a riff on a favorite :: birthday cookies

As if this weekend’s birthday celebration for Andrew didn’t include enough delicious treats, I started my contribution to his birthday weekend yesterday with a fresh batch of his favorite cookies, but with a few new twists. My love language has a lot to do with labor and creation. I’ve always been one to favor handmade cards and homemade gifts — to give and to receive — from my little kid crayon pictures to Pinterest crafts. With Andrew, there are very few things that he desires that I can make. For instance, I can’t build a bike or carve a kayak or whittle an elaborate chess set. But I can bake and I can cook. Enter The Birthday Cookies.

Instead of your everyday chocolate chip cookie, or butterscotch oatmeal cookie, I spiced things up with high quality ingredients and special techniques. To the original recipe I added browned butter and switched the chocolate chips for super dark chocolate, and finished it all off with a sprinkle of pink Himalayan rock salt. The browned butter is the quiet champion of these cookies, imparting a warm, toasted caramel flavor that plays off the molasses of the Rapadura sugar. The dark chocolate has a strong enough flavor to carry off the crunch of the rock salt, and adds a welcome savory hit.

Salted Browned Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies 

5-6 oz. high quality dark chocolate (I used Green & Black’s 70% cacao)

1 stick butter, browned

1 c. Rapadura sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 ½ c. all purpose flour

½ baking soda and powder

pinch of salt, plus extra rock/sea salt for garnish

First, brown the butter. Melt the entire stick in a small saucepan over low-medium heat until butter turns caramel-colored, smells toasty, and begins to release little brown bits from the bottom. This takes about ten minutes, but don’t overthink it — release the butter to the stove and it will tell your nose when it’s ready. Remove from stovetop and let cool.

Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder and soda, and pinch of salt. Beat together cooled butter, sugar, vanilla and egg. Fold dry ingredients into wet and gently combine the chopped chocolate with the dough. Roll into small bowls and space evenly on a baking sheet.

Gently flatten the cookie dough balls with the bottom of a glass, and sprinkle with sea salt (like Maldon) or Himalayan rock salt. Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes, and enjoy while warm and golden.

*     *     *     *     *

After a morning of baking and enjoying cookies, I revealed Andrew’s big birthday surprise to him: a short ride on a fast machine!

A friend and her husband have a hangar at a local municipal airport, and they graciously offered to take us for a ride in honor of Andrew’s birthday. For a brief bit, he was even flying the plane (under the watchful eye of Camelia, our pilot) over Beaver Lake and the surrounding countryside. We soared over Razorback Stadium and our alma mater, and enjoyed the gorgeous September blue sky.

I sat in the backseat, spellbound by the beautiful scenery and the physics of flying. What a treat to see the world from the view of the birds and the clouds, soaring gracefully above, detached from the goings-on of those on land. And then, to return to land for more cookies.

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