suggesting I make these! :)
Step 3: Beat the Enemy
Actually, what I MEANT was, you just need to beat the butter in a stand mixer or with a handheld one. Do this on medium speed, and gradually add the brown sugar until it forms a gritty paste. This step is often called "creaming," and allows the sugar to break down the butter, introducing air into it.
Step 4: A Little Bit of Fire Won't Hurt Anybody
At this point, your dough is ready for your secret weapons: your spices!
Add in the:
- baking powder
- coffee crystals
- cayenne pepper
Beat on medium to blend.
Step 5: Egg Bombs
Drop in both eggs and beat on medium until incorporated and smooth.
Step 6: The One-Two Punch: Chocolate and More Chocolate
Stir in the cocoa powder until blended.
Add the flour. The dough will be stiff.
Mix in the chocolate chips and stir just until incorporated.
Step 7: War Paint
Time to decorate your lethal treats!
Mix in 1 tablespoon of Dutch-process cocoa with 1 cup of black sanding sugar. You'll have what looks like dirt with sparkly specks in it. This will give your cookies that shiny, "coaly" exterior.
With a small cookie scoop, drop in tablespoon-sized gobs of dough into your sugar-cocoa mix, and roll around to coat.
Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes. (Ovens are different...mine were perfect just at 9 minutes. You may have to do a test batch. Don't overbake them as they'll get too hard to mold when they come out of the oven.)
Step 8: Back to the Coal Mines: Shaping Your Cookies
When the cookies come out of the oven, they'll be these dark, domed shapes.
Let them cool for a minute or two, then VERY CAREFULLY (may be hot!) test if you're able to gently squeeze and shape them into uneven, irregular sizes to resemble chunks of coal.
DON'T BURN YOURSELF! I found that if I allowed them to sit for about three minutes, they were manageable. You want them to be warm enough to mold. Letting them cool for too long may make them firm up and crumble as you try to shape them.
I found that placing them in the palm of my hand and "smooshing" them with my fingers while closing the my palm around them worked well.
Move to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
Step 9: The Best Gifts Come in Silver
Wrap your cooled cookies to resemble the silver packages Tributes received in the arena with some tinfoil. Add in some red tissue to evoke Katniss' flaming costume at the beginning of the games.
Layer a square of red tissue over a piece of square tinfoil, mound some cookies in the middle and bring the ends up to look like a pouch.
Secure the pouch with some string or yarn. I used black baker's twine from here.
Thread a label through the string as you tie it close. You can click on the downloadable file below labeled "Printable Coal Cookies Label" to print and cut out the label by yourself.
Step 10: Finish It Off
Take your Hunger Games treats a step further by fashioning a silver parachute. Begin by cutting out a piece of square tinfoil with curved edges. Don't worry if it's not perfectly shaped!
Through small holes at each of the four corners of your parachute, loop a small length of baker's twine through and tie. Bring four strings together and push down in the middle of the foil to shape your parachute.
Attach parachute to package.
Step 11: Well Done, Tribute!
Enjoy a well-fought battle (in the kitchen)!