Why can’t you just be normal?

Sometimes TD will wander into the kitchen when I’m baking, survey the land of often strange ingredients and ask with a sigh, “why can’t you just make chocolate chip cookies?”

He’s basically asking me why I can’t be normal.  We’ve been together for 19 years.  You’d think he would have stopped asking by now.

But. I am sympathetic to his plight.  He’s just looking for a tasty treat while I’m attempting world baking domination with dried hibiscus and tahini.

Earlier this summer, I offered up a peace flag in chocolate chip cookie form.  Recognizable enough that TD wouldn’t have to guess the mystery ingredient but just extra enough to keep with my own baking agenda: brown butter caramel crispy chocolate chip cookies.

I told you I am fixated on these nearly-burned but not quite caramel crispies.  Add in some brown butter and lots of chocolate and you’ve got an impressive Z score.

Because normal is boring.

Brown Butter Caramel Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note–you could make the dough and bake in the same day.  I happen to like to let my dough marinate over night (or a month in the freezer after I scoop into balls).  I’ve written the recipe for an overnight–but do what you want.

Ingredients

  • 1 C (8 ounces) brown butter at room temp (need the recipe? brown butter)
  • 1 C packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2  1/8 C all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 12 ounces (regular sized package) chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 C (or to taste) caramelized crisps (link for recipe)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.  Whisk in salt and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add butter.  Cream for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add both sugars, cream for another couple of minutes, scraping down the bowl as you go.
  4. Beat-in egg and egg yolk one-at-a-time.  Beat-in vanilla.
  5. Pull bowl from standing mixer and gently fold-in flour mixture until nearly combined.
  6. Fold-in chocolate chips and caramelized rice.
  7. Using a scoop of desired size (I like a #40 or just under 2 TBS scooper) scoop dough into domes.  Line domes onto a baking sheet (separate layers with two parchment sheets), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.  Once the cookie domes are cold, you can easily transfer them to a freezer ziplock bag and store for one-off baking for up to a month.  Just add a couple of minutes to the cook time.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line backing sheets with parchment.
  9. Please dough domes on baking sheets leaving a couple of inches between each for spread.
  10. Bake in oven two-sheets at a time, rotating halfway through.  In my ovens, these usually cook in about 10 minutes.

 

 

 

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

Nowadays, the recipes I choose to bake generally either center on new ingredients or techniques I’ve yet to master.

However, every once in a while I make something for the singular reason that I want to eat it.

That’s exactly what happened when these browned butter coconut cookies popped up in Smitten Kitchen’s Instagram feed.  There I was, casually scrolling one weekday afternoon and there they were: nutty, coconutty and buttery.  I’m not kidding when I say it took a herculean effort not to grab my car keys and flee my office so that I could go home and start browning butter.

Luckily for my employment status, I held off until the weekend.

They were SO worth the wait: browned butter and coconut were meant to be together.  Even better than peas and carrots.  I’m telling you.  Cripsy on the edges but chewy through the middle, I really can’t think of a more appropriate summer picnic treat.

As if you needed further incentive, in my book, there is nothing that smells better than browning butter.  Forget the potpourri or scented candle.  If you want to sell your house, brown some butter before the open house.

While the original recipe only calls for coconut chips, the first time I made these I added a cup of butterscotch chips.  The second time I used cinnamon chips.  I have big plans for the third batch.

Coconut Brown Butter Cookies

From Smitten Kitchen who got the recipe from The City Bakery by way of The Martha Stewart Show.  Adapted by The Misanthropic Hostess.

Ingredients

  • 1 C (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 TBS water
  • 1/2 C plus 2 TBS (125 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 C plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Slightly heaped 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 C (240 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 C chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter or cinnamon chips (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do.  Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup.
  2. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy.
  4. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well.
  6. Fold-in additional chips if using.
  7. Scoop dough into 1 inch balls, flatten each slightly and arrange all onto a baking sheet (separating layers with parchment paper).  Refrigerate for an hour up to over night.
  8. When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  9. Arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on the baking sheets.  Bake cookies until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes (rotate halfway through cooking).  Repeat to bake all cookies.
  10. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more.

Make these. Now.

A work friend of mine brought in the most ridiculous…ridiculousest? little cookies from a recent trip to Paso Robles.  Rich and carmely with a sandy texture they came from the descriptively named Brown Butter Cookie Company.  Don’t let their humble looks fool you–these are gift worthy little bites.

As she handed me one, my friend threw down the gauntlet: “figure out how to make these.”

Once upon a time this would have been a challenge.  Luckily, and a little to my disappointment, the internet has made things much easier.  A handful of recipes popped up on my first Google search.  The fact that multiple refer to these cookies as copycats to the Brown Butter Cookie Company’s recipe is testament to how delicious they are.

They’re also fun to make.  There is no fancy equipment involved and the brown butter is stirred in while still hot making the dough a lot like wet sand.  Once it cools down, into the oven it goes and in a few minutes you’ve got heaven.  I made one single batch and then the next day got down to business with two more double batches.

Spoiler alert:  I found the first new recipe to add to my holiday baking for 2015.

Brown Butter Sables

adapted from Yummy Mummy Kitchen

note: a single batch yields about 18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • sea salt for sprinkling (preferably fleur de sel)

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and allow it to caramelize.  You know it’s getting close when it begging to smell nutty.  Watch the butter closely until it turns a medium to light golden brown.  Do not let it burn.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.
  3. Pour butter through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk-in brown butter and sugar.
  5. Fold-in flour mixture until just combined.
  6. Allow dough to cool to room temp.
  7. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Using a small scoop (I use 1/2 ounce), scoop cookies into half-domes and place on cookie sheets about 2-inches apart.
  9. If desired, gently flatten-out dough domes using the bottom of a glass.  Dough will be fragile.
  10. Sprinkle each with a few grains of fleur de sel.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Allow to cool completely.
  13. Try not to eat all of them at once.

 

Brown Butter Blondies…no, that’s NOT code

Why yes, it is Wednesday.  As you read this, TD and I are on a teeny tiny plane headed to Montana.  If his predictions are correct, at some point we will get snowed-in.  To hear TD explain it,  this will trigger the zombie apocalypse whereupon only the strongest (or least best tasting) will survive to see spring.  Yeah, I don’t really understand either.  But, just in case, here is this week’s post.

Depsite my agonizingly detailed planning, about 2/3 of the way through my holiday baking, it became clear to me that I was going to need a bigger boat.  And by bigger boat, I mean more baked goods.  As my caramel crunch square supply quickly dwindled, I sprang into action with a recipe I’ve been playing with for a couple of months: the brown butter blondie.

Here is the flavor profile: brown butter, roasted walnuts, white chocolate.  The BBBs also have the added benefit of a neat cut.  You know what I mean, no sloppy edges or oozing middle (not that, provided the appropriate context, sloppy edges and oozing middles are a bad thing).  This is a slightly fancy bar that comes together relatively quickly and is made from ingredients that are generally on-hand.  Plus and plus.  In fact, these went together so easily that I knocked out two batches in the early morning hours before work.

 

I am officially signing-off until the 28th.  That’s assuming I’m not lobotomized by a brains seeking Santa Claus along the way.  Which would be sad because I’m all set to pontificate on the 2013 Pantone color of the year and what it has to do with a cognitive condition I never knew I had until TD scientifically proved I am statistically weird.

