Spider egg and pickled newt’s eye chocolate chunk cookies

Most likely for her own amusement, my mom told my brother and I numerous falsehoods about all kind of things when we were growing up.

Several of them had to do with food. And aliens.  And big foot.  But, we’ll leave the aliens and big foot for some other post.

Cheetos were rusty nails.  The meat from the stew she made each Halloween came from the graveyard.  And, poppy seeds were spider eggs.

Mostly we knew she was joking.  Mostly.

So, when my friend Ann Mah made the Mokonut’s rye-cranberry chocolate chunk cookies she’d earlier featured in her Insta Stories while at their bakery in Paris, the first place my mind went was spider eggs and pickled newt’s eye (no, I don’t know what newts are, don’t ruin it).

This recipe has been making the rounds in-part thanks to a feature by Dorie Greenspan in the New York Times.  No doubt, they’re this fall’s “it” cookie.

With the unusual addition of poppy seeds (spider eggs) and dried cranberries (pickled newt’s eyes), they are also just the thing to make up for your favorite witches, goblins and storm troupers.

Mokonuts’ Rye-Cranberry Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

as presented by Dorie Greenspan in the New York Times  

Ingredients

  • 1 C plus 1 1/2  TBS (130 grams) medium rye flour
  • ½ C plus 2 TBS (85 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 10 TBS(140 grams or 1 stick + 2 TBS) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
  • ½ C (100 grams) sugar
  • ½ C(100 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 C (50 grams) poppy seeds
  • 2/3 C (80 grams) moist, plump dried cranberries
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • Flake salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Working with a mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until blended; scrape thebowl as needed.
  3. Add the egg, and beat 2 minutes more.
  4. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once, then pulse the mixer a few times to begin blending the ingredients. Beat on low speed until the flour almost disappears, and then add the poppy seeds, cranberries and chocolate. Mix only until incorporated. Scrape the bowl to bring the dough together.
  5. Have a baking sheet lined with parchment, foil or plastic wrap nearby. Divide the dough into 15 pieces (TMH note–I used a 7/8 ounce scoop and got about 30 smaller balls), roll each piece into a ball between your palms and place on the baking sheet. Cover, and refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 3 days. (TMH note–I froze them for three days but they should be fine in the freezer for up to a month)
  6. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven, and heat it to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the cookies on the sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie (work with half a batch at a time and keep the remaining balls of dough in the refrigerator until needed). Sprinkle each cookie with a little flake salt, crushing it between your fingers as you do.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, pull the baking sheet from the oven and, using a metal spatula, a pancake turner or the bottom of a glass, tap each cookie lightly. Let the cookies rest on the sheet for 3 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a rack. Repeat with the remaining dough, always using cold dough and a cool baking sheet.
  8. Serve after the cookies have cooled for about 10 minutes, or wait until they reach room temperature.

Rye and whiskey chocolate chip cookies

When I discovered that the secret ingredient in Sycamore Kitchen’s chocolate chip cookies was rye flour, my interest was piqued.  Rye is a sort of earthy grain, toothsome and rich.

It’s Don McLean who brought the whiskey to the rye party.

Don McLean has scored the soundtrack to my life at a couple different points.  As  kid, his American Pie album was the background music to many a summer road trip.  I can remember listening to Vincent as our green van trundled through the flat yellow fields of central California as we sought the cooler, greener destination of the redwoods in the North.

Then later, Don Mclean returned to my life when I was college student with his fraternity party anthem American Pie.  Though I’m sure this wasn’t Mr. McLean’s intention, American Pie was always played late in the night when it seemed everyone was lubricated enough to sing the song in its nearly 10 minute entirety.

I know you know where I’m going with this: “with the good ole boys drinking whiskey and rye singing this will be the day that I die.  This will be the day that I die.”

And so when I learned about using rye flour in baked goods, I could not divorce the notion from also using whiskey.  Luckily, someone else had the same idea and I didn’t have to experiment very much in my search for a whiskey and rye chocolate chip cookie recipe.  All I did was replace the chocolate chunks with chocolate disks (not “chocolate flavored” melting disks…but real, organic, bittersweet discs).  I also browned the butter.

