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the urban baker

the urban baker: November 2009

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rugelah - The Best Evah!

I've made lots and lots of rugelah in my day, but this one takes the cake. I have made my grandma's, I have made Ina's, Martha's and Rose's. This one, from Cooks Illustrated is by far the best I have ever had. Better than Weby's bakery (most Sunday mornings, when I was little, you could find me and my dad, waiting in line to buy the fresh baked egg-onion bread).

My kids don't really like raisins or dried fruit in their sweets. I altered the filling. I substituted mini chocolate chips for the raisins.

The dough was super easy to work with. Even though the recipe didn't ask me to refrigerate the dough after rolling, I did anyways. Only for about 15 minutes. I feel it made all the difference in the world. I baked off a few to taste and then cut and flash froze the rest. Eventhough they look more like a pinwheel cookies, they taste like rugulah.


Makes 32 cookies. Published September 1, 1997.

If the dough gathers into a cohesive mass around the blade in the food processor workbowl, you have overprocessed it. Make sure to stop processing at the point where the mixture is separate and pebbly. If at any point during the cutting and rolling the sheet of dough softens and becomes impossible to roll, slide it onto a baking pan and freeze it until it is firm enough to handle. Once the roulades are baking in the oven, start checking them for doneness at eighteen or nineteen minutes, especially those on the top-level rack. Feel free to substitute an equal quantity of chopped pitted prunes, chopped dried apricots, dried currants, dried cherries, or dried cranberries for the raisins in the filling.


Cream Cheese and Sour Cream Dough
2 1/4cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4teaspoon table salt
1/2pound unsalted butter (2 sticks), chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
8ounces cream cheese chilled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2tablespoons sour cream
Fruit Filling
1cup granulated sugar
1tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3cup apricot preserves processed briefly in food processor to break up large chunks
1cup raisins , preferably golden
2 1/4cups walnuts , chopped fine (about 2 cups)
Egg Yolk-and-Milk
2large egg yolks
2tablespoons milk


  1. 1. For the dough: Pulse flour, sugar, and salt to combine in food processor fitted with steel blade. Add butter and cream cheese pieces and sour cream; pulse until dough comes together in small, uneven pebbles the size of cottage cheese curds, about sixteen 1-second pulses. Turn mixture onto work surface, press into 9-inch-by-6-inch log, divide log into four equal portions (see illustration 1), and press each into 8-by-4-inch rectangle. Place each disk between two sheets plastic wrap; roll out to 11-inch by 7-inch rectangle. Stack dough rectangles on plate; freeze 30 minutes (or up to 1 month if stored in zipper-lock freezer bag). Meanwhile, mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; set aside with other filling ingredients.

  2. 2. Working with one dough rectangle, remove from freezer and spread 2 1/2 tablespoons preserves, 1/4 cup raisins, 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, and 1/2 cup walnuts, in that order, over dough; pat down gently with fingers (illustration 3). Following illustration 5, starting from the long side, roll the dough tightly into a cylinder, taking care not to squeeze any filling out of the sides as you roll. Cut off a 1/4-inch section from each end of the cylinder and discard it. Cut the roll into 1-inch pieces. Place them seam side down on parchment paper-lined baking pans or cookie sheets (illustration 4). Freeze at least 15 minutes. (Frozen roulades, if well-wrapped, can be frozen in a zipper-lock bag up to 6 weeks.) Repeat with remaining dough rectangles.

  3. 3. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk egg yolks and milk in small bowl until smooth. Brush top and sides of frozen roulades with egg-milk mixture. Bake roulades, turning baking pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time, until pale gold and slightly puffy, 21 to 23 minutes. Immediately sprinkle each cookie with scant teaspoon cinnamon sugar; carefully transfer hot, fragile cookies to cooling rack using thin-bladed spatula. (Can be stored in an airtight container up to 4 days.)


Sunday, November 29, 2009

LIttle Gingerbread People

I have never made gingerbread "people". I have always wanted to, but never got to it. This is the year to dive in.

I looked at a lot of different recipes. The one I gravitated to was the one on epicurious. You can find the recipe here. They are called Gingerbread Angels. I changed their gender.

