Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies.

Right off the bat, this post is lying to you.  Because, dear readers, these cookies are not giant.  What happened, quite unfortunately if you opened up this page with the hopes of reading about and in approximately two hours consuming said Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies, is that about two giant scoops of cookie dough in, I realized that not only did I not want 18 Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies, but what I really want was 32 smaller cookies and a glass of milk.  That and after about one and a half giant globs of cookie dough in, I realized each cookie, BB—before baking—weighed approximately 1.2 pounds each.*

So where does that leave the recipe and perhaps more importantly, the Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies?  Well, the result is 32 cookies somewhere between medium and large, with just enough surface area to contain both a chewy, slightly crispy rim and a dense, brownie like center.  Add in the nubs of toffee and toasted pecan and what you’ve got is a brownie in cookie form, complete with the hallmark of all Good Brownies- the dry-cracked, delicate cocoa-rich top.  These cookies beg for a glass of milk, they’re absolutely begging for a little dip in the tall-drink variety of a milky pool.

Why keep the name?  Say it out loud: Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies.  Now try: Medium-sized Chocolate Toffee Cookies.  More than just a mouthful, and pretty much a letdown, an anti-climactic title for such a devilishly luscious cookie.  And while these smaller cookies adhere to the don’t-eat-anything-bigger-than-your-head rule—a rule one should pay close attention to when trying to avoid the cemented-stomach, burrito-blockage type of feeling—it’s still nice to recall that these more midgeted cookies had larger, more aspirational origins.  They’ve simply evolved to a more streamlined, efficient point.  These chocolate-toffee cookies are so close to perfection in fact, that if you dare, you could, say, sandwich them together with a little chocolate ganache and still avoid the requisite couch-break after consuming just a morsel too much.  And if these cookies prove so delicious that you eat not two, but three or four, chances are you won’t collapse and have to be excused for overambitious chocolate consumption.  Granted, you’ll most likely have chocolate gumming up your teeth, but you’ll be functional.  Always a good thing.

So travel off to cookie land, but take into account that with cookies on the slightly smaller end of the spectrum, not only will the end result be approximately 1.5 times more numerous, but you can actually eat more cookies than if you had simply one Giant Cookie.  The only downside of which, perhaps, is that the more cookies you have, the less likely your fellow cookie consumers will feel guilty asking if they too could, please please, have a cookie and a glass of milk.  A good way to get out of this is, of course, to say the milk’s all gone whilst blocking the fridge door.

*Another lie, but this one at least has thematic aims.

 Recipe on the following page.

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Nutter Butters.

As it turns out, the food on this blog appears to be always ready for bed.* Tucked into comforters, pillows, towels, scarves, sweaters…yea, fine, I’ll admit it.  Those beautiful backdrops?  Definitely my bedding, and might I just say, they’ve never looked better.

But back to food ready-for-bed.  What exactly qualifies food to be bed-ready, to have graduated from the boring old dining room or kitchen table and upgrade to the clearly superior, comfier down-arena?  As it turns out, not much.  A couple napkins laid down as a shield, a tray if you’re feeling particularly ambitious and domestic.  Even better, if the tray is the day’s newspaper and a coffee mug is sitting slanted on the mattress, just on the upright side of tipping.  Food in bed, much like food outside is delicious, regardless really, of whatever it is.  If it’s breakfast, then you’re not really pushing the boundaries of mealdom, but if you’ve graduated lunch to bed, tea to bed, or the most daring, dinner in bed…more power to you. Or you’re in college and have no other furniture.

On the scale of bedfood, ranking from normal to outrageous, a homemade Nutter Butter skews more towards the left.  (About a two.)  Nothing too adventurous, simply a sandwich cookie.  But a buttery, rich, chewy sandwich cookie spawned by Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery.  Which means that for every batch of cookies, a million pounds, (fine, one and a quarter), of butter is used.  Below is only a half-batch, and it’s more than enough.  In true form, Keller and his cohort have elevated a guilty-please packaged cookie to a home baked treat to be proud of.  With the addition of oatmeal, pure vanilla extract and crunchy peanuts, these Nutter Butters are the cracked-out, overachieving version of the supermarket variety.  They’re peanuty, chewy, and rich.  Perfect.

What I’ve discovered is that, in the warmth, soft, squishy comfort of bed, any guilt accrued during cookie eating magically disappears.  So you can eat one, two, three…and a glass of milk.  And if delusional is the game of the day, the eaten cookies can be easily pushed towards dreamland.  Cookies?  Who ate them?  Not me, I was in bed…

*An uncle has pointed out the bed-readiness of this food.

Recipe on the following page.

World Peace Cookies.

World Peace Cookies, the sister cookie of the New York Times Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, are absolutely required for all food bloggers of any kind to make, post and as it seems to follow, adore.  Dorie Greenspan’s ultimate little treat.  Although I may be a little bit behind the ball, I’ve happily joined the lemming line.  Eggless, packed with butter, these World Peace Cookies are chocolate shortbread rounds punched up and overloaded.  Baked up, they taste just as good, if not better than the pre-baked cookie dough, which is really the best part.  They’re delicious, perfect little cookies.

