For the Chocoholics and Nutella Obsessed (Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies)

A few weeks ago someone asked me if I followed a particular diet (other than, obviously, vegetarianism) or if I subscribed to a special food philosophy. Other than trying to incorporate seasonal (and most of the time organic) foods into my diet, I couldn't really think of anything off hand. But then I was reminded of the 90-10 rule when I discovered this blog (one of my new favorites), so I guess that would be my answer. Except in the interest of full disclosure, my ratio is probably closer to 70-30. Or maybe it's 65-35 (that gets us to 100%, right?). 
While these ratios are not an exact measurement, I try to eat food that is healthy and delicious most of the time, and the rest of the time I eat food that is delicious, but not necessarily healthy. I think life is about balance. And that's my balance-philosphy in the kitchen.  
So while Theodore slept, Otis and I made these Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter + Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
I first saw these posted on a Cup of Jo, which linked to the original recipe source, Monique from Ambitious Kitchen...

The recipe yielded about 2 dozen cookies, so I was looking to unload a few. I mean there are only so many cookies I can eat myself, or pawn off on Otis and Theodore. I identified two groups of people who would be the beneficiaries of my cookie-bounty. The first was my new neighbor. I only met her a few weeks ago, and I haven't had many conversations with her, but I can tell you that she went out of her way to help me.
When we moved into this new townhouse (that's the one we're leasing for 6-months, in case you're keeping track), I was surprised to find the unfinished part of the basement missing 2 key items: (the promised) washer and dryer. I complained a few times in person, called the main office as well, but I tried to keep my cool-- you know, because I'm a Coloradan now and I didn't want to appear like an overly aggressive New Yorker (which I may or may not be). 
After 3 weeks sans washer and dryer, the dirty clothes and towels were really piling up. I was loosing my cool and shared my frustration with my neighbor, who happens to work for the company that operates our development. She pleaded my case. And apparently, quite forcefully. The maintenance staff installed the machines within 24 hours of her "conversation" with the higher-ups. Thank you cookies she will get.
I unloaded a few more at a Sunday football get-together. I knew there'd be beer and chips...and I thought these cookies would be a welcomed treat. They went fast.
In a tremendous display of generosity, Otis insisted on giving a few to his close friends Luke and Cecelia, so we dropped off a bag at their house too. Cookies for everyone! 
I hope you like these as much as we did. This is my new go-to cookie recipe.
Happy day and enjoy the sugar high. Then you can go back to that 90-10/80-20/70-30...
Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter + Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies (Courtesy of Monique, Ambitious Kitchen-- she also provides a  Simply Recipes link on "How to Brown Butter?")
Total time: 2 hours 10 mins
Serves: 2 dozen cookies
Nutella is stuffed between a hazelnut brown butter flavor enhanced chocolate chip cookie then sprinkled with sea salt.
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup dark chocolate chips
1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator (Note: you use 1 teaspoon per cookie, so you don't need a whole jar.)
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips.

Chill your dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator, or place in freezer for 30 minutes if you are super eager, although I cannot promise the same results if you do this.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 1½ tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball — it doesn’t have to be perfectly rolled! Make sure that the nutella is not seeping out of the dough. Add more dough if necessary. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and flatten with your hand VERY gently. (Really only the tops need to be flattened a bit!)

Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Baked Brooklyn's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (and Nutella Hot Chocolate )

My husband's birthday was coming up fast and I needed to pull a plan together. Absolutely nothing was going to top his 35th birthday weekend, which was last year. To celebrate the special day the last time around I really pulled out all the stops: Park Avenue Autumn for brunch, Nara at the Asia Society in the afternoon, Daniel for dinner (oui!) and tickets to Yankee post-season baseball (props to my mom for getting the tickets). The next day we went to Diner for brunch, Spa Castle for relaxation and then apple picking Upstate. It was great and it was going to be hard to replicate anything like that this year...especially since there's an 11 week old in the house and we haven't secured a babysitter.
I picked up a gift and decided to go with something more muted-- a little more family friendly-- and very local. I went with brunch in our house. Of course the best gift I gave my husband was the gift of sleep. He slept till 11:00 AM and woke up to a birthday brunch.  
I made a three egg omelette with Gruyere cheese, topped with homemade salsa verde, and some breakfast potatoes on the side.  It was delicious. But the piece de resistance was the pumpkin whoopie pie from Baked, Brooklyn. Yes, *that* whoopie pie-- the one that won top 100 tastes of 2007 by Time Out New York.
Baked is one of my most favorite bakeries (miss you!), and this recipe is from their cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.  
If you really want to go a little over the top,  pair it with nutella hot chocolate.  It's perfect for a chilly fall night.  It's lip-smacking good! 
* * *
Baked Brooklyn's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (Courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin purée
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the brown sugar and oil together until combined. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto prepared baking sheets, about one inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling. 
(I used a whoopie pie pan so the domes were very smooth and round.  I think you get a more 'rustic' cookie, if I can call it that, when you put dough on baking sheets.) 
For the Cream Cheese Filling
Sift the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter until it's completely smooth, with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure. (The filling can be made one day ahead. Cover the bowl tightly and put it in the refrigerator. Let the filling soften at room temperature before using.)
Assembling the Whoopie Pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down (flat side facing up).
Use an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to drop a large dollop of filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whooopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.
The whoopie pies will keep for up to 3 days, on a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
Baked Note: Make sure you chill the pumpkin puree thoroughly before making this recipe.  The chilled puree will make your whoopie pies easier to scoop. 

Nutella Hot Chocolate (Courtesy of Real Mom Kitchen)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • mini marshmallows or whipped cream
In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, whisk together milk and Nutella until the Nutella is melted and milk gets nice and warm. Serve in mugs and top with marshmallows or whipped cream. Makes 4 servings.
This can be made ahead of time, cooled, and stored in the fridge.  Reheated on the stove or microwave in individual mugs.  If microwaving, reheat each cup for about 1 minute.