Cookies or Brownies… or both.
by Katya Simkhovich
Around mid-afternoon on Sunday I was hit by a pang of hunger. A hunger to bake. I nearly always have this desire distracting me from daily tasks such as math homework, but sometimes it just becomes too much, impossible to ignore. There was absolutely no need for brownies or cookies seeing as I had a chocolate feast the night before, during which I came to an epiphany that I love the combination of sweet and salty as I munched on chocolate covered pretzels. Anyway, I could no longer sit at my computer drooling at all the things I could be making so I baked.
First, I had the urge to make cookies, but not just any old cookies. A while back I had bought a box of mini peanut butter cups at Trader Joe’s with the intention of baking something with them, but I couldn’t decide between cookies or brownies and hence they were stuffed into darkest corner of the pantry for months until I could finally decide.
Well, I think it’s clear I made cookies. These adorable little peanut butter cups happen to be about the same size as a chocolate chip – perfect for cookies, or brownies if you know what you want… unlike me. You can’t go wrong with peanut butter cups haphazardly tucked into a cookie, peanut butter and chocolate oozing out with no regard at all for your fingers, then I again it’s not like I used a napkin to clean my peanut butter and chocolate covered fingers, if you know what I mean.
Even after the cookie dough was chilling in the fridge, my hunger was not satisfied. So I made brownies. I’ve wanted to find the perfect brownie recipe for a while and I figured I could start now, specifically classic brownies from cooks illustrated. I figured if I started with a classic it would be a good basis for comparison for others.
I found these to be more on the cakey side and they were crumbly, like you would expect a brownie to be. Although I prefer a fudgier brownie, these were quite delicious, and they did become denser the next day. These also seemed a tad bit too sweet for me, even after I reduced the sugar to two cups and not as intensely chocolaty as I usually prefer, but then again I probably shouldn’t complain about having a chance to eat brownies. I also added milk chocolate chips because who wouldn’t want more chocolate? I think the chocolate chips add a nice change in texture. Chopped nuts are another possible add-in. Or both. Uggghh, more decision making.
Classic Brownies from Smitten Kitchen who got the recipe from Cooks Illustrated
- 1 cup (4 ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium (optional) – I added milk chocolate chips instead.
- 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) cake flour – of course I couldn’t resist myself and substituted white whole wheat flour, me and my wacky ways.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces – I like to cute mine into triangles, more surface area for melting, you know.
- 2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar – I used a quarter cup less
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhand pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
- Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve and devour.
My Go-To Cookie Dough Recipe adapted from Allrecipes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips – or any other add in, for example I used mini peanut butter cups.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
- Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely… or not and they can cool in your mouth.