Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookie Takedown 2009 Verdict: Madness!

Pure and simply, that is what last night was… Or, more appropriately, that is what this weekend was. 1 small Brooklyn kitchen, 1 woman, 300 cookies.

And the verdict? Well, guess who FINALLY won! I tied for FIRST PLACE for the People’s Choice! Dude… excitement is totally an understatement. I’ll be honest, these food competitions are straight up fun for me. Stressful as all hell at times, but thoroughly enjoyable. Matt TimmsTakedowns are practically comical because the dude is just that. He’s goofy, funny and he likes having a good time, eating damn good food and embracing the amateurs. (Same for Cathy Erway and the Food Obstructions!)

But, now that I’ve won, well, hah, I get why it’s important and so damn fun to win. I still would have loved to win straight up, no splitting of the money, but, alas, the cookie gods did not allow for such to happen. Still, no shame in $50 and a fancy bottle of rum. (Yay!)

Funniest part about it was that the other winners not only had similar named cookies as mine but I knew one. Lee and I volunteered together at Twestival and he and his buddy were standing in for the cookie maker, their friend and fellow nacho fan. So, he was representing Nacho Mama’s Cookies, cute little nacho-esque butter cookies with orange buttercream. To be honest, I thought they looked more like grilled cheese halves, but still, adorable. Totally melt in your mouth like meringue. A bit of an unexpected win, to me, but I think the room was full of fellow nacho lovers.

And, guess what I just happened to name my cookies? Not Yo Mama’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yeah, how about that. And we were 3 spots away from each other. Our cookies were vastly different, which made life easier. My name came about out of the urge to name it something besides “Salted Brown Butter Pecan Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies” Which is what they were. I stand by my name, because dammit, these are Not Yo Mama’s Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I mean, look at that deliciousness. (Picture thanks to Metromix New York)

I know the only reason you’re here is for the recipe, so here we go.

Not Yo Mama’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Alton Brown’s The Chewy recipe.
Makes 5-6 dozen tbsp sized cookies or 3-4 dozen larger cookies

2 1/4 cups bread (yes, bread) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown butter*
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped, roasted pecans
“Sel de mer gros”** AND kosher salt
1 batch of butterscotch sauce***

Small chop the pecans and roast in an oven at around 375 degrees for 5-10 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. You want them toasty, crunchy, but obviously not burnt. FYI they chop easier raw, so I recommend chopping before roasting.

Brown the butter thoroughly. Basically, put butter in a light colored pot or sautĂ© pan and let cook on medium heat. Do not be afraid of browned bits – I feel like deep coloration of the butter makes for a nuttier, tastier cookie. [Elise at Simply Recipes has a great photo tutorial on browning butter; it's not as scary or complicated as it may sound.]

*Also, because you are cooking the butter, and losing some of the water, you need to start with more butter than the recipe calls for. I recommend starting at about 2.5 sticks butter. Once browned, measure in a liquid measuring cup, and any extra, well, slather it on some pasta or something. It’s not hard to use up.

Turn your oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in one bowl. Add the butter into a separate, larger bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-low, add the sugars to the butter and “cream” until thoroughly combined. (Your typical idea of creaming won’t happen with melted butter. Just beat together really well.) Add the egg, yolk, milk and vanilla and again, let thoroughly beat together. Slowly add the flour mixture with the mixer on low, until just combined. Fold in the chips and pecans with a spatula.

Scoop the cookie dough in anywhere from tablespoon sized cookies to the size 20 disher AB recommends. I highly discourage making larger cookies than that - the recipe just doesn’t translate well to a large cookie. (At least for me.) Roll into balls, and place on parchment lined baking sheets. (Yes, for non-bakers, parchment or silpat is totally worth it.) Gingerly place a pinch of the sel de mer onto each ball of cookie dough. Finish by dusting the pan with one giant pinch of kosher salt for an all-over salt that’s far finer.

**I used Baleine’s Sel de mer gros because, well, it’s all I could find at Sahadi’s. I think flakier, less chunky salt (fleur de sel proper) would be great.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. Don’t fear under baking, either. Err on the side of fewer minutes, particularly for the small cookies. Place on a cooling rack.

*** The butterscotch sauce can easily be made in advance. Just follow Smitten’s directions, it makes a really damn fine sauce and I can’t claim the recipe to be my own. (Yeah, I know I make SK recipes often. Get over it.) It totally cured my fear of cooking (and burning) sugar. 1 batch will make more than enough for the cookies. Warm the sauce gently before attempting to apply to cookies, as it thickens greatly cooled. If applying sauce while cookies are on cooling rack, obviously protect table/counter with a sheet pan or paper towels. I put the butterscotch sauce into a ketchup bottle thing and simply drizzled on, crisscrossing the cookies fairly liberally. I gave the cookies one last sprinkle of sel de mer, loosely across the tray.

Because I transported the cookies, I know I lost some of the salt in the process, so adding this final touch at location made sense. Feel free to salt at the end as desired but don’t be afraid of the salt! They are buttery, chocolately, butterscotchy cookies and the salt is a great counterbalance, especially a more delicate sea salt.

Serve these cookies ooey gooey warm. I have a feeling it’s what won me the competition. (I used sterno to keep small batches of cookies toasty and melty warm!)

And I promise to add photos as they start showing up on the Internet. I simply stink at photography whilst cooking and taking down!

1 comment:

Cindy said...

You had me at salt!! Yhose cookies sound unbelievably good. I am passionate about cookies. Wonderful post!