As the old adage goes, the way to your man's heart is through his stomach. And since he probably bought you something awesome like that dress from Anthropologie (hint, hint), show him some love with a sugar, butter and booze-filled dessert. Not exactly a Susie Homemaker? No worries. Short Order gets a lesson in baking and love from Hedy Goldsmith just in time for Valentine's Day.
As the mastermind behind the recent Great American (baking) Novel, Baking Out Loud, Goldsmith has a unique view of food and love. "I believe that in this age of fast-forward multi-tasking, we are faced with less time to be with our loved ones," she says. "Giving someone you love a homemade baked gift sends a heartfelt message that you'd gladly give your time...instead of just clicking a button to buy online." Her key lesson in love sounds good to us: Nothing says 'I love you' like homemade cookies. Yum.
For a gift that's sure to please, Goldsmith shared with us her recipe for junk in da trunk cookies-- the perfect Valentine's treat that takes tastebuds for a salty-sweet ride. For extra precision in baking, pros swear by weighing ingredients-- especially flour-- making a kitchen scale like this one we reviewed by Joseph Joseph a must. Check out these weight conversions for common baking ingredients to eliminate vague measurements that oft leave you with a dessert that looks nothing like the picture.
For the ultimate boozy dessert, pair the cookies with a bourbon that's approachable like Buffalo Trace, a favorite of Goldsmith's. "I love bourbon paired with a buttery, rich chocolate and salty bits with caramel notes," she adds. So do we. Goldsmith recommends serving the smooth stuff with "one of those really big ass square ice cubes", because traditional ice melts too quickly. You can get a silicone tray to make the big cubes online from Casabella.
The best part about this recipe is the inclusion of leftovers. "This cookie is all about using whatever's in your pantry," says Goldsmith. "Odds and ends, post Super Bowl munchies-- just toss it into the cookies." Right on. We made the below recipe sans peanuts due to an allergy. Dare we say... it's the best we ever had! Cue The Who, happy Valentine's Day baby.
Junk in da Trunk
Makes 16 (2½- inch) cookies
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons of bourbon
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valrhona 70%), cut into ½-inch pieces
⅓ cup lightly crushed kettle-cooked potato chips
⅓ cup coarsely chopped salted pretzels
⅓ cup butterscotch morsels
12 malted milk balls, cut in half (about ⅓ cup)
⅓ cup salted peanuts (preferably Virginia), coarsely chopped
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
1. Sift together the flour and baking soda.
2. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until soft and smooth. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar and salt and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the egg, vanilla and bourbon and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until just blended. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
4. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate, potato chips, pretzels, butterscotch morsels, malted milk balls, and peanuts. Stir until just blended. Don't be concerned if it seems like there is more junk than cookie dough.
5. Using a 3-tablespoon ice cream scoop, shape the dough into balls and arrange them close together on a large plate or small baking sheet.
6) Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until well chilled. The dough can also be covered and refrigerated overnight, or up to 2 days before baking. Remember: Cold dough bakes better.
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7. Position the oven racks in the upper middle and lower middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F (335°F if using a convection oven). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick liners. Arrange the chilled dough balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using the palm of your hand, flatten each dough ball slightly. Sprinkle the tops with a little sea salt.
8. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes (8 to 9 minutes if using a convection oven), switching the baking sheets' positions halfway through baking, until light golden brown. These cookies are at their best when slightly underbaked and the chocolate looks oozy and gooey. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to five days and reheat before.
Follow Jen on Twitter @jenmangham.