Just Dessert: Chipotle double chocolate chip cookies at Hungry Ghost

  • Chipotle double chocolate chip cookie at Hungry Ghost Bread in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/Lisa Spear

  • There’s a hint of heat in these cookies. GAZETTE STAFF/Lisa Spear

Staff Writer
Published: 10/6/2017 5:26:07 PM

Editor’s note: In this column writer Lisa Spear indulges her sweet tooth by sampling desserts made at area restaurants.

Spicy chocolate is a culinary concept believed to go as far back as the Aztecs and Mayans. It’s said that they would grind up chocolate powder with hot chilies centuries ago.

Whoever it was that first brought these two flavors together, my taste buds are grateful.

And while plenty of people have never heard of spicy chocolate, this tradition has stayed alive.

Mexican hot chocolate still comes with a pinch of cayenne pepper and at the Hungry Ghost Bread bakery right here in Northampton on State Street, there are chipotle double chocolate chip cookies, which hit all the right notes.

They are fudgy on the inside with a crispy exterior, the classic signs of a good  cookie, but what really does it for me is the subtle hint of heat.

In fact, I’d like it if they came with more of a kick. The smoky flavor combines well with the dark chocolate, and vanilla extract gives them an extra depth of flavor. A bit of cinnamon is a nice touch.

All the flavors play well together, and the melt-in-your-mouth consistency, with just the right amount of gooey in the middle, is lovely. 

The chipotle double chocolate chip cookie is one of nine varieties the bakery generally has behind the counter. Other popular types are the cowboy, which is a raisin cookie with chocolate chips, the rye chocolate, which is more like a brownie than a cookie, made with rye flour.

Hungry Ghost Bread is mostly known for its artisan breads made daily in a wood-fired oven, but, in addition to the cookies, it also makes some fancy pastries like apple galettes and banana cream tarts. 

The cookies have their own following; regulars come in looking for their favorites, says baker Sophia Normark, who sometimes works behind the counter. It is sad to hear, though, that chipotle chocolate strikes some customers as just too weird for people to try. She says that on average, Hungry Ghost sells up to a dozen a day, which is less than the other varieties.

Sometimes she will hear customers wonder out loud: “Chipotle cookie, what is that?”

People might be a little scared off by a spicy cookie, agrees the pastry chef Rayna Heldt. “Not everyone wants a super intense chocolate chip cookie.”

This, I don’t understand. I just hope Hungry Ghost keeps making them.

Have you discovered a confection at a local eatery that makes you want to skip the main course?

Email Lisa Spear at Lspear@gazettenet.com.

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