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Chocolate "Earthquake" Cookies

In Chefs, Chocolate, Dessert, Recipe, Snacks
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This post represents the start of a little experiment here at "Oui, Chef" that we'd love for you to join in.

Here's the deal. 

My wife and I bought a little bag of decadent chocolate treats at a terrific local bakery a few weeks back, and were so enamored with our find, that we immediately began a quest to figure out how to reproduce the goodies at home.  Our first attempt, while tasty, was not even a poor, abused step-child of the yum we were trying to replicate.  This, our second iteration, is much closer, though we still have a few issues to correct.  The point of our experiment, is that we will continue to refine this recipe over time, hopefully with some input from you all, and report back regularly with our progress.  With any luck, we'll develop a clone of these sinfully delicious treats soon, and all get to share in their glory.

The object of our fledgling addiction are the insanely good "Earthquake Cookies" from Sofra Bakery in Cambridge, MA.  Sofra is the brainchild of one of our favorite chefs, Anna Sortun, who's restaurant Oleana has been delighting guests with her Arabic influenced foods for years.  I first met Anna when she was a guest chef at a Boston University Culinary Degree program at which I was a student, and was immediately impressed with her approach to food, and obvious talent.  Like me, she is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, though unlike me, she has gone on to become a fabulous, nationally recognized chef.  Oh well..... as the French say, "c'est la vie". 

Sofra, a middle eastern bakery, is Anna's latest venture, and sells some of the most original and delicious sweets you will find anywhere.  Sofra's cookies are a deep, dark chocolate with a lovely cracked sugar coating (hence the earthquake name), and are so moist, the dense cakey center shines when you split into one.  These are really more like fudgey round brownies than cookies.  An internet search for Sofra's recipe yielded zippo, but we did find a few others out there in the vast expanse of the internet to try.  Our first impostor turned out OK, but spread much thinner, were much lighter in color, and had only a fairly weak chocolate flavor.  Boo. 

Our second attempt is this one, and represents a slight alteration of a recipe from pastry chef Jan Purdy of Marché Restaurant in LA.  The original calls for 6 tablespoons of rum, but in an effort to intensify the chocolate flavor, we decided to substitute some dark brewed coffee instead.  In fact, to give them a real kick, we added 5 tablespoons of brewed coffee and 2 teaspoons of Trablit, a coffee extract I bought while overseas.  The resulting cookies are totally addictive, and differ from Sofra's in only two ways.  The first is the more "mocha" flavor from our addition of coffee, the second is that the Sofra quakes were just a tad moister inside, remember how I said they glistened?

Many people would probably stop at this point, feeling that they had created a nearly perfect cookie, but we'd love to be able to truly replicate the ones from Sofra.  We like the addition of the coffee flavor, but will continue to work these to see is we can UP the moisture factor of the finished cookie.  I'm thinking that our next batch may use 2 teaspoons of trablit, and sub either oil or butter for the 5 tablespoons of brewed coffee we used in order to increase the fat content, and deliver us a moister cookie.

Anyone else have any ideas that they think would help?  If so, please let us know, and in the meantime enjoy our mocha version of this classic cookie.  Cheers - S.


Mocha Earthquake Cookies

Inspired by: Pastry chef Jan Purdy of Marché Restaurant

(Print Friendly Recipe)

Makes: 3 dozen


  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (68% or higher)
5 tablespoons black coffee
  • 2 teaspoons Trablit (or other coffee extract)
  • 1 cup finely ground almonds

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

To coat the cookies:

3/4 cup sugar

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 325 ℉. Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler or in short 30-second intervals in a microwave, stirring often.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour and baking powder and set aside. In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until thick, pale ribbons form, about 5 minutes.

3. Pour the coffee and trablit into the chocolate mixture and stir to combine, then add to the egg mixture. Mix to combine, then add the dry ingredients, whisking briefly until combined. The batter will be thin. Chill the batter until it's solid, about 2-3 hours.

4. Place the remaining sugar and powdered sugar into separate bowls. Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop, scoop the chilled batter into round balls, rolling them between your palms until nice and smooth. Roll the balls first in the plain sugar and then in the powdered sugar to coat thoroughly. Place on a baking sheet, leaving a few inches between balls of dough.

5. Bake the cookies for about 17-18 minutes, or until cracked open on the surface, firm in texture but still soft to the touch in the center.


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"Oui, Chef" exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and starting some new ones. Read more...
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