Rum-raisin chocolate cookies

We soak golden raisins in rum to add a boozy (don't worry, it bakes out) background for our chocolate. The espresso flavor and toothsome toasted pecans don't hurt, either.

You'll have to soak the raisins for at least 4 hours. So think ahead.

This recipe makes 2 dozen large cookies, baked in two batches of 12 each. If you want to make them smaller, try it with the second batch.

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1 cup golden raisins

2/3 cup dark rum

6 cups confectioners sugar, sifted before measuring

1 1/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 large egg whites, at room temperature, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 cups pecan halves, toasted, cooled, coarsely chopped

In a small bowl, combine raisins and rum. Let stand at room temperature at least 4 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 large baking sheets, shaking off excess flour.

In a large bowl, with electric mixer on low speed, mix confectioners sugar, cocoa and espresso powder. Add egg whites and vanilla, and continue beating until smooth.

Drain raisins in a sieve, but don't press down on them (you want to save some of that rummy flavor). Add raisins and pecans to dough. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Dough will be thick and sticky.

Working quickly, drop 1/4 cup dough for each cookie onto a prepared baking sheet, spacing about 3 inches apart. Gently pat down each mound to about 1/2 inch thick. Allow 6 cookies per sheet. Fill 2 sheets. Cover remaining dough and refrigerate until ready to bake the second dozen cookies.

Bake cookies for 16 minutes, switching sheets on racks and rotating sheets when you switch racks halfway through. Cookies are done when they appear cracked and centers are just set. Cool cookies in sheets for 1 minute. Carefully transfer to racks to cool completely.

When baking sheets are cool enough, butter and flour them again. Bake another dozen cookies as suggested above. Makes 2 dozen large cookies.

Happy baking! And "sampling."