Today is the day that The Hamilton Cookbook hits the stands! To celebrate, I’ve made one of the recipes from the book. I picked a sweet – 18th Century Crispy Intensely Chocolate Cookies.
In the book, they’re titled Chocolate Puffs, because that’s what Richard Briggs named them in his 1792 cookbook, The New Art of Cookery. But in my world, these deliciously addictive morsels are cookies. Also, I’m not sure why he called them “puffs.”
Although they have the same ingredients as meringues, these cookies use less egg whites and more sugar. The result, still gluten-free, is crispier and more intensely flavored with chocolate. They are more of a cross between a cookie and a candy than a wafer. My beloved, always one with a choice phrase, says “they pack a real crunch.”
Whatever you call them, after dunking one of these 18th Century Crispy Intensely Chocolate Cookies in a beverage, you’ll eat it and crave the next. After that, what happens is up to your conscience.
But I digress. The Hamilton Cookbook is out now, providing you with information and insights on Hamilton the man, and what it was like to cook, eat, and entertain in his world.
Bringing this book into the world was not quite as momentous as childbirth. But it did have some moments that reminded me of the crazy childbirth rollercoaster. Anyway, I am kind of proud of this little piece of my heart and soul. I hope that you’ll find it fun to read and fascinating to cook from.
Of course it includes recipes. The last chapter contains a selection of recipes from 18th century cookbooks, both in their original form – literally, scanned copies of the pages from the cookbooks – and adapted for the modern kitchen. They cover all the bases, from breakfast to sweets and beverages. Some are vegetarian, others gluten-free, and all go back to Hamilton’s time and might well have been on his table.
Despite its name, the book is much more than a cookbook. There are chapters on Hamilton’s life, the places he lived (the West Indies and the mid-Atlantic region of colonial/early federal America), cooking in Hamilton’s world and what dining with him might have been like.
I haven’t seen Lin Manuel Miranda’s famous musical, Hamilton, though I hope to someday. Maybe I’ll get lucky and score some tickets in DC or Chicago or win the lottery and buy my way into the Broadway version. But at least I’ve read the same book that inspired Miranda – Ron Chernow’s amazing Hamilton. I’ll take you on a journey into Hamilton’s world, complete with footnotes for the history nerds, recipes for the foodies, and even Hamilton-era trivia for those, like me, who love weird factoids.
Although I wish I could give each and every one of my loyal blog readers a copy, unfortunately, that’s not in the cards. If you’re so inclined, you can purchase the book through a variety of channels, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your favorite independent bookstore, Target, Walmart, Books-A-Million (BAM) and even on Jet. It’s also an ebook on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play.
And now, as promised, here is the Hamilton-era equivalent of chocolate nirvana.
18th Century Crispy Intensely Chocolate Cookies also known as Chocolate Puffs
The nuggets of intense chocolate are gluten-free and simple to make. Think of them as a cross between cookies and candy.
- 1 cup superfine sugar + 2 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch processed, plus 1 1/4 tablespoons
- 1 egg white from large egg
- 1 pinch cream of tartar, optional
Preheat the oven to 225 F. Set aside two parchment-lined cookie sheets.
In a medium-small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cocoa until they are a unfirom color. Set the mixture aside.
With a hand beater, stand mixer, or clean whisk, whip the egg white until it is very frothy and beginning to stiffen. (When using a hand or stand mixer to whip egg whites, start at a low speed and slowly raise the speed to medium. Do not use the higher speeds because egg whites whipped that way are less stable. If desired, add a pinch of cream of tartar to help the egg white froth and stiffen. Once the egg white reaches the soft peak stage, slowly add the sugar/coca mixture while continuing to beat the egg white. The result should be a thick paste.
Wet your hands slightly and form the batter into small coins about 3/4-inch diameter. Place them on the parchment-lined cookie sheets. Optional step (which I discovered after the book was published) - if you let the formed cookies sit on the cookie sheet for aobut 30 minutes before baking, they seem to puff up more. Bake for 1 to 1 &1/2 hours.
Store the cookies in a tightly covered container.
I added confectioners sugar on the top of the cookies for the photos. While it's a nice visual touch, that sprinkling of sugar does not affect their taste.
The recipe in the book allows for cooking 60-90 minutes. At 60-70 minutes, the cookies are crunchy. After that, they begin to become like biscotti, great for dipping.
If you keep your hands reasonably damp and smooth out the outside of the cookie they look smooth after they cook. If you handle them less, they look more like Amaretto di Saronna.