flour bakery’s chocolate chunk cookies

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considering I don’t really post that much, it seems gratuitous that this is the third chocolate chip cookie recipe to make it onto the blog. (see: chocolate chip cookies from “not without salt” and tahini chocolate chip cookies.) but I promise, there is a story behind it:

last weekend, I promised to make banana bread (using my favorite recipe from joanne chang’s famous flour bakery) for a picnic hangout. I scrambled to make it the night before, having come back in d.c. later than planned after changing my travel plans last-minute. around 2am, after waiting 1 hour and 10 minutes for the freaking bread to finish baking, I finally went to sleep.

it was a beautifully misty morning when we we set out on an unexpectedly taxing hike the following day. heavy rains had blocked our planned hiking path with a fast-flowing and deceptively deep stream. in our efforts to find a different point to ford the stream, two members of our party got lost in the dense foliage of the george washington national forest. we didn’t locate them until an hour later – one was sitting, almost hidden in dead leaves, legs bloodied and left ankle sprained after multiple falls, while the other, in a panic, had torn through branches and brambles, covering his arms in scratches. it was altogether one of the scarier hiking experiences I’ve had.

after finding the two lost hikers, we were in no mood to continue the hike, especially not with one hiker left hobbling, so we set out for a winery in the area. thankfully, no one’s injuries were very serious, and the mood quickly became more jovial as people unpacked bags of chips, deli meats, tabbouleh, naan, and spreads. after our taxing day, I was glad to have made the banana bread after all.

food is like that. good eats, shared with good people, can completely change the mood. it got me thinking about a possible fun project for this summer and beyond: baking (and maybe cooking) my way through joanne chang’s cookbooks, and sharing the results with friends. first up: these chocolate chunk cookies, shared with my fellow summer associates. I can usually tell if I’ll love a chocolate chip cookie by the way it bakes in the oven – these start as slightly flattened balls, then melt outwards as they bake, forming those coveted ripples of crisp, buttery, brown rings on the outside of the cookie, while the middle of the cookie remains soft and chewy. and my fellow associates certainly agree with me – after 10 minutes, all 36 cookies were gone!


makes ~24 bakery-sized cookies or ~42 standard-sized cookies

228g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
165g (3/4 cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
140g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
150g (1 cup) bread flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
255g (~1 1/2 cups) bittersweet (60%) chocolate, chopped
70g (~1/2 cups) milk chocolate, chopped*

joanne chang.
flour: spectacular recipes from boston’s flour bakery + cafe.
san francisco: chronicle books, 2010.

1 using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (~5 minutes with stand mixer, ~10 minutes with spoon). scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to release any clinging butter or sugar, then mix again.
2 beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed until thoroughly combined (2-3 minutes). scrape the bowl and paddle again to make sure the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
3 in a medium bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, and salt until well mixed. add the chocolates and toss to combine. on low speed (or with the wooden spoon), slowly add the flour-choclate mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed. (don’t over-mix!)
4 cover the dough and refrigerate overnight (at least 12 hours and up to 36) before baking. when you are ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350ºF.
5 drop the dough into 1/4-cup balls (for bakery size) or rounded 2-tbsp balls (for standard size), spacing them ~2 inches apart. using the palm of your hand, flatten each ball slightly. (optional: sprinkle cookies lightly with flaky salt.)
6 bake for 15-18 minutes (for bakery size) or 11-13 minutes (for standard size), until cookies are golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center. do not let them get brown throughout. let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
7 cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. the unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (and can be frozen for up to 1 month; just defrost while the oven preheats so you can flatten each ball, then add 1-2 extra minutes of bake time).