Brown Butter Blondies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 LB (16 TBS) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 C golden or light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 10 ounces chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 1 C roasted walnut pieces

Directions

  1. To brown butter: in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, add butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter takes on a deep golden color.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp.  This step can be done in advance.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment and butter the parchment and sides.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.
  4. In a standing mixer, add sugar to brown butter and cream until smooth, roughly 2-3 minutes.  You will not get the same consistency as you would with regular butter straight from the stick.  Don’t worry about it.
  5. With the mixer running on medium, add eggs one at a time allowing them to be completely incorporated after each add. Let the mixer run for another minute and add vanilla until mixed- in.
  6. Add-in flour mixture.  With the mixer on its lowest setting, run until the flour is just incorporated.  Watch carefully, this will happen quickly.
  7. By hand, fold-in chocolate and walnuts.
  8. Gently press the dough into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is pale gold and the edges are just starting to turn a deeper gold.
  10. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

 

 

Snickerdoodles on steroids

True to the namesake of her bakery, Christina Tosi of Milkbar has a particular affinity for things cereal and cracker related.  Her cookbook contains several recipes for a category of concoctions she calls “the crunch.” Operationally defined, crunches are a an array of recipe add-ins whose primary ingredient is most often derived from snack foods including cereals, crackers, chips and pretzels.

Among these little nuggets of nirvana I discovered a formula for homemade cinnamon toast crunch, crunch.  Well, she had me at the first crunch.

The technique involves browning butter in the microwave.  ‘Go ahead she says, it’s easier than stovetop.’  Apparently not for my microwave.  Oh, I got brown butter.  I also got an appliance covered in a layer of butter so thick you could grease toast with it for years.  But, maybe your microwave is better behaved.

The next ingredient is white bread.  I can’t tell you how odd it was to walk down the bead aisle looking for plain white bread.  We don’t eat a lot of bread in our household.  Whenever I buy a loaf I have to keep it in the fridge because left in the pantry, it’ll go moldy before we even get halfway through.  Of course, the mold may have something to do with the fact that I buy fairly gross good-for-you grown up bread that doesn’t have a lot of preservatives.  So buying white bread was a bit of a wonder (uhm…see what I did there…wonder…bread).

Off with the crusts and into 1/2 inch pieces.

A gentle toss with the brown butter and a cinnamon sugar mix and it’s time to get toasty.

Out of the oven, this stuff is ridiculous.  Seriously…crunchy and buttery and cinnamony.

But wait.  Remember the mother snickerdoodle recipe from last week?  Well, Christina does encourage the reader to experiment.  So, what do you think might happen if we chopped up the cinnamon toast crunch crunch into smaller bits.

Then carefully folded them in to the snickerdoodle dough and rolled each ball of dough in cinnamon and sugar before baking?

You get a snickerdoodle on steroids my friends.

You know you want to make these.

If you like this, you might enjoy these

Brown butter chocolate chip cookies

Big sky buns

Soundtrack

Lumineers.  What?  Everyone else is.

Snickerdoodles on Steroids

Adapted from Milk, Christina Tosi

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Crunch

Ingredients

  • 1/4 (100 g) white sandwich bread
  • 1/3 C (115g) brown butter (instructions below), just warm
  • 1/2 C (100g) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (2g) kosher salt
  • 1 tsp (2g) ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. To brown butter.  Place 1/2 C unsalted butter in a microwave-safe dish.  Cover with a microwave-safe saucer and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes. The butter will melt and then start to pop.  If you are the TMH’s microwave, it’ll then explode leaving you with about 1/3 of a cup of browned butter.  Set butter aside to cool.
  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Tear or cube the bread into 1/2 inch pieces.  Put it in a bowl, douse with the brown butter and let soak for about a minute.
  4. Add the sugar, salt and cinnamon to the mix and toss well.  Spread the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Pull from oven and break-up with a spatula.  Bake an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Cool the cinnamon toast crunch crunch completely.  Chop into crumbs a little bigger than orzo.

For Cookies

  • Snickerdoodle dough
  • 1/2 recipe cinnamon toast crunch crunch
  • 1 C sugar combined with 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Go here for the base snickerdoodle recipe and follow directions but swap-in 1/2 of the cinnamon toast crunch recipe for the birthday cake crumbs.
  2. When scooping dough, roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture, set on parchment lined baking sheets and flatten a bit with the bottom of a cup (about 3″ diameter).
  3. Follow the remaining instructions for the sprinkle cookies.