Alicia Kennedy, Food & Drink Writer

old blog

my eating vacation, so far / the cookie that is more of a brownie

My brother and I found out we were going to have another sibling on the way home from Costco one night. It was a fitting trip for a big announcement—we loved Costco. But I was already 14; I figured my family for done. I remember rolling my eyes, deflecting how stunned this news had me. As we prepared for the new addition, I would openly hope for another brother so that I'd remain the only girl. It wouldn't be the case, though. I'd get a sister a few months before my 15th birthday and her name would be Cameron Elizabeth. I thought she'd be a nuisance. She's become the greatest gift life has given me, a ridiculously empathetic, smart, cutting, hilarious little human who can brilliantly summarize a meal or discuss what she sees in a Picasso. She even lets me say we look alike when she is certainly far prettier.

Yesterday, she cut school to have a city day with me. I brought her to practice with me at Dharma Yoga, and then we went to Candle 79 for lunch. She had a barbecue seitan burger, and I got the black bean–pumpkin seed burger. Both came with wonderful polenta fries, crispy on the outside and creamy within. My American suburban brain kept going "these are like Burger King French toast sticks," a favorite of my childhood, but they were undeniably better seasoned. I don't know what kind of bun these burgers were served on—ugly and thin, serviceable but a downer. My burger was pretty dull, served with only a grilled red onion atop it. I'm eating so many veggie burgers looking for something that isn't just a block of mush—sometimes delicious mush, but mush nonetheless. Anyway, for dessert we got the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Bliss, which seemed to predict the tendency of peanut butter to overtake whatever it comes into contact with by minimizing its presence and garnishing with unnecessary raspberry coulis. After lunch, we walked to the Met. It was Cameron's first trip to an art museum, and she was suitably blown away repeatedly. I felt very lucky to witness it.

Rewind to Monday, when I went to yoga alone and then braved the rain for the prix fixe lunch at Pure Food & Wine. The Mediterranean salad was delectable, so salty and rich, and would have sufficed on its own as a meal, but on I went to the raw lasagna. I have had raw lasagna before—raw lasagna is a big thing in raw food, because it uses pretty cheap vegetables and requires simple raw cashew cheese to be passable—but this was actually incredible and satisfying. The pesto and cheese and sundried tomato sauce—excellent. I was shocked. Dessert, though! I went for the lemon tart, following my vegan heart toward the word "custard," and found disappointment. There was no melt-in-your-mouth-ness to it, no air. The flavors were all there. I wish I'd gone for the mallomar (like it seemed every other diner was doing).

Last Saturday, it must be noted, I went to a Caribbean spot in Crown Heights called Glady's, where they serve jerk seitan and every side but one is vegan—this is not stated explicitly. I asked, and even the festivals, a cornbread fritter, were made with coconut milk. They also serve complimentary coconut-based ice cream to finish off the meal, better than both desserts I had at high-end places. Thank you to those guys for their insidious dairy- and egg-free deliciousness. 

Tomorrow, I fly to Chicago to go to dinner at Alinea with my friend Justin. We fly back Friday at noon. This is a dream I've had since I started being obsessed with Grant Achatz through his memoir, Life, on the Line. My excitement is INTENSE, to say the least, and I'm hoping they'll let me in looking like a grunge princess in a '90s vintage floral dress and my Docs, because I have to pack light.

Today, I have skipped out on my planned practice to do my other meditation: bake. (Also, I am so sore. On Monday, my stomach was on the floor but my heels were on my forehead!) As the title says, these are cookies that are more like a brownie. They're rich and fudgy, with nuts and an excess of salt. When I sold them at farmers' markets, people were obsessed. A woman wrote on her Amazon wish-list that she wanted 1,000. Unfortunately for her, this recipe will only get you 18.

Ingredients:
295 g flour
100 g cocoa powder
3/4 t baking soda
1 t kosher salt
2 T flaxseed meal mixed with 6 T water
226 g coconut butter, divided in half, cold
200 g dark brown sugar
166 g sugar
140 g chocolate chips
85 g coarsely chopped nuts (almonds are preferable, but I used walnuts today because I had them and any nut should suffice)
some coarse sea salt for sprinkling

1. Preheat to 350 and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix your flaxseed meal and water; set aside. Measure out the chopped nuts and chocolate chips; set aside.

3. Measure out the butter, putting 113 grams in the stand mixer bowl and another 113 grams in a separate bowl. The sugars should be measured into the second bowl, with the butter.

4. Blend your dry ingredients: measure the flour, baking soda, and kosher salt into a bowl. To get the cocoa powder in there without chunks, I like to scoop it into a fine-mesh sieve over the dry ingredient bowl and push it through with the back of the spoon. If you're trying to take pictures of this two-handed process, you will likely make a mess, but it's otherwise pretty fool-proof. Whisk all these up once the cocoa powder is measured in.

5. Start to cream the butter that is in the bowl. Once it's smooth, pour in the sugars and other half of the butter. When these are incorporated, slide in the flax eggs until you've got a nice wet, well-blended mix. 

6. Pour the dry ingredients in, in three parts. Pulse the mixer to avoid clouds of flour in your face until each is fully incorporated. 

7. Once you've got a dough, fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, either with a wooden spoon or the mixer set to low.

8. Using a one third scoop, measure out your cookies. Six fit nicely onto a regular cookie sheet without touching. Roll each scoop into balls and sprinkle on your coarse sea salt. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan, then bake for another 8.

Once they're cool, you've got salted chocolate [insert nut here] cookies that are to die for.