I rolled out all the dough and then froze them for about 30 minutes. Pulled out the slabs and then started cutting them out. I did it as fast as I could so the dough would not get to warm or soft. I re-rolled the scraps and then repeated the process.

The recipe says that the yield is around 6 dozen. I got double that. Everyone and their mother is getting these guys this holiday season. I flash froze the little people and then stored them away in a large plastic freezer container. I brushed a them an egg wash and then sprinkled them with sanding sugar. Added a few embellishments and then baked off a few for my three taste testers. They got a thumbs up. If I have the energy, I may pipe a few with royal icing. I am just afraid by the time I get to these on baking day, I may be too exhausted. We will see how the day unfolds.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lemon Cookies

The lemons on my meyer lemon tree are blooming. I am so excited! I love seeing the lemons on my tree come to life. This can only mean one thing; lots and lots of lemon zest and lemon juice, neatly packaged and stored in the freezer. The perfect ingredient for almost any dish - savory or sweet!

Today is the day that I start making doughs for all my holiday baking. Each year I try to add to my repertoire and this year is not exception. I found this recipe for Christine's Lemon Wreath Cookies in the December issue of Martha Stewart. I always like to include a lemon cookie in my holiday packages and this one seemed perfect. I liked the shape, a lot, and I liked that it was a simple butter type dough.

I made the dough and rolled each cookie out and placed on parchment sheets. I then froze them. Once they are set, I will put in a sealed container and bake off on the official baking day (this year it will be, Sunday, December 13th). I will probably have about 8-9 different kinds of cookies and bars to bake that day. Generally, some of my friends pop by, help bake and sample all the goodies.

I haven't completely finalized the gift baking menu. These are better than delicious and have definitely made the cut.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cranberry Upside-Downer

Why is it that sometimes our baking endeavors turn out and look exactly like the photo in the recipe and others, it doesn't look anything like it? I was really starting to bum out about the look of my cake. And then, voila, I topped the cake with the red currant jam and it now resembles the one in the book!

If you look at the gorgeous picture in Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my home to Yours, you may see a resemblance in the cake on the page and mine!

If it is any consolation, it smells good! I am sure it will be eaten without any hesitation or concern that the cranberries are not visible!


1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 stick (14 Tbl.) butter, unsalted, room temp
1 cup minus 2 Tbl. sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 cups cranberries (if frozen don't thaw)
2 large eggs
1stp. vanilla
1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup red currant jelly, for glazing

preheat oven to 350*. put a 8 x 2" round cake pan on a baking sheet

1. Melt 6 Tbl of butter in saucepan and sprinkle with 6 Tbl. sugar and cook, until boils. Pour this evenly over bottom of cake pan. Scatter nuts an cranberries on top.

2. Beat the remaining 8 Tbl butter with paddle attachment until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time and the vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, and then the milk and then the other half of the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the cranberries.

3. Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges. Carefully turn the cake out on to a plate. Warm the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat and brush over cake.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cranberry Sauce and other sides

I adore Thanksgiving. It is the only holiday where there are virtually no expectations. The kids are not expecting something to open, the food is extraordinarily colorful and each dish has a taste all to itself. I love the flowers this time of year, I love the color palate and I like the weather outside (however, here in Los Angeles, it is supposed to be 90* tomorrow -boo hoo).

I like that the kids have 4 days off from school (don't have to pack lunches -yahoo) and it is a relatively easy, relaxing weekend.

I have a few dishes that I make each and every year. Those are my standards, my ritual, my own tradition. Yet, each year I try and add a new one into the mix. Sometimes, they bomb completely, yet others...mmm mmm good!

This year my contribution to the Thanksgiving table are:

• Cranberry relish
• Beet Pear Puree
• Corn Pudding (new)
• Caramelized Shallots
• Haricot Verte Vinaigrette
• Pecan Pie
• Upside down Cranberry Cake

Cranberry Relish
(adapted from Marlene Sorofsky)

1 lb fresh cranberries
10 oz frozen raspberries - thawed
2 tart green apples, peeled and cut in to small cubes
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup sugar
juice from half of a lemon ( or to taste)

Throw it all into a food processor and chop, chop, chop.

