chocolate chip cookies

Good morning everyone and welcome back! This week, we’re continuing on with the Bars & Cookies chapter and bringing you our 42nd bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert PersonChocolate Chip Cookies. A true classic, and a recipe we’ve been looking forward to trying since we got the book!

Lauren’s Take

A 5-star bake! Check back for updates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia’s Take

When I was in university, one of my roommates’ moms made the BEST chocolate chip cookies in the entire world. Every time she would go visit home for the weekend, she’d come back with a margarine tub full of them and they would usually disappear within 24 hours. No CCC recipe has ever come close for me; I requested a copy years later, have made them myself, and they’ll always be super special and comforting to me.

That said, I was excited to try Claire’s version. I have heard nothing but rave reviews of this chocolate chip cookie recipe for months now, and even before baking you can understand why: brown butter, big chunks of TWO different kinds of chocolate (milk and dark), a long chilling time to get that perfect chewy texture. It’s not hard to see how these cookies are an easy slam dunk, and I was definitely not disappointed.

I made these cookies over the course of two days. Ultimately, it’s a really simple recipe and doesn’t take long to prepare or bake, but I knew the dough was going to have to chill in the fridge for a good stretch of time and wanted to break things up for myself.

Step one was browning the butter—something that is quickly becoming one of my new favourite activities (something only someone who is baking through an entire cookbook right now would ever say…). There’s just something about that nutty aroma you get as the butter sizzles away and the milk solids start to foam and float away that is so comforting and satisfying. One half the butter is browned, it is poured into a bowl with the other half of the butter, which has been sliced into thin pieces.

The rest of the batter comes together with all the usual suspects: whisk a combination of brown and granulated sugar into the cooled butter, add a couple of eggs and some vanilla extra, and then add in your dry ingredients (AP flour, baking soda, and some salt). Once the batter is combined, the chocolate is folded in. Claire’s recipe calls for chocolate discs vs. chocolate chips (because why use chips or even standard chunks when you can be super extra and bougey and use discs? Classic Claire); the other signatures here are that half the discs are roughly chopped and the other half are left whole, and you use a combination of milk and semi-sweet or dark chocolate. This combination of textures and flavours is stellar—chocolate runs through the entire cookie without being overwhelmingly sweet.

After the batter comes together, the cookies are scooped out onto a cookie sheet—a whole 2-ounce or quarter-cup sized scoop per cookie. Monstrous! But I guess if you’re going to have a cookie, HAVE A COOKIE. I let my balls of cookie dough sit in the fridge wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for the recommended minimum 12 hours. The dough tasted unreal, so I was pretty pumped about baking the next day.

The next morning, I was ready to go. The cookies are spread out further onto a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes. They spread out quite a bit while baking, and the baking soda gives you those signature wrinkled edges.

The results were just as delicious as I expected them to be! These cookies are the dream combination of crispy edges and chewy centre. The depth of flavour you get from the brown butter and the two types of chocolate and the combo of chocolate textures is just genius. I shared these cookies with some friends, and everyone was messaging me the rest of the week asking if I still had any left. A huge hit, a new favourite that I’ll be making again and again, and absolutely a 5-star bake for me!

Next week, we’ll be busting out the Rough Puff again to make Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers! See you then.

brown butter and sage sablés

Happy Sunday! We’re back with our 41st bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person as we continue to make our way through the Bars & Cookies chapter. This week, we made Brown Butter and Sage Sablés!

Lauren’s Take

Happy fall everyone! This week we’re coming at you with another cookie recipe, and I gotta say, this one did not disappoint.

After not enjoying last week’s bake, I was nervous to once again combine savoury flavours in a sweet cookie. I also had never worked with sage before and was interested to see how the flavour would play out. But once I read “brown butter” in the title, I knew that this was probably going to be delicious! I mean, when has brown butter ever failed you in your life?

The cookies this week are called “sablés” which is a French shortbread-like cookie. Sablé means “sandy,” so the idea is to have a cookie with less sugar and more butter, in order to make something less sweet that melts in your mouth.

In general, making shortbread is super simple, but for this recipe, there were a few things that added some complexity. First, you have to make the sage brown butter, which requires a lot of patience and instinct. You heat the butter with the sage leaves and steams over low heat, until the butter foams and the leaves crisp up; this took about 10 minutes for me. You then remove the sage (saving it on a plate for later) and pour the butter into a bowl to chill COMPLETELY until it starts to firm up once again. This took a lot longer than I thought it was going to. In total, to get the butter back to a firmer, but not hard, consistency, I left it for about 35-40 minutes. Claire warns not to rush this process or to let the butter become too firm, as it will affect the milk solids in the butter.

Once the butter is ready, you cream it with sugar and lemon zest (classic Claire move), using the stand mixer. Once pale, you add egg yolks and vanilla and then add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt). Once the dough comes together in the mixer, you separate it into two equal portions and create two logs of dough. The dough isn’t dry, per say, but it does have a crumbly texture to it. I used Claire’s technique to form the logs, which involved putting the dough on parchment paper and using a bench scraper to force it into shape. The two logs are wrapped in parchment paper and then plastic wrap and left to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (mine stayed in for closer to 4).

While my dough was chilling, I made the sage sugar for the outside of the cookie. You take half of the reserved, crispy sage leaves and crumble them into brown sugar. This mixture will coat the outside of the cookies.

Once the dough is ready, you roll the logs in the sugar, and cut each log into about 18 equal discs. Full disclosure, I found the sugar didn’t stick very well when I rolled it, so I patted it on throughout. And my logs weren’t the most round shape, so I had some funky looking discs, but it all worked out. When cutting, the dough was definitely easy to slice, but did keep its shape!

The discs are placed on a baking sheet and baked for 20-25 minutes (mine took 22), until the outer edge starts to become golden brown. You let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets before removing.

These cookies are SO well balanced. The lemon is not overpowering but adds a perfect kick to the sweetness of the sugar. And the brown butter and sage flavours add an amazing depth to the cookie as well.

I love the texture of the sablé and the little crunch the sugar on the outside adds. The sablés are so incredibly light and melt in your mouth, but hold so much flavour! It’s an excellent cookie and I know they’re gonna be a showstopper at Christmas! 5 stars from this baker!

Julia’s Take

Go figure that what’s supposed to be one of the simpler bakes in the book—and something I’ve made a bunch of times before (shortbread cookies)—caused me the most trouble I’ve had so far. This bake took me on a ride!

The process itself has a few fancy additions to Claire-ify it, of course, and some waiting time but otherwise it couldn’t have been simpler. I started off by melting two sticks of butter with the fresh sage until it started to brown (is there anything that smells better than browned butter?!); the sage is removed and set aside and the butter then cools until it’s starting to solidify but isn’t completely solid. I think (but can’t be sure) that this is where I went wrong. My butter was potentially a little TOO solid, which messed with the texture of the dough, but ultimately it remains a bit of a mystery.

Regardless, the cooled butter is mixed with sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, lemon zest, and eventually the dry ingredients (AP flour, cornstarch, salt) until a dough forms. My dough at this point was absolutely too dry, and I should have trusted my instincts, but I know it can be a fine line with shortbread—you don’t want the dough TOO dry or the cookies won’t form properly, but you also don’t want it too wet or you won’t get that soft, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture that shortbread is known for. Since I had seemingly done nothing wrong in the 3 simple steps it took to make this dough, I decided to just go with it, formed my dough into two logs like Claire instructs in the recipe, wrapped them in parchment and plastic wrap, and let them sit in the fridge for two hours. It was definitely a little tough to get the dry mixture to form into a log, but ultimately it seemed to be holding OK, and I figured some time in the fridge would do the trick.

I was wrong. After waiting two hours, I took my logs out to slice the cookies and ended up with a huge, crumbly disaster all over my kitchen counter. The cookies would just not hold their shape no matter how thick I tried to make the cookies. At this point, it was pretty late and I was out of sage and completely defeated by the fact that I’d just spent months and months constructing the most complex and beautiful pies and tarts but somehow couldn’t master a simple shortbread cookie—so I called it for the day, determined to try again tomorrow.

The next morning, I hit up the grocery store for some more sage and went in for round two. I followed all the same steps, but sent multiple videos to Lauren of my cooled brown butter to get her intel on whether I was letting is solidify too much vs. not enough. Once I felt satisfied with where the congealed butter was it, I moved on to the other steps. After mixing the dough together, I could already tell the difference between this batch and the first; while the dough was still dry-ish, it felt more like a dough and held its shape so much better. I was optimistic!

Fast forward two hours in the fridge, and I was able to cut the logs into cookies with zero trouble. Yay! Each log is coated in a blend of demerara sugar (Claire’s fave) and the crumbled reserved sage that had been fried in the butter. This leaves a ring of sweet, crackly deliciousness around each cookie.

My cookies baked for about 20 minutes and man oh man am I ever glad I decided to try again because these babies were SO GOOD. Sage in a dessert can sound strange because it can be such a prominent savoury flavour, but it just works sooooo well in this recipe. The depth of flavour from the herb plus the brown butter and the little hit of lemon zest is amazing, and the texture is just perfect. A bit of a rollercoaster, but totally worth the ride. 5 stars from me!

