Every year I find a cookbook that warms my heart. The recipes are imperfectly perfect, the prose written with such care that you could feel their affection rise above the page. Years ago I collected Martha Stewart cookbooks like trading cards — I was obsessed with precision and technique. And while Martha’s books are the gold standard for any baker, they read cold, restrained, dispassionate. You don’t feel connected to the baker whose chocolate accidently splatters the walls. You don’t feel empathetic to incidents of flour covering your entire frame.
My first adult attempt at baking was a cheesecake sweetened with confectioner’s sugar instead of cane sugar because sugar is sugar, right? ABSOLUTELY NOT. My tasteless mistake was a colossal flop when it hit the office. I’ve since learned that when it comes to baking, chemistry is important.
This year I’ve discovered my newfound crush — Joy the Baker’s Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes. A celebration of butter and sugar, the recipes practically COMMAND one to make them. Joy is tender and kind and her book is imbued with very personal memories that carry over into the kitchen, and you can’t help but be swept into her delicious, confectionary world. When I initially purchased this book, the cashier at Barnes and Nobles tapped the cover and said, I’m a trained pastry chef and her apple crisp WORKS. You won’t be disappointed. And I wasn’t. From black pepper and bacon waffles to avocado and cream cheese loaves to unctuous rivers of chocolate, the recipes are earthy, unexpected and a cinch to make.
Take these brown butter chocolate chip cookies. Not only is this cookie chewy, there’s something smoky about it, rich and enveloping — all as a result of the caramelized butter and molasses. The simple cookie gets the volume turned up, and I had to nearly toss these in the freezer to prevent me from gorging on the lot.
Bake, enjoy! Love, live, eat!
INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker’s Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes
2 sticks of butter (1 cup), softened
1 scant cup of cane sugar
1 tsp of molasses
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)
In a silver bottomed medium skillet, brown 1 stick of butter on medium heat. Basically, you melt the butter and swirl it around. You’ll hear some crackling–that’s the water leaving. When this stops and the butter starts to turn a chestnut-y brownish color, turn off the heat and remove the butter from the pan or else you’ll burn it! Let it cool.
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the other stick of butter and white sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-5 min. Then add in the vanilla and molasses until fully incorporated.
Then added in the cooled brown butter and the brown sugar. Cream together until fluffy (2 min).
Add in the egg +egg yolk and mix for another minute or so.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt, baking soda, and flour. Then add this into the stand mixer with the rest of the ingredients and mix on low until just combined (don’t over do it!).
With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Cover and let it rest in the fridge for 30 min while the oven preheats.
Preheat the oven at 375 degrees, with the rack in the middle of the oven.
Form small tablespoon sized balls of dough and bake them for 10-12 minutes. Mine started to brown at the top after 10 minutes so I took them out. They were perfectly chewy!