Real Creamed Corn Pudding
(Food & Wine 11/2009)

12 ears of corn, shucked
4 Tbl. butter, divided
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 large eggs separated
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/8 tsp. pepper

1. Grate corn on large box grater. Should create about 4 cups
2. Preheat oven to 425*. Melt 2 Tbl. butter in skillet and add onions and celery. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Saute until tender about 15 minutes.
3. Whisk egg yolks for 2 minutes. Add corn, onion mixture, creme fraiche, 1/8 tsp. pepper and 2 tsp. salt. Whisk egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into corn batter in two batches.
4. Put remaining 2 Tbl. butter in baking dish and transfer to oven and heat until a little brown. Brush butter up sides of the pan. Add pudding. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce oven temp to 350*and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.

Beet Pear Puree
(adapted from Thanksgiving Dinner by Kathryn Blue
this book is out of print)

I have been making this for 25 years. It is so good! When I originally starting make it, I followed the directions perfectly. Yet, years later I questioned why I needed to use 4 sticks of butter. Yes, that's right, 4 sticks of butter? Over the years I have cut that back to 1 1/2 sticks and the recipe is just as good.

8 medium beets
1 1/2 - 2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups minced onions
4 bosc pears, peeled, cored and minced
2 Tbl. sugar
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1 tsp. salt

1. roast beets. 375* in a small covered casserole and cover with water. Cover and bake until fork tender.
2. Rinse beets in cold water and peel. Chop
3. Melt butter in a pan and add onions, pears, sugar and vinegar. Saute about 20 minutes.
4. Add onion mixture to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add salt and half the beets, pulse 4-5 times. Add the remaining beets and pulse 2-3 times. This should have some chunks in it.

Caramelized Shallots

These are great with almost any meal. These are from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris. The recipe can be found here.

So much of the Thanksgiving table is starchy type foods. We needed something a little green. I am keeping it simple with haricot vertes with my new favorite vinaigrette. I found this recipe in a Martha Stewart Magazine and everyone in my home is happy with the new addition.

Haircot Verte w/ Shallot Vinaigrette & Crispy Shallots

I blanched the string beans for about 3-4 minutes and then dumped in ice cold water. I drained the beans until they were dry.

Dress the beans with this recipe (here) and I topped it off with some crispy shallots (slice shallots, saute in very hot olive oil, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little truffle salt or fleur de sel).

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Pecan Pie - The Best Ever!

I have been making this pie since 1995. This truly is the best pecan pie you will ever taste. I have threatened myself to make mini's of these, but when it comes right down to it, it is really, really good as a whole.

My mother - in - law LOVES pecan pie. Her birthday happens to always fall on or around Thanksgiving. I try to always make this particular pie for the Thanksgiving feast for two reason. It really is the best pecan pie ever and we like putting candle in and wish Jeanette a happy birthday!

If you want warm pie, cool the pie thoroughly, then cut and warm it in a 250-degree oven for about twenty minutes.


6tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1-inch pieces
1cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2teaspoon table salt
3large eggs
3/4cup light corn syrup
1tablespoon vanilla extract
2cups whole pecans (8 ounces), toasted and chopped into small pieces


  1. 1 . For Pie: Melt butter in medium heatproof bowl set in skillet of water maintained at just below simmer. Remove bowl from skillet; mix in sugar and salt with wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in eggs, then corn syrup and vanilla. Return bowl to hot water; stir until mixture is shiny and warm to the touch, about 130 degrees. Remove from heat; stir in pecans.

  2. 2. Pour mixture into warm shell; bake until center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pie to rack; let cool completely, at least 4 hours. Serve pie at room temperature or warm, with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Praline Pie

What a delightful combination. I have never really been into pumpkin anything until recently. I have gone to the other side. The far end of the other side. I cannot really put my finger on it, but I CRAVE it.

I was leafing through the Cook's Illustrated Holiday Baking magazine at Whole Foods the other day. I have 20 years worth of Cook's magazines adorning my bookshelves. I really didn't need this issue as I already have all the recipes. Yet, there is something so satisfying having all these holiday recipes in one neat little place. I bought the issue.

