If you’ve only seen it on a map, Marfa may seem like the most improbable location for a creative food scene… but there is a lot going in that small Texas desert town that attracts national, and international, attention. Marfa is located deep in the middle of nowhere (three hours from the nearest airport), with a population of 2000. Yet, it has become a vibrant center of minimalist and contemporary art, mostly created around artist Donald Judd who went there to live and work in the 1970s. Today, multiple art foundations and galleries are scattered about town, and artists continue to move to the area to escape the distractions of big city life.
One of the highlights of my recent trip to West Texas was meeting the folks behind the Food Shark, Marfa’s own renowned food truck. Krista (also a native Texan who also lived in Italy for 4 years) is the truck’s master chef and whips up creative dishes with a mediterranean flair (you can see pictures of some of the dishes here). Besides serving delightful food, the enterprise also claims it’s own art director (co-owner Adam Bork) who dreams up funky videos and t-shirts, something I can fully appreciate as a fellow foodie and graphic designer.
Food Truck phenomenon has been snowballing into a craze in the states recently, as an increasing number of mobile restaurants offer a startling quality and variety of gourmet street food – and I’m not talking about those ubiquitous Manhattan hot-dog carts. Contemporary food trucks are offering everything from vietnamese noodles to Belgian waffles to BBQ pork sandwiches to falafel to cupcakes. The Food Shark in Marfa has been one of the forerunners of the mobile food craze since the mid-nineties, and after tasting these cookies I’m beginning to understand what all the fuss is about.
On your next trip to the US, I suggest you ditch the restaurant scene and check out what’s going on inside all those mobile eateries parked around town. And if you’re ready to venture a little farther off the beaten path, I urge you to take the long and beautiful journey to the mysterious Marfa area, where you’ll find both surprisingly more and delightfully less than you were expecting.
Double Chocolate Espresso Explosion Cookies
recipe from The Food Shark
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- 3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped a bit if you’re using a big block
- 1 stick unsweetened butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 TB espresso powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 scant cup flour (i kick a little out after measuring)
- 1 TB good dark cocoa powder
- 1/3 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- optional: a dash or two of cinnamon, some freshly ground black pepper (i always add these two things, but it’s not necessary)
- 1 more cup chocolate chips
Sift all dry ingredients together in a small bowl, set aside. Melt the 1st cup bittersweet chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate and butter over double boiler or in the microwave, then cool a bit.
With a standing or hand mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla and espresso powder then add the sugar and continue beating. Add chocolate mixture and beat until well blended. Set mixer to the lowest speed, and incorporate the dry ingredients, mixing just until blended. Stir in the remaining cup of chocolate chips.
Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F, 180°C.
Scoop out large balls of dough (an ice cream scoop makes a nice big cookie) onto greased baking sheet. Bake about 12-16 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie, just until the cookie begins to crack and it doesn’t look completely wet. Do not over bake, the cookies are better if they’re slightly under-baked.
Krista’s suggestions for variations:
Add toasted almonds, a bit of almond extract and shredded coconut
Add chopped peppermint and a dash of mint extract (good for christmas)
Any kind of nut, hazelnuts are my fave
***I love to add cocoa nibs. Not sure if they’re available in italy. If not, coarsely ground coffee beans are great too
cayenne pepper and even a bit of smoky chipotle powder is sorta fun
pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, chile and cloves are nice
orange zest, of course…. whatever you like with your chocolate, if you like anything with your chocolate.