Secret Recipe Club, this is my second month in the group, and here we go with....cookies! I honestly wanted to make Orrechiette with Roasted Garlic Puttanesca, but I have been alone so much coming into this reveal, and then I had company but no time, so I opted to not do savory. I am going to make that, one of these days, but today, I went cookie. Loaded Colossal Cookie! Not boring old sugar cookies like I make in my sleep. Cookies my college kids are going to LOVE!
My blog assignment this month is Heavenly Treats and Treasures, and don't we sound like a perfect match! I was overwhelmed by how many things I wanted to make! Her bio is almost a mirror of my own. Southern mom, empty nester, mom is a great cook, loves to cook and bake. She even did a post about a William Sonoma product, the Emile Henry Pizza Stone, which she baked cookies on! What an idea, and I can do it with a discount! I think she is in Florida, but I am not sure. That is one thing about The Secret Club is you become a blog investigator, or blog creeper, depends on how you look at it!
What caught my attention with this recipe was first the picture. It is a giant cookie baked in an iron skillet. How fun is that? Total Southern right there. It reminds me of those kitschy Southern restaurants where you drink out of Mason jars and dessert comes in cast iron. I had to do it. Especially since the recipe is adapted from Jacques Torres, and is called his Secret Recipe Cookies. I mean he is Mr. Chocolate after all. Then I continued to read, and the recipe makes 3 batches of dough which she recommends making each a little different with chocolate chips, nuts etc. I love this idea from top to bottom. She used milk chocolate with almond, dark chocolate and almond toffee. I knew I would drop in some Halloween M&Ms, I miss those holiday treats around the house. Actually, I miss the kids who eat those holiday treats, around the house. My empty nest, is, well, especially empty. I am one who cries at a good commercial, and this month everything is having that effect on me. Baking care package cookies is very good therapy.
The recipe from her blog follows, but I hit a speed bump. I did indeed use the fall colored M&Ms, (which match my house perfectly, how Stepford is that?!) and I also had some leftover Guittard white chunks, and I threw in some bittersweet Guittard as well. So instead of 2 pounds I went more like 2½ pounds. My bad,ha, not bad at all! Then, I knew, buried in a cabinet, I had 2 cast iron pieces. It's been awhile, so as things are mixing I go and get my 12" skillet. Ah ha! I don't have one. I sell them. A lot of them. But I actually own a pot and a deep 8" skillet. (And frankly, they look pretty cruddy.) Not at all good for this. Then I remembered the summer clearance sale. I picked up a very cute copper tarte tatin pan. It is only 9", but like I said, cute. So I decided since Mr. Chocolate is French, it would work! I packed the dough in and popped it in the oven. I made giant cookie balls out of the rest of the dough.
1 lb. unsalted vanilla bean butter, browned, cooled, and chilled* (or if you prefer, use 1 lb. unsalted butter, softened at room temperature) seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour* - the original recipe called for pastry flour, but I also didn't have any on hand so I followed her lead and substituted a blend of cake flour and all purpose flour, which approximates the protein/gluten ratio of pastry flour. To make 4 cups of pastry flour whisk 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour + 1 1/3 cups cake flour together. You'll have about 3/4 cup more than you need for this recipe, so save the remainder for another use.
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds of high quality chocolate chips, wafers, or chunks - semisweet, milk, dark, or whatever combination you like. She recommends using Scharffen Berger, Callebaut, or Valrhona chocolate if you can get your hands on them. I concur, and I used Guittard. You know, discount.
The first step was making her vanilla bean brown butter. This is new for me, but I love brown butter, and decided I needed to make this for the full effect. Here are the directions from her post.
Cut each stick of one pound of unsalted butter into quarters. Add butter, 1 vanilla bean and the seeds to a medium saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns golden and smells nutty. If will foam and then begin to clear when it is almost ready. Remove butter from the heat and cool it slightly. Remove the vanilla bean, then cover and place it in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes, until it's the consistency of softened butter. I browned the butter and then added Vanilla Paste. I think the effect will be similar and it works when there are no vanilla beans in the pantry! And let me tell you...when I took this out of the fridge and chopped it up to soften a little quicker, the aroma was amazing. I have a BIG idea for this...stay tuned.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 12" cast iron skillet with canola oil. Or, if like me you only imagined you owned a cast iron skillet, grease a copper tarte tatin pan!
In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well before adding each one.
Add vanilla to the egg mixture and beat until well blended.
In a separate bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended.
Add 1/3 of flour mixture at a time to the batter, using an on/off pulsing motion until just about incorporated. After you add the last 1/3 of the flour, stop mixing just before it's all incorporated. Add the chocolate, a little at a time, mixing on low speed just until incorporated.
Spread 1/3 of the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for about 25-30 minutes on the center rack, just until golden on the edges but still soft in the center. Don't over bake!! It will continue to bake in the skillet when you remove it from the oven.
Cool on a baking rack for about 10 minutes.
She offers a recipe for a caramel drizzle on her blog, but I opted not to use it, since I will be taking this to my daughter. And remember, there are 2 sections of dough left. Which means, a box for Nic and some frozen dough for an emergency!
This was pure pleasure. I eat dough, not cookies, and this was tasty. Again, I was alone, so I had no one to taste the finished product before reveal. This is a keeper recipe, and I am going to hunt out some pastry flour to try it again. Many thanks to Heavenly Treats and Treasures, and I will be back some chilly fall night with her orecchiette. What are you waiting for? Get in there and bake! But first look around at the other reveals.
As a footnote, I baked up a couple of cookies when my hubby returned (he looked everywhere for the colossal one, but it had already gone to college!) They were so delicious right out of the oven. That browned vanilla butter was delicious!