This recipe from Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies is actually titled “Robert’s Chocolate Cookies,” but I call them adult chocolate cookies because they’re supposed to be chocolate cookies for the “sophisticated palate.” Medrich describes these cookies as “only slightly sweet, but rich and gooey, and laced with the chunks of the finest unsweetened chocolate in the world.” Robert Steinberg created the recipe for his company, Scharffenberger, and thus they call for Scharffenberger unsweetened chocolate. Medrich says if you can’t find it then use bittersweet chocolate of another brand, as most brands of unsweetened chocolate are too harsh and bitter to enjoy as chunks. I first made these cookies in 2006, when I checked Cookies and Brownies out from the Pittsburgh library. I adored them, but didn’t make them again until now. Right before I moved to Germany, I toured the Scharffenberger factory in Berkeley, and bought a number of bars of their chocolate. The Berkeley factory is now sadly defunct. Hershey bought out the company, and closed down the factory, and consolidated Scharffen Berger production in Illinois with some of their other “gourmet” chocolate brands. I haven’t tried the chocolate since the buy-out. But I still had an (expired) bar of Berkeley-produced Scharffenberger unsweetened chocolate in the pantry, and I decided it was finally time to try these cookies again.
I have a picture in my head of the perfect chocolate cookie. It’s got to be soft, but substantial. I don’t want to hear any crunch when I bite into it, and I don’t want the cookies to stick to my teeth. I don’t want my cookie to be to dry, but neither do I like a greasy cookie. And the sweetness level is important. There needs to be a nice balance of sweet, salty, and buttery. All other things being equal, I prefer a cookie with some height to a cookie that is totally flat. I haven’t yet found a recipe that makes my perfect chocolate chip cookie, but I’m working on it. I’ll document our experiments below. Read the rest of this entry »
I was trying to use up a container of very fine ground steel cut oats before Passover. I thought it would be interesting to try to use the steel cut oats to make oatmeal cookies, but I couldn’t find many such recipes. There are a few out there that call for a small portion of steel cut oats that are cooked before adding them to the cookie batter. I was looking for a recipe that used a larger quantity of uncooked oats. In the end I used a combination of these two recipes from the Anson Mills website: oatmeal coconut cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies. I didn’t have a full cup of coconut (and mine was unsweetened), so I added some raisins to compensate.
The cookies came out huge. They actually looked just like the cookies in the picture. The texture was very light and fluffy, and the taste was oaty but not very sweet. Derek said that they tasted more like scones than cookies. Maybe, but the recipe called for way more sugar than a typical scone recipe.
I served these cookies to guests at our poker game. I thought they tasted too healthy and no one would eat them, but all but two got eaten up. I sent the last two home with a guest who had really enjoyed them. Then the next day Derek asked where the cookies were. I told him I’d given the last two away since he didn’t seem to like them, and he about-faced and claimed that he did indeed like them and was not at all pleased that I’d given the last cookies away!
Still, I don’t think I’d make these cookies again. They were okay but they’re not healthy enough to be real food, and if I’m gonna eat a cookie it might as well be a marvelous one.
I accidentally left my freezer open last night and everything in it defrosted. I’m taking it as a higher power’s way of telling me it’s time to do some New Year’s cleaning. I decided to start with a ziploc bag full of now uber-soggy bananas. I was going to make banana bread when I came across the recipe for Nikki’s healthy cookies on the 101 cookbooks blog. I’ve made vegan cookies with banana before (from the Rancho la Puerta cookbook I think) and they were terrible–fluffy and too-banana-y and not really anything like a cookie. But the comments on Nikki’s recipe were almost universally positive, so I decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek wanted to make almond crescent cookies, but we didn’t have enough almonds, or his mom’s recipe. We decided to try these delicate cornmeal cookies instead. The recipe is from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts by Alice Medrich.
I wanted to use up some of the 10 jars of nut butters languishing in the fridge, so I decided to make peanut butter hazelnut cookies, which would use up the peanut butter, the hazelnut butter, and the peanut hazelnut butter. Heidi Swanson raves about the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for peanut butter cookies, so I used that as my base, subbing out some of the flour for wheat germ, because I wanted to use it up. The recipe calls for roasted, salted peanuts, which I didn’t have. It was either use unroasted, unsalted peanuts, or… the Trader Joe’s Thai Lime and Chili peanuts I’d been happily snacking on since my friend Robbie introduced them to me a few years ago. I decided to give the Thai cookies a chance. I used the peanuts as they were, bits of kaffir lime leaves, red chilies, and all. If you can’t get Trader Joe’s lime and chili peanuts, then you could try just adding in ground up chili peppers, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. Read the rest of this entry »
My junior year of college I moved into the House of Commons housing cooperative. My first year at the co-op I was responsible for cooking Friday night dinner along with Heather, a rail-thin hyperactive Nia teacher. She was friendly and fun but unreliable, and tended to drift off into her own world while we cooked. I learned quickly that before addressing her in the kitchen I should say her name–“Heather”–wait for her to make eye contact, and only then talk to her. Otherwise she wouldn’t hear a word. Despite her quirks, one thing she did do reliably was bake great vegan cookies. My favorite were these crunchy, nutty, delicious cookies she called communist chip cookies. I gathered that Heather didn’t invent the recipe, it was passed on from co-op generation to generation. The name, however, was a mystery. “Why Communist cookies?” I asked. One theory was that it was because there was a little of everything in these cookies (peanut butter, chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, cinnamon…). Others thought they were called communist because they were developed by a member of the cooperative. Regardless of the proper derivation, they were very tasty cookies. Sadly, however, in the intervening years I’ve misplaced the recipe, and Google seems to have never heard of communist chip cookies. Anyone out there from my co-op days that still has a copy? Or have a recipe for something similar?