The first recipe in the magazine was for Pumpkin Praline Pie. I had already signed up for Pecan Pie as well as a Cranberry torte for Thanksgiving. I wasn't allowed to make yet another pie. Regardless, I decided to experiment and make this pie. This pie is delicious!
The pumpkin custard is perfect and the praline topping is crunchy and sweet and yummy. However, next time I would make a recipe and a half of the topping. Nearly not enough of caramel goodness.

Make this pie! Also, go out and get this issue of Cook's at your nearest news stand. It is a winner!

Foolproof Pie Dough


1 1/4cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
1/2teaspoon table salt
1tablespoon sugar
6tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 2 pieces
2tablespoons vodka , cold
2tablespoons cold water


  1. 1. Process 3/4 cups flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

  2. 2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

  3. 3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to ¼ cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

  4. 4. Trim overhang to ½ inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute dough or press the tines of a fork against dough to flatten it against rim of pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

  5. 5. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp.

    Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor—do not substitute. This dough will be moister and more supple than most standard pie doughs and will require more flour to roll out (up to 1/4 cup)

    Pumpkin-Praline Pie


    1 15oz can pumpkin pie puree

    3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

    2 tsp. cinnamon

    1 tsp. ground ginger

    1/2 tsp. allspice

    pinch of cloves

    1/2 tsp. salt

    1 cup evaporated milk

    3 eggs

    2 tsp vanilla

    Praline Topping

    1 cup pecans chopped fine

    1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

    pinch of salt

    2 tsp dark corn syrup

    1 tsp vanilla

    2 tsp. sugar


    1. combine pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and salt in food processor and mix until smooth. Cook mixture in saucepan over med-high heat until thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

    2. Whisk evaporated milk into pumpkin mixture and then add eggs and vanilla. Pour filling into pie crust and bake until filling is puffed about 35 minutes (should barely jiggle).


    1. While pie is baking, toss pecans, brown sugar, salt in a bowl. Add corn syrupand vanilla and mix witha fork.

    2. Scatter topping over filling and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until pecans are fragrant and topping is bubbling, around 10 minutes.

    Cool pie completely about 2 hours. Serve at room temp.


Monday, November 23, 2009

No Food, Just my Kids

I couldn't resist posting this delicious photo of my three mookies!


Pumpkin Whoopie PIes

I have thought about making Whoopie Pies but they have kind of fallen under my radar. With all the canned pumpkin in my house right now and with the need to make room on my pantry shelves for other items, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies seemed like the obvious choice.

I searched a few cooking sites and found myself drawn to the ones on the Martha Stewart Website as this particular recipe was created by the author of Baked, (Matt Lewis). I have recently purchased the book, however have not created from it as of yet. The recipe (found here) appeared easy enough. No mixers, just two bowls, a wooden spoon and a spatula.

Whoopie pies are like little round cakes. I am not really a lover of cake. I love a good cookie, I adore most things chocolate especially if it is coupled with caramel and I like most bars. Hence, cake, could take it or leave it. With that said, although the Whoopies were fun to make, I can honestly say I wont be rushing to make these or any other flavored inspired Whoopie Pie real soon.

Don't get me wrong, my kids and the recipients of these palm sized treats were thrilled. They just are not my thing.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cranberry Nut Bread

This time of year I am kind of like a squirrel. The only difference between me and a squirrel is that squirrels save up nuts for the winter, I buy bags and bags of cranberries. Each time I go to the market I buy another bag (or two) and throw it in my freezer. I am so fearful of that day when I no longer see those perfectly, rectangular bags of cranberries lining the produce department shelves.

You all know how much I love Cook's Illustrated Magazine. I was perusing the website and decided to do a search for "cranberries". I found the perfect Sunday morning activity; Cranberry-Nut Bread.

I knew this was going to be a good so I decided to double the recipe and make two. One for us to consume and the other I may just have to take to Levi's teacher's tomorrow morning.

Both Eli and myself highly recommend this delicious bread.


