Are you a brownie person – or a chocolate chip cookie person? Perhaps you’re both? Well, good news… if you’re the latter, the Baked boys have devised the perfect treat for you: the cleverly-named Brookster. You probably deduced – correctly so – that the name is a combination of brownie + cookie, which is exactly what these gems are. I initially thought they were named after Brooklyn, where Baked is located. I suppose it could be interpreted either way, but one thing is for sure – this wonderful brain child of Matt and Renato’s has definitely become all the rage, and with good reason. Who doesn’t want their brownie – and cookie too?
What I found personally appealing about making Brooksters is that it provided me with a little redemption. You see, I can make a mean brownie, but chocolate chip cookies are my biggest baking nemesis. I have yet to make a decent chocolate chip cookie. To begin with, I should probably clarify what I consider to be a ‘decent’ or ‘awesome’ chocolate chip cookie: one that definitely holds its shape and does not spread, is not super-greasy, and bakes up golden brown and slightly crisp on the edges, but soft and chewy in the center. It’s a quest I’ve been on for several years now, and I can usually make any kind of fancy dessert possible – but I fail hopelessly at the simple chocolate cookie. I was reassured when Matt Lewis himself told me I’m not alone… that it takes a lot of tweaking and practice from even the most accomplished of bakers.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the one and only time I was successful with a chocolate chip cookie was with Baked’s recipe. I was baking for a cafe here in Milwaukee and decided to whip up a batch in their huge, clunky gas oven – and they came out perfect… just like the photo in the cookbook, I daresay! The chocolate chip cookie gods finally smiled on Neufangled Desserts! How discouraged I was to discover that that one time was a complete fluke. Every time I made them after that, they turned out flat, greasy and lifeless – much like EVERY chocolate chip cookie I have ever attempted. And I have attempted several recipes and several techniques – every trick you can imagine. (I tend to blame inanimate objects; in this case, my lousy apartment oven – it obviously has some kind of prejudice against chocolate chip cookies.)
Anyhow – back to my redemption. The Brooksters provided me with an opportunity to merge a nicely chilled chocolate chip cookie dough with a delectable brownie base. I was delighted at this notion, thinking that perhaps the brownie base might ‘cushion’ the chocolate chip cookie dough as it gently baked. I was also excited to finally use my set of 6 mini (4-inch) pie plates that I had bought from Sur La Table a while back.
Sadly, when I took the Brooksters out of the oven… I realized that I was still defeated by the indomitable (DAMN) chocolate chip cookie. The cookie part itself baked up so golden brown that you could not delineate the edges of the cookie from the brownie underneath. It had also definitely shown some spread, as I had topped the cooled brownie batter with a nice, thick disc of cookie dough. Ugh! How frustrating!
Additionally, when I baked the Brooksters at the time noted in the recipe, not only was the cookie too brown on top, but when I took them out of the oven, let them cool, then tried to pop one out of the mini pie-plate, it completely fell apart on me! The brownie center was a puddle and completely unbaked, as was the center of the chocolate chip cookie. It was beginning to look like my battle with the chocolate chip cookie was turning into a catastrophic battle with the Brookster! So… sacrificing 1 pathetic, sad Brookster, I wrapped the remaining 5 Brooksters in foil to prevent over-browning, and popped them back into the oven for about 20-30 minutes more.
The result to all of this madness? When I unwrapped the Brooksters from the foil, they were too brown and still terribly under-baked in the centers. Time to try plan B.
Fortunately, the recipe provides extra chocolate chip cookie dough, so I only had to remake the brownies. This time, I opted to use regular muffin tins for a smaller Brookster (see the recipe for Baked’s instructions). To prevent the cookie top from baking and browning too quickly, I baked the brownie layer on its own first, for about 20 minutes, before topping them with the discs of chocolate chip cookie batter. I made sure to rotate the pans as the recipe suggested, and not to overbake the brownies too much before adding the cookie dough on top. Once the cookie dough was added, I baked the Brooksters for about 9 minutes more, still rotating the pans.
Once out of the oven, this round of Brooksters initially looked much better, but I was quickly fooled into thinking I had success. The chocolate chip cookies were still gooey and unbaked in the centers, and when the Brooksters had completely cooled, they were a menace to get out of the pans. Out of 18 mini-Brooksters, I could only salvage about 6 for the photo. The rest were a crumbly disaster. ~sigh~
Well… my grandfather always said, “It’s not how something looks, it’s how it tastes.” (sage words of advice in response to only a handful of what my grandmother thought were ‘baking disasters’, no doubt… she was a terrific baker, and I take after her in the perfectionist department). It was time for me to sink my teeth into their double-decker goodness to hopefully erase from my mind their disappointing appearance. They weren’t too bad, but overall, very, very sweet. I think there is too much of a good thing. I could definitely taste both cookie and brownie elements, but I need a tall glass of milk or a cup of coffee to wash these decadent treats down. I’m sure they would appeal to kids, as they’re one of the more sugary of the Baked recipes; good, but a little much for me.
Needless to say, after 2 rounds and a lot of wasted ingredients, this is a recipe from Baked I will not be revisiting anytime soon – if ever. In the battle between baker and Brookster, is seems this baker is totally undone by the Brookster. My attempts to bake up a yummy Brookster were just as sad as my attempts to make a good chocolate chip cookie. I wish that I could say that my first Baked Sunday Mornings entry to celebrate the new book was a good one, but alas… it was not to be. (I will say that I have made the Pumpkin Harvest Dunking Cookies, and they were divine!) I should have known that I would be conceding defeat to another recipe that included a chocolate chip cookie element! (insert evil laugh here) If you crave a Brookster and had to endure the same battle as I did with making them, I’d say wait until your first visit to Baked in Brooklyn to savor how they really should look and taste!
Time for me to take off my baker’s hat this weekend and go back to memorizing lines for my current show*. Until next time, bakers…
If you’d like to attempt your own Brooksters, here is the Baked Sunday Mornings link: http://bakedsundaymornings.com/2012/09/10/in-the-oven-brooksters
* Shameless self-promotion: for you locals, come and see me and my boyfriend Jake in the musical [title of show]! Performed by Theatrical Tendencies in the Soulstice Theatre space located at 3770 South Pennsylvania Avenue in St. Francis, Wisconsin. Performances: September 28th through October 13th, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm!