compost / kitchen sink cookies

This time of year always puts me in the mood to clean things out.  Closets, drawers, the pantry, the freezer.  The latter two came in handy for this particular recipe.

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These cookies were inspired by the Compost Cookie at Momofuku Milk Bar.  I haven’t visited NYC for 2 years and have been feeling some serious withdrawal for my favorite bakeries so making these helped ease the pain, and as I mentioned previously, it helped me do a bit of cleaning out at the same time!

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The original recipe calls for pretzels, potato chips, chocolate chips, ground coffee, butterscotch chips, rolled oats, and graham cracker crust but I only had a few of those items on hand so I improvised.  I used potato chips, semi sweet chocolate chips and chocolate chunks (yes, I often have both on hand), white chocolate chunks, ground up homemade vanilla wafers (left over in my freezer from a Thanksgiving pie crust), and ground up black sesame seeds (leftover from the last time I made black sesame ice cream and accidentally ground up too many seeds.)

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The results were a multi-textured cookie that satisfied both salty and sweet cravings and almost felt like a meal due to their robustness.  And better yet, I cleared out some space for more random leftover goodies from future baking projects!

Kitchen Sink Cookies (adapted from the Compost Cookies recipe in “Milk: Momofuku Milk Bar” by Christina Tosi)

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used a combo of milk, semi-sweet, and white chocolate chunks as that is what I had on hand)
  • 2 cups potato chips (Cape Cod brand are recommended because they are crunchy and don’t break down too much in the mixing process)
  • 1 1/2 cups of any other mix-ins you have on hand, I used ground homemade vanilla wafers I had leftover in my freezer from a Thanksgiving pie crust, as well as ground black sesame seeds that I had leftover from the last time I made black sesame ice cream; other recommendations are pretzels, butterscotch or peanut butter chips, ground coffee (2 1/2 teaspoons is the recommended measurement for ground coffee), old-fashioned rolled oats, but feel free to experiment

Combine the butter, and sugars in the bowl f a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips and any other mix-ins except for potato chips and pretzels, and mix just until incorporated.  Add the potato chips and pretzels (if using) and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated.  Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips.

Portion out the dough in approximately 1/3 cup measurements onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet.  Pat the tops of the cookie dough flat.  Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week.  Do not bake your cookies from room temperature as they will not bake properly.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 18 minutes.  The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread.  After 18 minutes they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center.  Give them an extra minute or so if that is not the case.

Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage.  At room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

tahini chocolate chip cookies

I love sesame seeds and while I’ve mostly had them in savory foods, I am starting to really appreciate them in sweets too, as evidenced by this ice cream and this cake.  A while back I bought myself a lovely cookbook that has a recipe for chocolate tahini cookies and since tahini is just ground sesame seeds I thought this seemed like a really great idea.

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The recipe in the cookbook called for a few gluten-free flours that I do not currently have in my arsenal so I instead took inspiration from it and adapted a traditional chocolate chip recipe instead.

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I had a few mostly empty bags of chocolate chips and chunks so combined forces in these cookies and actually like how the texture turned out as a result.  Love those happy accidents!  Instead of traditional salt I used fleur de sel (fancy French sea salt) which gave it a little extra bite as well.

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Tahini kind of reminds me of peanut butter but not as sweet.  I don’t know that I’ll be smearing it all over a piece of bread anytime soon but think it will be great as a substitute in baked goods.

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These cookies are a nice twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie.  They are not quite as sweet and have the subtle sesame seed flavoring that I found to be very nice and I think you will too.

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Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies (inspired by recipe found in “La Tartine Gourmande” by Beatrice Peltre)

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tablespoons), softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (sea salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream together butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; add the eggs one at a time until well blended.  Blend in tahini until incorporated.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add to the wet ingredients and stir until well blended.  Stir in vanilla until combined and then stir in chocolate chips.

