If I had a magic wand, I’d love to spend a day inside the brain of pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz. She’s the creative genius behind such legendary recipes as tater tots cake, peanut butter miso treats, and potato and radicchio tarts. What a trip! As Elizabeth Gilbert said, “Living in this manner — continuously and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art.”
Lucky for us, Natasha’s first cookbook, More Than Cake, came out this week, and it’s full of mouth-watering recipes and fun family stories. One of my favorites is her take on the chocolate chip cookie: chewy goodness with toffee and caramel flavors and boulder-like chunks of chocolate. Here’s how to make them…
Brown Butter, Buckwheat, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
From More Than Cake
30 minutes active time; 1 day inactive time
Yields 15 large cookies
8 ounces (225 g) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (145 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (75 g) buckwheat flour
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons (140 g) granulated sugar
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (135 g) dark brown sugar
2 eggs (100 g), at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3½ ounces (100 g) dark chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks (about ¾ cup)
2½ ounces (70 g) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks (about ½ cup)
One 2.1-ounce (60 g) dark chocolate bar
Flaky sea salt
Make the brown butter. In a small pot, bring the butter to a boil over medium-high heat. As the milk solids begin to settle to the bottom of the pot, the foam will burn off. Reduce the heat to low. Once the milk solids are a deep mahogany hue, another 4 to 5 minutes, and the air smells nutty and sweet, remove the pan from the heat. Carefully pour the liquid into a small bowl, scraping up all the browned milk solids on the bottom of the pot. Transfer to the refrigerator to resolidify, about 2 hours.
Toast the flours. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Spread the all-purpose and buckwheat flours in a large ovenproof skillet or on a sheet pan and toast for 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. (This can be done up to 2 weeks in advance and stored until ready to use.)
Cream the butter. When the brown butter feels softened but not greasy, add 145 g (about 2/3 cup; see tip #1) of it to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (or a large bowl for using a handheld mixer). Cream the butter on medium-high speed until it is fluffy, smooth, and white in color, about 2 minutes. Scrape the butter into a small bowl and set aside.
Dissolve the sugar in the eggs. Switch to the whisk attachment (or continue to use a handheld mixer). In the same bowl (no need to wash it), combine the granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, and eggs and whip until the mixture is lightened in color and doubled in volume, 4 to 5 minutes. Swap the whisk out for the paddle, add the brown butter and vanilla, and mix on medium-low speed to combine, about 1 minute.
Prepare the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the toasted flours, baking soda, and kosher salt. Tip the dry ingredients into the mixer bowl and paddle on low speed until they are halfway combined, about 10 seconds. When the dough looks streaky, add both chopped chocolates and paddle to combine.
Age the dough. Transfer the dough to an airtight container. Refrigerate for 24 hours before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and prep the pans. To bake in batches, top two or three half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly mist the paper with cooking spray.
Shape the cookies. Scoop the chilled dough into plump tangerine-size balls (aim for 65 g to 70 g each); you should get about 15 cookies. Transfer the cookies to the pans, spacing them about 4 inches (10 cm) apart. Break the chocolate bar into 12 to 15 inch-long (2.5 cm) shards and press a couple of them onto the surface of each ball. Sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt.
Bake the cookies. Bake until the cookies are golden and puffy in the center, 17 to 19 minutes. Remove from the oven and firmly rap the sheet pans on top of the counter to force the cookies to fall. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet pans. Store the cookies wrapped at room temperature for 1 to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.
* You’ll have about
3 tablespoons of brown butter left over.
** Cookie dough rich in butter and sugar needs at least 1 or 2 days (and up to 4 days) to “age” in the refrigerator, otherwise they spread too much and taste greasy. As any dough rests, it hydrates, meaning the flour soaks up the moisture from the butter and eggs. That translates into a superior cookie with crisp edges and tender insides.
Thank you so much Natasha, and congratulations on your beautiful book!
P.S. The most fun host gift and a funny dessert game. Plus, Natasha’s week of outfits.
(Excerpted from More Than Cake by Natasha Pickowicz (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023. Photographs by Graydon Herriott.)