Month: October 2007
You guys are so nice. Really. You let me rattle on about bratwurst, and butternut squash, and tomato sauce, and through it all, you just smile and nod. You’re so polite. Especially when I know that all you really want, deep down, is dessert.
You heard me. D-e-s-s-e-r-t. You don’t have to hide it anymore. I know how it is, because I feel the same way. I mean, let’s be real: bratwurst is nice, and so are chickpeas, and so is tapenade, but for crying out loud, people, pass the damn cookies already.
I have long held that a day without dessert is a day poorly lived. We all have different definitions of dessert, I’m sure, but whatever yours is, I hope you’re eating it. There are 1,440 minutes in a day, and if you don’t set aside at least some of them for a square of chocolate or a wedge of apple tart, well, I just don’t know what to say. Maybe you should rethink your schedule? 1,440 minutes is a lot to waste. Which is why it’s so deeply disturbing, so utterly wrong, that there hasn’t been a recipe for cake, pie, cookies, compote, ice cream, mousse, sorbet, or quick bread on this site for over four months. FOUR months. That’s 175,316 minutes. That’s a long time to go without dessert.
I owe you an apology, for sure. And some cookies.
It’s not that I haven’t been eating dessert for the past four months. I assure you, that’s not the case. It’s just the opposite, really. It’s rare that a day goes by without a sweet baked something winding up on the counter, first on a cooling rack and then sealed in plastic wrap, trailing a ragtag parade of crumbs. There have been pies and cakes and cupcakes too. There’s been a lot of dessert around here. It’s just that it’s all for the book, which is to say that it’s a) still in development and b) top secret, and that c) I’m a terrible tease to even mention it here. What I really mean is that I haven’t been doing much pleasure-baking, that’s all. Except for that stupid apple cake, and it made me cry.
But then I remembered a certain cookie that I first made sometime last year, when I saw a version of it over at Baking Bites. I don’t know why on earth it’s taken me so long to tell you about it. Maybe it’s because they settled so seamlessly into my repertoire that I kind of forgot that they hadn’t always been there. (By the way, how lovely is it to say “my repertoire”?! I’ve always wanted to be one of those cooks who has a repertoire. Maybe then, I thought, I would feel like a real grown-up.) These cookies are totally dreamy. Imagine a brownie in cookie form, and you’ve got the idea: chewy, dark, and dense with chocolate flavor, but not too sweet. Now, imagine this: that all the ingredients are common pantry items, just waiting in your cupboard and fridge. And that they take barely half an hour to make, including baking time. And that they’re kind of [shhhhh] low-fat. Just typing that makes my fingers itch to go flick on the oven.
I must have made these cookies at least a dozen times by now. I baked them for a barbeque last June and a picnic on the 4th of July. Sometimes I make them just for the freezer, to stash away for snacks. About two weeks ago, I made a batch for no reason at all. We ate about half of them one evening, me and Brandon and our friend Sam, while sitting around the living room, trying to decide what to eat for dinner. And then, last Saturday, because it was the end of the week, and because I had written a lot, and because writing a lot makes a girl feel kind of hypoglycemic, I made another batch. Plus, the sun was out this weekend, and I’ll bet you’ve heard the old saying “make cookies while the sun shines”? Sure you have.
Anyway, when cookies are such a snap to make, you hardly need an excuse. In fact, you’d need a pretty good excuse not to. So hop to it. No reason to let another minute go by.
Chewy Cocoa Cookies with Chocolate Chips
Adapted from Alice Medrich
The original version of these cookies doesn’t have chocolate chips, so I guess you could leave them out, but I think they’re pretty important. This is a relatively virtuous treat, as cookies go, so that extra boost of richness is nice. Plus, there’s no such thing as too much chocolate. No. Such. Thing. Don’t even try to argue.
Of course, you’re welcome to throw in other additions as well. I’ve put chopped pistachios in here, and they were wonderful. I’ll bet dried cranberries or cherries would be good too. Or toasted walnuts. Whatever you choose, I’d keep the quantity of additions to about ½ cup in total. And I’d make sure that at least some of that ½ cup is chocolate chips. For example, when I do pistachios, I use ¼ cup, plus ¼ cup chocolate chips.
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
7 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup plain yogurt, preferably not low- or nonfat
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips, preferably Ghirardelli brand, either semisweet or bittersweet
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Place the butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave briefly, until just melted. Add the sugars, and sift in the cocoa. (You can skip the sifting if you want, but my cocoa almost always has lumps, and I don’t like cocoa lumps in my cookies.) Stir to blend well. The mixture will be somewhat thick and pasty, like wet sand. Add the yogurt and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the dry flour mixture, and stir to just combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.
Drop the dough by generous tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. (I use my tablespoon-size measuring spoon to scoop and shape the dough into little domes. Rinsing the spoon regularly helps to keep the dough from sticking, and leaving the spoon slightly wet after each rinsing helps too.) You should be able to fit about 8 or 9 cookies, nicely spaced, on a standard sheet pan. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies have crackled slightly and look set. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack, and cool the cookies on the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer them to the rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
Note: These cookies keep nicely at room temperature for a couple of days. I store mine in a large plastic bag, and I usually stick a paper towel in there with them. It helps to regulate moisture and keep the cookies fresh and chewy. (It’s a trick Brandon taught me, one he learned from an ex-girlfriend’s mother. Thank goodness for ex-girlfriends, right?)
Yield: About 20 cookies
Bigger and fuller and brighter
Today I want to tell you about a friend of mine. You’ve heard of her, I’ll bet, and if not from me, then because of her own site. Her name is Shauna, and people, the lady knows how to live. I first met Shauna a couple of years ago, in September, I think, when, after a series of long, chatty e-mail exchanges, we decided to sit down for some tea at Mr. Spots Chai House, a little hippie haven of sorts in Ballard, a neighborhood about halfway between our apartments at the time. I should tell you at this point that I have a terrible fear of chai, due to the fact that after having my first mug of the…Read more
Hi, everybody. A few of you asked, in the comments last week, if I might tell you a little more about my book, the project that’s been eating up a large portion – wait, did I say large? I meant all, or darn near all – of my thoughts for the past several months. I really haven’t told you much about it, have I? I guess I didn’t really think to until now. I’m so glad you gave me a nudge. I just got swept up in the wedding for a while there, and then, when it was over, I dove so deep into writing that it never really occurred to me to climb out, grab a dry towel, and…Read more
Lots of trouble
You already know by now, I’m sure, that I like the idea of a simple recipe. For whatever it’s worth, I like the notion that you can take a few well-chosen, high-quality ingredients, treat them kindly, and come out with a pretty nice meal. When I started this blog, I had no idea that this was a schtick of any sort, much less my schtick: it’s just sort of happened that way. It’s how I like to eat. It also, however, gets me into lots of trouble sometimes. I am constantly – I mean constantly, people; it’s pathological – falling prey to cookbook and magazine recipes that are way too simple, with too few ingredients to taste like much of…Read more
I tried to hold it off. Really, I did. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t buy a winter squash until at least October 1, if not later. I mean, there are still a few nectarines to be had, for crying out loud, and Romano beans, and cherry tomatoes, and fat, pristine eggplant, fruits as big and heavy as my head, begging to roasted and mashed. There’s plenty to eat. There’s no need for winter squash. Nor potatoes, nor pears. No need at all. But then, you know, there they were, the hard-shelled squash and the new potatoes and the Asian pears, at the farmers’ market on Saturday morning, and it was cloudy and cold, and they just looked so…Read more