The idea behind the ‘world peace’ name is that if everybody had one of these cookies, there would be peace in the world.  Not just because every person would be satiated and their mouths would be plugged up with cookies, the little spouts of dissent stopped, but because every single cookie-gifted person would be content with life, and happy enough to live in peace.  It’s a nice idea, in fact it’s a great idea.  The story is a huge part of appeal.  But, while these cookies are phenomenal– let’s be clear, I’d never turn one down– I couldn’t say if they’re world-peace-worthy.  World peace is a big undertaking, and while it’s fun to imagine cookies dressed up in pageant wear answering ‘why yes sir, world peace is my number one goal in life,’ I don’t know if this is the cookie to do it.  I ate one, or four, and certainly felt more peaceful, but then the cookie-love wore off.  (Really, I took a nap and woke up with a desire for more cookies.)  When the cookie-bliss was gone, all I wanted was more and I would have gotten a little violent.

Thank god then, we have a four-gallon cookie jar.

Clearly, the answer is to embark on a Cookie Mission.  A quest for the ultimate cookie, the cookie that after eating just one, for the rest of life you are a peaceful person.  It’s possible that these World Peace Cookies are as close to being worthy of the World Peace Cookie name, but I couldn’t say.  I’m going to have to eat more cookies.

Recipe on the following page.

Georgetown (Baked and Wired).

If last week’s testimony to Georgetown coffee shop and bakery Baked and Wired didn’t convince you to visit, if the idea of banana cupcakes topped with peanut butter frosting and chocolate drizzle somehow didn’t justify a leisurely stroll, Metro ride, drive, train trip, plane flight, sail…let me try again.

Yes, it may takes upwards of ten minutes for espresso drinks, yes there is never anywhere to sit and yes, sometimes the lines are extreme.  But, it’s worth it.  That’s what I’ve concluded.  While, during the ten minutes after you place your espresso order, it may seem like torture, caffeine-deprived torture, once that perfectly capped, wet-foam drink is in your hands, in your stomach, poured over your head or drizzled onto your eye if eyeballing is the game du jour, the wait is worth it.  Always.

On the plus side, if you go during normal hours on the weekdays, for a mid-morning, lunchtime, mid-afternoon or casual evening visit, there are generally nominal or no lines.  (Though the requisite ten or so minutes still happen. Good espresso takes time, a sentiment that is rapidly becoming the ultimate Catch-22 of my short life.  I desperately need it to wake up and function, but I have to go, purchase and wait.)

In a town that seems to run on good espresso, with Dupont’s Dolcezza and Filter and Chinatown’s Chinatown Coffee Company rounding my top favorite espresso shops, Baked and Wired has the additional plus of a lovely pastry case.

Never a bad thing.

Coffee Macarons with White Coffee Filling.

There is no contest between macarons and cupcakes, or even macarons and whoopee pies.  Dubbed the next ‘cupcakes’ in terms of baked good trends by Bon Appetit, macarons and whoopee pie have been set up for an explosive entry into mass consumption.  Move aside cupcake bakeries of the 2000’s, you’ve been replaced.  (Thank god.)

But the macaron, that little French sandwich cookie comprised of two delicate almond meringue shells and any number of luscious, rich fillings, that little bite of perfectly crunchy and chewy, light yet substantial sweetness, has no competition.  In terms of the macaron vs. the cupcake vs. the whoopee pie, the macaron wins.  Sorry America, but France has got you in the pastry department once again.  It happens.  Let’s be real, a whoopee pie is simply an overgrown Oreo anyways.  Never fear though, macarons can be made on U.S. soil, and with quite lovely results.

The macaron is, I’ll say it, my favorite cookie.  Quite a statement, and one that is continually up for discussion.  Particularly since the dialogue of ‘my favorite cookie’ requires that I eat many, many cookies.  C’est la vie.  The macaron is a treat of contrasts, with a crisp outer shell giving way to a moist and sticky interior.  And the flavor options, they’re endless.  By contemporary macaron standards—since clearly this little sweet is of the magnitude to deserve standards and categorization, scales and rankings—a Coffee Macaron with White Coffee Filling is practically mundane.  Delicious and perfect each and every bite, but a bit boring.  Lacking in any sort of crumb or hibiscus infusion, the coffee macarons are the Plain Janes of the macaron world.  But they’re unabashed in their simplicity, and the perfect treat for any coffee lover.

A recent reason for macarons besting all other bite-sized sweets is this weekend’s ‘airplane test.’  Because clearly, pastry comparisons require high-altitude testing.  On my flight back to Washington from California, I packed two cute little coffee macarons in my carry-on knowing that, of course, they would be squished and broken in six hours.  And they were absolutely mangled.  But even flattened and glued together in a coffee macaron mass they were delicious.  Rich and lacy, the macaron blob was a brilliant breakfast.  Now, imagine a cupcake or whoopee pie blob.  Not as inviting, and more the texture of paste.

So if anything, make macarons not for their pretty little shells or the little snap that occurs when you bite into them, make macarons because they are the of best airplane snacks.

Yes, better than peanuts.

Recipe on the following page.