Not too long ago my friend Mollie was tweeting about how good the Chocolate Pecan Chubbies are at Amy's Bread, the famous bakeries in New York City. As you may know, I worked with Amy's on their most recent two cookbooks, which might explain why I bake from The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread so often. So how had I never heard of these chubbies before? I responded to Mollie, and she insisted they are one of the best cookies in all of New York City. I checked my copy of the cookbook and couldn't find anything by that name, but I did find these Double Chocolate Pecan cookies and immediately baked up a batch. Then I contacted coauthors Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree to clear up the mystery.Toy said they used to make the Double Chocolate Pecan cookie in the bakery, but it was too tender and breakable. That's when they came up with the Chocolate Pecan Chubbies, a sturdier cookie that can take a little more handling without crumbling apart. But for home bakers, they put the original recipe in the book. Just be careful with these if you're bringing them to a friend's house -- they need to be treated like precious cargo if you want them to survive the trip in one piece. Or just make a batch and keep them at home for yourself to enjoy. Now I have to stop by one of the Amy's Bread bakeries and see if the chubbies version is as good as the homemade ones (which are insanely yummy).
Don't get me wrong... "madness" is the norm at my house when it comes to holiday baking. I like to put together cookie assortments like the one above, and it takes a little planning to have everything still fresh on Christmas morning. I love the red plastic wrap, by the way. A chef friend picked on me for my lack of decorating skills, and I'll forgive him for it. But to be honest, I think the above assortment looks pretty darned good.I won't get into too much detail about these mini cupcakes because I've talked about them before. You bake them up and pop a mint Kiss inside, and the recipe is on the back of the package if you can find these. I picked them up at Target.And I won't talk too much about the Mexican wedding cookies because I make a variation on this theme every year. The recipe this year came from Alice Medrich's new Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. Yes, the "about me" sidebar on my blog says most of the cookbooks I talk about are ones I worked on or got for free, and to not trust my opinion because it's so biased. But I'm such a big Alice Medrich fan, I bought the book for myself. And then I went crazy baking from it. So trust me -- it's amazing. And so were these cookies, which I made with walnuts this year. She says you need a food processor, but I improvised with my blender just fine.I will however talk about these cookies, also from the new Alice Medrich book, at length. It's worth the price of the book for this recipe, Chocolate Decadence Cookies, alone, although it reminds me a lot of an equally amazing one in the classic Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers. I made my cookies a lot smaller than specified, so I had to tweak the timing a bit.But I'm not sure it's even possible to go wrong. Just keep an eye on the cookies as they bake -- they're done when you see some cracking on top. They stay amazingly soft, just a bit crispy on the outside and more tender-gooey on the inside. And they're perfect for packing up in a cookie gift box.More to come about my holiday cookie baking in the next couple of posts. I hope you had some holiday baking fun this season, or at least some holiday eating fun.
I don't mean to brag, but I had an awesome weekend. Besides the totally fun Bust Craftacular on Sunday, Joanne Chang was in town promoting her cookbook, Flour, and you probably already know what a huge fan I am of the book. So I stopped by the incredible The Brooklyn Kitchen to see her do a baking demo and say hi. (If I had a shop like this in my neighborhood, I'd be a happy guy.) Then I was reading about about the yummy-looking coconut sugar cookies over on Gluten-Free Girl (I think she's doing non-stop giveaways for her cookbook, by the way), which reminded me about these cookies (not gluten-free) I made from Sally Sampson's Recipe of the Week Cookies. I think they were called German Chocolate Chunk. I'm calling them "marriage proposal cookies" because that was the reaction I got to these babies. Seriously, my co-workers pretty much lost their minds. I've made a lot of cookies over the years but never anything that got quite the reaction these did. So I don't know if the whole marriage proposal thing works both ways, but if a certain someone is taking a little too long to pop the question, you might want to find the recipe and make a batch of these to get the ball rolling.
As usual, I was baking these cookies at 10pm at night. Then I was up by 6am the next day for a long drive to the Northampton/Amherst, Mass area to visit my daughter, with cookies in hand. So it wasn't until I arrived a few hours later that I had a chance to photograph these drool-inducing cookies, in a plastic container, in my car... seriously. It's not a proper tribute to the amazing Joanne Chang and her stunning new cookbook, Flour, but I had to write about these. I'll let you find the book and recipe for yourself, but I'm going out on a limb and declaring these to be the best chocolate cookies I've ever made, and likely ever tasted. They're almost solid chocolate with just 1/2 cup flour in the entire recipe, so I guess it's hard to go wrong. The texture is impossibly soft, and they crumble in your mouth while retaining a bit of gooiness in the middle. My description probably makes no sense, because these cookies defy laws of nature in their awesomeness. (I didn't edit or publish this book myself, but Joanne is a friend, and she gave me a copy for free, so of course I'm biased. But seriously, avid home bakers need to check this one out.)The funny part about making this cookie delivery to my daughter at college is that I also stopped by Donut Dip in West Springfield on the way up. So I arrived with a huge container of cookies and a dozen of the best donuts imaginable. But this is a photo of the "meltaway." Oh my god.My weekend trip included a little farm visit. This llama was hysterical. He'd spot you coming from a hundred feet away and go straight to the fence to greet you. Then he'd pose. Well, maybe it was a "she."This sheep was the opposite -- hiding behind the tree. In fact, you probably can't tell, but there are two more sheep hiding behind that tree too. Sheep are huge, so I'm not sure how they achieved this optical illusion. But seriously, how cute is this sheep?This rooster wasn't so much cute as it was the "boss." He kept doing that cock-a-doodle-doo thing that roosters are supposed to do at sunrise. Except this was about noon, and he just wanted us to know who was in charge. I think he's eating some grass.And this little sign cracked me up. Okay, maybe I'm just clueless and there are some types of sage not for cooking. Too bad all the herbs (besides the dill) were gone because it's so chilly up there already. But those colored leaves are so gorgeous, I didn't mind a bit.
Especially now that Joy the Baker posted a comment on my entry about the Cran-Banana Bread, I'm happily searching through her site for more recipes to try. Here's a winner called Chocolate Brownie Cookies which she says she got from King Arthur Flour.So what makes them brownie cookies? Well, they're very chocolatey. And super soft, like almost too soft to be cookies. And they have that cool shine on top. Usually I associate that shine with brownie mixes (which I do not use), but how can you not love the way the surface of the cookie picks up the light?I underbaked some of them like the photo above. I warned friends and family about the underbaked cookies because they were almost gooey inside, but everyone seemed to want to try those specifically.The properly baked ones were awesome too. You can see here they were just a bit lighter and thicker.A few tweaks... I didn't have espresso powder, but I'd totally try that next time. I had to throw in some semi-sweet chocolate with the bittersweet because I didn't have enough. And I added chopped walnuts because, well, I love nuts in my brownies and figured I'd love them in these cookies too. The brownie cookies were a pretty major hit. Thanks, Joy.