Flavors of Napa Valley: Model Bakery’s Chocolate Rad Recipe
By Franki Hanke
We all just travel to try the food, right? For nearly 90 years, people have been traveling to Napa Valley to step into the Model Bakery on Main Street in St. Helena. Under the care of proprietor Karen Mitchell and daughter Sarah Mitchell Hansen, Model Bakery is known for their bread—especially their English muffins, but sometimes your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied with a bun. When you’re in need of something rich and decadent, skip your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, just this once, and turn to the Chocolate Model Bakery Rad recipe.
Rather than using cocoa powder to bring the chocolate flavor to these specialty cookies, their recipe relies entirely on melted chocolate for a deeper, richer flavor. That chocolate base is speckled with chocolate chips for a double chocolate taste. They are fudgy reminiscent of a brownie but in cookie format.
Ingredients for Model Bakery’s Chocolate Rads
The recipe as written makes 12 servings.
• 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or 95 g)
• 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1 lb semisweet chocolate (no more than 55% cacao) (or 455 g), finely chopped
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or 55 g), at room temperature
• 1 2/3 cups sugar (or 330 g)
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 tablespoon cold brewed espresso (or 1 teaspoon instant espresso dissolved in 1 TBSP boiling water and cooled)
• 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or 340 g)
• 1 cup chopped walnuts (or 115 g)
Instructions for Model Bakery’s Chocolate Rads
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a small bowl and set aside.
2. Put the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof, large bowl, preferably stainless steel. Set over a large saucepan of barely simmering water and let stand, stirring occasionally, just until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and incorporated into the chocolate.
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3. Beat the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed until the mixture is fluffy, thick, and pale yellow, about five minutes.
If you don’t have a mixer, whisk the mixture by hand for about eight minutes. Beat in the espresso and vanilla.
4. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the melted chocolate, being careful not to over-mix. Add the flour mixture, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure that the batter is completely mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
5. The dough will be soft, so let it stand until firm enough to shape, 20 to 30 minutes.
6. Place an 18-by-13-in/46-by-33-cm sheet of four. Place an 18-by-13-in/46-by-33-cm sheet of parchment paper on the work surface. Drop large spoonfuls of the dough across the width of the paper. Using wet hands, pat and shape the dough into a 12-by-3-in/30.5-by-7.5-cm log.
7. Wrap the dough in the parchment paper, smoothing the dough into an even log. Twist the ends of the paper closed. Place the log on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, for at least two hours or up to one day.
8. When ready to bake, position racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat to 350°F/180°C/gas 4. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
9. Since the log will be flat where it sat on the baking sheet, roll the wrapped dough on the work surface to smooth it so that the slices will be nice and round. Unwrap the dough. Using a thin, sharp knife dipped in water, cut the dough into twelve 1-in-/2.5-cm-thick rounds.
10. Arrange the rounds about 3 in/7.5 cm apart on the lined pans, allowing four, large cookies per pan. Refrigerate the remaining rounds.
11. Bake, switching the position of the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the tops of the cookies are cracked and the edges are beginning to crisp, about 20 minutes. Let cool on the pans for five minutes. Transfer to wire cooling racks and let cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds on a cooled pan. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.
For more recipes from The Model Bakery, invest in their cookbook. The Model Bakery Cookbook is a gorgeous, photo-laden cookbook dedicated to baked goods including their famous English muffins, cinnamon rolls, and sticky buns. And, if you’re still craving a classic chocolate-chip cookie, that recipe is there too.
The Model Bakery Cookbook isn’t ideal for gluten-free baking, so if you’re celiac (or limiting gluten intake) we recommend the James Beard Award-Winning cookbook by Jeffrey Larsen, Gluten-Free Baking at Home. You won’t find Model Bakery’s Rad recipe inside, but your sweet tooth will be appeased nonetheless.
If you’re hungry for more from Napa Valley next, it might be time for a visit. Find one of our favorites to stay in each of the most popular Napa Valley towns.
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