The week of my daughter Sylvie’s school bake sale, my son Andy was sick with fever.  I normally go cookie crazy the days leading up to the sale because as I’ve mentioned, I like baking!  But this week was a little different – dividing my time between keeping him company, taking him to the doctor, talking to my friends about him, asking my dad and brother (who are docs) about him, and worrying about him (was it swine? no, it wasn’t, well, not sure).   Luckily I made a large sheet pan of brownies last week – and froze them in preparation.  I had the Halloween Peeps as well.  I planned to make my soft meringues the day of the sale but really wanted to do more but keep it simple. I found what looked like a good recipe in Richard Sax’s Cookie Lover’s Cookie Book – and just fiddled a little.  Richard Sax calls them butterscotch cookies – but it is the brown sugar that really stands out.  My son Greg (the non chocolate lover) thought white chocolate would go well in these and yes, we adored them – especially him.  And my au pair Alisa said these were her favorite cookies and she could eat them all up!  The guys who came to fix the power unit in the house also seemed very happy with their cookies.  As usual – I think these would make a great ice cream sandwich.  A home made sour cream, buttermilk or creme fraiche ice cream would really compliment the brown sugar flavor – but store bought vanilla will also do the trick!

brown sugar cookies (with walnuts and white chocolate):
2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter
1 7/8 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
1 cup chopped (good quality) white chocolate (optional)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and place in a bowl.  Set aside.

Toast the walnuts to bring out their flavor.  Place nuts on baking sheet or foil and bake for about 6-10 minutes at 350 – until fragrant.  Do not burn.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter for 3-4 minutes on medium high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the brown sugar and continue to beat for another minute, until mixture is smooth.  Scrape down the bowl and mix again to incorporate.

On medium speed add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla extract, scrape and mix again.  Gently stir in the flour mixture and when almost combined, add the chopped white chocolate and toasted (cooled) walnuts.

Bake on parchment lined sheet pans – drop by tablespoons or bigger or smaller depending on your needs – just watch the baking time.  The cookies should take 11-15 minutes or so – but as usual check often and before.  I made a double batch and rolled the extra dough in logs to freeze as outlined at the bottom of the oatmeal raisin cookie post.  Enjoy!

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