“If you have time, would it be possible for you to whip up a dessert for my birthday?” asked my friend Glenn. Normally I would automatically answer “Of course!” but Glenn was celebrating a “milestone” birthday by throwing a big weekend getaway event down in Monterey, completely with a dinner banquet. I was concerned that he wanted me to create some ersatz tiered-wedding cake extravaganza but thankfully I was told that it didn’t have to be like that. Just something simple and quick would be ok. You know, for 45 people. That also somehow referenced the theme for the party, which was nautical. With some creative naming, my brown butter chocolate chip cookies could fit this nautical theme, with the title “Not Your Average Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies”.
Now the week before his birthday was crazy hectic. I had been in a stressed-out panic state for various reasons (which I won’t go into right now) for the past week or two, and the weekend was quickly approaching. I was so pressed for time in fact, that I did not have a moment to make my usual chocolate chip cookie dough, the one that I cure in the fridge for 72 hours. The night before I sat down and thought to myself, I gotta bake something nautical themed for 45 people. Not one to give into a challenge, I figured out a way to make a darn good cookie, without the long wait involved.
Thankfully the cookies turned out ok. In fact, they turned out better than ok, with people raving about these soft chewy cookies at the party. AJ and I had driven down and put on our nautically themed clothing (apparently it’s not too hard to figure out a nautically themed outfit from your everyday wardrobe, well my everyday wardrobe at least) and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
AJ and I were relatively low key in our ensembles but many others went all out. Especially impressive was Jane who had a custom “Nauti-Girl” t-shirt and wore a lobster in her hair and a walked around with a fishing net around her shoulders. I LOVE that. Jane, flew in from London to help celebrate Glenn’s birthday. Though this is utterly stereotypical, and I think it had everything to do with the fact that she has a British accent, I pretty much felt like I was hanging out with Dawn French from French & Saunders whenever she opened her mouth (it helped that she was ridiculously funny like Dawn French too).
The nautical theme party was pretty darn fun. Even the kids got into theme, dressing like pirates, or in some cases, like a shark. I love theme parties where even the kids get into it!
Not only did people dress the part, they acted the part…of drunken sailors. At one point Glenn’s friend chased him around with the birthday cake, threatening to smash it into his face. I can’t remember the circumstances to why this happened. I’m also guessing that she can’t either.
The homemade cookies were a massive hit. In fact people seemed to be sneaking them off, taking them back to their room and talking about them left and right. Seems that everyone LOVED them. Beyond loved them in fact. Glenn’s boyfriend Curtis squirreled away six leftover ones, so that he and Glenn could enjoy them all for themselves post-party. He shushed me on more than one occasion when people complained that there weren’t any leftover cookies and I let them know that Curtis has a few in hiding.
The rest of the weekend was pretty magnificent as well. For some reason, after living in California for 13 years, AJ and I still had not made it to Big Sur. We fixed that by driving down and checking out the stunning cliffs on Highway 1. We stopped and got sandwiches at Café Kevah, the café underneath Nepenthe. The view made the generous sized sandwiches (seriously, we could have split one and been more than filled) even more fantastic. I’ve been slightly obsessed with Nepenthe after getting both the My Nepenthe cookbook by Romney Steel at a cookbook swap hosted by 18 Reason and Omnivore Books (A book I totally pounced on when I saw it), as well as Plum Gorgeous, the second book by Romney Steele, the granddaughter of the Nepenthe owners.
Heading back, we had a fantastic dinner with Glenn, celebrating his “milestone” birthday, enjoyed ourselves with friends, new and old and just generally had a blast. People kept on talking about my cookies, and asking me if I could give them recipe. I hadn’t planned on posting about, especially since I already have a chocolate chip cookie recipe here, but there is always room for one more chocolate chip cookie recipe right? Especially one that doesn’t require the long curing time in the fridge.
Happy birthday Glenn. I hope you have a great year. I was thrilled to be a part of your celebration.
These cookies have NOTHING to do with Chips Ahoy, other than the name. They are dense, chewy, soft, stuffed full of dark chocolate and complex with a huge amount of butterscotch undertones. I developed these to bypass the long curing process that my other chocolate chip cookies dough needs. In fact the first batch of cookies can be done in less than an hour. These aren’t better than those cookies, they’re just different (and equally good).
There are a few secrets that make these cookies stand out from the average chocolate chip cookie. One, I use dry whole milk powder to add a creamy depth to the cookie (if you can’t find dry whole milk powder, you can use dry nonfat milk powder but it won’t taste as rich – be sure to grind it into a fine powder if you can). Two, I use white whole wheat flour, which adds another dimension to the cookie that regular all purpose doesn’t. Three, instead of using chocolate chips, which usually don’t melt, I chop up chunks of chocolate from a bittersweet chocolate bar which gives it a better chocolate flavor. Most importantly is number four: the brown butter and all brown sugar – components of butterscotch. Together the cookies you have a quick cookie that taste different than my All American Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookie, but is equally fantastic.
240 g (1 3/4 cup) all purpose flour
240 g (1 3/4 cup) white whole wheat flour (an albino varietal of whole wheat that is milder in flavor but equally nutritious)
65 g (1/2 cup) dry whole milk powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teasoon sea salt
2 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
515g (2 1/4 cup) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
sea salt for top of cookie
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or piece of parchment paper.
2. Place the all purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, milk powder, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt into a medium mixing bowl. Using a balloon whisk, vigorously stir the dry ingredients together, until they well blended and uniform in color.
3. Place the butter in a large saucepan (preferably with a silver bottom) and cook on medium high heat until the fat particles of the butter start to brown and smell fragrant and nutty. Turn the heat off and continue to stir to cool the brown butter for a minute or two.
4. Place the brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Pour the brown butter onto the brown sugar and beat on medium high for at least 30 seconds, or until the butter has cooled to room temperature. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed until each egg is incorporated.
5. Add the vanilla extract and beat on medium to incorporate. Add the dry ingredients and beat on slow until completely incorporated. Add the chocolate, and slowly mix the dough until the chocolate is distributed.
6. Scoop out golf ball size balls of dough and roll into balls (about 3 oz each). Don’t worry if the cookie dough batter seems greasy. Place 2 inches apart for each other on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt (just a pinch).
7. Bake in the oven for 16 to 18 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Let cool on the pan for five minutes before moving them to a wire cooling rack to cool further.
makes 21 cookies