 
*I used ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate discs and milk chocolate chips because I didn’t have any chocolate bars to chop, but taking the time to chop the chocolate will add more variation in texture to your cookies.
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world peace cookies

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a few days ago, a friend and I were grabbing ramen on a 60ºF rainy evening. and today, it’s the first snow. a few years ago, these wild swings in temperature were among the most concerning issues for me.

but lately, it seems that the world is careening into a new forms of chaos each day. I remember discussing the impending brexit vote with european friends back in the summer of 2015. we lightheartedly talked about how with the high barriers to leaving the eurozone, no country would actually ever do it.

but britain did vote to leave, and in november 2016, the nationalist, nativist movements that had captured the government of hungary, almost taken france, and driven brexit reared its head and placed in power president trump and his band of breitbart neo-conservatives.

since then, it seems that every day, there is new turmoil. currently, palestine has declared three days of rage following trump’s decision to recognize jerusalem as the capital of israel. north korea has made increasingly brazen strides in its military capabilities, catalonia’s independence referendum spurred a spanish government crackdown on the self-governed province, and germany’s government is at a standstill following failed coalition talks. in the meanwhile, southern california is literally in flames and the us senate may soon count a pedophile in its ranks, a man supported by the republican party despite highly credible allegations about his crimes against teenage girls.

it is exhausting to follow world events these days because each seems so significant, and yet the deluge is so quick and vicious, it is impossible to give each adequate attention. my fellow classmates and I often discuss our frustration about having to take a step back and observe for the next three years, and hope that the reasons that we chose to go back to school are not irreparably damaged by the time we graduate.

washington d.c. feels unusually quiet today. the falling snow, the muted sounds and colors of winter seem more calming than ever before. this morning, I rolled out some quick chocolate sablés, aptly named “world peace cookies” by dorie greenspan, for an upcoming christmas cookie exchange. and I took a walk through the admittedly wet snow (d.c. is still too warm for any snow to stick) and hoped for more peaceful days ahead.

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makes 28-36 cookies

170g (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
28g (1/3 cup) unsweeted cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
155g (1 stick + 3 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
134g (2/3 cups) packed light brown sugar
50g (1/4) white sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
142 (5oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into irregular bits (I usually just use bittersweet chocolate chips because I’m lazy)

dorie greenspan. dorie’s cookies. new york: houghton mifflin harcourt publishing company, 2016.

1 sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together.
2 working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until soft, creamy, and homogenous (~3 minutes).*
3 beat in the salt and vanilla. turn off the mixer, add all the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to start the blending. when the risk of flying flour has passed, turn the mixer to low and beat until the dough forms big, moist curds. toss in the chocolate pieces and mix to incorporate.
4 turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it together, kneading it if necessary to bring it together. (sometimes it comes together easily, and other times it’s a bit more crumbly – this is fine! just knead until it comes together.) divide the dough in half.
5 shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. wrap the logs in plastic wrap and freeze for at 2 hours, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
6 center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325ºF. line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
7 using a long, sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. (if the dough cracks, just press back together.) arrange the rounds on baking sheets, leaving ~2 inches between them.
8 bake for 12 minutes (do not open the oven during baking). transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack and let cookies rest until they are just warm/room temperature. cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, or can be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to 2 months.

*I’ve made this recipe with a hand mixer and stand mixer and both turned out well, though the stand mixer consistently results in a smoother, less grainy cookie.

matcha cheesecake

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the other day, my sister asked me for a matcha cheesecake recipe. after a busy june, I jumped at the chance to tie on my apron and pull out the kitchenaid for some recipe testing. I had also encountered some recent inspiration while dining at susanna foo’s newest venture, suga, when I had the chance to meet susanna foo herself and gain some insight into her mentality as a chef.

two decades ago, susanna foo’s eponymous restaurant in philly redefined chinese food in america, educating americans who were lucky enough to dine at her restaurant about the true pinnacles of chinese cuisine (with some french flair) during a time when most americans thought chinese cuisine consisted of moo shu pork and general tso’s chicken. to this day, one of my favorite dishes remains her take on squirrel fish (松鼠桂鱼), and my father owns and heavily uses her cookbooks.

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one night, while sitting at the table next to ours, susanna foo asked the kitchen to send out a plate of potstickers. she tasted the potstickers, which she ate with no sauces or garnishes. she then critiqued the humble dish in the way only a serious, trained chef can – she noted they lacked salt and that they were not as juicy as she would like. until she mentioned it, I had thought the dumplings were honestly quite good, but when she pointed it out, I too began to note the nuances. after leaving the restaurant that night, I continued to reflect on the restless nature of good chefs as they constantly search for that perfect flavor and texture profile. even at the age that most people begin to think about retirement, susanna was still tasting, taking notes, and thinking of ways to improve.

while I will never pretend to have the training or the palate of a professional – as demonstrated by the ever-present cracks on my cheesecakes – I am constantly in awe of their commitment to improvement. it’s a mentality that makes our lives a little tastier, and when translated outside of the kitchen, drives us to better ourselves and make our lives a little brighter.

