The Cookie Before the Storm

If you will potentially be affected by Hurricane Sandy, hurry up and make a batch of these cookies before your power goes out!  After realizing that PEPCO has trouble keeping the power on during a run of the mill summer thunderstorm I bought batteries, two LED lanterns and an AM/FM, hand crank radio.  We contemplated buying a generator, but instead plan to try and eat most of our expensive frozen food this weekend.

If I wasn't worried about hurricane preparedness, this time of year I would be worrying about what to serve for Thanksgiving.  For this I usually turn to the November issue of various cooking magazines.  We never have the same menu, and as long as there are pie and mashed potatoes the family gives me creative license.  Food & Wine's November issue promised "the ultimate Thanksgiving," but the cookie recipe and the brussels sprouts recipe I will share here came from an article showcasing the talents of some hip, young chefs.  They have both earned a spot on our Thanksgiving menu.

From Belinda Leong, pastry chef at B. Patisserie in San Francisco:

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)

4 TBS unsalted butter

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted (I didn't sift)

1/2 tsp baking powder

one 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt chopped chocolate with butter (I did this in a microwave), stir until smooth.

In another bowl using a hand held electric mixer (or a whisk like I did), beat the eggs with the sugar until thick and pale.  Beat in the vanilla and salt.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the melted chocolate, then fold in the flour and baking powder.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Scrape the batter into a shallow baking dish, cover and freeze until well chilled and firm, ~1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheet(s) with parchment.  Scoop 2 TBS size mounds of dough onto the baking sheets, ~2" apart.  Bake for about 10 minutes until the cookies are dry around the edges and cracked on top.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

These cookies are like thin, round brownies.  Everybody gets a chewy center and a crisp exterior, not just the people who get the corner piece from the brownie pan.  I am envisioning them sandwiching some peppermint ice cream.

From Nicolaus Balla, chef at Bar Tartine, also in San Francisco:

Warm Brussels Sprouts with Honey, Caraway & Lime

2 lbs. brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise

3 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1/4 tsp caraway seeds

one 1/4" piece of star anise

1/4 cup shredded carrot

2 TBS lime juice

2 TBS honey

1 small garlic close, very finely chopped

1/4 thinly sliced scallions

1/4 cup chopped mint

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 serrano chiles, seeded and thinly sliced (I omitted)

Preheat oven to 425F. In a large bowl, toss the halved sprouts with the olive oil and season them with salt.  Spread on a large, rimmed baking sheet and roast for ~40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the sprouts are tender and crisp on the edges.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the caraway seeds and star anise until they are fragrant, ~1 minute.  Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool completely, then grind into a fine powder.

In a small bowl, whisk the carrot with the lime juice, honey, garlic and the spice powder.  In the large bowl, toss the hot sprouts with the dressing, scallions, mint, cilantro and chilies and season with salt.  Serve right away.  

The sprouts lost their crispy edges after hanging about on the counter for a bit,and I may increase the amount of dressing by about 1/4.  Eaten straight out the refrigerator for lunch the next day, they were still delicious, an important characteristic for Thanksgiving fare.

Sophie and I are headed to the library today to stock up on non-electronic entertainment.  She asked if it was going to be "like a real hurricane, like Katrina, where houses get destroyed."  I don't anticipate total destruction in my neighborhood, mostly inconvenience, but I am saying a little prayer for everyone in Sandy's path.