Vinegar pops up in some baked goods as a quick and easy way to add an acid to a recipe, allowing a leavening agent like baking soda to get a little extra lift when added to a batter. Vinegar is rarely used as a flavoring agent and in the recipes that call for it, you can almost never taste it in the finished product. These cookies are an exception to that general rule because they use balsamic vinegar to add an extra tangy sweetness to a fudgy chocolate cookie.
I adapted a basic cookie recipe that which originally came from Alice Medrich recipe and has been a favorite of mine for years. The cookie itself is slightly chewy and tender, with a great dark chocolate flavor to it. The dark chocolate flavor comes from a generous amount of cocoa powder in the cookie, as well as some tangy plain yogurt in the cookie dough. I added some balsamic vinegar to the dough in addition to the yogurt this time around. I used a very syrupy, sweet Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar that a friend shared with me recently. It added a little extra depth of flavor to the cookies and a hint of fruitiness, without making the cookies taste like vinegar.
I’ve used balsamic vinegar in the past to highlight the sweetness of fresh berries, as the acidity of the vinegar (and the underlying sweetness of most balsamics) serves to highlight the natural sugars in berries. To play off the sweet-tart vinegar even more in this recipe, I marinated some dried cherries in a bit of vinegar before adding them to the cookie dough. Pick a sweet, syrupy balsamic vinegar that you like the flavor of for this recipe. The vinegar doesn’t come close to dominating the chocolate, but you’ll get a better result when you start with ingredients that you like on their own.
Balsamic Vinegar Fudge Cookies
1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
7 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plain yogurt (greek style and/or nonfat is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine cherries and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and microwave for 30 seconds, until hot. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in cocoa powder and sugars and mix until well blended. Stir in yogurt, remaining balsamic vinegar and vanilla extract. Add flour and mix until just combined. Stir in cherries.
Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Press down slightly to flatten.
Bake at 350F for 9-12 minutes or until set and slightly firm at the edges. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen.