Cookie Project!

For the past month, I've been given the task of making cookies for the weekly meeting at my husband's office. It's been fun experimenting with new recipes, and getting the chance to make old favorites, like these.

Last week I made these - Brown Butter, Brown Sugar Cookies. Simple, without the addition of chips, pretzels, or any salty/sweet combo I've been playing around with lately, but just as delicious.

Brown Butter, Brown Sugar Cookies

adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

for rolling:
1/4 c. (1 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 c. (1 3/4 oz) light brown sugar

1 3/4 c. (12 1/4 oz) light brown sugar
2 c. + 2 T (10 2/3 oz) AP flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
14 T (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 T vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment. With your hands, mix together 1/4 c. brown and white sugar in a shallow dish or bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Brown 10 T of the butter in a skillet. (This site provides a great how-to). Pour the butter into a large bowl and add the remaining 4 T of butter, stir until melted. Let sit for 15 minutes or until it comes to room temp.

Add the 1 3/4 c. brown sugar and stir until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture until it just comes together (I ended up using my favorite mixing utensil, my hands, to mix everything together).

Using a cookie scoop, or tablespoons, scoop out balls of dough and rool in the sugar mixture to coat evenly. Place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Baking the cookies in a preheated oven until the edges are set and are just beginning to brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. The cookies will look slightly raw between the cracks, don't worry - they'll continue cooking a bit once they're out of the oven.

Let rest on the cookie sheets for about 5 minutes, then slide the cookies and parchment paper off the pan onto the counter. Use a spatula or offset spatula to remove.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie scoop. Eat in abundance or share with your friends - you made them, it's your choice! :)


Next up - Crisp Rice/Marshmallow cookies. They're too much!


Crisp rice and marshmallow cookies

In a word: wow. Recipe to follow as soon as I come down from my sugar high.


Cheater's Chana Masala

I impressed friends and family alike on Friday night with this yummy and easy recipe from Debbie Koenig's new book, Parents Need to Eat Too, coming out THIS week!

I served this on top of brown rice, with some plain yogurt on top. And since we were on a cheating theme, I made some Cheater's Naan, which Dinner a Love Story (another favorite blog, check it out if you aren't already a fan) wrote about in the fall.

Without further ado:

Cheater’s Chana Masala
From Parents Need to Eat Too

Serves 4
Cooking time: 25 minutes (15 minutes active)

Traditional chana masala—a spiced chickpea stew you’ll find on the menu of almost any Indian restaurant—is a complicated affair, with an ingredient list as long as your arm. We’re not going there. Remember my mantra: New parents don’t have time for authenticity! Instead, I’ve simplified things to make this a quick and easy dish based almost exclusively on pantry items. It still tastes warm and comforting, but you’ll have dinner on the table in no time.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated, or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Two 15- to 16-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3⁄4 cup water
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (SBC note: I didn't spaced on draining the tomatoes and it still turned out great)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon garam masala
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon (about 11⁄2 tablespoons)

Cooked brown rice, plain yogurt, and prepared chutney, optional, for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. When it shimmers, add the onion, fresh ginger, if using, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, and ground ginger (if not using fresh) and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chickpeas, water, diced tomatoes , and salt to taste and raise heat to medium. Simmer uncovered (if it spatters too much, cover it partially - SBC note: I used a splatter guard, like this one) until the sauce has thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, then stir in the chopped cilantro, garam masala, lemon juice, and salt to taste.

Serve over brown rice and top with a spoonful of yogurt and chutney, if desired.

MAKE BABY FOOD: Leave out the cayenne if you’re nervous about spicy foods, and if you’re wary of the acidity in citrus add the lemon juice after reserving baby’s portion. This’ll puree nicely (make sure to include some of the liquid), or you can serve it as finger food—just smash the chickpeas with a fork, to prevent a choking hazard. SBC note: My 8 and 5 yr olds wouldn't touch it, but I have high hopes for baby #3, and will definitely be making this again for him/her to sample.

I mentioned this before, but Debbie is sending anyone who pre-orders the book before tomorrow (that's Tuesday, Feb 21) a free digital starter kit!

from this...

to this!


Valrhona chocolate chip brownies

Last but not least, these brownies are an old standby, especially for times when I need to make a sweet quickly and don't want to deal with the mixer and bringing butter to room temp. I've loved these ever since I first cut the recipe from the back of a King Arthur Flour bag 5 years ago. Easy, and so much better than anything you can get from a box!

The key to these brownies is using the best cocoa powder you can find/afford. Regular Hershey's cocoa will work, but won't give you the fudgy richness something like a Valhrona or Callebaut cocoa will. Note: if you're interested in buying Valhrona cocoa in bulk - this place has consistently had the best prices I can find. If you know of a cheaper place, please let me know!

Valrhona Chocolate Chip Brownies
(adapted from King Arthur Flour Company)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9x13" pan. Note: You can either butter the whole pan or cut a piece of parchment that's approx 9x18 and use it to line the bottom of the pan, with equal amounts of parchment going up each of the shorter sides, then butter the long sides. This creates a sling that will make it a lot easier to take the whole mess of brownies out when they're cooled.

1 c. unsalted butter
2 1/4 c. (460g) sugar
1 1/4 c. (120g) Dutch-process cocoa (I always use Valrhona cocoa)
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 T. vanilla
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c. (6 1/4 oz) AP flour
2 c. (12 oz bag) chocolate chips (I use chips from Trader Joe's - only 11 oz, but close enough)

In a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat, briefly, just till it starts bubbling; it will become shiny looking as you stir it. (note from original recipe: Heating the butter and sugar a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yeild a shiny top crust on your brownies - who knew? She probably did)

While the butter is melting, whisk together cocoa, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the sugar/butter mixture and then vanilla. Stir until combined and allow mixture to cool for about 5 minutes. Add eggs and quickly stir until smooth (if you wait too long, the eggs will start cooking on top - gross). Add the flour, stir and finally, the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, using a rubber spatula or metal offset spatula to smooth it out.

Bake brownies for 28 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester instered into the center comes out dry. The edges of brownies will also come in from the sides of the pan - that's how I usually guage for doneness. With something like this, a little underdone is always better than a little overdone!

Let the brownies cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes. At this point, you can use a spatula to free up the long edges of the pan and gently pull out the whole sheet using the parchment sides. Place on a cutting board or other large flat object and cool in either the fridge or freezer until you're ready to cut them. (I like the crunch that the chips provide, but if you can't wait for that, by all means dig in whenever you'd like it!)

Flip the brownies over, peel off the parchment and flip again so you can cut into squares (or whatever shape you like) - I find a serrated knife works best.

Enjoy! And please post any questions in the comments. I'm quickly realizing that actually typing out a recipe so it makes sense is harder than actually making the recipe!


Salted oatmeal cookies

You asked (well, at least one of you did), so I delivered. This was the second of three things I made yesterday as part of my birthday baking bonanza - still to come, Valrhona chocolate chip brownies.

This recipe comes from one of my go-to cookbooks, The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.

Salty Oat Cookies
(from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)

1 c. (5 oz) AP flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. table salt
16 T. (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
1 c. (7 oz) sugar
1/4 c. (1 3/4 oz) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla
3 1/2 c. (10 1/2 oz) old-fashioned oats
1/2 t. coarse sea salt (don't use table or kosher salt, you want something big and flaky - I'm a fan Falksalt Crystal Flakes)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment. Whisk flour, baking soda and table salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl or mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 3 mins in a mixer, longer if using a handheld mixer). Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds (don't overmix). Mix in the oats until just incorporated.

Using a cookie scoop (whatever size you've got, mine is 1 Tablespoon), form balls and place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with the salt.

Bake the cookies until the edges are set and beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 17 minutes, switching and rotating the pans halfway through baking. The cookies may not look completely done by now, but they'll firm up out of the oven.

Cool cookies on a the pans and then transfer to a rack or eat right away. They have the appearance of being wholesome, so I'm all for it if you want to eat a couple for breakfast.