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.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesA couple of months ago, my boss went on a weeklong health retreat. When she came back, she was totally crazy about some crisp-chewy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies she had while she was away, going so far as to bring a bag home with her. She insisted I try one before asking if I could replicate them. I agreed to try, but with some major reservations.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesMaking cookies without gluten meant I had to basically start from square one. You see, gluten-free baking is a lot different from standard baking. In recipe after recipe, I rely on the structural and textural qualities of regular all-purpose flour to keep my cookies soft and chewy. Gluten, a protein found in wheat (and a few other grains), is activated when the flour meets the wet ingredients. It develops as the dough mixes and allows cookies to bake up super chewy. Without it, I was lost.

I looked around online for the recipe from the retreat itself, but came up empty. I also checked a couple of well-regarded gluten-free baking blogs to see if they had anything that might be similar to those cookies, but I had no such luck. I finally went to the source, looking at the list of ingredients on the side of the bag and going from there. With that list and my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, I set out to recreate those cookies, figuring it would take two or three solid tries.

It took two months and ten batches. Oy.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesGluten-Free Chocolate Chip CookiesBut here they are, my Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re not exact replicas of the cookies my boss brought home (they’re definitely not crisp), but they are damn good. The base of these cookies is a combination of a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, almond meal, a touch of ground chia seed, and a little bit of leavener. Together with the wet ingredients, this combination bakes up into soft, tender cookies.

Since these cookies don’t have any gluten, they are not as chewy or puffy as the others you see on this site. I tried adding different quantities of almond meal and adjusting the leaveners in an attempt to get a chewier texture and a puffy shape, but those attempts resulted in cookies that puffed but didn’t spread, and were so crumbly that they practically disintegrated after one bite! My Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are a little on the thinner side, but the tender texture and hint of caramel-almond flavor more than make up for it.

I don’t know that I’ll ever fully understand gluten-free baking, but I am really happy with this recipe. My boss and her teenage son both loved these cookies, so I must be doing something right.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
3/4 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons ground chia (or ground flaxseed)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup turbinado sugar (or sucanat)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together gluten-free all-purpose flour, almond meal, ground chia, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add turbinado sugar and maple syrup, and mix to combine. Beat in egg and egg yolk, followed by vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing to combine completely. Mix in chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments (I use a medium cookie scoop), roll them into balls, and set them at least three inches apart on prepared pans. Use the heel of your hand to flatten them slightly. Bake cookies 8-10 minutes, until golden at the edges. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

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

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip BarsOne of these days, I’m going to get some sleep. I’ve been up before the sun for the last three days to do volunteer work, and in addition to my work schedule and attempt to have a social life, it’s made me into a little bit of a zombie (the good kind, who can’t put sentences together but has cookies).

They say that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person. In my experience, this is absolutely true. I do well when I have an extensive to-do list, but once I get on a roll, I have a hard time saying “no.” When you work 12-16 hours everyday, what’s the harm in adding an extra cake order or volunteering to do service at 6:30am, even though you haven’t gotten a full eight hours of sleep in a month? The days and weeks run together, and suddenly you can’t remember the last time you took a full day off.

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip BarsI have reached this point, and with nothing that I have to do this weekend (yet), I am really hoping to spend Saturday and Sunday eating takeout and watching Netflix. Will this actually happen? Who knows. But it’s giving me something to dream about while I skitter around Brooklyn checking things off my to-do list.

When I am super busy, I have to find ways to keep my energy up without consuming too much caffeine. I stick to two large coffees per day–if I have more than that, it will be impossible for me to sleep at night. Instead, I try to eat a lot of nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. Lately, it’s been a lot of huge green smoothies and small, high-protein meals. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been baking and eating treats–it’s my job, after all.

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip BarsThese Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars are my new favorite thing. They’re soft and chewy, like a combination between a blondie and a muffin, with a pronounced banana flavor and chocolate in every bite! And they’re just the slightest bit healthier than your average cookie. These bars are made with white whole wheat flour and old-fashioned oats, so they’re completely whole grain. I also cut the sugar in this recipe, but rest assured that they still taste like dessert!

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars are a wonderful way to end the day (I highly recommend having one warm with vanilla ice cream), but they’re also great for tucking into school lunches or carrying with you for a snack while you’re on the go. Just because you’re super busy doesn’t mean you can’t take two minutes to treat yourself, right?!

Looking for more whole grain recipes? Check out these Whole Grain Cranberry-Orange Snack Bars and Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars
makes one 9-inch pan, about 16 bars

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 very ripe medium banana, mashed
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch square pan, line it with parchment, and butter it again. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together white whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in dark brown sugar, followed by banana, egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture until completely combined. Beat in oats followed by chocolate chips.
Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Place the full pan on a rack and let cool completely. Chill bars for 30-60 minutes before slicing.

Bars will keep covered at room temperature for up to five days.

Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies

 Father’s Day is this Sunday, and I’ve been thinking all day about what I would say about my dad. I mean, I’ve already said a lot–I wrote about him in my first blog post. But he’s such a great guy, I had to give him another. 

My dad is the kind of guy who taught his three daughters how to play golf, throw a baseball, and shoot hoops. But he also did the Father-Kid number at my dance recitals for seven years straight (and once in tights).

