fleur de sel

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel

I realize that a lot of you are probably all cookie’d out right about now, but I just had to squeeze one more cookie recipe in before the end of the year.

I’d say that I’m sorry, but no one should every apologize for making cookies.

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel | Brooklyn Homemaker

I gathered the makings of this recipe with the intention of making them on Christmas day, but it didn’t really work out that way.

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel | Brooklyn Homemaker

The days leading up to Christmas tend to be pretty stressful in my world, so when it comes to the actual holiday itself I try to take it pretty easy. Russell and I spent the day at home with the dogs, opening presents, calling friends and family, watching Murder, She Wrote, and eating everything in sight. Since it’s just the two of us, I thought that making some cookies would be a fun activity we could do together during the day. I didn’t want to do anything too fussy or involved like cutouts, but thought a fancied up chocolate chip cookie could be the perfect holiday treat.

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel | Brooklyn Homemaker

The ham I was making for dinner, along with some roasted broccoli and sweet potato gratin, had other plans though. I was not thinking ahead at all and didn’t take the fact that the ham would be cooking at a low temperature for several hours into consideration.

We weren’t yet ready for cookie time when the ham went into the oven, and when it came out we feasted and immediately fell deep into a food coma, so our cookie plans were (temporarily) abandoned.

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel | Brooklyn Homemaker

Later that evening we aaaaaalmost rallied and went for it, but opted instead for another glass of wine and mouthful of chocolate from our stockings.

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel | Brooklyn Homemaker

In the end it may have been a good thing that we didn’t make these on Christmas day. For one thing, we had plenty of chocolate in our stockings. For another, making them a few days later also meant that I was able to photograph the process and share them with you. These babies are so delicious and perfect that I’m actually pretty thrilled to get to share them.

This post was brought to you by a salty little Christmas ham and a holiday food coma.

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel | Brooklyn Homemaker

Browning the butter for this recipe requires some extra time since it needs to firm back up after it’s melted and browned, but I promise you it’s worth it. Browning butter deepens and intensifies everything that’s already great about butter, and then adds a toasty nuttiness. Taking the time to toast the pistachios before adding them to the cookies also helps to intensify the nutty goodness. It’s all about building layers of flavor here.

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel | Brooklyn Homemaker

When it comes to chocolate chip cookies, I’m definitely of the “go big or go home” school of thought. I usually like to use a #24 portion scoop, which works out to 1.5 oz (or 3 tablespoons) of dough. I love portion scoops for drop cookies because it makes it really quick and easy to get all of your cookies the same size and shape. If you don’t have a portion scoop, you can certainly measure out 3 tablespoons of dough to see how it should look and then try to make the rest of your cookies match that size.

You can easily use a smaller portion scoop, or make smaller cookies if you want, you’ll just need to adjust your baking time accordingly to avoid over-baking.

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know there are a jillion chocolate chip cookies out there on the internets, but I beg you to give these a try. You can thank me later.

I brought some to work with me and two of my coworkers separately came to tell me that these cookies have the perfect texture for chocolate chip cookies. They’re soft and chewy in the center, with perfect crispy crusty golden edges.
The brown butter and toasted pistachios are the perfect rich nutty compliment to the sweet and bitter dark chocolate, and the briny minerally crunchy fleur de sel is the perfect finish to every bite. They’re buttery, chocolatey, sweet, salty, and completely wonderful. I could go on, but you’re just going to have to make them and see for yourself.

pistachio and dark chocolate chunk cookies with brown butter and fleur de sel | Brooklyn Homemaker

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Brown Butter and Fleur de Sel

  • Servings: about 2 1/2 dozen cookies, depending on size
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adapted from Martha Stewart

18 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks + 2 tablespoons)
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (about 10 to 12 ounces) roughly chopped good dark chocolate, or good quality dark chocolate chips or chunks
1 tablespoon (ish) fleur de sel or other crunchy finishing salt

In a small heavy-bottom saucepan, brown the butter over medium high heat until golden to deep brown, should take about 10 or 15 minutes. Watch carefully once it starts to brown to avoid burning. Pour out into a heat-proof dish, trying to leave the burnt solids behind, and refrigerate until soft but beginning to firm. If it solidifies, you can remove and leave out until soft.
If you want to skip this step, you can simply use 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange pistachios on a baking sheet in a single layer, and toast for about 5 or 6 minutes, or until they smell toasty and nutty. Cool and roughly chop.

Whisk together the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the cooled brown butter with both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate and toasted pistachio.

Scoop dough out using a portion scoop and place about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. I used a #24 scoop, which works out to about 3 tablespoons of dough per cookie. If you make smaller cookies you’ll need to reduce the baking time by a few minutes, but you’ll have more cookies in the end. Sprinkle each cookie with a small pinch of fleur de sel.

Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, around 11 to 13 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle

Christmas is officially (almost) upon us, and I frankly couldn’t be more stressed.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m going to take a second here to be totally honest with you. I hope you can handle it.

Number one, I work in retail.
The “most wonderful time of the year” also translates to the most hectic and agonizing time of the year to anyone who works in the service industry. Something about buying gifts to spread all that holiday happiness and joy really brings out the worst in people.

Beyond that, I’ve always been a little bit stressed by the holidays. The pressure to buy gifts for dozens of people gives me serious anxiety. Trying to make sure all the gifts fit the recipients in a truly thoughtful way, and that nothing should appear cheap or hasty, is just too much for me. Oddly enough, I also don’t really enjoy receiving gifts. I guess that’s kind of weird, but I don’t really need anything and something about giving people lists feel really disingenuous and unnatural to me. I’m also very particular and picky and often feel like I would rather just buy things for myself.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m sure a lot of you are thinking I’m an awful scrooge and just a terrible human being in general, but I promise you that I’m not! It’s not that I hate the holidays, it’s just that there are a few aspects of this season that really rub me the wrong way. If Christmas was more about spending time and less about spending money, I’d like it so much more. As much as I resent the conspicuous consumption, I promise that there are actually are tons of aspects of Christmas that I really love!

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

Any reason to spend real quality time with friends and family is great in my book, and I honestly really love the whole ritual of getting a tree and decorating the house and hanging stockings and all that. I also love all the food and sweets. Obviously.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

This time of year my grandmother would always have trays and trays of cookies and candies and snacks out for grazing, and one thing I could never resist was the peanut brittle. There’s just something about that caramel-y nutty crunchy salty sweet thing that really does it for me. It may not be true for most people, but peanut brittle (or any nut brittle for that matter) will always make me think of Christmas.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’d never made my own brittle before so I thought it would be fun to try something new this holiday season. Homemade gifts, and food gifts especially, have always felt so much more honest and heartfelt and true to me than any things you can buy in a store. After a test batch for myself, I decided that I liked my brittle so much that I would make a few extra batches to give out as a Christmas treats to our favorite businesses in the area where I work.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

The Williamsburg neighborhood (where Whisk is based) is growing into a major shopping district, but it’s historically been a small underdog neighborhood and the main shopping area is made up mostly of small independent shops. A lot of the shops and restaurants work really closely together, and this time of year we often exchange little treats and food gifts to help everyone through this hectic season.

The brittle was a huge hit, and it was really nice to get out of the store for a bit and see the smiles on everyone’s faces when I dropped off their cute little paper boxes wrapped up with bakers twine.

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

This recipe is a really interesting twist on traditional peanut brittle. The toasted walnuts have a special kind of earthy bitterness that complements the sweetness of the candy really beautifully. Real maple syrup is a natural pairing with walnuts, and the addition of just a touch of molasses gives just a bit more depth and adds a rich caramel-iness. Adding a sprinkle of crunchy minerally fleur de sel or maldon sea salt elevates the whole experience with an adult elegance. This stuff is perfect.

It’s actually not difficult to make either, though you will need a candy thermometer since the addition of molasses makes it difficult to tell by color which stage the cooked sugar has reached. You’ll also want to use a much bigger pot than you think, because the sugar boils and bubbles up a lot!

Happy Holidays y’all!

salted maple and molasses walnut brittle | Brooklyn Homemaker

Salted Maple and Molasses Walnut Brittle

  • Servings: about 2 pounds of brittle
  • Print
adapted from Food & Wine

2 cups sugar
1/3 cup (real) maple syrup
3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
1/2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
12 ounces chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of Fleur de sel or crushed Maldon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread walnuts out in an even layer and toast for about 10 minutes or until they smell like heaven. Don’t leave them in too long or they could burn and become very bitter.

Combine sugar, water, butter, maple syrup, molasses, and corn syrup in a large stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is thick with tight bubbles and registers 300° on a candy thermometer, about 10 or 15 minutes. Since the syrup and molasses give the mixture a dark color, it’s hard to tell if it’s reached the hard crack stage from color. I’d highly recommend the use of a candy thermometer.

Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda and cinnamon. Be careful, the mixture will bubble up. Stir in the walnuts, then immediately scrape the brittle onto a large rimmed buttered baking sheet. Using the back of a silicone spatula or spoon (oil it lightly if it sticks), spread the brittle into a thin, even layer. Work fast. Letting the candy cool too much before spreading can affect the texture. Immediately sprinkle with salt. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into large shards.