As I mentioned yesterday, my mother came to visit over the weekend. She was feted by her granddaughters, and I sent her home with a gift. That Saturday, Nina had been on a playdate with a friend, and the father made cookies. He gave us some, and I made sure that my mother took one with her before she left.
These were not just any cookies, they were chocolate-and-molasses cookies with a hint of chili pepper, and the father was not just any old Joe, he was John, a friend who has been contributing to this site with such frequency that he has now earned himself an entry on the dramatis personae page.
A few hours after my mother left my apartment, I called her to make sure she had gotten home safely. She had, and I asked her how she was doing. She said she was great. She had just finished a glass of milk and the cookie. "It was so good," she said, "I'll have to get the recipe."
Here, without any further to do, is John's recipe for his cookies, and his latest guest post:
I’ve been messing about with cookies over the last month or so. What started as a treat for Frigga, Buk, and Atete is now turning into a mild obsession, as I’ve gone back to the mixer several weekends in a row to get the recipe right. Not that Buk and Atete have been complaining.
I have very clear preferences with cookies: soft, a little chewy, and the flavor needs to give me a little more than just cookie plus chocolate. I want some complexity. At the risk of getting all misty-eyed and mystic…I want a little mystery in my cookie.
Okay, so apart from teetering on “new agey” abyss there for a second, cookies are actually pretty simple. From inspiration to dunking can take an hour, and a good chunk of that is spent waiting for them to bake. The one proviso is having a mixer on hand. Creaming the sugar and the butter is easy enough without one: soften the butter, add the sugar, and just go at it with a spoon until the mixture is creamy and a pale yellow, but your arm is going to get a work out.
The other great thing about this recipe is that you can use it as a basis for many others. The basic idea is the same for many cookies…cream the butter and sugar, mix in eggs and flour, and then add your other flavorings. Next time, I think I’m going to explore ginger, molasses, and allspice.
The Brooklyn Cookie
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter cut into small chunks
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper (the paper isn’t totally necessary, but it does make clean up very simple and the cookies come off the paper very easily – if your baking tray is old and well used, you may have problems getting them off the metal cleanly).
Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and chili powder in a bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar until it is pale yellow and starts to look a little like whipped cream. (If you have a mixer, put it on high for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it. You’ve got a bit of margin, but you don’t want to overbeat the butter.)
Turn down the mixer to its lowest speed. Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter and sugar until all is combined
Add vanilla and molasses, stir just enough to combine.
Mix in dry mixture in three batches again until blended (you may have to scrape down the bowl and mixer blade). Then stir in chips.
Scoop batter for each cookie, arranging the balls about 3 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. (I use an ice cream scoop to get a consistent amount for each cookie. I get a good scoop and then clean excess by pressing the scoop against the mixing bowl. I then lever the dough out of the scoop with a tablespoon measure held in the other hand. )
Wet your hand and flatten the dough into rounds using the palm.
Bake 1 sheet at a time about 15 minutes (perhaps a few minutes longer if you like your cookie a little less soft – the final length of time will depend on your oven).
Remove from the oven and let sit on tray for five minutes or so, and then transfer cookies to a rack to cool
Repeat till done.
Makes about 24 largish cookies