Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter.

Chocolate Chip.

Cookie Cake.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeTake it from someone who has made three of these cakes since Saturday—this stuff is dangerous.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeIt’s basically one huge chocolate chip cookie that’s been amped up with brown butter. Oh, and the brown butter is melted rather than chilled and softened, so this is a no-waiting, no-mixer recipe. And there’s tons of deep caramel flavor from dark brown sugar. And chocolate chips.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeIt’s dangerous, I tell you.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeDid I mention the Chocolate Buttercream? It’s pretty important—I consider it one of the two things that makes this dessert a cake instead of just a gigantic cookie (the other is that it’s baked in a cake pan). This frosting is everything. Seriously. It’s sweet, buttery, and intensely chocolaty, but also almost ethereally light and fluffy. And easy. And difficult to stop eating with a spoon once you’ve finished using it for decoration 😬

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeSo basically what I’m saying is that you absolutely should make this Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, but don’t attempt it alone. You’ll need someone to keep you from eating the whole thing.

Luckily for all of us, it’s always more fun to share dessert.Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes 1 9-inch round cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For decoration:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk dark brown sugar into the brown butter, followed by egg and yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 20-22 minutes, until the top no longer appears shiny.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan before inverting the cake onto the rack. Revert onto a serving plate. Decorate with Chocolate Buttercream and sprinkles as desired.

Decorated cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Chocolate Buttercream
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here), or spread with an offset icing knife.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsWhy is it that I always want to make pie when I simply don’t have the time? I would love to take a week off of work just to make pie and drink cold brew, but I know for a fact that I would make exactly one pie and spend the rest of the week trying to get to the beach.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsI’m looking forward to many adventures this summer, but for now, it’s mostly business as usual: lots of work, lots of baseball-watching, lots of late nights, pounds and pounds of seasonal fruit, and every intention of making pie. But again, there is no time for all the rolling and cutting and chilling that goes with pie. Not this week, anyway. I think I’ll just stick with these Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars instead.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsThese bars have everything you love about sweet cherry pie, but are half the work. Less than half, even. There’s buttery crust and crunchy, nubbly topping. There’s sticky, not-too-sweet cherry filling. And there’s exactly zero chilling, rolling, crimping, and railing at the universe because the heat is melting all the butter in your must-must-must-stay-cold pie dough. That’s my kind of summer day dessert.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread Bars come together fairly quickly and are very simple to make. Leave your mixer in the cabinet—you won’t need it today. Just fold together a couple pounds of pitted sweet cherries (feel free to use frozen), sugar, nutmeg, cornstarch, and salt. I like to add a bit of almond extract too, as it pairs well with cherries, but feel free to leave it out if you don’t have any or are allergic to tree nuts. The filling will look powdery at first, but it will release some liquid as it sits.

The next step is making the shortbread. I freaking love shortbread. It requires minimal ingredients and ability, and is far more than the sum of its parts. Here, it serves as both the crust and the topping. To make this shortbread, just rub cold butter into a mixture of flour, sugar, and salt. A cohesive dough will not form—the mixture will be powdery overall, but should hold together when pinched. Once the butter is broken down in the dry ingredients, set aside a cup of the mixture for topping.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread BarsNext, assemble the bars. Pour the remaining shortbread mixture into a foil-lined square baking dish and press it into an even layer. Then, dock it with a fork.

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread BarsSweet Cherry Shortbread BarsTop the crust with the cherry mixture, discarding any excess liquid. Grab that reserved cup of the shortbread mixture. Working with just a little bit at a time, pinch it together and scatter little clumps of dough over the cherries. When that’s done, bake the assembled bars for 40-50 minutes, transferring the pan to the bottom rack at the halfway point. You’ll know they’re done when the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled. Oh, and when your kitchen smells incredible 😊

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsAnd now, for the hard part—cooling. Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars must cool to room temperature before you slice them. It’s the difference between the clean edges you see here and a gooey, crumbly mess. If you are short on time (or just impatient), you may place the pan in the freezer once you can handle it without oven mitts. It’ll bring the bars to room temperature in 45 minutes or so.

Once the bars are cool, use the foil overhang to remove them to a cutting board and peel off the foil. I find this easiest to do by removing the foil on the sides, slicing the bars, and then using a thin spatula to lift them from the foil on the bottom. However you go about it though, you’re in for a treat. 

Sweet Cherry Shortbread BarsLook at these beauties! That buttery, flaky shortbread and the beautiful cherry filling—I can’t get enough. Who needs pie when you can have Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars?!Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars

Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars
makes one 9-inch square pan, about 9 bars

Cherry Filling:
2 pounds whole sweet red cherries, stemmed and pitted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease foil with butter. Set aside.

Make cherry filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine pitted cherries, sugar, nutmeg, cornstarch, salt, and almond extract. Fold everything together with a silicone spatula. Set aside, stirring occasionally, while you make the shortbread.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for topping.

Pour remaining shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Pour cherries over the top, discarding any excess liquid.

For the topping, use your fingers to pinch together small portions of the reserved shortbread mixture. Scatter them over the top of the cherry layer.

