Browsing articles in "Cookies"
Nov 14, 2009

Maple-Pecan Shortbread


To continue our conversation about flavors that spark debate, I don’t think I’m way off base to add maple to the list, am I? For example, I implore you to show me the person who goes painstakingly pricking the bottom of each chocolate in an assorted box in a mad search for the maple-filled one (oh, don’t tell me you haven’t done the same seeking out a vanilla buttercream or caramel). Of course, I do think there are occasions where the deep, distinct flavor of maple can really shine, beyond the weekend breakfast table. And there’s no better time than November (ahem, right now) to incorporate some maple into your life, like in some buttery, crunchy Maple-Pecan Shortbread Cookies.

This recipe takes the familiar shortbread and gives it a little something special. Well, really two somethings–a studding of earthy pecans and the rich flavor of real maple syrup. That pancake syrup that’s been rolling around in your refrigerator door won’t do the trick here. You want the real deal, dark amber maple syrup. The grade you choose depends on how much maple flavor you want. I wanted just a hint, so I went with Grade A, but Grade B or C would be great for the real maple lovers out there.


I was inspired to do a maple cookie recipe not specifically because of some insane hankering for maple, but because I was dying for a logical reason to try out some of the coo-worthy cookie cutters that arrived on my doorstep last week. The upholder of Americana that is Ann Clark Ltd. got in touch with me recently, and really, I can’t think of a more adorable family business than hand-crafted cookie cutters that come from Vermont. As I type this, I’m just now realizing the maple-Vermont connection. Interesting that I chose to try out their maple leaf cutter first. Huh! How about that. Further evidence that raising a toddler causes you to operate subconsciously about 75% of the time.


Anyway, shortbread cookies of all sorts are the just the thing for this time of year. Simple to make with ingredients you probably have on hand right this very minute, and the perfect accompaniment to that afternoon mug of tea or coffee that keeps you pushing through the day, even when the day is seemingly turning to night at, like, 3:00 in the afternoon. Also, we’re not fully in holiday baking season just yet, so it might be nice to have a quick little baking project that doesn’t involve the all the production of the more intricate holiday cookie recipes that will be taking over our kitchens before we know it. And in honor of said holiday cookie extravaganzas, the good people from Ann Clark have sent me an adorable Holiday Cookie Cutter gift set to giveaway to one lovely reader! Hooray!


The set includes five big cutters–a star, a snowflake, a Christmas tree, a snowman and a reindeer. That’s a whole lot of cute holiday cookie-making going on!

All you have to do to enter to win is to leave a comment answering this question:

What’s your favorite holiday cookie?

**Contest has ended!**

Comments for the contest will be closed on Thursday, November 19th at 8:00 pm PST. Winner will be chosen at random and announced this Friday, November 20th. Good luck!


Maple-Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

To add some extra maple kick to this recipe, use 1/4 teaspoon maple extract in place of the vanilla, and use some maple sugar flakes (found at natural foods stores) instead of turbinado sugar for sprinkling on the cookies (with more ground pecans) before baking. To simplify the cutting process, shape the dough into two logs (each about 8-9 inches long) instead of a disc, before refrigerating. Slice the logs into rounds about 1/4 inch thick before brushing with the egg and sprinkling on the pecans and sugar mixture.

Makes about 2-3 dozen, depending on size

1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw), for sprinkling
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Begin by finely chopping the pecans in a food processor. Scoop out 1 cup of chopped pecans and place them in a large bowl. Give the remaining 1/2 cup pecans a few extra pulses to grind them even finer. Place these very finely chopped pecans into a small bowl and mix in the turbinado sugar with your fingertips to combine. Set aside.

Into the large bowl with the 1 cup of chopped pecans, sift together the flours and salt and whisk all to blend. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed. Beat in the maple syrup and egg yolk and vanilla until well-blended. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, stopping when the dough just begins to come together and clear the sides of the bowl–better to undermix than overmix here. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, kneading once or twice if necessary to ensure there are no dry pockets and the dough is evenly mixed. Shape into a disc (or logs for slice-and-bake cookies–see note) and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 1/2 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thick, and cut into desired shapes, gathering the scraps and rerolling as necessary until nearly all the dough is cut (see note for slice-and-bake cookies). Place the cookies on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Brush the cookies lightly with the beaten egg and sprinkle generously with the pecan sugar. Bake until lightly golden on the edges and bottoms of the cookies, lifting one slightly to check underneath for doneness, about 12-15 minutes. Rotate the sheets halfway through baking. Cool on the baking sheets for a minute or two before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.

Nov 9, 2009

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Recently I got to thinking about some of the most polarizing food subjects. You know, the things that get people talking in a great, spirited love-‘em-or-hate-‘em debate. Cilantro, for starters. Sushi. Gin. Tomatoes. Rachael Ray. You get where I’m going here.

Coconut is definitely on that list, am I right? Its such a complex food that you can’t really be on the fence about it. Its bold flavor, distinct scent and rough, chewy texture puts it in a category of its own. Other things taste like coconut, never the other way around. So if, like my husband, coconut makes you do that shuddery “I’m getting the heebie-jeebies just thinking about putting it near my mouth” thing, then I’ll catch you next time. But if you are on Team Coconut, then I hope you’ll try this recipe ASAP, because it makes one of the best dang macaroons I’ve ever had.


Typically, coconut macaroons are among the simplest, quickest cookies to make. Even if you decide to dip them in chocolate, the number of ingredients and steps is under five. The simplest recipes use egg whites, sugar, vanilla and sweetened coconut, and just like that they can be perfectly delicious. But so often, you can end up with something kind of clumsy and chewy and cloyingly sweet and it ends up taking a whole day to eat one, nibbling away at it here and there. Now, there’s really nothing wrong with that, per se, but I love finding recipes that aim to create the perfect version of something, and in doing so make it totally craveworthy and render me completely unable to put the rest away for later, even if I’ve probably already had enough.


This is why I am totally obsessed with the recipes from America’s Test Kitchen. They take stuff that’s already good and somehow find a way to make it even better. Although they rarely provide the simplest way to get there, its so worth it. And maybe I should keep this to myself, but I get the biggest thrill out of having to hunt down a certain ingredient that I’ve never used before. Like the cream of coconut (not to be confused with coconut milk or unsweetened coconut cream) that has a full, round, creamy coconut flavor and makes these macaroons out of this world.


More greatness about the version of this recipe: it uses a mixture of unsweetened coconut and the sweetened variety usually found in the baking aisle, which makes for a much more balanced sweetness in the finished product. Plus the combination of textures of the two kinds of coconut (the unsweetened variety is dry and very finely shredded, unlike coarsely grated and almost wet sweetened coconut) makes the macaroon more like a cookie and less like the center of a candy bar.


The drier mix of coconut and the combination of the cream of coconut and sugar in this recipe create the most fantastic crunchy crust on the bottom of the cookies, a texture you don’t always get with a macaroon. It makes for the most awesome textural element between the chewy coconut and the slick of chocolate on the bottom of the cookie.


When I sent some of these home with a friend, she and her husband thought there was some kind of wafer-like layer involved under the chocolate and made it seem like I’d put waaaay more effort into making these than I actually did. Ha! Awesome. I love when that happens. But then I always end up ruining the glamour by telling people the truth. I should work on that.



Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Adapted from Baking Illustrated

Sweetened cream of coconut, often used to make pina coladas and other cocktails, can usually be found in most supermarkets by the booze, canned and under the brand name Coco Lopez. Finding the sweetened coconut is no problem in the baking aisle, but for the unsweetened coconut, you may have to check the Asian foods aisle or a natural foods store. If you have no luck finding the unsweetened coconut, then use all sweetened coconut, but reduce the cream of coconut to 1/2 cup, omit the corn syrup, and add two tablespoons of cake flour to the coconut before adding the wet ingredients.

Makes 4 dozen

1 cup cream of coconut
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 large egg whites
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
3 cups sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
10 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)

Place the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper sprayed lightly with cooking spray or silicone baking mats.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream of coconut, corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla and salt until well-blended. In another large bowl, using your fingertips, toss together the shredded coconuts. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.

Drop the mixture by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets. Form the cookies into loose haystacks with your fingertips (moistening your fingers with water will prevent sticking). Bake until the cookies are softly set and golden in spots on top and your can see the bottoms are deeply browned, about 15-17 minutes. Cool on the sheets for about two minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Line the baking sheets with fresh parchment paper or wipe the silicone mats clean. When the cookies are completely cool, place about two thirds of the chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate on high power in 30 second intervals, stopping to stir after each interval. Put the remaining third of the chocolate chips into the melted chocolate, stirring again until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Holding a macaroon by its pointed top, dip the bottom of the cookie into the chocolate, using a spoon to gently coax the chocolate up the sides a bit if necessary. Place the dipped cookies on the lined baking sheets, and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

Aug 26, 2009

Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Cherries and Pecans

Somewhere in the back of my increasingly feeble, mother-to-an-almost-toddler mind, I seem to remember learning in school about the hierarchy of basic human needs. I’m pretty sure they included food, water, shelter, chocolate and an aunt and uncle set who are significantly cooler than your parents. Baby C scored on that last bit. A prime example being that her awesome Uncle Pat recently rolled through town on a tour with his band, while her totally boring mother baked cookies for said band. But as it turns out, it’s a tall order, baking for rockstars.

Although homemade cookies of all sorts would probably be welcomed by a van full of boys, you certainly don’t want to send them off with a container full of anything too delicate that might shatter into crumbs while getting rattled around among their gear and various gaming platforms. No, surely a lady cookie wouldn’t do. You need something sturdy. Dude Cookies. Road Biscuits. Like chewy nuggets of midnight dark chocolate, nubbly with tart dried cherries, bittersweet chocolate and toasty pecans.

This recipe comes from Alice Medrich’s great Pure Dessert, a book brimming with the kinds of recipes that turn out flavorful, earthy desserts that are never too sweet and always completely satisying. The recipes are familiar enough to create an instant craving, but there’s always a few ingredients that are off my everyday baking radar tossed into the mix that get me all excited to forage aisles in the market that I might not normally visit. And if that kind of spontaneity isn’t rockstar, well then I don’t know what is. How about staying out until midnight on a weeknight to go see a show in a bar AND paying someone to watch our kid for the first time?! THAT’S rock n’ flippin’ ROLL, people! Hard core!

Yeah. So…
This chocolate cookie recipe is going to be bookmarked for the long haul in the Piece of Cake kitchen. Not only can you turn out these rustic cookies that are perfect for gifting or keeping out on the counter for weekday snacking, you can also make a few tweaks during the prep and baking of them to create the kind of perfectly chocolately, thin, crisp, wafer-like cookies that are the ultimate building blocks for creating different desserts altogether and are getting increasingly harder to find in your typical supermarket (more on that in coming weeks). But for some awesomely talented guys several weeks into a non-stop national tour, it had to be a manned-up version of this recipe, the kind of brawny, chunky chocolate cookie that screams for a glass of milk. Or a handle of Jack. Or whatever those crazy kids are into these days.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Cherries and Pecans

Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert

Makes about 4 dozen

The original recipe calls for the dough to come together in a food processor. I’ve never acquired one myself, so I used a standing mixer and have rewritten the recipe as such. The beauty of a food processor is that it doesn’t incorporate a lot of air into the dough, making for a decadent, dense cookie, so if you use a mixer like I did, just keep the speed as low as possible.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into 12 chunks
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces (1 cup) bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
6 ounces (1 cup) dried tart cherries
1 1/3 cups chopped toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to blend the dry ingredients thoroughly. With the mixer running on low speed, add the butter chunks to the bowl until the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks lumpy and sandy. Increase the speed slightly until the dough begins to clump up around the paddle. Combine the milk and vanilla in a small cup. With the mixer running, add the milk mixture and mix until the dough is smooth and creamy in appearance, like a thick frosting. Fold in the chocolate chips, dried cherries and toasted pecans.

Drop by level tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies look drier and set–the centers won’t be firm at all, but shouldn’t be too squishy. Cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in airtight containers in single layers separated by waxed paper or parchment.

Aug 14, 2009

Three Dozen Cookies, One Stick of Butter (!)

I realize that with my all-desserts-all-the-time blog that I’m not exactly the poster child for low-fat eats. I’ve said before that I’d much rather make my regular meals lean and mean than give up a good dessert made with real ingredients. I just don’t see the point of making a low-fat cake. But let it be known that when I work out a recipe that cranks out three dozen generously-sized, utterly satisfying cookies with just one stick of butter, I am going to make a Big Deal out of it.


These Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies with Candied Ginger are the love child of one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes and a banana bread recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for months. Those who are slaves to the low-fat baking movement (or those who read the ubiquitous “healthy treats” articles in womens’ magazines that tell you to do ridiculous things like putting only salsa on your baked potatoes and call fruit dipped in a teaspoon of chocolate syrup “dessert”) will tell you that fruit purees can make a decent substitute for fat in baked goods.

In my opinion, in order for the fruit puree technique to produce truly great results, conditions must be perfect. Those conditions include recipes that call for oil and/or melted butter (think quickbreads and muffins) and also include ingredients that naturally work with the flavor of the fruit puree, should any of it sneak out into the baked good. And I don’t know about you, but banana+chocolate+ginger+cookies=pretty great-sounding to me. I pulled out my ever-present bag of frozen-before-they-could-completely-decay bananas from the freezer and got to work.

It just so happens that one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes is made just like a quickbread, via the muffin method with melted butter–there’s that other aforementioned condition for fruit purees successfully acting as a stand-in for fats. But let’s not get ridiculous, okay? I have no interest in going all Susan Powter on my baking projects, so I only swapped out half the weight of the butter for mashed banana. The sweetness of the fruit also allowed for a third of the sugar to be slashed out too–bonus! All that was left to do was to add a little sparkle with minced candied ginger to the dough, and dish it out in delightfully non-dietetic portions.

I’ve decided that there is only one fragrance that can best the smells of banana bread or chocolate chip cookies wafting through the house and that is the smell of a banana bread/chocolate chip cookie hybrid. Oh. Em. Gee. And thankfully, the taste matched the olfactory delight. These cookies came out fabulously moist and chewy with crisp edges and were so flavorful that I really, honestly didn’t miss the extra butter at all. Even better, they were more delicious the next day. That is to say the two that were left over were more delicious.

I was so overjoyed by the results of this recipe, I had to work out the math. And by my calculations, there are about 3 grams of fat per cookie, half the fat of an average chocolate chip cookie. In the Piece of Cake kitchen, that means you can shove them in your mouth two at a time. Hooray!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies with Candied Ginger

Makes about 3 dozen

Keep an eye on the cookies during the last few minutes of baking–you don’t want them overbaked. Cooling the cookies completely on the sheet will make for a chewier cookie. If you want them more crisp, just transfer them to a wire rack to cool after a minute or so. After portioning the cookies, the dough balls can be frozen and stored in a zip-top freezer bag for up to three months.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces mashed banana (about 1/2 cup, or 1 medium)
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli 60% cacao, semi-sweet chips work too)
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, minced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with an oven rack set to the center position. Have ungreased baking sheets ready (I like to line mine with parchment or Silpat, but it’s not necessary).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl by hand, mix together the sugars, melted butter, egg yolks and vanilla until well-blended. Stir in the mashed banana. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until nearly incorporated, then fold in the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger.

Portion tablespoons of dough out onto the baking sheets, 12 per sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for 14-16 minutes, or just until golden brown. Don’t overbake. Cool completely on the baking sheets on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Jul 13, 2009

Cats’ Tongues

You know what drives me crazy? When I go to a restaurant and try to order dessert and the whole pastry menu is full of savory. I mean, I appreciate a dessert menu that has more than the

been-there-done-that-like-100-times

options of flourless chocolate cake, some form of apple tart and a selection of gelatos. But a polenta olive oil cake with rosemary ice cream? Really? I already had dinner! I’d rather just have a Snickers bar and call it a night.

Dessert should be dessert, people. It should not be confused with other courses or meals from other parts of the day. Another example: no matter what nutritionists in womens’ magazines say, a dish of plain fruitis not sufficient for dessert. It is breakfast. I think I heard Ina Garten say once that no one remembers what you serve for dinner, but everyone remembers dessert. And if all I get is a plate of strawberries, then I am definitely remembering the time I got so depressed at the end of a meal that I stopped speaking entirely. This is just the way I usually feel. Unless–unless!!–said fruit is accompanied by a pile of etheral cookies like Cats’ Tongues. Bring on the fruit salad, sister!


This recipe comes from The Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook, and you know Alice Waters is all about fruit for dessert. But in the recipe notes for Cats’ Tongues, she mentions how she could eat an entire platter of them with a fresh peach. There ya go, Alice! I knew you had it in you, girlfriend. It was my first clue that these cookies were really something special.


It’s almost a misnomer to call these beauties “cookies”. They’re really more of a wafer, so thin and delicate they practically melt in your mouth as soon as they shatter between your teeth. The hit of almond extract and spark of ginger makes them a beautiful accompaniment to seasonal fruits of all kinds. When shaped as directed in the recipe, they really do resemble the thin curve of a cat’s tongue. Well, some of mine came out looking like that, but some in the batch also came out looking just like potato chips. And I couldn’t help but think of how awesome it would be to have a bowl full of “cookie chips” and just watch Oprah or something, definitely without fruit. But I digress.


The batter for Cats’ Tongues comes together swiftly–it’s the shaping that takes some doing. The batter needs to be spread thin in on a sheet pan with an offset spatula or the back of a teaspoon, and precision counts to achieve even baking.


I found the easiest way to get some consistency in the size and impressive thinness of the cookies was to first pipe Hershey’s Kiss-size dabs of batter (or thereabouts–you can make them whatever size and shape you want) onto the baking sheet, then spread the batter into wafer-thin submission with a spoon and a little flick of the wrist. (Tip: if you use Silpat liners, it’s extra easy to scrape up your mistakes and re-form the cookies while you get the hang of it–as if I need to give you another reason to buy Silpat if you haven’t already).


When the cookies go into the oven to bake, watch them like a hawk. Once they begin to brown at the edges, the rest of the cookie will brown all over so quickly your head with snap back (sort of an exaggeration, but just watch them closely, okay?). Pull them from the oven and immediately begin delicately pulling the cookies from the sheet and forming them into some kind of interesting curved shape that appeals to you, twist them at both ends, or drape them over a wooden spoon handle or even the grates of your cooling rack.


If you make them really big, you can even drape the warm cookies over inverted custard cups or something similar, and form them into adorable edible vessels for serving a bowl of berries that even I might actually call dessert.


Cats’ Tongues

Adapted from The Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook

Watch the cookies carefully during baking after about the 6 minute mark. If you let the cookies get too brown all over before pulling them from the oven they won’t be as malleable; whereas if you pull them out a wee bit too soon, and you can’t form them all quickly enough before they start to cool and harden, you can pop them back into the oven for a moment without worrying about them over-browning.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking liners.

In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg whites, then fold in the flour. Beat in the salt, vanilla, almond extract and ginger until the batter is perfectly smooth.

Scrape the batter into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip or plastic food storage bag (snip the corner of the bag with scissors after filling). Pipe the batter onto the lined baking sheets into whatever portion size you desire. Spread the batter very thinly with a vertical swipe using the back of a teaspoon or a small offset spatula. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. While the cookies are still warm, twist and curve them into whimsical shapes before setting them on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Jul 7, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

WARNING: If, like me, you are prone to becoming obsessed with a certain food and wanting to eat nothing but that food for many days on end, then this recipe is probably a very, very bad idea for you. Because really, it has been quite a while since I’ve come across something so addictive. It will dominate your thoughts and appetite until the only evidence of it having existed at all is a smattering of crumbs. And there you’ll stand, alone at the counter twinged with sadness, wondering where it all went and kind of not remembering that you are the one who ate it all. I give you Cookie Brittle.


Oh, you heard me right. It’s cookie. It’s brittle. It’s crunchy and sweet and a little bit salty with bits of chocolate and toasty nuts. It’s basically an entire pan of the crisp, brown-buttery, sugary edges of the very best chocolate chip cookie, aka The Best Part. I like cutting to the chase. I don’t have a lotta time to spare these days. And I certainly don’t have time to deal with Oprah-esque, Big Life Questions, like, was I really, truly living before I ate cookie brittle? I can’t be sure.


This recipe comes from a really charming cookbook called The American Country Inn Bed and Breakfast Cookbook, a collection of recipes from little B&Bs all across the country, organized by state. It’s actually a really fun read, with descriptions of each place followed by a few of the inns’ favorite recipes, and you really get an idea of the spirit of each place by the kinds of foods they offer to their guests. In the case of Cookie Brittle, our enabler/dealer is a someone named Kris associated with the Wine and Roses Country Inn in Lodi, California. And I am grateful to him/her for offering this recipe (even though the original calls for margarine). Because now I don’t have to travel all the way to Lodi to enjoy this cookie brittle–I can just make a batch of my own and eat the whole thing in the comfort of my dark closet right here at home.

