Chow Bella

Best Thing I Ate All Week: The Cowpuncher Cookie at Super Chunk

Super Chunk's flawless chile-chocolate cookie, the Cowpuncher.
Super Chunk's flawless chile-chocolate cookie, the Cowpuncher. Chris Malloy
The Cowpuncher at Super Chunk Sweets & Treats is a perfect cookie. What makes this plain chocolate cookie so great? Let me count the ways.

One, the texture rocks in a funky, unsusual way.

Super Chunk approaches each of its cookies differently. There is no general textural baseline that cookies hew to. Each cookie has its own spirit, and the Cowpuncher's is rugged. When you think optimal cookie texture, you probably think of one that melts on the tongue with buttery softness. The Cowpuncher's ridged exterior brings a diaphanous layer of shatter totally opposite. And the interior has a smooth, dense chew.

Sergio Velador, who co-owns Super Chunk with his wife, Country, dishes on texture: "We wanted the cookie to be delicate... but not something that's going to fall apart."

Two, the chocolate flavor is deep and dark and soothing. There's only a trace of sweetness. Sergio reaches these startling depths by using Abuelita, Mexican tablets typically used to make hot chocolate, and grinding them to powder. This, together with cocoa powder, gives the Cowpuncher its hypnotic cocoa oomph.

The cookie draws on Sergio's memory of drinking Mexican hot chocolate as a child. "Being Hispanic, it was a staple to have our Mexican hot chocolate in the house," he says. "We'd have it on cold days. That was the base for coming up with this cookie."

Three, the flavors elevate each other like two players in a sick band.

The Cowpuncher has two dominant flavors: dark chocolate and chile heat. The chile heat comes from cayenne and laps at the chocolate flavor, a mellow burn gradually building as you take more bites. The cayenne throws the duskiness of the dark chocolate flavor into glory, and the chocolate seems to temper its heat and make the spice more benign and cool-burning.

One moment, the chile heat dominates. The next, unsweetened cacao. This wouldn't work if this cookie were sweeter. Keeping the sugar low lets nuanced flavors unspool.

Four, a candied jalapeno slice crowns the cookie. "I try to find the biggest and fattest jalapenos possible," says Sergio. "I do thick slices, drop them in syrup, and let them candy." The jalapeno brings an added dimension of sweetness and spice to the cookie — alive for one bite.

Five, the cookie has a look that is anathema to social media. What do I mean? The cookie is a shade of brown. People don't post brown food to social media. This fact must be known to any baker operating in 2017. Sergio and Country stick to the simple look anyway. Ridges crease the round, almost-black cookie. And there's one smaller off-center circle within: the jalapeno slice. In its simplicity and elegance, the cowpuncher's appearance mirrors its flavor. Notably, chocolate chips are absent. Other than a trace of cinnamon and that lone jalapeno slice, the Cowpuncher is stripped to its essentials.

For its texture, flavor, tightrope balance, and deep roots, the Cowpuncher is a perfect cookie.

Super Chunk Sweets & Treats. 7120 E 6th Ave #19, Scottsdale. 602-736-2383
Tuesday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday
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Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy