For those familiar with Food52 Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks, I received two cookbooks this past week that made me feel like one of the judges for the tourney. In a nutshell, The Piglet is like March Madness, sixteen cookbooks go head to head, winner goes on, loser goes home. Judges are selected by Food52 staff and they are not just from the culinary world, but artists, writers, journalists (no pharmacists yet hint, hint) who read and cook from each book and pick their favorite. Pairings are eclectic and at times exasperating (Robicelli’s Cupcakes vs.The Persian Table, go figure). But that’s what makes it interesting and so much fun.
Which brings me back to the two cookbooks I received, Easy Homemade Cookie Cookbook and Kristen Kish Cooking. One homey, approachable, familiar and the other dazzling, appealing, intimidating-polar opposites.
I’ll start with the familiar. Miranda Couse’s Easy Homemade Cookie Cookbook (not the catchiest title), is a compendium of standard and favorite cookie recipes. I know, do I need another cookie book? Nope. But this one does deserve a spot on my bookshelf and yours. The recipes are well organized, straightforward, and easy to follow. Helpful tips and recipe tweaks are interspersed throughout the book and each recipe starts with a blurb on how many cookies it makes, baking temperature and time and their shelf life. There are photos but not for every recipe which would have been nice. The book is divided into types of cookies including drop cookies, bars and brownies, and sandwich cookies to name a few. I have tried two recipes so far and both have passed the taste test. The first cookie that caught my eye was a Blueberry-Lemon Shortbread which is so good, it deserves its own post. The second recipe I tried, though brownies are not my thing, was the Coffee Cheesecake Swirled Brownies. Chocolatey and decadent, the cocoa brownie layer provided a dense, gooey base for the luscious coffee spiked cream cheese top. I made new friends when I showed up to work with these bad boys.
As I flipped through the book a thought kept running through my mind, Jamie would love this book and I plan to get her a copy of her own.
A nod to Kristen Kish’s cookbook which I will save for a weekend to read, drool over and tackle. Stay tuned.
- MAKES 9 BROWNIES
- Prep: 25 minutes
- Bake: About 35 minutes
- Shelf Life: 4 to 5 days
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon instant coffee granules.
- 1.Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray. (or use parchment paper)
- 2.In a medium mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
- 3.In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed or a wooden spoon, beat together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and coffee granules until thick and creamy. This will take about 2 minutes if using an electric mixer or 4 to 5 minutes if creaming by hand. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed or by hand until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
- 4.Reserve about ¼ cup of the brownie batter for the top. Transfer the remaining brownie batter to the prepared pan and smooth it out into an even layer.
- 1.In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed or a wooden spoon, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and creamy. This will take about 1 minute if using an electric mixer or 2 to 3 minutes if creaming by hand. Add the egg and instant coffee, and beat to incorporate.
- 2.Using a spoon, dollop the cheesecake batter on top of the brownie mix. Add a dollop of the reserved ¼ cup of the brownie batter in the center of each cheesecake dollop. Using a skewer or butter knife, swirl the batters together.
- 3.Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is set.
- 4.Let the brownies cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to set.
- To serve, cut into 9 bars. Serve the bars chilled or let them come to room temperature before serving.
- Add more chocolate to create a rich, dense brownie. Do so by melting 4 ounces of semisweet baking chocolate with the butter or add 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to batter.