I spent last weekend with my brother's family in Fairbanks. Staying at Erik and Emily's house in October is a lot like staying at a ski lodge in the off-season. It's a beautiful home built with love and care by my Dad, nestled right on the bank of the Chena River. With a stone fireplace, warm furnishings, and gorgeous wood trim throughout, it's one of the loveliest homes I've ever been in and it's a real source of pride for my family. It also makes my house look more akin to a shack. And it would feel more like staying at a lodge if I didn't have to cook for the entire family in order to earn my stay. (At least according to Erik- I'm pretty sure Emily would let me stay there for free.)
All kidding aside, I love cooking for my brother and sister in law. Cooking in their beautiful kitchen is like a dream compared to cooking in my own, which is roughly the size of a postage stamp. This time I made a huge pot of my creamy tomato soup, and my 2 year old niece Annika DEVOURED it. She ditched her spoon, took the bowl between both hands and gulped it down. My kind of kid!
When I arrived at their house, I brought a few cookies to share that I'd made at home the day before I left. They're a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Foster's Market Cookbook, which was a gift from my friend Marika several years ago. It's a market near her law school in North Carolina and its cookbook is filled with delicious recipes, including heavenly baked goods. These cookies are called "Chocolate Whoppers," but their taste and texture is so similar to my beloved brownies that I simply call them Brownie Cookies. They're deliciously rich, and Erik and Emily loved them so much that I made them another batch from scratch.
The key to these cookies is locating instant espresso powder. I used to use regular instant coffee, but I found this at your-everyday-grocery-store in Fairbanks (rhymes with Shred Shrymers). Honestly, I think I'm so used to not finding supposed "specialty" items in Fairbanks that I'm not sure I looked hard enough for it before! The coffee really brings out the richness of the chocolate, and it's why a lot of chocolate cake recipes call for strong coffee in the batter.
Next, chop up the walnuts (or pecans if you prefer).