Tuesday, October 22

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The weather planner has officially added its first snowflake to our forecast- it's tomorrow! I'm not sure whether to be excited or miserable, but in all honesty, a) I knew it was coming and b) this year I have a toddler who may really enjoy those cold, white, fluffy flakes falling from the sky.  So there, I guess I'm ready (and maybe the least bit excited).   Don't get me wrong, I'll still be the first person complaining on 3/1/14 when my ground is still snow covered.  I mean seriously, 3 months of snow is plenty, right?!  But either way, the smell is in the air.  Maybe I'm like Lorelai Gilmore, and can sense/smell the first snow- remember those episodes? When she drops what she's doing or wakes up in the middle of the night to run outside and catch the first flakes falling from the sky?  I'm going to try and appreciate it this year like Lorelai would.  After all, she was pretty cool, and I wouldn't mind Molly remembering me acting a little like Lorelai ;)

So here's the perfect treat for the first snow fall.  

A warm chocolate chip cookie with a hint of brown butter- genius.  I got this recipe from JoytheBaker.com, and if you haven't been to her site, you need  to get there.  She's got a couple of cookbooks, but her recipes are spot on.  And she has a love affair with brown butter, which makes her my bff.  Just take a look at brown butter.  It's the perfect, nutty flavor that develops when you cook the water out of butter and toast that leftover fat.  The flavor is like nothing else.  

So in this recipe, you make brown butter and let it cool- just one of the two sticks of butter will be brown butter.  The other stick is creamed along with the sugars like any other chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Then the cooled brown butter is creamed into the soft butter/sugar.  You seriously have to try this stuff (I realize it's butter and sugar, and I'm not saying eat a cup of it, I'm saying, take a spoon and try it- you won't be sorry!).  Just look at it!

Creamed butter and brown butter perfection.  Mmm.

JoytheBaker does an entire series on baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie, it's a must read.  I learned that freezing/chilling the dough is essential to the perfect consistency.  I relate it to the butter, because after all, it's the star of the show!  Like in a pie dough or scones, the secret to the texture is really cold butter.  And I think it works here, too, even with creamed butter. Plus, the cookies are so easy to scoop and size for even baking.

I even saved my bottom half by wrapping and freezing the dough in halves, using some today and saving some for a later date ;)

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans

from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

makes 24 cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon molasses

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

coarse sea salt for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

Start by browning 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter.  In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted completely, it will begin to foam and froth as it cooks.  The butter will also crackle and pop.  That’s the water cooking out of the butter.  Swirl the pan occasionally, and keep an eye on the melted butter.  The butter will become very fragrant and brown bits will begin to form at the bottom of the pan.  Once the bits are an amber brown, immediately remove pan from the heat and pour browned butter (bits and all) into a small bowl.  Leaving the butter in the pan will burn it.  Allow butter to cool for 20 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream remaining 1/2 cup of butter with brown sugar.  Cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and molasses and beat until incorporated.

Once the brown butter has cooled slightly, pour the butter (brown bits and all) into the creamed butter and sugar mixture.  Add the granulated sugar and cream for 2 minutes, until well incorporated.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for 1 minute more.

Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that everything is evenly mixed.  Add the flour mixture, all at once to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until the flour is just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a spatula to fold in pecans and chocolate chips.

Spoon batter onto a piece or parchment paper or plastic wrap and wrap into a disk or cylinder and seal at both ends.  Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees f.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop dough by the two tablespoonful onto prepared sheets.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Be sure to leave about 2-inches of space between each cookie.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes of until cookies are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.  

enjoy, enjoy!

Just look at those.  And the sprinkle of sea salt- another genius tip!
You've got to make these.

They're obviously the perfect apres nap treat ;)
(check out that hair)

We hope you'll get to enjoy the first snow flakes this year, 
we'll be the ones running around outside like fools, mouths open.
But with warm cookies inside to greet us!

Monday, October 21

//October 20 : Our Weekend//

Our weekend was a little off due to my work schedule- I had to work a 12 hour shift on Saturday, so we used Friday to catch a little family time.  Molly hasn't had much interest in puzzles until recently, so we're finally getting to use some of those yard sale puzzles I've been hoarding!  I always worry about her, although very verbal and seemingly bright, she struggles with her colors, refuses the potty most days and completely ignored puzzles until now.  It's the most challenging part of parenting- is she learning enough?  Am I doing enough to help her?  My husband hates the idea of parenting books at this age, and insists on "using your instinct".  Let's hope it's enough.  Enough- what a word.  Is it ever enough?!

And I definitely learned the best tip for getting a toddler to nap- crisp fall air!  We went for a walk 2 hours before her earliest nap time, yet out she went.  What a peaceful walk it was!  I'm trying to enjoy every ounce of this fall weather, for this week's forecast showed the first snowflake!  I'm just not quite ready.  Not yet!

We live in Northwestern PA, and have close access to the largest free roaming Elk herd east of the Mississippi River.  It wasn't until I met my husband that we started making the short drive to view them.  The fall is probably one of the most exciting times to watch them, as the males show off their impressive antlers and follow closely to herds of females in efforts to mate.  We have been fortunate thus far in our viewing efforts, and always seem to catch at least one male and a herd of females- often we even get to hear the boisterous bugle of the males.  This was the first year Molly really understood what we were looking for, and although she repeatedly said "look, Mommy, a big deer!", I felt like she appreciated this trip.  They're just fascinating creatures.  But we weren't the only ones ready to see them- it was just packed with tourists and tripods and fancy cameras.  So we left the largest herd (literally in someone's back yard), to catch the sunset.  And wow, was it worth it.  The whole drive.  We were the only ones along this patch of the road, so we really got to soak up the last moments of the day and really talk.  It felt good.  We know we're onto a big transition with my job and even bigger plans with our family and eliminating our debt.  It's sometimes daunting, because years can seem so far away.  But this quiet, peaceful time really made us realize that it's just a glimpse of God's plan for us.  And that is so inspiring.

Oh, and these cookies were packed along for our trip.  I'm going to do a tutorial on the blog soon, because I think these need to be a part of your next trip.  They're brown butter chocolate chip- and worth every calorie.  I mean that.

And with the potential for the first snow comes time to check and harvest the soybeans.  We picked some beans and moisture tested them this weekend, but apparently they're a little moist yet and need some more cold, dry weather to bring them to their optimum harvest state.  Either way, it's always fun to visit the farm's crops.  I can really appreciate the work my husband's family does this time of year.  What a reward to pull those little soybean pods off each plant.  Farming, while not for everyone, is really an under-appreciated occupation with some of the most rewarding outcomes.  I'm so thankful to be a part of it.

It's going to be a colder week in PA, but we're ready for it ;)
Happy Monday!


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