Brownies are wonderful but rather messy to eat. Cookies travel well but can be dry and crumbly. A combination of the two would be perfect wouldn’t it? Well, you’re in luck today because we have that winning combination. The dense chewiness of brownies wrapped in a crispy cookie exterior. Heaven by the bite! Is this what you thought today’s recipe would be? That’s the fun of Chocolate Mondays!!
Today’s recipe is from Claudia Fleming, Pastry Chef of Gramercy Tavern in New York City. Claudia is one of America’s finest Pastry Chefs and a celebrity in her own right. From her bio on StarChefs.com: In 1991, Claudia was determined to hone her skills and she decided to go directly to the source and study pastry in Paris. After a stint at the prestigious Fauchon, Claudia returned to New York and a new career. Back in New York City, Claudia delved into pastry making at Montrachet, TriBeCa Grill and Luxe. In 1994 Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio hired Claudia as pastry chef of their new restaurant, Gramercy Tavern – the perfect complement to their new team. Like the rest of Gramercy Tavern’s food, Claudia’s baking style relies on the use of seasonal ingredients. She favors creations that maintain the integrity of each ingredient, and is committed to intense flavor over architectural flights of fancy. Her minimalist sensibility, ironically, allows for maximum flavor.
Claudia’s work has already been celebrated in publications such as Art Culinaire, Bon Appetit, Chocolatier, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Time Out New York. She has been named one of Saveur Magazine’s “Saveur 100″ and “Best Pastry Chef in New York” by Manhattan File. She has also appeared on the “Martha Stewart Living” show.
These cookies are fairly delicate. When you look at the recipe you may be surprised that there is only 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 tsp of baking powder in the mix. In this case, beating the eggs until thick provides the majority of leavening for the dough. When making this dough, don’t take any shortcuts when beating the eggs. You’ll thank me later!
The Artist is addicted to cookies – especially chocolate cookies! When we go out to dinner, if there are cookies on the dessert menu, I can guarantee that is what he’ll order, no matter how many other tempting items are listed. These cookies make him smile, and I’m sure they’ll do the same for you too!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
A little baking chemistry for you … most baking powder sold today is called Double-Acting. This means that part of the chemical reaction happens when you mix it with liquids, and then it activates again when you heat it. In the old days you had to mix everything together quickly and pop it in the oven before the baking powder stopped working. Isn’t technology great! The rule for how much baking powder you use is 1 to 1-1/4 tsp per cup flour. Use too much and it will produce bubbles that are too big, and instead of holding up the structure of the cake, they push their way to the top. With no bubbles left in the batter, your cake will be sunken, heavy, and leaden.
Kitchen Skill: Folding
Folding gently integrates ingredients without deflating air that has been beaten into one of the ingredients, often egg whites. If you are mixing beaten egg whites into a heavy batter, mix about 1/3 of egg whites in first, stirring to lighten the mixture. This allows the remaining 2/3 of egg whites to retain most of the air you so painstakingly beat into them.
Place remaining egg whites on top of dough. Using a large rubber spatula, starting at the top center of the bowl, pull the spatula to the bottom toward you. Roll your wrist, pulling dough from the bottom of the bowl and moving it to the top. Spin the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat. Keep going until all egg whites have been incorporated. Your goal is to get everything evenly combined with no streaks without stirring or beating the mixture.
Chocolate Brownie Cookies
Yield: 2-1/2 to 5 dozen cookies, depending on size
Claudia Flemming writes: These are one of my signature cookies. They taste like miniature brownies — but oh, the texture! They’re reminiscent of a meringue, with a soft, chewy, fudgy center and a crisp exterior that crackles appealingly. Since these cookies are smaller and less dense, they have an elegance that brownies lack. And they don’t require the same commitment as a big, gooey bar. I can never eat just one of these. They are also a particular favorite of Gramercy Tavern owner Danny Meyer, who can’t eat just one, either!
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (yes, this is the correct amount!)
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp brewed espresso (or you can use reconstituted espresso powder)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsalted butter
5 oz extra-bittersweet chocolate (70% or higher), chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, briefly whip the eggs to break them up. Add the sugar, espresso, and vanilla and beat on high speed for 15 minutes, until thick. (This will help add body to the batter because there is so little flour in the recipe.)
While the eggs are whipping, place the butter in the top of a double boiler, or in a small metal bowl suspended over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, and scatter the extra-bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate on top. Heat until the butter and chocolate melt. Remove the boiler top from over the water and stir the chocolate and butter until smooth.
Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until partially combined (there should still be some streaks). Add the flour mixture to the batter and carefully fold it in. Fold in the chocolate chips. If the batter is very runny, let it rest until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Drop the batter by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets and bake until puffed and cracked, 8 to 9 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before removing from the baking sheets.
NOTE: Most of us use tablespoons to measure out cookie dough. Claudia calls for teaspoons, 1/3 the size of normal! If you want larger cookies or more of them, double the recipe.
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