Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pass It On

When I was young a popular party game was Telephone. All the children would line up or sit in a circle and the first would think up a message to whisper to the next in line. Each person would repeat the message they heard to the next person and then the one at the end of the line would announce what he heard. Usually a message like "Mrs. Weston bought 6 eggs and a dozen rolls at the store." would end up mildly garbled as "Mrs. Winston got 6 eggs and some rolls at the store."

Where's the hilarity in that? So when it was my turn I'd try to make the message I passed on as far as possible from the original. With me playing the game, the last person, instead of relating some lame tale of a lady's shopping excursion would say, " Twelve tiny trolls tripped while teaching tinikling in tight togas." There, much more amusing.

Of course, not everyone saw it the way I did. They'd back track the message and pinpoint me as the source and scold me for not playing right. Well, why play right if it's not fun?

I'm kind of like that with recipes that are passed on to me. I like to play with them and tinker a bit. I'll do a cookbook recipe exactly as written, but for some reason, a recipe from a blog or that a friend gives me, I need to tweak it a bit to make it my own.

Recently I had the privilege of joining a great group of women to make scones for our church's Easter services. Two thousand scones, give or take a few. We had a great assembly line going. My job was to transfer weighed globs of dough to the ladies who were patting and cutting. When all of the dough was weighed out I moved to the other end of the line and drizzled lemon icing over the baked scones.

While I was icing I got into a conversation with the lady next to me. We discovered that we're both bake-aholics and love Taste of Home. Several years ago Taste of Home had a cookie recipe contest and they published all the best recipes, all except for the winning one. That irked me. But Judy, the nice lady co-icing with me, told me how she had ordered many boxes of the winning cookie recipe mix from Taste of Home and then had baked over 200 batches of cookies to try to reproduce this recipe. Then she offered to send her version to me!! Wow!

I was blown away by her generosity and by the cookies. I didn't feel quite right making them straight from her recipe and posting it that way, as that was her work. Also, I didn't have a few of the ingredients. So I played telephone and changed it up. But just a bit.

These cookies are different from any cookie I've made before. They're not a standard chocolate chip cookie with something different added or substituted. They are moist, with crunchy, chewy bits, redolent of butter, and with a palate teasing aftertaste that makes you reach for another one to figure out what that elusive flavor is. My husband said that the dough was fabulous eaten with a spoon and was almost better than the cookies.

The original recipe called for some artificial flavors, but I chose to pump up the flavor with a trick from my low-fat days, browning the butter. This delivers a more intense butter flavor with no change to the calories or consistency.

Enjoy my version of the prize-winning cookies then play with it and make it your own. Then pass it on.

Lynn's Butter Brickle Munchers

3/4 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/16 tsp anice extract
3 cups flour
1/2 Tbsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup Hershey's Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits
2/3 cup Pecans, toasted and minced
1 Cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips

1- At least 3 hours ahead of time, brown the butter by melting it in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Adjust the heat so the butter boils very gently but steadily. Cook, uncovered and stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, until foaming subsides and butter turns golden but not brown; watch carefully to avoid burning on the bottom. Immediately remove pan from heat, stirring for 30 seconds. Set aside to cool slightly then place in the refrigerator until firm.

2- Allow browned butter to come to room temperature. You want it softened, but not melty. As the browned butter chills, it will separate into layers. Don't worry about this, just chuck the whole thing into a large mixing bowl with the brown sugar and cream them together until fluffy.

3- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.

4- Add the Vanilla, almond extract and anice extract and beat well.

5- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa powder. Add the flour mixture gradually to the butter mixture with the mixer on Low speed, mixing just till the flour is incorporated.

6- Stir in the toffee bits, pecans, and the chocolate chips.

7- Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 deg. F for 9-11 minutes, just till set and very lightly browned. A little moist looking in the center is OK. Cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container. They can be frozen.

Thanks, Judy!


Chelsea said...

I am intrigued by the slightly unusual ingredient and i love the idea of brown butter. Must try these. I really need more weekends so I can get all my baking in.

Peabody said...

Those look good, I love stuff with toffee in it. I too am guilty of always tweeking the recipes. :)

Neen said...

WEll, with a recommendation like that, how can we not try them!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

I used to play Telephone when I was younger, as well!! :0)

I ALWAYS tweek recipes - I have never followed a recipe word-for-word in my entire "baking career" (I've only been baking/cooking since June 2007, but I don't plan on ever following a recipe 100%/exactly, haha).

I LOVE your version of the Butter-Brickle Munchers... they sound so decadent and delicious!!

Deborah said...

I often think the dough is *almost* better than the cookies! These sound so delicious!

grace said...

brown sugar, cinnamon, toffee, chocolate chips, and pecans? these couldn't possibly be bad. :)

Brilynn said...

I've got a bag of toffee bits sitting in my cupboard begging to be used in these wonderful cookies!

Aimée said...

OK I've been resisting sweets for a while in an attempt to shake off some of this post-partum weight, but no longer! I have to try these. They sound amazing.

Sarah said...

These look awesome! Too bad I just made about 50 cookies this weekend. :)

I also have vague recollections of drastically changing the message in really really sucked when it got down to the end of the line & only one word had changed. Now if only we'd learned to *whisper*, the game might have worked as it should have...

eatme_delicious said...

Wow she tried to make them 200 times! That's dedication. These look good! I'm saving the recipe. I love the basket you put them in. And I think I'll definitely be omitting the 1/16 tsp anise extract - such a small amount I wonder how much of a difference it makes hm.

Anonymous said...

I guess I will be omitting the toffee bits, as I haven't a clue where I'd find them here! Darn, those sound good.
I like the idea of the brown butter. Good thinking, Lynn!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That's it. I want to make these with you!!
I love rebels!!

Anonymous said...

Lovely! That's one heckuva recipe though - so many different contributors to the end flavour, I guess I'll have to try them to find out what the final product tastes like :)

LyB said...

Bloggers will be tweekers, I guess! Any cookie with toffee bits in it, I'm there, these sound incredible!

Mama Mia said...

I loved playing telephone too. I want one of those cookies... pass them on to me!

Patricia Scarpin said...

These look delicious and sound interesting, Lynn.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Without "tweaking" where would the fun be?

kate said...

they sound AMAZING! i love it when something really good comes from experimentation in the kitchen.

sher said...

Lynn, I always love looking at your photos. They're so lovely--and have a clarity that I wish I could achieve!

Anonymous said...

That's pretty dedicated to make so many just to recreate the recipe! There are so many good ingredients in this that I would have never put together!

Kelly-Jane said...

That's a really nice story :) Recipes with a story are always special!

RecipeGirl said...

I love the sound of these. I don't know if I've ever seen anise extract though. Might have to search for that one.

I was an elem. teacher for a long time and we used to play this game in my classroom- mostly to teach the kids how gossip gets spread and changed, etc. It was pretty funny to see what they came up with in the end, and I'm sure I had little rascals like you who changed the story on purpose :)

Helene said...

Well, thank you for passing the recipes along, they sound and look delicious!

Anonymous said...

The cookies look amazing... and I love the Longaberger! ;)

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting recipe. I'll have to try it!

Amanda said...

Thank you for posting such an awesome recipe! I have been looking for a cookie that incorporated toffee bits into it for awhile, and I knew this one was it when I saw it. I made these for a work function and everyone loved them. The only ingredient I didn't have on hand was anise extract, so I omitted that.

I loved the browned butter (it was my first time using that method) and the end result was so complex and full of flavor. Next time I think I'll add 2c. of the toffee bits and omit the choc. chips.

I just adore this cookie! Good thing I have a few leftovers (which I have a feeling will be great with ice cream). thank you!