Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies



These cookies, my friends, are my most requested recipe.  And, until now, I have selfishly held it very close to me.

I have made these cookies with brown butter and regular melted butter, and both ways are very good.The brown butter adds a depth of flavor to these cookies that makes them irresistible.  The melted butter makes them taste almost pastry-like.  You can't go wrong either way, but since I am a brown butter fiend, I almost always opt for that.

Also, there are oats in these cookies, but I don't consider them an oatmeal cookie, at least not in the traditional sense.  I've added just enough oats to this recipe to give the cookies a chewy texture that is divine. Even if you're not an oatmeal cookie fan, give em a try.  I think you just might fall in love.

I always have a bag of these cookies in my freezer.  Almost every day, after things start going down hill (because this usually happens at some point every day, right?) I sneak away from the girls into a corner of the kitchen (or bathroom, or basement, or bedroom) and gobble one down.  I think of it as my "secret cookie", and always chuckle a bit to myself as I am snarfing it down.  And then, my day is instantly better!  Well, at least for those 46 seconds I am blissfully alone with crumbs falling down the front of my shirt.  Luckily, I've never gotten caught.  Please don't tell...?

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

14 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups (7 1/2 oz) dark chocolate chopped or chips
3/4 cup nuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Melt 10 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  If opting to brown the butter, cook, swirling the pan often, until the butter turns a deep golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer the butter to a heat proof bowl and then add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.  Stir until the butter is completely melted.

Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla to the butter. Whisk, by hand or on medium-low with the whisk attachment to a stand mixer, until fully incorporated.  Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk until fully incorporated. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes and then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat the process of resting and whisking 2 more times.  At this point the mixture will be smooth, thick and glossy.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and oats and stir to combine.  Using a rubber spatula, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.

Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, or just eyeballing it, drop dough balls 2 inches apart onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake until cookies are golden brown and puffy and edges have begun to set but middles are still soft, about 11-13 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack, and if you can stand to wait, allow to cool to room temperature.  If not, just go ahead and...

EAT IT!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Brown Butter Baked Donuts


We started making donuts this summer and: We. Can't. Stop.  They have brown butter.  They are moist. They have a billion possibilities for flavors. The are delicious.  They have brown butter.

Mace accidentally bought me a donut pan when he used my Amazon account to order something for himself.  The donut pan was a splurge I'd been pondering buying and threw it in my cart.  Mace figured since it was in my cart, it was a sure deal.  Two days later I was the proud owner of this donut pan!


I originally found this recipe on Joy the Baker and fell in love with it.  I've tweaked it to include more brown butter (duh), the addition of cinnamon and given a few other topping suggestions.  The kinds of toppings you can put on these are truly endless...chocolate, white & almond glazes, nuts, sprinkles, cinnamon & sugar, and my personal favorite: chocolate glaze with toasted coconut and pecans.  My friend Hope, who has been maniacally making donuts as well, told me she stirred a little milk into some Nutella and dipped the donuts in it.  That will likely be my next favorite flavor.


Decorating the donuts is a super fun thing to do with young kids.  It has become a major activity in our house, especially when our friends with kids come to visit.  Just keep your eye on them so they're not licking their fingers after dipping every donut (like, ahem, Miss Anna always seems to do).




Brown Butter Baked Donuts
Adapted from Joy the Baker

Makes 12 donuts

Donuts:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze:

3 cups powdered sugar
6-8 tablespoons

Optional add-in ideas:
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond or any other extract

Topping Ideas:
Toasted nuts
Toasted coconut
Sprinkles
Chopped, dried fruit
Cinnamon and sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a donut pan with oil or non-stick spray.

To make the donuts: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat, swirling the pan continuously, until the butter is light brown and has a nutty fragrance.  Watch the butter carefully and remove from the heat as soon as it browns to avoid burning.  Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. In another small bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract.  Slowly whisk in the slightly cooled brown butter.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and fold in until mixed and no flour streaks remain.  

At this point you can either spoon the batter into the donut pan, about 2/3 full, or pipe it in.  I prefer to pipe it in because I feel its less messy and the donuts turn out more uniformly shaped.  To pipe the batter in, fill a pastry bag or gallon ziploc bag with the batter.  If using the ziploc bag, snip a small bit off one of the corners of the bag.  Pipe the batter directly into the donut pan, about 2/3 full.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the donuts spring back when you touch them.  Set aside to cool in the pan while you make the glaze.

To make the glaze: stir 6 tablespoons of milk into the powdered sugar, and cocoa if using, and stir until all lumps are out of the glaze.  Add extracts at this point, if using,  Add more milk as necessary to have a thick but pourable glaze.  

Topping the donuts: Once the donuts have cooled, pop them out of the pan by either using a fork or turning the pan over onto a cooling rack.  Put the cooling rack over a cookie sheet to catch the glaze drips and make for easier cleanup.   If using other toppings besides glaze, put them on a small plate.