This recipe is modified from a chain email about a $250 Neiman Marcus cookie recipe which is apparently an urban myth. Regardless, the recipe is great. Blended oats replace some of the flour in this recipe, and give the cookies a hearty flavor and toothsome texture.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
Add and mix well:
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
Add to wet:
- 2 1/2 cups whole oatmeal, blended to an almost flour
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Baking powder
- 1 tsp. Baking soda
- 3/4 lb. Chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups toasted nuts
Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes.
The first time I made these cookies they turned out perfect. The last few times however, the dough was quite dry and the chocolate chips and nuts would barely stay in the dough. I’m not sure what I did differently. My mom makes these vegan, by substituting 2/3 cup canola oil for the butter, and 1/2 cup applesauce for the eggs. She usually just makes half the recipe though. This weekend we tried instead substituting 2.5 Tbs. blended flax seeds mixed with 3 Tbs. water for the one egg, and 1/4 cup of canola oil + 1/4 cup applesauce for the 1/2 cup of butter. The cookies came out tasty, but very crispy, almost hard.
My friend gave me this wheat, dairy, egg, cane-sugar free cookie recipe. She said they’re allergen free (except for the nuts), but not taste-free. She claims they’re superb out of the oven, but even better the next day.
1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup safflower oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring (I used extract)
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup unsulfured currants
1 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8-1/2 tsp. cardamom powder (I used 1/3 tsp.)
pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
2. Heat up 1/2 cup of filtered water. Do not boil it. In a small dish add flax seeds and cover with water. Let sit until ready to use.
3. In a bowl add oil, maple syrup and vanilla and mix together.
4. In another bowl combine oats, walnuts, currants and brown rice flour.
5. To the dry mix add cinnamon, baking powder, cardamom and salt.
6. Pour oil mixture into the dry and fold until well blended. The flax seeds by now should look like egg white texture (gelatinous). Pour the flax seeds into the batter and with a mixer or hand blender combine and blend until it begins to get lighter in color and mixes altogether. If you need to add more water it’s okay. (It will have an appearance of goop.)
7.Spoon or scoop with an ice cream scooper the batter on an ungreased cookie sheet. These make very good large cookies. Small too, but if you want a big cookie this will be a success. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and brown on bottom. Let cool completely. Flavor is enhanced overnight if there are any left.
The batter freezes well also. I use an ice cream (large one or small) and scoop it and place on a cookie sheet and freeze. Than put in tupperware and pull out any time you want to cook some.
My notes: the batter was suprisingly wet, much more so than a typical cookie batter. I made 16 very small cookies, and 7 large cookies in the second batch. On a first taste right out of the oven I found the cookies not very sweet, but not terribly nutty tasting either. The texture from the oats and flax seeds was quite nice, but I thought the cookies were a bit greasy tasting. I wonder if really emulsifying the flax and oil and maple syrup together rather than just stirring with a spoon would reduce the greasiness? The thing I liked least about the cookies was that they didn’t get crispy. The larger ones almost had the texture of muffins it seems. Perhaps by reducing the liquid slightly and making the batter less wet these would crisp up more. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously liked these because in the end I ended up eating about half the batch, and probably would have eaten all of them if I hadn’t sent them home with Derek!
Derek liked the texture, especially that they were a bit greasy, but thought they were somewhat bland.
This is another recipe from Alice Medrich’s cookbook Cookies and Brownies. She says her ideal peanut butter cookie is crunchy, very peanuty, and not too sweet, and that’s a pretty good description of these cookies. Read the rest of this entry »
Last night I made gingersnaps from Alice Medrich’s cookbook Cookie and Brownies. Derek said they were the best cookies he ever had. Though I enjoyed them, I suspected hyperbole, and when challenged he said they were at least the best cookies I ever made. A compliment? An insult? I’m not sure. Read the rest of this entry »