You will be thrilled to learn that this gem of recipe comes together in minutes in a single bowl with a wooden spoon. Nudge it onto a sheet pan, bang it into the oven for a short bake and chain yourself to a large piece of furniture while you wait for it to cool completely (the magic is in the cooling so the brittle crisps evenly). It’s the perfect cookie recipe for lazy bakers. Broken up into cronch-y, no-napkin-required hunks and kept in a container on the counter, conditions are perfect for you to have absolutely no self-control while walking through your kitchen. I repeat, trying this recipe is a really bad idea.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle
Adapted from The American Country Inn Bed and Breakfast Cookbook, Vol. 2

Try a variety of chip and nut combinations in the mix–I love bittersweet chocolate chips and cashews, but I’m thinking throwing a few butterscotch chips or shredded coconut into the mix would also be fabulous.

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted roasted cashews
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao–I like Ghiradelli)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack to the center position. Pour the melted butter into a large bowl, and stir in the vanilla. With a wooden spoon (or your hands, if your prefer), add the sugar, salt and flour and mix to combine–the mixture will be somewhat crumbly, like a moist pie dough. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Press the mixture in a thin, even layer onto an ungreased cookie sheet (use the chocolate chips as your guide–try to get them in as close to a single layer as possible throughout the dough, and you’ll have the right thickness). You may not fill the entire sheet with the dough–that’s okay.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, until light golden brown (the edges will be a bit darker than the center). Let cool completely before breaking into whatever sized pieces you desire. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Mar 19, 2009

Meyer Lemon Sablés

I love my cookie scoop. Love, love, love my cookie scoop. The way it swiftly forms a mess of dough into beautifully uniform orbs and deposits them onto baking sheets in neat rows–breathtaking. And the fact that I never once have to dirty my hands or wrestle with two spoons or weigh portions to ensure even baking, oh, I could just pass out from the sheer joy that my cookie scoop brings me. And I miss it so, because if a recipe calls for a dough to be portioned en masse onto baking sheets, well, that bit is usually just way too time-consuming for an ordinary day now. So one might assume that there would be a frightening lack of cookies around here since my beloved cookie scoop has been laying cold in its drawer for several weeks now. And one would be sorely mistaken, because who needs a fussy drop cookie when there are buttery slice-and-bake Meyer lemon sablés to be had?


Sablés are yet another fantastic French invention, crisp and buttery rounds with one of the shortest ingredient lists in all of baking and a perfect canvas for adding any number of flavors (like a smattering of fragrant Meyer lemon zest). They are so unassuming in their rustic shape and simple recipe, you never see it coming when you sample one and then suddenly have an instant craving for a second and third; you know the feeling–like a warm, snug rope wrapping around you and pulling you back towards the cookie plate. You are powerless against the sablé. It’s okay, it happens to everyone.

Meyer Lemon Sablés
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Makes four dozen

This dough freezes beautifully. I love to slice and bake one log of dough the day I put it together, and keep the other log in the freezer for any situation that calls for cookies, of which there are plenty. Serve with tea or coffee or for a last-minute elegant dessert, add a couple to a dish of premium ice cream and fresh berries.

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Zest of two Meyer lemons
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
Sanding sugar or other coarse decorative sugar

Pour the sugars into a small bowl and add the lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant with lemon with the bits of zest evenly distributed throughout the sugar. Set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is soft and creamy-looking. Beat in the lemon sugar just until the mixture looks smooth again, being careful not to let it get fluffy. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat in just two of the egg yolks, mixing until well-blended. Turn the mixer to low and stir in the flour until it is fully incorporated. The dough will be very soft and not quite clear the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in half.

Shape each dough half into a even log about nine inches long and wrap each log in a sheet of plastic wrap (the plastic wrap can also help the dough-shaping process along if your dough is especially soft and sticky). Refrigerate for at least three hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Coat each log of dough with the remaining egg yolk, and coat liberally in decorative sugar. Slice each log into 24 discs (most easily achieved by slicing the log in half, then each half in half, etc.) and place on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown and the cookies are mostly firm to the touch. Cool on the baking sheets for one minute then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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