Midpeninsula Post

Publisher’s picks: Our top 3 cookie recipes

The one and only Gil Rubinstein holds up his home-baked cookies for a hungry Midpeninsula Post staff. (Tomoki Chien)

Over the hundreds of days I’ve had the privilege of being a member of the Post’s staff, many people have asked me many different questions — yet no question tops the one that led to the inception of this piece. It was first brought to my attention when I was presenting to a group of middle schoolers about our intro to journalism educational program. 

I had finished my spiel about the wonders of local news and the utility of student newsrooms, at which point I asked the crowd for questions. They asked me about founding the Post, professional newsrooms and some other not-so-interesting stuff when compared to the last question I took. “So, are there any snacks?”

Indeed there are, almost every week, often courtesy of yours truly. Below are recipes for the three best cookies I’ve baked for our team, adapted from the New York Times (subscription required) for convenience, taste and baking experience. Each recipe is distilled, easy to make, and fundamentally similar: You beat together butter and sugar, add egg and flavoring, add a leavening agent and flour, chill, then bake. 

Cookie dough freezes well, so it’s convenient to make a bunch and save them for later. If baking from frozen, bake at the recommended temperature, and just keep an eye on the cookies. Every home oven is different, so it’s best to judge your cookies’ doneness by visual indicators instead of time. Each recipe requires some sort of an electric mixer. I prefer a hand mixer for its easy cleanup and control, but a stand mixer works just as well.

I hope you enjoy these cookies, or at least enjoy learning what we eat. Each recipe also includes a reaction from one of our staff members. Ultimately, it is up to you to evaluate the validity of each reaction for yourself after consumption of a given recipe.

Without further ado:

1. Bourbon and rye dark-chocolate chunk cookies
Adapted from “Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies” by Amanda Hesser.

Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. These cookies benefit from a depth of flavor not found in a traditional store-bought dough, made possible by some unusual ingredients. Bourbon, alongside high-quality vanilla extract, elevates the flavor of the vanilla and adds a unique taste. All the alcohol evaporates during the baking process. The rye flour, in marriage with browned butter, creates a wonderful nutty flavor. If you are to make only one recipe out of this list, may it be this one.

“This is good.” — Melody Xu, community editor (Allison Huang)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 room-temperature eggs
  • 2 cups chopped dark chocolate
  • 16 tablespoons (two sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup rye flour

Makes between 20-40 cookies, depending on your interpretation of “portion the dough into 3 tablespoon balls.”

PREPARATION

Line 3-4 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Take eggs out of the fridge so they can get to room temperature. Chop up a dark chocolate of choice — the goal is chunks of mixed sizes, so don’t stress over pieces of varying size.

Step 1: Brown the butter

In a light-colored pan or saucepan over medium-high heat, carefully melt the butter. Keep it going until you can smell a nutty fragrance and the milk solids turn a golden hue. Immediately scrape the butter into your heatproof bowl, and let cool till slightly thickened. 

Step 2: Make the dough

Cream together your browned butter and sugars until light and fluffy, between three to five minutes. Add the eggs, mix until combined, then add vanilla and bourbon. Add in the baking soda and salt, mix until combined, and mix in flour until you have a homogeneous mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.

Step 3: Portion and chill the dough

Portion the dough into 3 tablespoon balls, and chill until firm. A spring-loaded ice cream scoop works well here.

Step 4: Bake and consume

Space cookies three inches apart and bake at 325 degrees for around 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. If baking more than one sheet at once, rotate halfway through and adjust baking time to compensate for heat loss. Once out of the oven, let cool until you can pick it up in one piece, and consume. These go well with a coffee, cold milk or ice cream. 

2. Chocolate chocolate-chip cookies
Adapted from “Double Chocolate Chip Cookies” by Samantha Seneviratne.

These cookies are thick, fudgy and rich; they’re the kind of cookie that require a cold glass of milk alongside to help wash them down. You’ll need to chill the dough, but you can just freeze it till firm instead. These cookies will only be as good as the chocolate you put into them, so splurge on fancy chocolate wafers if you can. They create wonderful pockets of chocolate throughout the cookie, and are often made of higher quality cocoa than a toll house chip.

“Overwhelmingly chocolaty.” — Eason Dong, photographer (Allison Huang)

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup grams dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup grams granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate discs/wafers

Makes between 10-20 cookies.

PREPARATION

Bring your butter and egg to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Make space in your freezer for a sheet pan full of cookie dough.

Step 1: Make the dough

Cream together the butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, roughly five minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Then, add in your salt, baking powder and baking soda. Once combined, slowly add cocoa powder and flour and incorporate fully. Fold in chocolate discs.

Step 2: Portion and chill the dough 

Portion the dough into 4 tablespoon balls, place on a baking sheet, and freeze for roughly 15 minutes, or until firm.

Step 3: Bake and consume

Space cookies roughly 4 inches apart (they will spread significantly) on a baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes. The cookies may feel underdone in the center when you remove them from the oven. Let cool until you can pick one up without it collapsing, and consume with a glass of cold milk.

3. Peanut butter miso cookies
Adapted from “Peanut Butter-Miso Cookies” by Krysten Chambrot.

Of the three, this is by far the most controversial cookie pick. You need to make sure to use a mild, white miso, and let the cookies rest in your fridge for as long as possible. The longer they stay in the fridge, the mellower the miso flavor will be. This recipe benefits from rolling the cookies in sugar, so if you have a large-crystal demerara or turbinado sugar that’s great, but any granulated sugar will work. 

“This actually isn’t that bad!” — Naina Srivastava, news editor (Allison Huang)

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup milliliters white miso paste
  • ⅓ cup/60 milliliters creamy peanut butter (natural if you have it)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ¾ all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup large-crystal sugar for rolling, plus more as needed

Makes about 20 cookies.

PREPARATION

Get a large mixing bowl, electric mixer and spatula. Clear enough room in the fridge for a sheet tray full of cookie dough. 

Step 1: Make the dough

Combine butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in your bowl and cream until light and fluffy, roughly five minutes. Add in the miso and peanut butter, mix well, then scrape down the side of the bowl with a spatula. Add egg and vanilla. Mix in baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in the flour, roughly ⅓ at a time, until well combined. 

Step 2: Portion and chill the dough

Put your rolling sugar in a bowl, portion the dough into 3 tablespoon balls, then roll them in the sugar. Place them on a baking sheet to chill, preferably overnight.

Step 3: Bake, beat, eat

When ready to bake, space balls of dough at least three inches apart, and bake in a 350 degree oven. After 15 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven, and hit it against a counter or stovetop. Put the sheet back in the oven for about four minutes, hit it against a counter or stovetop, and let cool. 

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