European-Style Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Once I was at Murray’s Cheese with David Lebovitz and he stopped to admire the butter from Vermont.

I’ll confess, up to that point, I hadn’t given butter that much thought. For years I’d been buying Breakstones–you know, the kind that comes in the red box–and using it pretty universally. But then, after David talked about baking with Vermont-style butter, I began to wonder: “What would happen if I switched up the butter in my baking? How would that change things?” It took a few more years before I put that question to the test.

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Eric Wolitzky’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Tomorrow (as you’ll see in the next post) I’m hoofing it to Baked in Red Hook so I can do a live-streaming interview with Eric Wolitzky, everyone’s favorite contestant from the debut season of “Top Chef: Just Desserts.” You probably didn’t know this, but I met Eric years ago at my friend Jimmy’s apartment. It was a holiday party and I remember Eric brought these divine chocolate truffles and I thought, “This guy’s got talent!” Even though he was just eliminated, Eric’s performance on “Just Desserts” was truly remarkable; he had fancy pants three-starred Michelin pastry chefs wowed with his “humble” (humble? hardly!) bakery treats. One such treat was this chocolate chip cookie.

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Rainbow Cookies

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Neighborliness isn’t a word you hear much in New York City. Sure, we’ve met our neighbor neighbors a few times (the man right next door asked me to stop playing show tunes on the piano at 3 AM; can you believe the nerve?) but I’d never call our relationship with our neighbors neighborly. No, I haven’t experienced much neighborliness in N.Y.C. until, last week, when a food writer named Deobrah DiClementi, partner of Rebecca Charles (chef/owner of Pearl Oyster Bar) responded to a mention I made about my favorite cookie–the rainbow cookie–by messengering me over a homemade batch. Isn’t that the most neighborly New York story you’ve ever heard? And not only that, she included the recipe.

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Lucy’s Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies + Momofuku Milk Bar Cookies

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I care about you, readers, and I don’t want you to go through this weekend without cookies. Everyone deserves cookies, especially on the weekend.

The cookies I’m going to tell you about may already be familiar to you. The first, Lucy’s Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, were cookies I told you about in December. Remember I went to a cookie party? And how I was assigned Pfeffernussen? And how my Pfeffernussen were a bit tough and unwieldy, but how the best cookies at the party–salty chocolate peanut butter cookies–were so good I tracked down the recipe for you? Well now I’ve made those cookies myself and they are still mind-bogglingly good.

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Pfeffernussen, Orange Sables & The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie of Your Dreams

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The Baking Bug isn’t a ladybug, it’s a wasp: once it stings you, you’ve been stung.

Such has been the case with my friend Josh Hume, director of my show on Food2 and a recent convert to the world of baking. He loves it. He calls himself Man Martha because of his love for Martha Stewart’s recipes and, most recently, he represented me at a Bon Appetit Magazine blogger bake-off. (Check out his bouche!) It’s no surprise, then, that Josh approached holiday baking this year with a fervor; not only did he bake cakes for several friends’ birthday parties (big, elaborate cakes) but he planned an enormous Christmas cookie exchange and assigned each person a different cookie to bring. My assignment? Pfeffernussen.

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Michael Jackson Tribute Cookies

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My mom was the one who called me last week with the news. I was working with a friend and totally unprepared for the message my mom had to deliver. “Did you hear who died?” “Yes,” I said, “Farrah Fawcett.” “No,” she said. “Did you hear who else?” “No, who?” I ran through possible celebrity deaths in my head. Or was it someone we knew? “Michael Jackson,” said mom.

Almost instantly I repeated those words: “Michael Jackson.” And my friend’s wife yelled out from the other room: “Michael Jackson died?” It was the kind of sentence you don’t expect to say and then when you do say it, or when you hear it, you liked it better when that sentence didn’t exist. Such was the case with those awful words, “Michael Jackson died.”

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“Baked” Oatmeal Cookies with Cardamom

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The title of this post is a misrepresentation: the recipe I’m about to share does not advertise the fact that it contains cardamom. In fact, the recipe–from my new favorite baking book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking–is titled “Oatmeal Cherry Nut Cookies,” a title that doesn’t mention cardamom at all.

But cardamom was what caught my eye as I decided to make these cookies for dessert last week at 11 PM; so much so, that I didn’t even stop when I realized I didn’t have nuts or dried cherries. Cardamom would carry the day and carry the day it did.

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Tali’s Cookies

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First of all, apologies for the slow posting (or, rather, no posting) this week: I was in Georgia doing research for a top secret project that may or may not go anywhere–you’ll have to wait and see. But now I’m back and do you know the first thing I ate after walking back into my apartment?

One of Tali’s cookies.

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