Brownie Cookies

I've found that there can be subtle rivalries when it comes to food, an opposition between dishes or ingredients that fall into the same category but are still different enough to leave room for preference and a little competition. Who reigns supreme between, for example: Sweet or Savory? Chocolate or Vanilla? Cake or Pie? Pizza or Pasta? Or, if we're being more detailed: Pancakes vs Waffles vs French Toast? Thick Crust Pizza or Thin Crust Pizza? Brownies or Chocolate Chip Cookies? Some people have strong opinions and thus immediate answers to these questions -- for instance, most Romans will not hesitate to tell you that thin-crust pizza (aka pizza, Roman-style) is the only way to go. I have chocoholic friends that would never dream of choosing vanilla ice cream over chocolate, and another friend who has a birthday pie every year instead of cake, disliking the "spongy" texture of cake (her words, not mine). Sometimes, it depends. "French Toast is number one," a friend of mine recently explained when I asked him which was his breakfast item of choice (yes, these are the typical sort of questions I ask my friends). "But if we're talking Belgian Waffles, well, then French toast better get out of the way." Food nerd and blogger that I am, I love hearing the answers to these questions (just indulge me when I ask you one) and find the responses infinitely interesting, not to mention useful -- aforementioned friend will get Belgian waffles at the next brunch he's invited to, I know to make a Birthday Pie instead of Cake, and so on and so forth.

But for the purposes of today's post, let's focus on that last one, Brownies vs Chocolate Chip Cookies, a question so controversial that I think its best to divide its potential responses in to groups. There are those that are clearly on either Team Brownie or Team Cookie, those that give automatic, immediate answers to this inquiry, who prefer a deep, dark chocolate brownie to a sweet, almost caramel-y cookie that is studded with chocolate but not overwhelmed by it, or vice versa. Then there is a second group, who have answers that are iffy, dependent on other factors: Is it a cake-y or fudge-y brownie?! Does the chocolate chip cookie have milk chocolate or semi-sweet chips?! Does the brownie have walnuts?! And wait, it gets more complicated: there is another, third kind of person I've come across, one who tells you that they couldn't possibly choose between the two, that it would be unfair to make them decide which is better, and that they can appreciate both the intense, bittersweet properties of a proper brownie and the gooey, brown sugar-y characteristics of a well-made cookie. Still with me?!

So, for that indecisive last group -- here are Brownie Cookies, a compromise and a cross between these two classic desserts. They have the same shape, crisp edges, and, when served warm, gooey pockets of chocolate as a cookie, with all the intense fudginess and chocolate wallop of a good brownie. They are truffle-like, so chocolate-y that my office became briefly cocoa-and-chocolate-scented every time I opened the Tupperware to bestow one of these marvels upon a lucky colleague. They are my new favorite cookie, the It-Girl of my recipe list at the moment, and I've already baked them three times. Moral of the story? I expect I'll be adding a fourth group of people to the ones I listed above: the "Brownie Cookie" group, for all those who will try these and then immediately decide that they don't have to choose. Sometimes you can have it both ways, at least when it comes to dessert. 

A couple of notes: I'm pointing out the obvious here, but these are ideal for any holiday cookie exchange this year, a nice change of pace from the usual gingerbread cookie, and wrapped up in a tin with a bow, make an excellent edible gift. Busy during the holidays? Don't worry, the dough here comes together incredibly quickly and easily, no softening of butter or electric beaters required, just a matter of measuring and stirring. The cookie dough can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge as well so you can bake up a few of these at a moment's notice, whenever you find time between shopping and wrapping gifts. You can use light brown sugar here instead of the dark brown sugar -- these come out delicious both ways -- but I found these were richer and fudgier with the dark brown sugar. No step by step photos here as there was no sunlight (I baked these in the evening and photographed them before going to work) but the recipe is so simple, you won't need any photos, promise. 

Looking for other chocolate-y cookies? Allow me to suggest these Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Looking for more brownies? There are these Fudge Brownies, these Dulce de Leche Brownies, and these Cheesecake Brownies. Looking for more chocolate based Christmas gifts? How about this Chocolate, Pistachio, and Cranberry Fudge or this Salame di cioccolato? Finally, more Christmas cookie ideas: I've got these Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons, these Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies, this Shortbread, these Chocolate Chip Cookies, these Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Bars, or these Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. I wouldn't mind a box of these Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats, either.

BROWNIE COOKIES

Ingredients:
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 112 grams) unsalted butter, cut in to pieces
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (45 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (130 grams) flour
1 heaping cup (185 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks, or a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate

Directions:
In a  medium sized saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter and the chocolate, being careful not to let it burn (you can take the chocolate mixture off the heat when it seems almost melted, and then stir everything together until all the bits of butter and chocolate melt completely). Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baknig soda In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and using a wooden spoon, stir until a dough comes together. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover the dough and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until the dough becomes firmer and more scoop-able. If you refrigerate the dough for more than 30 minutes, you'll have to let it sit for a while until it warms up enough to become scoop-able. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and butter a cookie sheet. Form the brownie cookies using about 1 1/2 tablespoons dough for each cookie, spacing them evenly on the baking sheet -- make sure not to put the dough too close together as these expand a little when baking. Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes each. Note that the cookies will seem underdone at this point, and that's completely fine --  it makes for a soft, fudgey cookie, which is exactly what you want here. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to let them cool slightly before serving. Makes about 20-25 cookies, depending on how big you make them. 
Recipe very slightly adapted from www.smittenkitchen.com.




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