I used Bushmills because it was near St Patricks Day when I first made these guys.  Use what you have…even if it’s bourbon or scotch.   This cookie is sophisticated and would pair well with a finger or two of its namesake, one ice cube.

Whiskey and Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from The Bojon Gourmet

Ingredients

  • 8 TBS/4 ounces  unsalted butter, melted (browned if desired)
  • 1/2 C  dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 C granulated cane sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk at room temp
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TBS whiskey
  • 3/4 C 2 TBS  rye flour
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 C bittersweet chocolate disks (chopped chocolate would work just as well)
  • 3/4 C toasted pecans (optional–I meant to use but forgot to pick up)
  • flaky salt for sprinkling
Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, sift or whisk together the rye and all-purpose flours, baking soda and sea salt.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the warm, melted butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  3. Let cool to warm, then stir in the egg. Stir in the vanilla and rye, and set aside.
  4.  Stir the flour mixture into the butter/sugar/egg mixture until just combined. Gently fold in the chopped chocolate and pecans.
  5. Cover the dough and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
  6. Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325ºF.
  7. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (or grease lightly with butter).
     Use two spoons or a 1/2 ounce scoop, scoop cookie dough, placing them 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets. Top each ball with a tiny pinch of flaky salt.
  8. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven until the edges are set and just beginning to color, 8-12 minutes.  Rotate the pans halfway through to ensure even baking. The cookies will look under-done, but will continue to cook from residual heat.
  9. Remove the baking sheets to cooling racks and let the cookies cool on the baking sheets (unless they are in danger of over-baking – in that case, sweep the cookies, parchment and all, onto cooling racks).
  10. When the cookies have cooled completely, store them at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days.

You had me at browned butter

I’m always on the lookout for a good chocolate chip cookie variation. So, when I came across one that included browned butter I said, ‘yes please and thank you.’  To add to the sophistication (this isn’t your kindergartner’s chocolate chip cookie), I added toasted walnuts and used super dark chocolate chunks.

Not a lot of process photos here because, well, browned butter isn’t very attractive on its own and at its core, this recipe follows basic chocolate chip cookie protocol (go here if you really need additional photos on how to make this cookie).

Two notes. Browned butter will form some sediment during the delicious smelling browning process.  To keep this out of the dough I strained the cooled butter before using.  Second, I prefer to toast my nuts in a pan rather than in the oven so that I can keep an eye on them (I know, I know).  Heat a large pan over medium head, add nuts tossing occasionally until the start to smell toasty.

 Soundtrack

….aaaaaand we’re back to Coldplay.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I get a weekly recipe email for Southern Food from Diana Rattray.  Who knows why I get the email but I always look at the recipes…mostly because I am amazed by what people eat in the South (at least according to Diana Rattray and Paula Dean).  This recipe is adapted from one of those weekly emails.  Who knew?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, browned and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temp
  • 2 TBS milk
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1 TSP kosher salt
  • 2 C dark chocolate chunks (chips would do as well of course)
  • I C toasted walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped (about the same size as your chunks or chips)

Directions

  1. To brown butter,  heat in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter begins to simmer. Continue cooking, stirring, just until butter begins to turn golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour off into a measuring cup or bowl, leaving darkest sediment behind. Let the butter cool to room temperature.
  2. While butter is browning, toast nuts in a pan on the stovetop or in the oven (350 degrees about 10 minutes).  Let cool, chop roughly.
  3. In a large mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat the browned butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until well blended.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg and butter mixture, mixing on low speed, until a soft dough forms. Scrape the bowl a few times. Stir in the chocolate chunks/chips and walnuts. Cover and chill for about an hour.
  5. Heat the oven to 375°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough onto  parchment, allowing about 2 to 3 inches in between the cookies.
  6. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes, until browned around the edges. Cool completely and transfer to an airtight container for storage.
  7. Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on size.