Next week, we’re taking on an absolute classic: Chocolate Chip Cookies!

caramelized honey pumpkin pie

We are back with our 25th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person as we continue moving through the Pies and Tarts chapter. How have we already made it to recipe number 25??! Our bake this week is extremely non-seasonal, but that’s just one of the pitfalls of stubbornly deciding to bake the whole book in order. On this lovely June day, we bring you Claire’s Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie!

Lauren’s Take

I’ve always had mixed emotions about pumpkin pie. As a purest and lover of traditions, I want to love pumpkin pie because it’s the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert. But every time it was offered to me after a delicious meal of turkey and stuffing (mad ups to my Mom for making the best stuffing ever), I would say yes and think I was excited, but then just be kind of disappointed? Once I got more into baking, I would ask my family if I could handle the Thanksgiving dessert, and would make pumpkin pie cheesecakes, pumpkin and cranberry pie…simply trying to retain the tradition but improve it. But it still felt wrong to me. I wanted to love pumpkin pie as much as I love fall and Thanksgiving stuffing (this is the most pathetic sob story and I apologize and will now move on).

All this to say, I felt a connection to Claire when in the intro to this recipe, she mentioned similar qualms with pumpkin pie and used this recipe as a chance to improve such a popular dessert. To balance out the typical sweetness of store-bought or traditional pumpkin pie recipes, Claire adds brown butter (um hello greatest thing in the world) and caramelized honey to deepen the flavours and add a nutty-ness to the pie. As soon as I read this I was on board and intrigued to see how this would change the pumpkin pie I have come to know and tolerate.

Every time we get to bake a pie and make pie dough, I feel more at ease than I usually am with these desserts. Pie is my favourite thing to bake and allows me to feel competent and not super sweaty and stressed the whole time (like I feel with every other bake we do). We got a chance to make Claire’s flaky pie dough recipe once again. I love how she combines cubes of butter with thin sheets of butter and how she encourages doing a letter fold before rolling out completely to achieve the flakiness. Genius. When I’ve made pie dough in my past, I usually refrigerate the dough in a circular mound which makes rolling it into a circle fairly simple; Claire on the other hand encourages you to refrigerate the dough in a thin square. Once I got ready to roll, I paused for a LONG time trying to figure out how to make this a circle. I called on my mathematically minded partner who yelled over some instructions that didn’t make sense so I just did my best and make a kind of circular thing? You then place your pie dough into your pie plate, press the dough firmly down to prevent shrinking and then crimp the sides. I really like Claire’s technique on how to do this (she even did a video of it on her YouTube channel). You use your thumb to create the intends which makes them larger than what I’ve typically done but I really like the shape it creates. The pie dough is covered then with aluminum foil and weighted down with pie weights. It bakes for about 25 minutes with the foil/weights on top, and then for another 20 minutes without to par-bake the crust. Claire warns for this step to lean on the side of over-baking the crust to a deeper golden brown because of the wet filling of this recipe. I found 20 minutes was perfect and I got such a beautiful golden colour and NO SHRINKAGE. I think this is my first time making pie ever where the dough did not shrink at all. Colour me impressed.

While the pie dough was cooling, I made the pumpkin pie filling. First you brown the butter and honestly nothing is more satisfying. I love watching butter brown and the smell once it’s done is so delicious. You add honey to the browned butter to stop the cooking process, mix them together, and then bring the mixture back to a boil to caramelize the honey. As it cooks, it releases such a beautiful, nutty flavour. You remove this from the stove, and slowly add in some heavy cream and set it aside. Then you make the custard base by whisking the eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin puree and spices. Once this is mixed, you whisk in your butter honey mixture, and voila, there’s your custard.

The mixture gets poured into the pie crust and then bakes in the oven until the sides are puffed and the centre wobbles. The time frame Claire gives is 45-60minutes, and I think I left mine in for about 65minutes or so because the centre still seemed too liquid until then. In order to prevent cracking, you left the pie fully cool in the oven before removing it. Now I made this pie right before I had to leave for a cottage weekend so I couldn’t let it FULLY cool in the oven, but even before removing it, it had already cracked. Thank goodness for whipped cream and its ability to hide mistakes.

This pie went on a journey. From the oven, my partner and I carefully placed it in our back seat and drove 2 hours with it to a cottage. Once we arrived, I softly whipped the cream and served it. First things first, this pie looks beautiful. The custard has such a deep, rich orange colour versus the artificial orange you get with some pumpkin pies, and the golden brown crust compliments it very well. Cutting the pie is also super satisfying as the knife easily goes through the custard and then faces some resistance to the flaky pie crust below. So 5 stars for aesthetics for sure. In terms of the taste, the pie crust was once again flaky, buttery and delicious.

