Rich and intensely dark chocolate, rye and halva cookies – slightly nutty from the rye flour and topped with a square of halva. Like brownies in cookie form. Jump to Recipe
Growing up, I often gifted food as presents, particularly for my parents. It helped that it was always well-received – they’re both heavy coffee drinkers, and there is nothing better than reaching into an accompanying jar of homemade biscotti. This was especially true once I had left home for university, leaving nobody to keep the house stocked with sugary treats – my brothers don’t have quite the same motivation to bake. Usually cranberry-pistachio-orange or chocolate-hazelnut, I’d make giant batches when Mum was out (though I’m sure she knew) to carefully jar and tie with ribbon. Though I may be still mentally scarred from the massive-burnt-biscotti-at-work episode , I’ve never had problems at home!
A gift of baking is thought, time and effort: to me, it tends to be more meaningful than a store-bought present, particularly for celebrations like Mother’s Day so commercialised you can hardly turn on the radio without being inundated with advertising. This weekend will be the fourth consecutive year where I haven’t been home for Mother’s Day – it’s those times, like my brother’s 19th birthday last week, where I wish the trip home was a little shorter. A second best would be posting out biscotti, but I have a feeling the notoriously strict New Zealand biosecurity laws would stop them at the border. If you live closer to your Mum, you really can’t go wrong with a batch of home-baking. If she’s a chocolate-lover, I’d highly recommend these dark chocolate, rye and halva cookies.
I first made these cookies when I was home for Easter. Having flown in the night before, I set an early alarm with grand plans to make and photograph recipes before we drove down to Mt Maunganui. The lists were a little crazy, with time mapped out for kneading brioche dough, melting sugar for coffee caramel, enlisting my siblings to hand model photos of rolling it out, whipping up these cookies while the brioche proved, and then embarking on yet more photography. And washing dishes. All before midday, while my family packed to go on holiday around me. Not the best time to make a mess of the kitchen, let’s say.
It did all work out, however, and these dark chocolate, rye and halva cookies were the ideal treat to take on the road. Similar in texture to a brownie or a flourless chocolate cake, but in cookie form: they are squidgy, rich and intensely dark. The whole grain rye flour adds a nutty note and texture, while that top square of halva forms a chewy centre of sesame. Best scattered with flaky sea salt before baking.
Rich and intensely dark chocolate, rye and halva cookies - slightly nutty from the rye flour and topped with a square of halva. Like brownies in cookie form.
See COOK’S NOTES above before baking, and remember they must be chilled for at least 30 min before going in the oven.
- 450 g (1 pound) 70% cocoa dark chocolate, chopped
- 60 g butter (4 tablespoons)
- 4 large eggs
- 330 g muscovado or light brown sugar (1 1/2 cups tightly packed))
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 100 g whole grain rye flour (also sold as rye meal flour in NZ) (3/4 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
In a heatproof bowl set over a pot with 2 cm of water (making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water), melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a separate small bowl, mix together the salt, whole grain rye flour and baking powder.
Place eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high, adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time for a couple of minutes. When all the sugar is incorporated, turn the mixer to high and whip until the eggs have nearly tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to slow and gradually stream in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla extract. Gently mix to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the flour mixture and carefully mix until just combined.
The dough will be very loose, more like a thick brownie mixture than a cookie. Refrigerate until just firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. The longer it is chilled, the harder it is to scoop - if it chills for over an hour, let sit at room temperature for a bit before scooping.
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Using a cookie scoop (mine holds 2 tablespoons), scoop even balls of dough onto the tray. Refrigerate a further 15 minutes.
Spread the cookie dough balls about 5 cm apart on baking tray. Add a piece of halva to the top of each, making sure it is in the centre, and press in gently. Top each with a few flakes of salt.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies have spread and just puffed up.
- These are even better the next day, and the day after that - mine were all gone by the 4th day but they didn’t seem to deteriorate in that time at all.
- I would highly recommend weighing all the ingredients - cup measures vary significantly and that could really impact how these turn out.
- Whole grain rye flour is also sold as rye meal flour in New Zealand - it is different to regular rye flour so make sure you get the right one.
- Make sure to whip the eggs for a good 6-8 minutes!
- The dough will be very loose and you’ll probably be worried - after 30 min - 1 hour in the fridge it will be firm enough to scoop. The softer the dough is when you bake it, the more it will spread out on the trays.
- Make sure to place the piece of halva in the centre of the ball of dough and press it in a bit - I found with one batch that mine weren’t even so the halva slipped off the side.