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makes one 9-inch cheesecake

cookie crust
1 1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I used ~20-24 oreos, cream scraped off*)
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
cheesecake
680g cream cheese, room temperature
113.5g crème fraîche, divided
2 tbsp culinary-grade matcha powder
350g granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
swirl
28g crème fraîche
1 tsp matcha powder
1 tbsp powdered sugar

adrianna adarme. matcha swirl cheesecake. a cozy kitchen. 10 june 2015. accessed 7 july 2017.

cookie crust|1 preheat oven to 350ºF. in a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter.
2 add the crust mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan until packed tightly.
3 bake for 8-10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool completely. wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in foil to waterproof it.
cheesecake|1 in a small bowl, whisk together the matcha with 28g of crème fraîche until all the matcha lumps are gone.
2 in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add cream cheese and beat until smooth and fluffy (~2 minutes). add the matcha mixture, the remaining crème fraîche (~85 g), and the sugar, and beat until combined.
3 with the mixer on medium, add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next one. add the vanilla extract and salt.
swirl|1 in a small bowl, whisk together the crème fraîche until smooth.
matcha, and powdered sugar
assembly|1 pour the matcha cream cheese filling into the springform pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. make sure it reaches the edges of the pan (I like to give the pan a few hard raps on the countertop).
2 make little dollops of the swirl mixture on the surface of the cheesecake. take a skewer or knife and marble the dollops.
3 place in a roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven, then fill the roasting pan with 2 inches of hot water. bake for 45-50 minutes, rotating once halfway through the baking time, until the cheesecake is set at the edges but still jiggly in the center. (if your cheesecake is browning too fast, tent it with foil.)
4 place on a cooling rack to cool for 30 minutes, then in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. slice and serve.

 
*I don’t provide weights for the cookie crust because I got different weights depending on brand of cookie used; for oreos, the weight is ~125g.

tahini chocolate chip cookies

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on a recent ski trip, I met a lovely girl, holly, from sydney, australia. the best part of our time together was our rides on the lift because 1. I got to rest(!); 2. holly, like all australians I’ve ever met, was friendly, well-traveled, and had a whole arsenal of interesting stories; and 3. I just enjoyed listening to her aussie drawl.

I’ve always been intrigued by accents – it’s so strange how the minute someone begins talking, you know whether or not they have an accent, and if you’re especially worldly, you know exactly where their accent is from. and yet, when you talk, your cadences, your pronunciation, your slang all sound completely normal.

people have told me I sound like an american tv show. like I over-pronounce all my vowels and consonants. they tell me that american english sounds like people trying too hard to speak english. to me, new zealand english is clipped, fast, full of dropped sounds. some london accents sound posh and elegant, like how I wish I spoke english, others sound like the “t” and the “r” sounds just don’t exist. actually, in a lot of accents, it seems like the “r” sound disappears. it almost makes me feel like us americans are doing english wrong.

while riding on the lift, holly and I shared a chocolate chip cliff bar with our fellow lift mate, a marathoner from london. while we chatted, I began to think that food and accents actually are quite similar. there are so many variations on the same dish – take chocolate chip cookies, for example. christina tosi of momofuku milk bar throws pretzels and potato chips into hers; jacques torres lets his sit for at least 24 hours before baking. they’re all recognizable as a chocolate chip cookie, yet all clearly distinct.

then, by serendipity, one of my favorite dessert bloggers posted a lovely new spin on a chocolate chip cookie that I just had to try. I’ve had a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe for a while now, but this recipe really might be my new favorite. in fact, it is so good, tahini may replace peanut butter as my new favorite condiment. and I ate peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every school day in high school. what can I say, I eat like an american tv show too.

choc tahini cookie 1

makes 12 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup tahini
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (>60% cocoa; I use ghirardelli 70% cocoa chips)
flaky salt

molly yeh. salted tahini chocolate chip cookies. my name is yeh. 6 jan 2016. accessed 16 jan 2015.