Place small rounds of dough two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until brown.  Let cool and enjoy.

a monster of a cookie

Holiday baking is the best but it’s definitely more fun when it’s a shared experience, so I invited a friend and her 5-year-old daughter over to help me last weekend.  Little Sofia was a major help in the kitchen.  She deftly crushed the peppermint candies for the Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies, she almost mastered separating egg whites from the yolks on her first try (not easy!), and she is an expert stirrer as demonstrated below.  She even came with her own apron!  Love it. 12.8.12 006

One of the cookies we made were monster cookies from a recipe by the guys who run Baked in Brooklyn.  Monster cookies are basically everything you could ever want in a cookie all rolled into one: peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and M&M’s.  A few years ago I made them with another friend and we experimented with pretzel pieces and marshmallows as well and both were nice additions.  You should be able to have a little fun with recipes.  Go nuts!  (I did not intend for the pun but while on the subject I will say I’m not a fan of nuts in most desserts but those would certainly be a nice addition too, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

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The resulting cookie almost feels like it’s good for you– at least that’s how I justified it as breakfast more than one morning this week… The recipe makes a lot of cookies so it’s a great one if you are participating in a cookie swap or giving them away in care packages.  They also freeze well if you want to make them now and save them for later.  Enjoy!

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Monster Cookies (from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&Ms

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the oats and whisk until evenly combined. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth and pale in color. Add in the brown sugar and the granulated sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, being sure to incorporate the egg fully before adding in the next one. Add in the corn syrup and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Scrape down the bowl and add in the peanut butter. Mix gradually until just combined. Very carefully add in your oat mixture in three separate additions, so you don’t overload your mixer. Mix until just incorporated (don’t overmix).

Fold in your chocolate chips and M&Ms. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. This is important for the texture of your cookies.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls the size of 2 tablespoons and place them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart from one another.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning the pans once through the baking time. The cookies are ready when they are set and golden. Let the cookies cool completely for 8-10 minutes on the baking sheets before removing them and placing them on a new surface to cool completely. These can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for 3 days.

double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

It’s that time of year again– time to bake Holiday cookies and try to share more of the resulting treats than you eat yourself.  I’m not doing so well on the latter part but I guess that is just a testament to how good they turned out… right?  I’m going with it.

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I’m not normally a fan of peppermint-flavored things but this recipe sounded so darn good I decided to give it a try.  And am I glad I did!  The first step is to melt down some bittersweet chocolate chips in a metal bowl over a simmering pot of water on your stove.

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Some of the melted chocolate gets mixed in with the batter which has a teaspoon of espresso powder to deepen the chocolate flavor.  It totally works.  In addition to the melted chocolate you also mix some of the (whole unmelted) bittersweet chocolate chips in with the dough which also has cocoa powder in it so these could probably be called Triple Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies.

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The crunch part comes in with crushed peppermint candies being sprinkled on top after the cookies have baked and you’ve drizzled a little of the leftover melted chocolate on them.  The dough also has a little peppermint extract in it to really bring the mint-chocolate combo home.  The cookies are fudge-y which makes for a great texture with the peppermint candies.  No wonder I had a hard time resisting sampling a few…

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Check back in later this week for another cookie recipe, this time involving peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate, aka all things good.

Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)
  • 2 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (do not exceed 61% cacao; 15 to 16 ounces), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 candy canes or 16 red-and-white- striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir 2 cups chocolate chips in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Measure 2/3 cup melted chocolate; transfer to small metal bowl and reserve for drizzling.

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy. Add sugar and both extracts; beat until smooth. Add eggs; beat to blend. Beat in melted chocolate from medium bowl. Add dry ingredients; beat just to blend. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Measure 1 level tablespoonful dough; roll dough between palms to form ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until cracked all over and tester inserted into center comes out with large moist crumbs attached, 8 to 9 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment paper to racks to cool completely.

Rewarm reserved 2/3 cup chocolate over small saucepan of simmering water. Using fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over, arranging some pieces with red parts showing. Chill just until chocolate sets, about 20 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 weeks ahead. Store airtight in freezer. Bring to room temperature before serving.

mid week sweet treat

You might think the below image is of cookie dough about to be baked, but you would be wrong.  Have you ever had Buckeyes before?  Well below is a Buckeye before it gets dunked in melted chocolate.  What we have here are peanut butter balls.

Except in this case we are not dunking the peanut butter balls into melted chocolate but rather placing them on top of a fudgy cookie.  These are Buckeyes in cookie form… genius!  (Thank you Joy the Baker for your brilliant concoction.)

