Those two words sum up my relationship with my Baked cookbooks. It’s complicated.
These books are like the almost perfect boyfriend from high school. Handsome, smart, useful, interesting, even exciting. But they can let you down when you least expect it. And they are not reliable. When they are good, they are very very good. And when they are bad, well, sometimes there are tears.
Last weekend, I made the Grasshopper Cake from the first book for a friend’s birthday. I love the Baked chocolate cake recipe. It bakes up nice and tall and perfectly flat. No domed top of slice off. And it is moist with terrific chocolate flavor. Adding a mint ganache and a mint buttercream frosting to that perfect cake seemed like a no-brainer. Their buttercream recipe is not traditional and it did not turn out well for me at all. I could not get the butter to incorporate no matter how long and how hard I whipped. I was left with a frosting that tasted good but looked terrible. There were flat pea sized pieces of butter throughout. I only used about 1/3 of it – I just couldn’t pile it on – and I covered the cake with flat Dutch mints. It ended up looking good and my husband and my friend Lauren, both of whom have eaten plenty of my cakes, said it was one of my best. But throwing out about the equivalent of three sticks of butter made me mad.
Because I’m a girl and I had to come back for more, I decided to make Nutella scones from the new book. How could you go wrong, right? Wrong. In spite of the authors’ warnings of not mixing the dough too much (a common warning with scones), I had to manhandle it and add much more cream than recommended to get anything even resembling a dough. What came out of the oven did not look like the scones of my past. They kind of toppled over on the themselves. And they just didn’t taste good. At first I thought it was because they weren’t sweet enough but no, they just weren’t good. My kids were so excited – a chocolate scone! – but they didn’t like them either. Rats. And my brother Michael, the one who asks me to make the Nutella Pound Cake any time I offer dessert, he didn’t take a single one home with him. That, my friends, is a failure.
Oh, but I went back for more. Rather than break up with my books, I decided to make a cookie that sounded like a home run. And it is, kind of. There is almost too much chocolate for the dough (I never thought I would say that), and not quite enough pretzels for them to make sense being there. If I’m going to have something salty in my cookie, I want to really notice it, not be like, “Huh? What is a pretzel piece doing in my cookie?”. But I will be back for more. I just can’t quit you Baked.
1¾ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 cups rolled oats
14 tbsp. (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks (about 12 ounces)
¾ cup thin salty pretzels (about 1½ ounces) broken into tiny pieces but not crushed into dust
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the oats and stir to combine.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and egg yolk, beating until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla, and beat for 5 seconds. Dissolve the espresso powder in ¼ cup hot water and add it to the bowl, mixing until combined.
Add half the dry ingredients and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the chocolate chunks and ½ cup of the pretzel pieces. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop dough in 2 tablespoon-size balls (or use a tablespoon measure) and place the dough balls onto the prepared sheets about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup pretzel pieces over the dough balls. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough down lightly; don’t small the cookie – you just want to slightly flatten the ball and push the pretzel pieces into the dough.
Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown or just starting to darken.
Set the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely. They can be store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.