For some reason, I always develop a mad desire to bake on Sundays. Maybe it’s a desperate attempt to stave off Monday for a little longer, or perhaps it’s just that Sundays are the only day of the week I really have the leisure to bake, since Saturdays are usually taken up with errands and eating out and movies and the million other things you feel you have to cram into your two days off. By Sunday night, you’ve given up on having the time of your life, and you’re happy to settle for the small and quiet pleasures you can fit into those last few hours.
Since even I am not ambitious enough to bake a cake or eclairs at the last minute and for just two people, it’s almost inevitably cookies that I end up making on Sundays. Cookies are fast, easy, and endlessly varied, so I can usually indulge whatever particular craving I have with ingredients I already have on hand. The other nice thing about cookies is that I can bake as many as I think the Lord and I will actually eat, and put the rest of the dough in the freezer for another day. Most of the time, I end up freezing half the batch and taking all but about a half-dozen of the baked cookies to work with me on Monday, which provides the dual benefit of getting all of those calories out of the house and ingratiating me to the coworkers.
(I’m a firm believer in the power of bribery through baked goods. I have shamelessly exploited my ability to bake on many an occasion, and I’m convinced that it was a flourless chocolate cake made with an entire jar of Nutella that really started the ice breaking with Lord Disdain’s extended family, which had previously spent a long time pretending I didn’t exist. If, like me, you are lacking in a certain degree of social finesse, you can’t go wrong by getting in the habit of bringing attractively-packaged homemade carb-loaded treats to gatherings.)
Tonight, I felt like chocolate, so I flipped through my latest favorite baking book, The Village Baker’s Wife, and found a recipe for Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies: chocolate cookies with pecans and semisweet and white chocolate chunks. Since I’m not a great fan of white chocolate, I decided to substitute the Guittard butterscotch chips I bought a few weeks ago on a whim, thinking that the chocolate, pecan, and butterscotch combination would be reminiscent of turtle candies. The raw dough was absolutely divine; it tasted like a very thick chocolate cake batter or buttercream frosting. The baked cookies are very fudgy and brownie-like, especially if you underbake them slightly. They’re really, really rich, though, so the three dozen I’ve baked so far will be going to work tomorrow, and the remaining half of the dough will be portioned out with my miniature ice cream/cookie scoop and put into freezer bags for the next time I have last-minute guests or a frantic chocolate craving that the cocoa recipe can’t satisfy.
(makes approximately 6 dozen)
7 oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
8 oz butterscotch chips
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 325F.
Chop the 7 oz of chocolate with a serrated knife and melt, either in a double boiler or in the microwave. (If the latter, use 20-second increments and stir between blasts to make sure that you don’t burn the chocolate.) Let cool slightly.
Cream the butter and sugars together in a mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating the first one thoroughly before adding the second one, then the vanilla and melted chocolate, mixing until blended.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, and add it to the creamed mixture in two or three batches, being careful not to over-mix. With a spatula or spoon, stir in the chips and pecans.
With a spoon or cookie scoop, drop 2 tablespoons of the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving two inches between scoops. Bake for 13 minutes.
Notes: Next time, I might reduce the quantity of chips and chop the pecans more coarsely. I prefer a cookie with chips in it to a mass of chips and nuts bound by a web of dough, and this recipe is pretty close to my overload point. I bet kids would love the fully-loaded version, though. One advantage to being so chip-heavy is that the dough doesn’t spread very much, so you don’t have to be overly scrupulous about spacing with these cookies.
This recipe makes a huge amount of dough. You could probably get away with halving it if you’re not in the mood to feed an army or stockpiling for a cookie emergency.
Last weekend’s Sunday cookie was almond macaroons, because I had three egg whites left over from making an egg yolk-based frozen honey mousse (about which I’ll blog separately when I have a moment, as it was an object lesson in Choosing Your Ingredients Carefully ). These cookies, from Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat, come in handy whenever I have egg whites to get rid of immediately but don’t want to bother with meringues, pavlovas, or anything else that will require getting out the Kitchenaid. They’re also great last-minute lazy treats, provided you have ground nuts on hand.
(makes three to four dozen)
2 1/4 cups ground almonds
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons almond extract
Slivered almonds or blanched whole almonds for decoration
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Combine the ingredients into a thick paste, and drop with a small cookie scoop or two spoons onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press a few almond slivers or a whole blanched almond into each cookie, and bake for 20 minutes, or until set on the outside but slightly soft when pressed. Allow to cool on a rack before eating.
Notes: Trader Joe’s now carries ground almonds (and, sporadically, ground hazelnuts, which also work beautifully here if you substitute vanilla extract or Frangelico for the almond extract), which makes this recipe practically effortless. If you can’t find pre-ground nuts, you can make your own in a food processor by processing whole nuts with a few tablespoons of sugar, taken from the quantity required in the recipe, until finely ground. The sugar acts as an abrasive and makes sure the nuts maintain a flour-like consistency, preventing them from turning into nut butter.
The original recipe used two egg whites. I’ve scaled it up to three, since I had three whites to use up.