1 in a bowl, cream the butter*, tahini, and sugar until light and fluffy, ~5 minutes. add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, then continue mixing for another 5 minutes. (I mixed by hand with a spatula, but you can also use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.)
2 sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. using a spatula, fold flour mixture to butter mixture until just combined. fold in chocolate chips.
3 line a baking sheet with parchment paper. using a 2-oz ice cream scoop, scoop 12 dough balls (I just used the standard-size one I have at home and it worked fine.) wrap baking sheet with plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 12 hours (do not skip!). (if you don’t have enough room in your freezer, you can put them in the fridge until hard enough to move them to a plastic gallon bag without getting squished.) cookie dough can be frozen for up to 6 months.
4 preheat oven to 325ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or save the parchment paper from before and reuse). space the cookie balls at least 3-in apart to allow for spreading. bake for 13-16 minutes, until just golden brown around the edges. they will still look fairly unbaked in the middle. sprinkle with flaky salt immediately after they come out of the oven. allow to cool for ~20 minutes on the baking sheet (the center will set and finish baking).

*if your butter is not room temperature, melt a bit of it at a time and mix with the butter until it becomes a creamy consistency.

 

banana cream pie

banana cream pie 3

thanksgiving has always been one of my family’s favorite holidays.

I was born in the united states to foreign-born parents and raised speaking only english. but as soon as they saw my almond eyes and stubbornly straight black hair, everyone from my teachers to my classmates to the well-meaning grocery cashier would ask, “where are you from? but where are you really from?” though I had never identified as any nationality other than american, the people around me were all-too-ready to remind me that I did not look like them, that I was not one of them.

however, thanksgiving was a chance for us asian-americans to feel just as american as everyone else. we too could partake in the tradition – have our relatives over, eat buttery mashed potatoes and golden turkey. thanksgiving, after all, began as a celebration of the day when native americans welcomed starved, disoriented immigrants onto their soil, and the holiday became for us a sort of safe space, where we could speak in an amalgamation of chinese and english and still be perfectly understood.

some years, our thanksgiving table has had a chinese-style turkey as its centerpiece and chinatown cakes as dessert. other years, we’ve gone full-on traditional, serving up pumpkin and pecan pies, cornbread, and brined roast turkey. for the past few iterations, a new favorite dessert has crept into the mix: a banana cream pie. an all-american dessert atypical for thanksgiving, but perfect for our family gatherings. it’s a refreshing combination of airy whipped frosting, the natural sweetness of bananas, decadent french pastry cream, and a tender flaky crust – a western dessert with asian sensibility. 

looking back on the first thanksgiving, the pilgrims too took unfamiliar new world ingredients and crafted a western meal, roasting a never-before-seen bird and preparing novel vegetables alongside their native american neighbors. I imagine the native americans and the european settlers that would later become americans, two different languages, two different cultures, yet able to create a meal together. and despite all that has changed in the intervening centuries, I think – I hope – that the damage is not irrevocable and the melange of ethnicities in america lessens fear of the unknown, that almond eyes or skin tone or religion do not preclude full claim to the identification of “american”.

banana cream pie 1
makes one 10-inch pie

flaky tart dough
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup (156g) water, very cold
3 cups, 2 tbsp (455g) all-purpose flour
1 cup, 5 tbsp (300g) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-inch pieces
3oz (85g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
pastry cream
2 cups (454g) whole milk
beans scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup, 1 tbsp (115g) sugar
2 large eggs
2-3 tbsp (55g) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
final touches
2 cup (227g) heavy cream, very cold
2 tbsp sugar
4 ripe bananas sliced horizontally into 1/4-inch rounds
3oz (85g) bittersweet chocolate bar (for curls)

elisabeth m. prueitt and chad robertson. tartine. san francisco: chronicle books, 2006.

