Wednesday, October 14, 2009

brown butter spoon cookies

Some people plan for the future by brainstorming baby names, or investing in 401(k)s. I collect cookie recipes. From sugar to snickerdoodle, I’ve been studiously filing away my favorite recipes, preparing for an imaginary life of afternoon tea parties, elaborate holiday gift baskets, and kitchen cookie jars.

Certain quotas and cookie archetypes have already been filled:

Bon Appétit’s Ginger Spice Cookies, for instance, are chewy and crystallized in perfect proportion:

Photo by Bon Appétit. What is that cheese doing there?

Then there are these Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies, which I first spotted on Smitten Kitchen:

Photo by Picky Baker

Claudia Fleming’s Chocolate Brownie Cookies have a comfortable lead in the chocolate department:

And, for nostalgia’s sake, there are the Lime Zingers that my family decorates every Christmas.

Now, to unveil the newest member of my pantheon of cookie greats: Celia Barbour’s Spoon Cookies. Credit (and deep gratitude) goes to my friend Mollie for making this batch—another outtake from the Gourmet wake—and for having the generosity/discipline to share them.

These are tender, cherubic little cookies flecked with nibs of brown butter and haloed with berry preserves. (Everything a linzer cookie wants to be, but better.) They're exactly the kind of cookie you’d want to build a fantasy life around.

While I'm on the subject, what are your go-to cookies?

Spoon Cookies
Adapted from Gourmet

Barbour recommends making these cookies in advance: “After a couple of days, the cookies' texture becomes lovely and melting. Earlier, they are good, but later, they're transcendent. Honest.” Good luck with that.

Yield: 30 sandwich cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt, slightly rounded
1/3 cup fruit preserves [Barbour uses half strawberry and half cherry]

Make dough:

Fill kitchen sink with about 2 inches of cold water. Melt butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until butter turns golden with a nutlike fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn a rich caramel brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (Butter will initially foam, then dissipate. A thicker foam will appear and cover the surface just before butter begins to brown; stir more frequently toward end of cooking.) Place pan in sink to stop cooking, then cool, stirring frequently, until butter starts to look opaque, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from sink and stir in sugar and vanilla.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and stir into butter mixture until a dough forms. Shape into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and let stand at cool room temperature 1 to 2 hours, to allow flavors to develop. [Dough can be made 12 hours before baking and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature to soften slightly before forming cookies, about 30 minutes.]

Form and bake cookies:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Press a piece of dough into bowl of a deep-bowled teaspoon (not a measuring spoon), flattening top, then slide out and place, flat side down, on an ungreased baking sheet. (Dough will feel crumbly, but will become cohesive when pressed.) Continue forming cookies and arranging on sheet. Bake cookies until just pale golden, 8 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies on sheet on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Assemble cookies:

While cookies cool, heat preserves in a small saucepan over low heat until just runny, then pour through a sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on solids, and cool completely.

Spread the flat side of a cookie with a thin layer of preserves. Sandwich with flat side of another cookie. Continue with remaining cookies and preserves, then let stand until set, about 45 minutes. Transfer cookies to an airtight container and wait 2 days before eating. [If you can.] Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks.


  1. These were really good! We made the Oatmeal cookies, but we couldn't find any high-quality white chocolate so we used milk chocolate (which we figured can never ruin anything) and it came out GREAT! We love your blog and are always looking for more yummy and well photographed recipes to try!
    Love and hugs,
    Abby and Susanna :-)

  2. Ooh, I bet the milk chocolate variation was delicious. I almost recreated the lime zingers here this year, but I feared they would not be the same on this coast... Love, C