Wednesday, July 13, 2011

cookie o' the month...

Baker Beth's July Cookie is here and I know I say this all the time, but Sweet Mother of Pearl, it's Mad Genius!

I know what you're going to be thinking when you read the recipe (Beth expects your obvious reaction and walks you through it. Breathe kids, breathe), but I'm telling you---THIS is tasty, mad genius, baked goodness!

If it isn't sweltering in your hood, turn on your oven and start-a-bakin'!


OK, I know this one seems a little nutty, but bear with me. I promise you it's worthwhile.

Since all of these cookies tie back to Angelo in some way, I'm always thinking about posts I've read or things he's said, mining them for ideas. 

So this month, my brain recalled this  installment of The Daily Tip in which he shared his top 5 favorite foods.

He said that they were in no particular order, but No. 2 was pasta, and he singled out pasta topped with a bit of browned butter and Parmesan cheese.

And thus, July's cookie inspiration was found. If I could pull it off. And I'm happy to say, I have.

"Wait a minute," you may be saying. "You put Parmesan cheese in a cookie?"

Why, yes I did.

And semolina flour, to reference the pasta aspect, which contributes to the texture.

And browned butter which combines with dark brown sugar to create a nutty, toffee-like flavor that's reinforced by toasted walnuts, because these cookies needed a bit of crunch to contrast with the chew. And because I put toasted walnuts in pretty much everything I bake.

"But wait a minute," you may still be saying. "You put Parmesan cheese in a cookie."

Yep. But you don't bite into one of these and instantly detect cheese. You detect ... something, something that you know you don't normally taste in a cookie but which seems familiar.

Try them. Trust me.

Go forth and grate and enjoy!

— Beth

Parmesan Toffee Cookies
(Adapted from a recipe in Cook's Illustrated, May & June 2009)

1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) semolina flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup Microplaned
Parmesan cheese *

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Line baking sheets ** with parchment paper. Whisk flours and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet *** over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking two more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in Parmesan cheese and walnuts. The dough may be a bit loose. Let it rest for a few minutes until it is set enough to scoop.
Set the oven to 375.
By the time it's finished preheating, the dough should be just right.

4. Roll generous tablespoons of dough into balls and place on lined baking sheets.

5. Bake one sheet at a time for 8 - 11 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking, until edges are golden brown and centers are just set. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

* I specifically used a Microplane to grate the Parmesan for this recipe because it yields grated cheese that is very fluffy and light, which allowed it melt into the batter as the cookies baked and resulted in a very subtle cheese flavor.

** How many baking sheets you use depends on the size of your baking sheets. You'll want to leave at least two inches of space between the balls of dough, but three is better. I started baking six cookies per sheet. Then I tried nine, staggering the rows of three. That worked for me.

*** Don't use a non-stick skillet. The dark color of the pan will prevent you from gauging the color of the butter as it browns.


matthewmfmiller said...

Those look unreal. Must make over the weekend!

Beth said...

Matt! Nice to see you 'round here! Yes, do make them. They're magically delicious!

Angelo, Matt is super cool. He makes his own marshmallows!

angelo said...

Gooooo Marshmallow making! Coolio.

Vicki Flynn said...

Oh, those look absolutely delicious!!! Can't wait to make them! Thanks, Beth!

Beth said...

Atta girl, Vicki! I applaud your culinary curiosity!

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