flaky tart dough|1 in a small bowl, add salt to water and stir to dissolve. keep very cold until ready to use.
2 place flour an butter in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. mix on low speed until mixture forms large crumbs and pea-sized chunks of butter are visible. add saltwater mixture and at low speed until dough begins to come together but is not completely smooth.
3 on lightly floured work surface, divide dough into 2 equal balls and shape each ball into 1-inch thick disk. wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours minimum.
4 on lightly floured surface, roll out disk of dough 1/8-inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions. lift and rotate dough every few rolls, and work quickly before dough becomes warm and sticky. carefully transfer to pie dish/tart pan, pressing gently into the bottom and sides. trim the dough so there is 1/2-inch overhang and fold under.
5 chill shell for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or freeze for up to 2 weeks).
6 preheat oven to 375ºF.
7 line pastry shells with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. bake ~25 minutes until shell is light brown, remove weights and paper, and bake ~5 minutes, until golden brown.
8 let cool completely on wire rack before filling.
9 in a small saucepan, bring water to a simmer. in a heatproof bowl, melt chocolate until smooth. remove from heat.
10 spread chocolate evenly over bottom of pie shell. refrigerate for 10 minutes to set chocolate.
pastry cream|1 set up all ingredients beforehand and have a bowl ready for cooling pastry cream with a fine-mesh sieve resting on the rim.
2 pour milk into heavy saucepan. add salt and sugar. on medium-high heat, bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure milk solids don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
3 in a mixing bowl, beat together eggs and cornstarch until smooth.
4 slowly ladle ~1/3 hot milk into egg mixture, whisking constantly. pour egg-milk mixture back into hot milk in saucepan and continue whisking over medium heat for ~2 minutes, until custard is as thick as lightly whipped cream. stir in vanilla extract. remove from heat and immediately pour through sieve into bowl. let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5 cut butter into 1-tbsp pieces. whisk butter into pastry cream 1 tbsp at a time, always whisking until smooth before adding the next one.
6 cover cream with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly on top of cream. refrigerate until cooled. (pastry cream can be stored, well-covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days.)
final touches|1 pour heavy cream into bowl of mixer fitted with whisk attachment. whip until thickened, add sugar, and continue to whip until cream holds medium-firm peaks.
2 fold ~1/2 cup whipped cream into cold pastry cream. gently fold banana slices into the pastry cream, then transfer pastry cream to pie shell.
3 using a spatula, spread whipped cream on top. to make chocolate flakes, use a chef’s knife to shave chocolate bar at a diagonal. scatter curls over the top of the pie.
4 chill pie until pastry cream is set, ~3 hours. serve pie cool. (pie will keep in fridge for 4 days.)

pumpkin cheesecake brownies

pumpkin cheesecake brownie 2

before I moved out of the dorms my junior year, I fancied myself to be a fairly good baker. time has since taught me that I gratuitously overestimated my abilities. case in point: twice I experimented with pumpkin desserts, and twice I failed.

senior year of high school, I was gifted a terrible compilation of “essential baking recipes”. with characteristic stubbornness, I kept trying failed recipe after failed recipe until, after the worst banana bread ever created (seriously, how did the book author mess up banana bread?!), I threw the book away. but alas, before I did so, I tried a cinnamon sweet potato muffin recipe, and gifted the muffins to teachers who I hoped would write my college recommendations.

sometimes people ask me if I wish I’d done anything differently in high school. pretty high on my list: don’t give tasteless, mildly mushy baked goods to people who could decide your future.

my second attempt was a brownie swirled with pumpkin purée – basically a sadder, blander version of these amazing pumpkin cheesecake brownies from baked occasions. my friend had invited me to hang out with his beautiful actor-dancer friends. these kids were a few weeks out from winter showcases and what did I bring them? some calorie-loaded gifts. suffice to say they were not a hit. as one girl muttered under her breath, “I’m not wasting my calories on this.” (rude, but accurate.)

since then, I’ve learned quite a bit: first, pumpkin purée can be quite bland, and as the starbucks pumpkin spice latte has taught me, much of the so-called “pumpkin” flavor comes instead from the spices. second, when pumpkin is involved, you can never have too much cinnamon. third, not everything has to be a success – learning to cook and bake has at times been incredibly humbling.