Dip each donut into the glaze halfway, then pick up and dip into the topping of your choice.  Return to the cooling rack and repeat with the remaining donuts.  Then you should...

EAT IT!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

48 Months


We were at the Children's Museum in Madison, WI this past weekend with our dear friends the Morrisons.  One of the employees there was very enthusiastic about figuring out how old each of us were in months.  An unusual question, and one that made me feel quite a bit older than the 422 months I am (I'll do the math for you, that's 35 years and 2 months).  But you know what's not a whole lot of months?  48.  48 months is how old Anna turned this past week.  48 tiny little months is all she's lived on this planet.  Amazing.  She's only been around for 11% of my life, and truly, I barely remember life without her.

The first three years of her life she changed so dramatically in height, weight, the way she looked, her motor skills.  All very dramatic physical changes.  In this fourth year of her life, the physical changes slowed down, but her personality took off.  Watching the emotional, mental and cognitive developmental changes in her this year has awed me.

She started preschool last fall and this, I believe, created the biggest change in her.  She has always been a very cautious and watchful child.  She never jumped into situations, played with other kids in new social situations or was willing to try much of anything new.  This past year we've watched her slowly come out of her shell, make new friendships and be brave enough to try new things.  We've watched a quality of leadership emerge from this child who didn't love interacting with other children or new situations.  Its been a slow metamorphosis and one that has me brimming with pride.



Another thing that has emerged this year is a sense of humor that has us constantly rolling. She understands humor in a way that is beyond her years sometimes.  I hope this is because of the laughter in our home and the way Mace and I use humor with each other and the girls.  We do like to laugh together and try to do so on a daily basis.

Watching this relationship between Anna and Claire develop has been so cool.  Sisters.  There's nothing in the world like that bond.  Obviously, they fight and get on each others nerves and absolutely hate each other at times.  But, also, they hug and they play and they squeal and laugh.  And they love each other so very very much.  They notice when the other one is missing and call out for each other when the other is gone.  They know they're each others best friend and my heart aches with love watching them navigate this relationship that is theirs alone.



Its these little things that have surprised me the most about parenthood.  These slow, beautiful changes as I watch my child become her own person.  I love you Anna, more than I could ever put into words. My heart swells with love for you my awesome, spunky, intelligent, funny, witty, beautiful child.

We celebrated her 4th birthday with gusto and charm!  It was complete with 45 of our closest friends and relatives, a balloon animal artist, a Cinderella cake, and a very anti-climatic pull-string pinata.  It was a blast.








I cannot wait to see what this next year has in store for you Anna!  Its going to be a good one.  Happy 4th Birthday my Love.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day...it's all about me!

I love being a mom.  I love waking up and seeing my daughters and holding their still sleep-warmed bodies in my arms.  They are getting to the age where I look forward to our days together and what adventures might await us. When they were babies it was harder to approach the day with any thoughts other than schedules, meals, naps. Now we can color, play play-doh, walk (skip! run!) to the park, pick flowers (dandelions) in the yard, eat ice cream, snuggle and watch movies together on a rainy day, etc etc.  These days together are becoming more fun and less work.  I say that rather loosely, because they are still a lot of work, but now there's less drudgery during the day and more happy moments. In a few words...we are settling in.  We are settling into our family, finding a rhythm.  A beautiful rhythm I love.

I mean, how can you not adore a day spent with these two?




Life is good.  I spend most days home with the girls, but have my job at the bakery a few mornings a week to give me some adult time and do something I adore.  Still...I need some me time.  I have been finding less and less time to connect with me lately.  I found myself looking in the mirror the other day and thinking, "I look like your typical middle-aged mom.  I feel identityless...I look and feel like every other sleep-deprived, haggard, slightly overweight, unkempt mother out there.  And how, how did I become that woman?"  I didn't like the way I looked, the way I felt, the way I was a little perplexed about who this person was staring back at me in the mirror.  This was not an overnight change, this is something that's been in the works for the past few years, and that has slowly crept up on me.  I was suddenly staring at a person I don't really want to be.  Huh.

So, here we are at Mother's Day.  Mace asked what I'd like to do for the "big day", and the only thing I could think of was: be all alone by myself.  That would be the most beautiful gift in the world.  I couldn't say the words though. They felt selfish and wrong.  Except, that I never ever get to be selfish anymore.  And the more I stewed on this thought, the more I only wanted to be completely alone on Mother's Day.  And so, I finally spoke the words, cringed a little bit and heard from my ever-patient, ever-awesome husband, "Do it!".

And now I'm alone.  I'm drinking a beer and writing (something that's been desperately missing from my life) and soaking up the complete silence surrounding me.  Peace.  And.  Quiet.  This might  have to become a tradition.  It's Mother's Day.  A day for me.  And I'm taking it!

Happy Mother's Day to all my moms and all the moms I love out there.  Hope you're finding yourself in this beautiful day.  XOXO