 

The basic base

TD: Can you make me some cookies?  Only, you know, the normal ones.

Me: You mean the kind without any of those villainous pink peppercorns?

TD: Uh huh.  Yeah, those.

And so goes TD’s quarterly request for what he calls, “the normal cookies.”  The “normal cookies” is simply code for chocolate chip cookies.  Whenever I make a batch, they are quickly put into a zip lock bag and appropriated to the “man loft” where they are stored in the “man fridge” to be eaten only by TD and only in quantities of at least half a dozen (I once saw him eat an entire row of Oreos without blinking.  Dude.).

What is a man-fridge you ask?  Well.  In our house, we have not one but three refrigerators.  See, we have a typical Beach Cities straight-up-and-downer.  An expansive (ha!) 1500 square feet stretched across three floors (this doesn’t include the garage…which is yet one more floor down).  This means that our third floor “entertainment” loft and roof deck are located two whole sets of switch-back stairs from the kitchen.  Apparently the survival gene on the “Y” chromosome kicks in after a single set of stairs and when we were furnishing said loft, TD required a mini-fridge for beverages as a precautionary measure.  I guess dehydration and baseball watching are highly related covariates.  So, a top-of-the-line stainless steel mini-fridge we got.  And we keep it well stocked with beer (not because I’m religious about libation stocking but because, well, we don’t drink a ton of beer so it pretty much stays stocked on its own.  BUT it would look impressive if MTV Cribs ever decided to stop by).  And, on occasion, the man-fridge gets stocked with cookies.

Which brings me to my “normal” cookie base.  Many years ago when I was just beginning to cultivate my hostessing skills (let’s face it, I’ve always been misanthropic), I perfected my own version of a chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It’s only perfect in-so-far as it is the kind of chocolate chip cookie I like: slightly chewy and not flat.  The thing is, once you master the base, you can put just about anything in it for variety.  M&Ms, nuts, dried fruit…you get the picture.

The recipe is simple and I’ve kept the ratios easy to remember.

Two sticks of butter get creamed-to-death with equal parts white and golden brown sugar.

Then, an egg plus an egg yolk are blended in just until incorporated. This is followed by a little vanilla and then the dry ingredients.  Equal parts salt and baking soda plus enough flour to get to your desired consistency (I like my dough a little on the dry side, so usually, 2 cups plus another couple of tablespoons).

Then comes the fun.  Two cups of whatever you want to add to make your base fancy.  Here we’ve got a combo of peanut butter, white and semi-sweet chips, salted peanuts, raisins and a little dark chocolate.  Note: no peppercorns here.

Another couple of folds to incorporate and you’ve got good dough.

The size of your cookie is up to you.  I usually go somewhere between 1/8 and a 1/4 cup.  The cookies in this recipe joined next week’s post at a party so I made them extra big.

Twelve or so minutes in the oven with a rotation halfway through and you’ve got nice, normal cookies.

And yes, they would pair excellently with beer.

What?  You want to know where our third fridge is.  It’s in the garage and holds Gatorade.  Because, what garage home-gym would be complete without its own electrolyte enhanced drink cooler?

TMH’s Perfectly Normal (Chocolate Chip) Cookies

Ingredients

  • 16 TBS (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temp but not melty)
  • 3/4 C packed golden brown sugar
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk (room temp)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 C + 2-3 TBS all purpose flour
  • 2 C your favorite fillings–chocolate chips, nuts etc.

To Make

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line half-sheet pans with partchment.
  • Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  • In standing mixer (or hand mixer, or by hand), cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy (2-4 minutes).
  • With mixer on low, add-in eggs one-at-a-time until well combined.  Do not over beat!
  • With mixer still on low, fold in flour.  Mix until just combined.
  • Fold-in chips etc by hand.
  • Portion-out dough to desired size on to pans.  Bake two sheets at a time for 12 minutes, rotating sheet positions halfway through.
  • Store in sealed container.  They freeze excellently.