Monday, October 24, 2011

Brownie Cookies

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. 
As with most cookie recipes, you start by mixing the wet ingredients.  Mix the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder.  Add the sugar and mix until creamy.  In another small bowl, use a whisk to mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set that aside for now.

Next, chop up the walnuts (or pecans if you prefer).

Now for the chocolate.  The original recipe calls for a mix of semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate, but I found the cookies tasted great with just semisweet, and I tend to think using chocolate with various levels of sweetness in a recipe is a bit tedious if there's not a huge payoff for it.  Melt the first amount of chocolate with the butter over a double boiler.  This is just a way to gently melt the chocolate without burning it, and it's really easy.  Find a glass bowl that fits over the top of a standard pot.  Then fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil on the stove, then turn the heat down to a simmer.  Place the glass bowl on top, toss in the chocolate and the butter and stir until melted and silky smooth.  Once melted, set it aside.

Finally, you're ready to throw it all together.  Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and mix to combine.  Add the flour mixture and mix only until moist.  Finally, toss in the walnuts and second amount of chocolate chips and just barely mix until combined- sometimes this last step I do by hand so I don't overmix the batter.

Use a 1/4 cup cookie scoop and drop the cookies about 2-3 inches apart on the cookie trays.  You can spray the pans first with nonstick cooking spray, but I actually like baking cookies better on parchment paper- it never sticks and it makes for easy cleanup!

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, turning the pans once.  [NOTE: If you are not using your own oven, be careful NOT to set the unfamiliar oven you're using to "preheat," rather than the actual baking temperature of 325 degrees.  Not that I did this at Erik and Emily's house.  But if I had, I would have ended up with seriously flat and underbaked cookies.  And merciless teasing from my brother about "being smarter than the oven."  Like I said, this is all hypothetical.]

When you take them out of the oven (assuming you bake them at the proper temperature), they sort of look slightly underbaked, which is just how they should look.  Let them cool on the pan for 10-15 minutes before carefully removing each cookie to a baking rack to fully cool.  These babies are ooey-gooey, rich, and best eaten with a glass of milk in hand.

Due to a certain "oven malfunction" in Fairbanks, here is a picture of a batch I made earlier that week.

Brownie Cookies
(a.k.a. "Chocolate Whoppers," adapted from The Foster's Market Cookbook)

8 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli chips)
6 T. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 T., plus 2 t. instant espresso powder
2 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 

Cream together the eggs, espresso powder, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add the sugar and mix until creamy.

In a separate bowl, use a whisk to mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.   Set aside.

Next, melt together the first amount of semisweet chocolate and butter in a double boiler over low heat until just melted, stirring occasionally. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat as soon as it's melted.  Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and blend until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist.

Fold in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter with a ¼-cup cookie scoop or large tablespoon and drop onto the baking sheets about 2-3 inches apart. Bake the cookies right away, before the chocolate begins to cool and harden.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes, turning the baking sheets once during the cooking time. The cookies will seem a bit gooey on the inside, but they will cool perfectly.  The cookies will still be very gooey inside and soft, but do not overcook or the cooled cookies will be dry.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10-15 minutes before carefully removing them to baking racks to cool completely.

Enjoy! xo H


Maia said...

Test comment!

Anonymous said...

Another test comment... also, now I want brownies. I should not be cooking breakfast and reading your blog at the same time.

Nicole Pearce said...

Just wanted to say hello to a fellow CHSR food blogger! :)
These cookies look amazing.

Heidi said...

Hello Nicole, I love your blog! I'm going to link to it on mine. Your food looks amazing, and is right up my alley!