Suzi's Blog

Fudgy Walnut Brownie Cookies from One Bowl Baking

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Cookies are part of our lives. Almost from the start. You don’t eat cookies, now, at all? Ever?

What about when you were teething decades ago? You got a cookie/cracker to gnaw on. There were animal crackers with milk at school. And everybody has at least one Oreo in their life. There just cannot be such a thing as an Oreo virgin. Okay, if you are allergic to chocolate, you may have escaped the Oreo but surely your life’s path was paved, in part, with cookie crumbs.

Given their ubiquitiness, we all can appreciate the range of quality we’ve encountered. Mostly okay, some good, but in truth just a few can be labeled great. How do you know a great cookie? At first bite. There’s just something there. Like that girl across the room.

So, this cookie, from One Bowl Baking, is deservedly in that love at first bite category. This is a great, exceptional, wonderful cookie.

Author Yvonee Ruperti compares this cookie to a brownie and calls it that, too. There is a brownie flavor and texture, I admit, but I think this cookie is more. I love soft chocolate cookies and I love thin cookies [and thick ones too]. The issue is that softness is often correlated with that thickness. It is hard to fashion a cookie that is both soft and thin. Most often, the baking process just naturally turns thin cookies into firm wafers.

Not here. The brilliance of this recipe is the ratio of sugar to flour and the placing of the cookies on the baking sheet. In a standard brownie recipe, the ratio of sugar to flour is typically 2:1. Here it is 1:1. The cookie dough is shaped into balls, about the size of a golf ball, and when baking starts they don’t immediately collapse. But over time, with that extra flour, the cookies gracefully settle in thin rounds.

When you bite one, it is soft, succulent and just chocolaty enough to make you sigh in pleasure.

The recipe says you get twelve 3½ inch cookies. You do. That batter spreads. So you have to exercise care in spreading the cookies out on the baking sheet. They will truly cover, if not dominate, every square inch of a half sheet pan. If your oven will accommodate a full sheet pan, that is that safer route. If you use a half sheet and some of the cookies spread into each other, I’m afraid the only solution is to take those misfits, eat them, and bake another batch.

I said this cookie was exceptionally good. Not perfect.

The premise of One Bowl Baking is to achieve superior products with minimum mess. That’s exactly what occurs with this recipe. If you have a child or grandchild who has been cookie deprived, this is a wonderful way to cook with them and show them what wonders can be achieved in your own kitchen.

The title has “walnut” in it. As usual, personal preference went to pecans. Our portfolio probably includes pecan stocks.

 

Fudgy Walnut Brownie Cookies

 

Yield: twelve 3½ inch rounds

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (7 ounces or 200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup walnuts (3 ounces or 85 grams), chopped, divided [pecans or other nuts can be readily substituted]

 

Preparation:

Place an oven rack in the middle position.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large heatproof bowl heat the butter and chocolate to just melted, stirring frequently.

Stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Stir in the eggs, one a time, until completely mixed in.

Add the flour and baking powder to the bowl, then stir to combine. Stir in half of the chopped walnuts.

Scoop the batter into 12 balls, spacing evenly on the pan. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts over the t op of each cookie.

Bake until the cookies are puffed, cracked, and barely set, about 8 minutes. Do not overbake.

Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

Sources: One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.6 for 1/10th second at ISO-3200

 

 

Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

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Ordinarily, I want my cake made with butter and not oil. It’s a personal preference matter. I just find oil-based cakes to be less attractive in terms of taste and texture.

Except for olive oil cakes. Somehow a good olive oil seems to shine in creating a very special density and texture that I love — and that I don’t believe butter can match.

Beyond olive oil, this cake is rich with eggs and milk, plus citrus impact from zest and juice and liqueur. And the cake is paired with a spring celebration of strawberries and rhubarb in a compote.

“Compote” is a French word for “mixture.” The dessert began in the 1600’s in France combing fruit, often whole, cooked in sugar syrup seasoned with spices or other fruit: cinnamon, lemon or orange peel, vanilla. Sometimes almonds, coconut, candied fruit or raisins were added. These were very sweet desserts.

Served with biscuits and sour cream, the French believed a compote balanced the effect of summer humidity on the human body. Think of it as organic air conditioning.

This cake, served with the strawberry-rhubarb compote, is a totally satisfying dessert all by itself, but it is also a platform for extensions: whipped cream, ice cream, gelato, … You can make it simple, as pictured, or an extravaganza. Add a scoop of blueberry gelato, for example, and you have your total 4th of July dessert.

The compote can be chilled before using, or served warm which actually intensifies the rhubarb notes.

 

Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

 

Yield: serves 8

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
For the Compote:
  • 12 ounces slender rhubarb stalks (about 3), cut into 2-by ⅓ – inch-thick sticks
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, halved
  • ½ to ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Preparation:

For the Cake:

Heat the oven to 350° F. Oil, butter, or spray a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. (If your cake pan is less than 2 inches deep, divide between 2 pans and start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.)

In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest and juice and Grand Marnier. Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.

For the Compote:

In a large heavy skillet, bring the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often. Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the juices thicken slightly and the rhubarb is falling apart. Let cool.

Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake. Cut the cake into wedges, place on dessert plates, and spoon the compote on top. Drizzle a little olive oil around the cake and serve.

Sources: cake from Maialino Restaurant in New York City and compote from Curtis Stone’s What’s for Dinner

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5 for 1/50th second at ISO-640