Brownie Cookies with Espresso Buttercream

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While my friends used my kitchen to make their first cioppino the other night, I took this test. Author Gary Chapman wrote a set of questions to help determine a person’s “love language.” Perhaps you feel loved when your partner holds your hand? Your love language is most likely “Physical Touch.”

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My results were as I expected. My love language is “Quality Time,” meaning I feel adored when people I care about make special time for me.

Though The 5 Love Languages are “Words of Affirmation,” “Acts of Service,” “Receiving Gifts,” “Quality Time,” and “Physical Touch,” I can’t help but think food is the 6th.

I mean forget a dozen red roses this Valentine’s Day, I feel most admired while sharing sweetbread agnolotti from Altura or Columbia City bread with butter and black salt.

Sharing food, giving food, making food and receiving food are some of the best forms of human connection. This Valentine’s Day, I decided to make these brownie cookies in heart shapes. I realized they needed frosting solely so sprinkles could adhere to them. The espresso in the frosting actually made the cocoa in the cookie taste more prominent.

Makes a lot of cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
  • 2/3 cup Dutch process cocoa, unsweetened
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream, half and half or milk
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

Whisk the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder together in a bowl. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and add in the vanilla. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the butter. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

(Meanwhile you can make the frosting below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes to warm slightly. If it’s too hard and crumbly, grab a chunk at a time and squeeze it with your hands to soften it.

Divide the dough into 4-6 chunks and roll out on a flour work surface, until it is about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into any shape you’d like using cookie cutters.

Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8-11 minutes depending on your thickness. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Frosting

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Dissolve the espresso powder in the milk in a separate bowl. Add this to the butter mixture. Beat for another minute or so until it is a spreadable consistency. Cover and keep in fridge until cookies are cool.

Frost the cookies and dust with sprinkles if you’d like.

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

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You know you got dressed for work at 3:30 a.m. when you get home from your shift and realize your underwear is both inside out and backwards.

I’ve been baking professionally for a month now at a sweet bakery a couple blocks from my house. This morning I was daydreaming of my head hitting the yellow polka dotted pillow on my bed and accidentally burned the lemon scones. Not terribly, just in an over-caramelized singed way.

The other day I made these cookies to then make them into a crust for a pumpkin cheesecake. I hadn’t made cheesecake in years and regretfully didn’t let the cream cheese come to room temperature, resulting in a lumpy cake. In my defense, I had to expedite the process; I was eating the would-be crust cookies at an impossibly high rate. Though the cheesecake wasn’t worthy of posting, these have become my favorite cookies.

Makes 40 cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons peel and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • About 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar for rolling

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), beat the butter and white sugar together until it is light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and add the egg, fresh ginger and molasses. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until combined.

Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour. When you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll the dough into ball about an inch in diameter (I vary them in size every time I make these and they turn out). Roll in turbinado sugar and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake in several batches for at least 7 minutes. If I make them bigger in size I have to bake them for up to 12 minutes. Set a timer for 7 and then go from there. Remove them from the oven. Let cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack. This will allow them to firm up. Repeat.

 

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

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My dad isn’t big on dessert unless it comes in the form of a chocolate chip cookie. Growing up, my mom would always make him the same meal for his birthday: meatloaf, scalloped potatoes and chocolate chip cookies with ice cream to finish.

Unlike most people who can appreciate them straight out of the oven, gooey and toothsome, he prefers them crunchy. Been sitting on the counter uncovered for a day? Great.

These cookies aren’t like that—sorry dad. For years I’ve been on a quest for a recipe that makes the ultimate chocolate chip cookie, chewy and slender in height. At last, I found one. For a special—and very necessary—touch, I sprinkled them with fleur de sel. It is a bit of a high maintenance recipe, but it’s worth it. I’m clueless as to how many cookies this recipe actually makes because of my varied raw dough intake.

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Julie eating her fair share of the dough

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • Chunky sea salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place an oven rack in the middle position. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside. Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch skillet (ATK recommends not using nonstick) over medium-high heat until melted. Continue cooking the butter, swirling the pan frequently until the butter is a darker golden brown and a nutty aroma. This can take 1-3 minutes, but make sure you don’t burn it.

Remove skillet from heat and transfer the butter to a bowl. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and mix until melted. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to the butter and whisk until fully incorporated.

This is where it gets a little high maintenance. I roll my eyes every time but follow the directions fairly closely. Add egg and extra yolk and whisk until the mixture is smooth (about 30 seconds). Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking  2 more times until the mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.

Stir the flour mixture into this butter mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Make little (actually huge) lumps of dough, each 3 tablespoons and set them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

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Bake each tray on its own for 3 minutes. Then sprinkle the tops with salt and rotate the pan. Continue to bake for another 5-9 minutes. The edges will be golden, but the center will still appear soft. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet, removed from the oven, for about a minute or two, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

Continue process with remaining batter.