He works really hard and is always trying to better himself–intellectually, physically, in his chosen field, in relationships, you name it. His tagline is “Always go forward.” And he means it. Thank goodness that’s the line he uses most frequently–I don’t know how I would have worked “See that? *points to glass* That’s glass,” into this post. 

While my dad has had some success in his life, he is also one of the humblest people I’ve ever met. You can congratulate him on something he’s achieved and, after he thanks you, he’ll immediately turn the conversation to you and what you are achieving. This is something I try to emulate in every interaction I have.

I could go on and on about him, but let me just say this: my dad is a kind, sweet, compassionate, generous person. He has ambition coming out his ears. He loves my mom, his daughters, his friends, and his dog fiercely. If I become half the person he is, I will consider myself the luckiest girl on earth. 

My dad loves chocolate, especially brownies, and he always tops them with pecans that get super toasty while they bake. I’ve already made a pecan-topped brownie recipe on here though, so today, we’re going with blondies. But not just any blondies: Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies. They’re super chewy, filled with melty chocolate, and extra nutty from the toasted pecans and brown butter. 

I know my dad would love these and they’re so simple, he might even try to make them. The recipe only has eight ingredients and doesn’t require a mixer. It can be made start-to-finish in about forty minutes! The hardest part is browning the butter, and that takes almost no effort at all. You could make these blondies with regular melted butter and they would be great, but by taking the time to brown it, you add tons of rich, nutty flavor to the finished product. 

Browning butter is mostly letting butter melt over a burner and then letting it continue to cook until it turns a lovely shade of amber. The only real tip I have is not to take your eyes off the pan. Do not step away from the pan, even for a second. Butter can go from brown to burnt in the blink of an eye, and there are few things I hate more than wasting good ingredients.

To brown butter, start by melting a stick of butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Make sure to use a silver or white pan so you can clearly see the butter browning. Once the butter melts, it will start to bubble and crackle. Don’t be alarmed–this is just the water content evaporating. Once the crackling stops, swirl the pan occasionally for 4-7 minutes. You’ll see the milk solids in the butter gradually start to brown. You’ll know your brown butter is ready when you smell the most amazing, deeply nutty, buttery aroma coming from the pan. At this point, turn off the heat and pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl. That’s it!

Mix your brown butter with brown sugar, an egg, some vanilla, flour, and salt. Fold in some toasted pecans and chocolate chips before spreading the batter into a pan and baking it for 20 minutes. Let the blondies cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. 

If I were going to be anywhere near the great state of Texas this weekend, I’d make these Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies and serve them warm with ice cream, just how my dad likes his brownies. They’re fantastic at room temperature too, and perfect for packing into a box to deliver to all the great dads in your life.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddio! 

 Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies
makes one 8×8″ pan, about 9-16 blondies

1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter, and dust with flour. Set aside.

Toast the pecans. Place pecans on a dry baking sheet. Place in the oven for 4-5 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely.

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 4-7 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.

Add brown sugar to the brown butter and stir to combine (it will be thick and look like wet sand). Whisk in egg and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula to stir in flour and salt, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in chocolate chips and toasted pecans.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let blondies cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan to release them (they should be sturdy enough to lift out of the pan in one piece). Slice and serve.

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

Granola Cookies

 By now, you all know how much I love granola. After a lifetime of insisting I hated it, I tried the homemade variety, and the rest is history. There is always a giant jar of the stuff on my counter, full of crispy, glossy oats and whatever odds and ends I can find in my cookie mix-in cabinet.

Yes, I have an entire cabinet dedicated to cookie mix-ins. Doesn’t everybody?! 😜 

My current batch is a play on my Maple Pecan Granola, made with pecans and almonds, large flaked coconut, chia seeds, and brown rice syrup to encourage a little clustering. I usually eat it with yogurt and fruit, but last week, I got a little crazy and bypassed the breakfast option in favor of cookies.

I took my favorite chewy oatmeal cookie base, swapped in granola for 2/3 of the quantity of oats, and threw in some chocolate chips. Within an hour (because this dough doesn’t require a chill!), I was biting into warm, chewy, chocolaty, nutty Granola Cookies. 

I love this recipe as-is, but I’ve already been dreaming up other flavors. How about peanut butter? Swap in 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter for one stick of the softened butter, and use my Peanut Butter Granola! Yum! If you like dried fruit in your granola, you could swap out some or all of the chocolate chips for raisins, dried cranberries, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

You guys, these Granola Cookies are so good that I’ve made three batches in five days. I’m out of granola mid-week and I’m not even miffed about it. Nope–changing my routine in the name of dessert has been totally worth it. And even if it weren’t, I could console myself with a cookie or two. 

 Granola Cookies
makes about 5 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2 1/2 cups granola (homemade or purchased)
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

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

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

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in dark brown and granulated sugars, followed by eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture in two installments, mixing to combine. Beat in oats and granola, followed by chocolate chips. Drop dough by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, making sure the mounds of dough are at least 2 inches apart.

Bake 4 minutes. Rotate the sheet pans top to bottom in the oven before baking for an additional 4-5 minutes. Cookies are done when the tops are no longer doughy-looking. Let cool on the pans for five 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.