Truth be told, I’m going a little mad. Although I’m incredibly privileged to have power, four days holed up in my apartment is making me a little antsy. It’s quiet save the intermittent news reports and the multitude of conference calls I’m taking outside my home as reception is pretty much defunct in my apartment. And then there’s the issue of the baking. It’s shameful, actually. Loaves, pies, crumbles, cookies, muffins, biscuits — the list is Odyssean, at best. So much so that my freezer is bursting at the seams, and I’ve resorted to storing cookies in coolers outside. True story. And I’ve also been feeling out of sorts lately.
I’ve been thinking back to a time when I ran barefoot in the grass in Portland, writing, listening to Denis Johnson wax poetic on story-writing. Back then I befriended a wild child, a girl with flowers in her hair, who, like me, had a tenuous relationship with her mother. We played jazz music and drank red wine. I wrote pages and slept on cold sheets, watched the sun rise. Back then there was time to watch the sun rise, and now my mind races, thinking about the list of things to do in the day ahead. Perhaps it’s a casualty that comes with age, but it’s unnerving me beyond repair. I want there to be a day when I watch the sun rise again.
So when I’m out of sorts I go back to the familiar and the comforting. No newfangeled complex recipes for me, rather I wanted a simple, sweet cookie. This chocolate chip cookie will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. The brown butter adds a hint of smoky caramel that gives the cookie unbelievable flavor. The coconut sugar and molasses give richness and depth and golden color, and the mix chocolate (dark and semi-sweet). Guaranteed to imbue a little light in a grey day.
INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from The Joy the Baker Cookbook, with slight modifications
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cane sugar; 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp molasses
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup (6oz) mix of dark + semi-sweet chocolate chips
Brown one stick of butter in a medium-sized pan. Browning butter is much like risotto, you have to linger. Once the butter melts it’ll get foamy and frothy. Swirl the pan. Once the foam and cracking subsides, keep an eye on the butter. Since the water is now all cooked out, the fat solids will start to brown and the butter will smell nutty and form a chestnut color. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the butter immediately to a small bowl so it stops cooking. Set the browned butter aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on medium speed, cream the remaining stick of butter with the coconut and cane sugars (and yes, you may use granulated, I just find that coconut and cane give a richer, complex flavor to everything I bake AND it’s less processed) until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and molasses, and beat until incorporated. Pour the slightly cooled brown butter, along with the coconut palm sugar, into the creamed butter mixture. Cream for about 2 minutes until well incorporated. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for another minute.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
Add the flour mixture, all at once, to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until the flour is JUST incorporated. Don’t get crazy and keep beating. Don’t be a hero. You will have a brick of a cookie. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate and refrigerate (covered in plastic wrap) for at least an hour.
While your cookies are cold-chillin’, pre-heat the oven to 375F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and roll out tablespoons of dough and space them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes until they’re lightly browned on the outside. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool and set for 10 minutes.
DIVE, UNAPOLOGETICALLY, IN.