The cookie dough is kind of runny and has to be dribbled on a parchment-lined baking sheet with a spoon.  At first I was a little nervous about this because I was afraid they weren’t going to bake up properly but indeed they did.  They result in a fudgy, soft cookie that makes for a perfect vehicle for the aforementioned peanut butter balls.

You place the pre-made PB balls in the center of the cookies when they are fresh out of the oven so that they meld together into a beautiful final piece that is greater than the sum of its parts.

There is no better combination that exists than peanut butter and chocolate together.  Perfection.  In cookie form.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball Cookies (from “Joy the Baker Cookbook” by Joy Wilson)

For the peanut butter balls:

  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons peanut butter

For the cookies:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the peanut butter balls: in a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter, and peanut butter.  With clean hands begin to work the mixture together.  The butter and peanut butter should come together to create a stiff but pliable dough.  (I had to add 2 additional tablespoons of peanut butter to make the dough come together but I think that’s because I use natural peanut butter which tends to be a little more dry.)  Roll dough between your palms to create 16 small walnut-sized balls.  Place on a clean cutting board or cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

To make the cookies: in a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until thick and pale.  Set aside.

Place about 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  In a heatproof bowl, combine butter and chocolate chips.  Place the bowl over but not touching the simmering water.  Heat until chocolate and butter have melted together.  Remove bowl from heat.  Add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture and fold together.  Once entirely incorporated, stir in the vanilla.  Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula until thoroughly incorporated.  The mixture will be glossy and loose.

Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls of cookie batter onto the baking sheet, spacing the batter 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes until crackled on top, but still fudgy in the center.  Remove from oven and immediately press a peanut butter ball into the center of each cookie.  The warmth will help meld the two together.  Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies will last, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

camping classic, without having to sleep in a tent

Confession: I’ve never been a big fan of camping.  As a child I was a Campfire Girl and often had to go on camping trips with my troop where we made friendship bracelets, went on nature hikes, and had to sing songs, yes, around a campfire.  All I really remember is always feeling cold and damp and once burning my hand on the wrong end of a metal fire-poking stick.  Not fun.

I like nature and everything, I’m just not sure I like sleeping out in it in a tent on the cold ground, feeling every root and rock beneath me as I toss and turn all night.  No thanks.

However, there is one thing camping really does have going for it: s’mores.  There’s nothing quite like a marshmallow toasted on a stick over some hot coals and then packed between chocolate and graham crackers.  It’s one of life’s simple pleasures that you enjoy no matter how far from Campfire Girl days you are.

These bars recreate that feeling.  And you don’t have to sleep in a tent to enjoy them.  Score!

S’more Bars (from Taste of Home: Simple and Delicious magazine)

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz. of milk chocolate bars
  • 1 cup marshmallow cream

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat well.  Combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.  Beat into creamed mixture, and set aside ½ cup of this mixture for the topping.

Press remaining mixture into an 8-inch baking pan.  Place candy bars over the crust in one single layer.  Spread marshmallow cream on top of candy bar layer.  Crumble remaining graham cracker/flour/butter mixture over top.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  Cool on a wire rack and cut into bars.

Happy Easter from Baxter & Main!

Today I bring you a very simple (and delicious, duh) sugar cookie recipe.  This recipe came from my mom’s friend Judy and my mom has been making it for years much to the delight of any small child who is lucky enough to sample the results.  (Grown-ups enjoy them too.)

The ingredients are few and there is not much sugar in the cookie itself (the frosting is another story…) but they are soft and light and they have a hint of nutmeg in them which is a nice touch.  In short, they are delightful.

And better yet they can be easily rolled out and cut into all sorts of fun shapes!  I accidentally bought Easter-shaped “pancake molds” thinking they would be the same as cookie cutters but they are made of silicone and flimsy so some of my bunnies came out crooked and had wonky ears but they tasted just great and that is all that matters.  Happy Easter!

Judy’s Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or handheld mixer; add eggs & vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients and add to mix.

Roll dough out, cut into shapes and bake at 425 degree oven for 7 minutes.

Simple Frosting for Sugar Cookies

  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), softened
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, add more to thicken

Mix all ingredients in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or use handheld mixer on low until combined.  Stir in food coloring if desired.