Now for the custard…I will say, it was less sweet and less gummy then other pumpkin pies I have. The custard was super smooth and had just the right amount of sweetness. But I didn’t really feel like I got a huge sense of the brown butter and the honey, and I think that’s just because pumpkin and all the typical spices (nutmeg, ginger, cloves), are fairly overpowering flavours and kind of overtook everything else. If I made it again, I would maybe add a bit more honey, and put less of the spices in. This pie didn’t blow me away, but I will say that it was better than any other pumpkin pie that I’ve had. I’ll give it 4 stars!

Julia’s Take

Does anything scream summer more than a beautifully custardy, warm spice-filled pumpkin pie?! I am all for the argument that “pumpkin spice” flavoured things should be enjoyed all year long, but there was something about making this pie in 25-degree weather (that’s Celsius for all our confused American friends) in shorts and a t-shirt while the sun beamed in to my kitchen, looking out at my patio garden, that just felt off to me. Today also happens to be my 34th birthday (oy…) and while I do enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie with tons of whipped cream post-Turkey dinner, it is far from my favourite dessert, so wouldn’t have been my first choice of birthday week bake.

All that aside, the experience of baking this pie was pretty straightforward and a lot of fun. This recipe called once again for Claire’s Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough, which I previously dubbed the all-time best pie dough recipe ever when we made it for the Plum Galette a couple of weeks ago. I stand by that statement. I also noticed this time around that, with two rounds of pie dough and a round of Rough Puff under my belt, I am getting a lot quicker and more comfortable working with buttery doughs. I found I had to check the book less, doubted myself less, and just generally worked a lot faster to bring it all together. Win!

I made the dough and parbaked my crust the night before. Claire mentions in the recipe that if you’re using the crust for a custard-filled pie (like this one), you should err on baking longer until you get a deep golden brown to avoid the dreaded “soggy bottom.” Anyone who’s a fan of the Great British Bake-Off (or the equally delightful Canadian version, previously hosted by true Canadian legend and all-around adorable human Dan Levy) knows there is absolutely nothing more shameful than a soggy bottom. So I kept that crust in the oven a good 15-20 minutes longer than it called for in the book. I may have gone a bit far, but more on that later.

The next morning, I got to work on the custard filling. This was super simple to make. Adding that special flare that every Saffitz recipe seems to have, you start off browning butter (there is nothing better than brown butter) and then adding in honey and heavy cream to create what is basically a honey caramel. It smelled AMAZING – sweet, nutty, delicious. While that mixture sits, you whip together eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, and all the warm spices (your standard blend of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and the extra little twist of all-spice). Slowly stream the honey and brown butter caramel into the pumpkin mixture, and you have your custard. It gets poured into the cooled pie crust, and the whole thing bakes for about an hour. Similar to the Goat Cheese Cake, the pie needs to fully cool in the oven with the door slightly propped open so that the filling can properly set. I topped the pie with some freshly whipped cream and grated nutmeg.

The combination of the honey and brown butter caramel and the quantities of warm spices means that you end up with a filling that is so much richer not only in flavour but in colour as well. I was so pleasantly surprised to pull the pie out of the oven to see this deeply golden, almost amber brown instead of the brighter orange colour you’re used to seeing for a pumpkin pie. There was also so much more depth of flavour—not straight up “pumpkin” or “sweet” but something that definitely still read as fall vibes while also being nuttier, slightly caramel-y, and perfectly balanced. The custard was so smooth and rich in the best way.

Back to that pie crust: I think I definitely took it a tad too far in the parbake. While I did avoid the soggy bottom (yay) I did find it a bit tough to cut through. There’s crispy, and then there’s just straight-up rock solid. I do think, though, that less time in the oven would have absolutely meant soggy pie, so I don’t know which is worse. It’s a difficult balance to achieve and I haven’t quite mastered it yet.

It’s no surprise that this is one of the best pumpkin pies I’ve had. It wouldn’t be the first thing I go to grab (especially after last week’s epic Apple Tart), but if I had to choose between this and other pumpkin pie recipes, I’d choose this one every time. After trying a slice, I put the rest in the freezer because something about passing around pieces of pumpkin pie to friends and family in June felt bizarre to me, so I’m hoping it will hold up well for Thanksgiving. Will report back. I give this bake 4 stars!

Next week, we’ll be making the Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie. See you then!