It’s Christmas! This is such a great time of year for so many reasons, from family and friends to seasonal aromas and festive decorations. In the spirit of all that is good about this time of year, I wanted to share a few things I’ve been working on and some photos from season’s past, as well as recipe for what I think are the finest chocolate chip cookies around – perfect to entertain family with or to enjoy for yourself.
Giving food is one of the best ways I’ve found to let someone know that I care about them, and this year I prepared two dishes to bring to family gatherings throughout the month.
First, a riff on Martha Stewart’s Baking Powder Biscuits, this time made with fresh chives and glazed with an egg wash from Jonathan Duffy Davis’ Tule Peak eggs. Check out the recipe and get creative!
Second, with apples in plentiful varieties at the market, I made an apple-cranberry crisp that was topped with oat crumbles, and then gilded with a caramel cream sauce. This was from an old Bon Appetit magazine I had… and it turned out great!
I had lofty goals of making a large gingerbread house this season… and I got off to a great start! Then LIFE got in the way, and now I have 4 heavy blocks of gingerbread dough ready to make facades out of… perhaps I should freeze it!
I also will confess… to save money on the dough (I justified my purchase because nobody would actually EAT the house) I used margarine. And as luck (or bad luck) would have it, I ran out of butter and needed to use the margarine in a another recipe! I cannot tell a lie… and the feeling of guilt is eating me alive!
And with much more success that the gingerbread house, I made beautiful nut brittles of golden amber caramel. Packaged on porcelain serveware, they were fashioned with satin bows and a tiny jeweler’s hammer to crack the candy into smaller pieces. Let’s hope that no one shatters the platter it’s on!
Finally, cooking with my nephews is always a priority, and this year we made cookie boxes for them to take to their classmates and teachers. While the boxes contained many types of cookies, the star was the Chocolate Chunk. They are the perfect consistency; the salty-sweet delight we all want in a cookie. The recipe is at the very end of this post, below my sign off!
As I look forward to 2016 and all of the things to share, I am excited to know that new horizons are on the way. So much to cook, so much to learn, and so much to experience. Have a lovely holiday with your family, friends and loved ones! Merry Christmas and happy 2016!
~ Jonathan Dye
Chocolate Chunk Cookies
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. baking soda
1 ¾ sticks butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
12 oz. chocolate chunks
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Position 1 rack in the upper third and 1 rack in the lower third of an oven. Preheat the oven to 350. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla, whole egg and egg yolk and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat just until smooth, about 1 minute, stopping the mixer to occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chunks.
Shape the dough into 24 balls, each 2 tbs., and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Place 1 sheet on the top rack of the oven and 1 sheet on the bottom rack. Bake until the cookies are golden brown, the edges are set and the centers are still a little soft, 16 to 18 minutes; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and 180 degrees halfway through baking.
Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool completely. Repeat to bake the remaining sheet of cookie dough. Makes 24 cookies.