Bake bars on the top rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Move bars to the bottom rack and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled. Tent with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let bars cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature.

Use foil overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Carefully peel off foil (see post above for my method). Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into nine squares. Serve.

Leftover Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to four.

Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesHave we talked about how much I love grocery shopping? Walking into Trader Joe’s is basically like going to Disneyland for me. Yes, I am a huge nerd. Ostensibly, I’m there to get basics–eggs, milk, a green vegetable so I don’t get scurvy from my insane flour consumption #bakerlife. But then, there’s the fun part: walking the aisles in search of new ingredients. There are so many possibilities in cooking and baking, and finding a new flour or cookie mix-in sparks my creative energy like nothing else.

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesMatcha Chocolate Chip CookiesThe problem with this habit is that when I unload my grocery bags and put my stuff away, I often forget about that new favorite ingredient for months. Exhibit A: this tub of matcha, a Japanese green tea that I positively adore. I bought it at the health food store months ago, put it in a cabinet and totally forgot about it. That’s a shame for two reasons:

  1. I love matcha’s earthy, bitter, ever-so-slightly savory green tea flavor. Sign me up for all of the matcha lattes and green tea ice cream.
  2. Matcha is pricey! That little tub was $20. (It’s less expensive online.)

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesSo today, let’s put that long-forgotten matcha powder to use and make some cookies! These Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies are crazy good, y’all. If you’ve got a matcha-lover in your life, make them a batch! They’ll adore the soft, green tea-spiked cookie and the hit of chocolate. Mmhmm.

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesNow, before I get to the recipe, I want to explain a few things. This dough, while simple to put together, doesn’t follow all the same rules as my usual cookie doughs. For one, it doesn’t require any softened butter, so this is a no-mixer recipe! The butter in these cookies is melted instead, but it’s not quite as easy as just adding sugar and eggs to melted butter. Don’t worry–it’s still simple.

Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesMatcha Chocolate Chip CookiesThese cookies start with melting butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and matcha powder together on the stove. This technique is called blooming–it allows the flavor of the tea to infuse the butter, making for a richer-tasting cookie. I won’t lie to you, the bloomed matcha butter looks dark, sludgy (ew), and a little unappealing, but the flavor this process brings to the finished cookies is totally amazing.

The rest of the recipe is pretty standard–whisk a couple of eggs and some vanilla into the melted matcha mixture, fold in some dry ingredients and chocolate chips. Chill the dough for a few hours so the butter saturates the flour and the cookies don’t over-spread. Then scoop the dough into balls, bake on parchment-lined pans, and dig in!Matcha Chocolate Chip CookiesMatcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies right here? They’re soft, chewy, chocolaty matcha heaven. Make them a part of your weekend 😊Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons matcha powder
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, combine butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and matcha powder. Melt together over low heat, whisking occasionally, until combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool slightly.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

Whisk eggs into the melted matcha mixture one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix dry ingredients into wet in two installments. Carefully fold in chocolate chips–they may melt slightly. Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments (I use a medium cookie scoop) and roll into balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Sometimes I go weeks without any new recipe ideas. Other times, they just come to me out of the blue. One minute, I’m adding cashews to the filling of my Paleo Cheesecake, and the next, I’m totally consumed with the idea of Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles. Sometimes, it just hits me.

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Y’all, I am all about these cookies. They’ve got everything you love about Snickerdoodles: a crisp edge and loads of cinnamon-sugar flavor. As an added bonus, they just happen to be vegan and gluten-free!

As I’ve mentioned before, there is a three-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe that’s been around forever. The gist is that if you mix 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, and an egg into a dough, you can make some seriously good peanut butter cookies. I’ve used that recipe as my starting place for a few recipes, this one included.

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Here, creamy cashew butter provides structure and fat–no need for flour or butter. Cornstarch and baking powder are added to keep the cookies tender. You could certainly use a large egg in this dough, but I opted for a flax egg in an effort to keep these treats vegan. The cookies are sweetened with a combination of granulated and brown sugars and flavored with cinnamon and vanilla.

The dough comes together in just a few minutes. It will seem a little crumbly, but should hold together well when pinched. Roll it into balls and then coat them in cinnamon sugar before baking. Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles bake in less than ten minutes. They will be very puffy when they come out of the oven–you may leave them like that or tamp them down with a small spoon, as I have.

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}These cookies, y’all. They’re tender, loaded with Snickerdoodle flavor, and because they’re vegan and gluten-free, more people can enjoy them! I shared some with my vegan, gluten-free friend, VJ, and she was all about the buttery cashew flavor and huge hit of cinnamon. She said that she might like these more than traditional Snickerdoodles! I don’t know about that–Snickerdoodles are hard to beat–but I do know that you should make these.Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 2 dozen small cookies

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed*
2 tablespoons warm tap water
1 cup creamy-style cashew butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Coating:
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Make a flax egg. In a small bowl, combine ground flaxseed and water. Stir together and let sit for five minutes, until thickened.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cashew butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar until combined. Mix in flax egg and vanilla. Beat in cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Dough will be crumbly, but should hold together when pinched,

Make the coating. In a small bowl, use a fork to stir together cinnamon and sugar until evenly mixed.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon and form into balls. Roll each ball in the coating and set on the prepared baking sheet. Dough balls should be 2 inches apart. Bake 8-9 minutes, until very puffy. Lightly press the top of each cookie with a small spoon. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

If you are not vegan, you may use a large egg (at room temperature) in place of the flax and water. Proceed with the recipe as written.

Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesIt’s the most wonderful time of the year…for me, at least. The 89th Annual Academy Awards are happening this Sunday. I look forward to them all year long.

Yes, I know that awards shows are silly, but I don’t care. I have always loved movies, even going so far as to go to film school. My life and career ended up going in a totally different direction, but my love of cinema has remained. I’ve seen the major nominees, I have my opinions and my books of statistics,* and come Sunday night, I’ll be parked in front of the TV, happy as a clam.

*Yes, I have homemade books of Oscar statistics. Don’t you?!

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesNow, I have a lot of Oscar Sunday traditions. For one, I don’t watch them with anyone. I get pretty riled up, so I feel like it’s best that I watch alone. The only person with whom I really interact is my best friend, Tad. We met at a failed screening of Shrek 2 twelve years ago, realized that we were the only two people on our college campus who took the Oscars seriously, and have been talking about them ever since. He lives in San Francisco, so we can’t watch together, but we text back and forth all night.

My other big tradition? Red Velvet Cake. I posted my recipe (and my best-ever Cream Cheese Frosting) on here last Oscar weekend. I just love the chocolate-vanilla flavor of Red Velvet Cake, and it’s perfect for Oscar night because it’s red like the red carpet! It’s a little silly for me to make a whole layer cake for a night I am planning to spend by myself, so I’m changing it up this year and celebrating with these Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies!

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesThese cookies are a twist on my favorite Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies. They’re souped up with cocoa powder in place of some of the flour, a touch of vinegar, and an extra egg yolk to keep them just a little bit soft. As far as the color goes, I reach for gel food coloring. I do not recommend using liquid red food coloring in this recipe as it will change the chemical makeup of the cookies, making them spread or become cakey, or both. Yuck. Red gel food coloring can be found at Target, craft stores, and your local kitchen supply.

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesThe cookie dough is easy to roll and cut, and the cookies won’t spread as they bake. That’s right–once your cookies are cut into cute shapes and placed in the oven, you won’t have to worry about them warping. It’s the dream. I love that my little Oscars (made with a mummy cutter and some strips of dough) actually look like their namesake statuettes!

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesI decorate my Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies with Quick-Dry Royal Icing. I wrote a mini-tutorial about it during the holidays. I know royal icing can be intimidating, but trust me when I say that if I can use it, anyone can. Just draw the outlines and fill them in. It’s really fun to see these cookies come to life!

Will you be watching the Oscars? Have a great weekend, y’all!Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies

Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies
makes 3-4 dozen medium cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 oz (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon red gel food coloring

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
cookie cutters

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated sugar, followed by the egg, egg yolk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and gel food coloring. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one quarter of chilled dough at a time, roll it to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut with cookie cutters. Place cut cookies at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 6-7 minutes, until no longer raw-looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Quick-Dry Royal Icing
recipe barely adapted from SugarDeaux

3 tablespoons meringue powder
5 ounces warm water
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond or lemon extract
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 tablespoon corn syrup
water

Special Equipment:
small bowls
gel food coloring
piping bags (or plastic sandwich bags)
small round piping tips and couplers
squeeze bottles
toothpicks
sprinkles
luster dust
clear imitation vanilla or vodka

In a large mixing bowl, combine meringue powder and warm water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until doubled in size, about 1 minute. Mix in cream of tartar, vanilla, and almond extract. With the mixer running on low, add 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar. Mix in corn syrup. Add the remaining pound of confectioner’s sugar. Scrape down the bowl before beating on medium-low for an additional 30 seconds.

Divide icing among small bowls. Press plastic wrap to the surface of all exposed icing.

Make outline icing. Working with one bowl of icing at a time, add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until icing dribbled into the bowl forms a ribbon that fades within a few seconds. Stir in gel food coloring until the desired color is reached. Place 1/4 cup of icing into a piping bag with a tip. Alternatively, load icing into a plastic sandwich bag and snip a very tiny corner. Outline all cookies. Set aside to dry while you prepare fill icing.

Add water by the 1/2 teaspoon until the ribbon of icing fades into the bowls within 2 seconds. Load icing into squeeze bottles. Working with one cookie at a time, fill icing into outlined sections. Use toothpicks to coax fill icing evenly to the outlines.

Decorate with more icing or sprinkles, as desired (see post above). Let cookies dry uncovered at room temperature for 4-6 hours.

To get sheen (as seen on the Oscars and gold stars), mix 1/4 teaspoon luster dust and 1 tablespoon clear imitation vanilla or vodka in a small bowl. Use a clean small paint brush to paint a thin layer over the tops of the dried cookies. Allow to dry 1 hour.

Iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

For more information on decorating with royal icing, see this and this. Their royal icing recipes are not the same as the one used here, but the decorating tips are the same.