1/3cup orange juice
1tablespoon grated orange zest from 1 large orange
2/3cup buttermilk
6tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus extra for greasing pan
1large egg , beaten lightly
2cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1cup granulated sugar
1teaspoon table salt
1teaspoon baking powder
1/4teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2cups cranberries (about 6 ounces), chopped coarse (see illustration below)
1/2cup toasted pecans , chopped coarse


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottom of 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Stir together orange juice, zest, buttermilk, butter, and egg in small bowl. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl. Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and pecans. Do not overmix.

  2. 2. Scrape batter into loaf pan and spread with rubber spatula into corners of pan. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees; continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes longer. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool at least 1 hour before serving.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pumpkin Flan

Doing a little recipe testing for Thanksgiving next week. I have been craving pumpkin anything since Halloween. Don't really know why? I have never really been a lover of most things pumpkin. I think I have turned the corner. Happily, I crave it.

So...when I was reading my new issue of Martha Stewart Living over this past weekend I found a recipe for Pumpkin Flan, I was immediatly drawn to it. Couldn't really resist not making it. The beauty of this recipe is I didn't have to run to the store as I had everything on hand.

I was planning on sending this with Mitch to work. It is half eaten. Eli and I keep pinching a bite here, a bite there. It is so yummmmmy!

Although I would love to make it again for our Thanksgiving table, my sister-in-law doesn't really like flan. With that said, I made some pie doughs today as well. Put them in the freezer so they will be nice and fresh for next weeks pie baking extravaganza.

Here is what I am making for Thanksgiving:

• Cranberry sauce (the best ever)
• Beet Pear Puree
• Roasted brussel sprouts
• Corn souffle
• Pecan Pie
• Cranberry tart

Happy Harvest!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Toffee Crunch Cookie Brittle

It was my friends birthday last Wednesday and I had every intention of making her a cake, yet the day got away from me. I wanted to make something she could share with her employees, but also wanted there to be enough for her take some home.

This recipe is from Elinor Klivan's book, Big Fat Cookies. I love most of the cookies from this book and what I love most about this particular recipe is that it can whipped up in minutes. It doesn't require your Kitchen Aid Mixer; just a bowl and a wooden spoon.

I love this cookie and so does everyone else I have ever made this for. It is not a drop and bake recipe, which is a true time saver. You make the batter, spread it on a silpat pad on your baking sheet and bake. Once it is cool enough, you break similar to a candy bark.

I have made this dough and have used all kinds of tasty additions. Be creative and enjoy this batter with your favorite candy, dried fruit, nut, etc!


1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate-covered toffee
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1. pre-heat oven to 350*

2. Mix flour, baking soda, salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk melted butter, both sugars & vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in candy and nuts and the dough will be crumbly.

3. Leave 1" border around silpat pad. Spread dough over silpat pad. Press the dough into a rectangle about 1/2" thick, then use your palm to pat it into an even layer.

4. Bake until the top feels firm and looks dark golden at the edges, about 19 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then let cookie cool on a wire rack.

5. Break apart. Can be stored for 4 days.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Malted Milk Shake

Eli thought our new ice cream would make the perfect malt. We threw the ice cream into the blender with a little milk and a splash of chocolate sauce.

He was right!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A new Chocolate Chip Cookie

I just received my annual 2009 hard back cook book from Cooks Illustrated. I do get the magazine all year long, yet there is something so satisfying about having them all in one place, neatly bound and easy to find.

I was perusing the pages when I found a recipe for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Aren't all chocolate chip cookies "perfect"? Most are, however these are pretty darn good. What makes this recipe unique is the use of melted, brown butter. This gives the cookie a very nutty taste even before all the ingredients are mixed together. Also, this recipe is mixed by hand, with a whisk. Once the butter and sugars are mixed, the batter has to rest then re-mixed, rest again, then a final mix with the whisk and it is ready to add the remainder of the ingredients.

The batter was really, really good. A true sign that the cookie is going to be even better.

I whipped these up in minutes. My house smells good and my kids will be happy when they walk in the door from school today.

Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored


1 3/4cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2teaspoon baking soda
14tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
1teaspoon table salt
2teaspoons vanilla extract
1large egg
1large egg yolk
1 1/4cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
3/4cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

  2. 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

  3. 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

  4. 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

  5. 5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.