Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cowboy Cookies

These beauties are from my latest cookbook obsession, Baked Explorations. I love the concept of sweet and salty in a cookie, I love the name and I love anything that comes out of this bakery. Pretzels and chocolate in an oatmeal-espresso cookie? I'm sold.... and now addicted. So I wanted to pass these along to you, because everybody needs an obsession.

This cookbook, and its predecessor, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, has beautiful pictures and a philosophy I can get behind.  They revive the classic bakery treats and give them a modern polish. All done with elegance, simplicity and flavors like malt that should get way more publicity than it does. There are baking tricks like how to soften butter just enough to combine it with sugar, but not so much that your cookies spread. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The recipe calls for chocolate chunks, so I chopped up some Ghirardelli from my stash. I love chunks in cookies; feel free to buy a package if you want, but I like having irregular pieces, some large, some shaved to add more texture to the party. After mixing the dough, you fold in the chocolate and some of the pretzels and add my other favorite ingredient. Espresso powder.

My friends, this is my equivalent of gold dust. I've made coffee bars, coffee cheesecake and now coffee cookies and this stuff makes it so easy. No need to brew; just pour it straight in (or in this case, dissolve it in hot water). A word of warning: don't start eating the dough. You won't be able to stop.

 And just as a small aside, if you've been watching Top Chef: Just Desserts (and you should; it's so much fun!), and you know about this bakery, Baked and have seen this, this or this around the Web, maybe you'll put 2 + 2 faster than I did and figure out that this contestant is one of their bakers. I'm hoping he wins the whole thing.

Cowboy Cookies
from Baked Explorations

makes about 36

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 c. rolled oats
14 T. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut in 1" cubes
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. instant espresso powder
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chunks (about 12 oz.)
3/4 c. thin salty pretzels, broken into tiny pieces, but not crushed into dust

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add oats and stir to combine.

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy. Add egg and yolk, beating until mixture looks light and fluffy. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, add vanilla and beat 5 seconds. Dissolve espresso powder in 1/4 cup hot water and add it to bowl, mixing until combined.

Add half of dry ingredients and mix 15 seconds. Add remaining dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and fold in chocolate chunks and 1/2 cup of pretzel pieces.

Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate dough at least four hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out dough in 2 tablespoon-size balls and place dough onto sheet about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle rest of pretzels over dough balls. Use palm of your hand to press dough down slightly; don't smash the cookie--you just want to slightly flatten the ball and push pretzels into dough.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the baking time, until edges of cookies are golden brown or just start to darken.

Set pan on wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Use a spatula to transfer cookies to rack to cool completely. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


  1. obsession or compulsion? i just love using espresso powder, sometimes i use hazelnut instant coffee for the same kind of flavor
    have a great week,
    ~Chef Louise

  2. Great job! Your cookies look great!

  3. Christina, this is a great post--could not agree more with you on the espresso powder...I add it in anything chocolate...really adds alot of depth. Wonderful photos!

  4. have you tried the Baked banana muffins from the first book that calls for espresso powder? It does crazy thing to these muffins! Great job on the cookies!