after all the wonderfully awkward social situations I’ve caused with fire alarms and hours-late birthday cakes and bad baked goods, I have learned much from my failures and have come to appreciate the successes that much more. fudgey and moist with creamy swirls of spiced pumpkin cheesecake throughout, these pumpkin cheesecake brownies are a real deal.

pumpkin cheesecake brownie 1
makes one 9•13-in pan

pumpkin cheesecake
1 package (8oz/226g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (75g) sugar
3/4 cup (178g) pumpkin purée
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
brownie
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (105g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 oz (225g) dark chocolate (60-72% cacao), chopped
1 1/2 sticks (170g) unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (85g) light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

matt lewis, renato poliafito. baked occasions.new york: stewart, tabori, and chang, 2014.

cheesecake|1 using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. add pumpkin, egg yolk, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger, and mix again until well-blended. cover and refrigerate while you make the brownie layer.
brownie|1 butter sides and bottom of 9x13in pan. if pan is light-colored/glass, preheat oven to 350ºF (I used a dark-colored pan at 330ºF.) line the pan with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
2 in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.
3 place chocolate (I used dark chocolate chips) and butter in a large, heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water (double-boiler method), stirring occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted smooth, and combined. turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add both sugars. whisk until completely combined, then remove bowl from pan. add two eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. add the remaining egg and vanilla extract and whisk until just combined.
4 sprinkle flour mixture over chocolate mixture. using a spatula, fold them gently together until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
5 pour 2/3 brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth on top. pour the pumpkin cheesecake mixture over the brownies and smooth into an even layer. drop the remaining 1/3 brownie batter in heaping tablespoons on top of pumpkin layer. use a knife to gently pull through batters to create a swirl.
6 bake, rotating the pan halfway through baking time, for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs. let cool completely in the pan.
7 brownies can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
 

chocolate chip cookies

chocolate chip cookie 1

over the years, I have tried many cookie recipes involving somewhat exotic steps: brown the butter, or melt the butter then steep the tea bags in the butter, or even use bread flour and cake flour and refrigerate the dough for over 24 hours, etc. some have resulted in failure made more painful by hours/days of effort; others have turned out surprisingly well.

but sometimes its not worth it to spin the roulette of fastidiously fancy baking. sometimes, you want a back-to-the-basics, surefire recipe.

last week, after somewhat foolishly agreeing to both bake enough sweets for 40 people and work overtime, I found myself in dire need of a fast and easy classic cookie recipe. as the clock ticked towards midnight, I whipped these together in record time and was asleep by 1am.

I am a notorious over-planner – I spend weeks on researching everything from vacation plans to every article I could possibly need for my papers. I stressed over the fact that I had not tested out the cookie recipe beforehand – they could be terrible! (or worse, decent, but disappointing.)

the cookies came through. they were chocolately and soft and chewy with a little kick of salt, my ideal kind of chocolate chip cookie. one greedy coworker even took five for his “friends”. (I am certain he ate all five – one for each of his thieving sausage fingers – gleefully on the bus ride home.)

but whatever, I’m not too mad. (though I’m not above publicly shaming him: shame on you! learn how to share!) I learned a wonderfully easy new cookie recipe that I am happy to share with you (in a way my coworker prevented me from sharing with others).

…okay. maybe I’m still a little salty.

chocolate chip cookies 2
makes 18-20 cookies

1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp (25g) sugar
2 tbsp (25g) turbinado sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (165g) packed light/dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 tsp fine salt
1 3/4 cup (220g) all-purpose flour
1/2 lb (225g) bittersweet chocolate (I used ghiradelli 70% chocolate disks)
flaky sea salt

ashley rodriguez. chocolate chip cookies revisited. not without salt. 27 june 2010. accessed 23 may 2015.

1 heat oven to 360ºF. line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2 in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (~5 minutes). scrape down sides, then add egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated.
3 scrape down sides, beat in fine salt and baking soda until combined, then add flour at low speed until just mixed. the dough will look a little crumbly. using a spatula, fold/stir in chocolate chunks.
4 scoop cookies into 1 1/2 tbsp mounds, spacing at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet(s). sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt. bake for 11/12 minutes, until golden on the outside but still very gooey and soft on the inside. remove from oven and let rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.