Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gourmet's Brown Butter Cookies

or: The day that Gourmet died

The demise of Gourmet Magazine with the October 2009 issue is a sad event in foodie history. So in honor of Gourmet's 67 years of good food, I made my favorite cookie from Gourmet's own list: Gourmet's Favorite Cookies 1941-2008

I love shortbread-style cookies more than any other kind of cookie out there. They are quick, easy, and melt-in-your-mouth buttery and in this recipe, by first browning the butter, they fill your mouth (and your whole house) with a toasty, heady, fleur-de-sel caramel, irresistible goodness.

Here is the recipe, exactly as it was given in the June 1961 issue of Gourmet:

"In a heavy saucepan melt 1 cup butter over low heat until it browns. Add 2/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar and cool the mixture. Beat in 2 1/3 cups flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder to make a smooth dough. Roll spoonfuls of the dough into marble sized balls and put them 1 inch apart on a buttered baking sheet. Press each ball down slightly with the tines of a fork, and top with half a blanched almond. Bake the cookies in a moderately slow oven (325° F.) for 20 minutes. Remove them from the baking sheet and cool. Serve half of the cookies. Freeze the remainder in a freezer container. To serve the frozen cookies, defrost them at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes"

As usual I couldn't resist putting my own twist on the recipe and cheating a little. Here is how I have modified it:

- left out the baking powder

- used a few drops of pure vanilla essence instead of vanilla sugar

- added a tsp cocoa powder to the flour (to enhance the browned look and flavor)

- mixed the flour in before cooling

- formed the cookies when it had just cooled enough to handle

- skipped the almonds

- baked the cookies at 200°C for just 15 minutes

These get full marks from my very hard to please taste tester. Bon appétit!