It was not so much of a blowout this year as a minor explosion. This year I pursuaded the boys (little and the biggest one included) to help, and I may be spolied from now on because I can’t imagine not having all of those hands again in the kitchen next year. It was the first time that it truly felt like a family effort, and it made the reason we do it year after year that much clearer to all of us. Sweetness indeed.
This batch of cookies was again an attempt to keep things well rounded. Something a little wacky, something nutty, something with spice, and something with one of my favorite flavors maple syrup. There are of course always a million options, and choosing is a third of the fun (after baking and then testing them), but for me, it always comes down to simplicity. Something that’s sometimes in short supply around the Holidays.
The Compost Cookie
From Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup Graham Crust (recipe below)
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2tsp. ground coffee (any kind is fine)
2 cups potato chips
1 cup mini pretzels
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium high for two to three minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides with a spatula. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 7 to 8 minutes (it seems long, but it’s necessary).
Reduce speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until the dough comes together, no longer than a minute. Scrape bowl again with a spatula.
Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, and coffee and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed. Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the preztzels or potato chips.
Using a 2 3/4-ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1/3-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a prachment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or to 1 week. Do not bake the cookies from room temperature–they will not bake properly.
Heat the oven to 375-degrees.
Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookie will puff, crackle, and spread (a lot.) After 18 minutes they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.
Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an air-tight container for storage. At room temp, the should keep fresh for 5 days.
** Graham Crust recipe
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup milk powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) melted, unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute the ingredients.
Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute.
2 1/2 cups blanched, unsalted peanuts
2 cups granulated sugar
1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter (cut into quarters)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Before you begin, have a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a Silpat nearby.
Pour sugar into a heavy saucepan and on hight heat, stir the sugar frequently with a wooden spoon until it begins to melt, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let the sugar begin to smoke. That usually means it’s burning.
Once the sugar has melted and is a nice amber color, turn down the heat to medium and add the peanuts. Stir for about a minute, then add the salt. Next, add the butter and stir until it’s combined about 30 seconds.
Pour out onto the sheet pan and spread quickly into a single layer of peanuts if possible. It will harden super fast, so work quickly. Top with a light shower of sea salt (Maldon is my favorite for stuff like this.)
Allow mixture to cook on the pan for at least one hour, then break apart with your hands.
A LITTLE SPICE
Adapted from Fine Cooking
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
13 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. molasses
4 1/2 tsp. raw honey
2 extra-large eggs (at room temperature)
3 1/4 cups (or more) powdered sugar, sifted
2 large egg whites
2 Tbsp. warm water
Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl with a mixer until it’s almost the texture of toothpaste. If too thin add more sugar, if too thick add more water.
Heat oven to 350-degrees. Lightly butter a 13×9-inch pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until blended.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer) beat the sugar, butter, molasses and honey until creamy and well blended, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until blended. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake until the edges just begin to pull away from the pan and a pick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Turn the bars out of the pan and onto a cool sheet pan. Cut into squares or triangles, then top with royal icing (piped or spread) and chocolate sprinkles. Just because.
Nutmeg Maple Butter Cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen adapted from Gourmet
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup (Grade B is ideal here)
1 large egg yolk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (because it packs more tightly)
1 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup pure maple flakes (I found some at Williams-Sonoma)
Clear sanding sugar
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. With mixer running, add yolk and slowly drizzle in maple syrup. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, nutmeg and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix until just combined. The dough will be in loose clumps. Gather them together into a tight packet with a large piece of plastic wrap and chill dough for at least two hours (and up to four days) until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a few baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out a quarter to half the dough at a time, leaving the rest in the fridge. On a floured counter, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. Top cookies with sprinkles of maple flakes and sanding sugar.
Arrange cookies on baking sheets and bake for 8 to 11 minutes each, or until lightly golden at the edges. Transfer to racks to cool. Cookies keep in airtight containers for a week.