Composing the Perfect Cookie Jar
Our good friends recently completed a major kitchen renovation, something we have all fantasized about doing at one time or another – imagining the things we would like to change about our current set-up and the trendiest tools and features we would like to add. The reality of living through a kitchen reno, however, is definitely a case of gain through pain. Sure, at the end of it, you have the stunning kitchen of your dreams, but in the interim, coping with drywall dust, paint fumes, lack of plumbing and overwhelming disarray, you either find a way to prepare quick and easy meals in the middle of a construction zone, or eat out as often as humanly possible. Shannon had a brilliant solution for coping, and borrowed her parents’ travel trailer, and the mobile kitchen it contained – a very sane way to get through the weeks until the reno is complete.
Now that their beautiful kitchen is complete, I wanted to bring them a “kitchen warming” gift so to speak, and I knew exactly what to bring; one of the big glass jars I keep on my counter for flour. Shannon had even joked that she’d happily give my flour jar a new home when we move to Europe this year. But what fun is an empty jar? It should be filled with something, and not everyone would think flour’s much of a present – though in the movie Stranger Than Fiction, there is a very sweet scene where Harold Crick goes to see Ana Pascal, the bakery owner he’s in love with, and brings her flours (aww…). Well, I opted instead for cookies – after all, who doesn’t love cookies? And being a family of six, I knew I should bring a variety and that those cookies would not go to waste!
With a newly purchased glass jar – all clean and ready to be filled, I settled on three different kinds; my Almond Butter Cookies, Chocolate Chip (naturally) and a Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookie that I had never made before.
These Chocolate Cookies come together easily, but need to rest or a bit before being scooped out and baked, as the dough is quite soft and actually firms up while you wait. Once they bake, they retain that soft texture and the rich chocolate flavour comes through. You don’t have to use peanut butter chips – you could substitute with white chips, dark, mixed or eliminate the chips altogether and add nuts instead, creating almost a brownie in cookie form.
All three cookies were definitely a hit, and I’m happy to see the glass jar is now full of flour and installed on the counter, ready for the weekly batch of homemade bread, or perhaps a big batch of cookies!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
284 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour 1/2 cup cocoa powder 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp table salt 454 g (1 pound) dark chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp espresso powder
141 g (10 Tbsp or 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
330 g (1 1/2 cups) brown sugar
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 300˚F and place rack in centre of oven.
Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
Melt chocolate, either in the microwave, or in a double-boiler, until smooth.
Beat eggs and vanilla lightly with fork, sprinkle espresso powder over to dissolve, and set aside.
In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or with hand mixer), cream together butter and both sugars until well combined. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in egg mixture until incorporated. Add chocolate in steady stream and beat until fully incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula, to avoid any unmixed portions of butter. With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until only a few streaks of flour remain. Add in the peanut butter chips and continue to mix until they are thoroughly distributed, but taking care not to overbeat. Remove bowl from mixer and let stand at room temperature until cookie batter firms up and is scoopable, about 15-20 minutes.
Scoop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. (I recommend using a #70 disher/scoop)
Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until edges have just begun to set but centers are still very soft, about 10-12 minutes
Cool cookies on sheets about 10 minutes, before transferring onto wire rack to cool to room temperature, or until they are just set enough to eat, irresistably warm and gooey.