As many of you know, I grew up in New York. While St. Louis is now my home, I still spend lots of time in the Big Apple. There are so many incredible bakeries there to explore. On the same street as my dad’s store in Forest Hills (Has anyone been to Instant Replay?), there is a French bakery that I could live in. My brother’s neighborhood in Jackson Heights is sprinkled with irresistible Indian sweets shops. I’ve yet to try some of the more famous New York City bakeries.
Luckily, several of them have cookbooks.
If the Milk & Cookies Bakery is half as appealing as their cookbook, it would be so hard to walk out of there without dozens of cookies in hand. The photos in the book are gorgeous and inviting and I love that the Italian cookie recipes found in the “Family Favorites” chapter have traveled through generations. (View on Amazon)
Milk & Cookies (the book) has a recipe for chestnut cookies using a sugar cookie base dough but substituting chestnut flour for some of the all-purpose flour and adding a touch of honey. It’s on my list to make someday. But, first, it got me really wanting to make chestnut cookies using roasted chestnuts.
You may have heard my rant about how we sing of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but never eat them during the holidays – except perhaps buried in a stuffing. Last night, I talked to a friend who thought that surely chestnuts must actually taste terrible. Chestnuts, when roasted, are a soft, sweet nut with a taste that I can best describe as a cross between butterscotch and walnuts.
I Googled and found a recipe for fire roasted chestnut caramel cookies by Rodger Mooking. For those who don’t watch a lot of Food TV (I don’t either), he’s the star of Everyday Exotic on The Cooking Channel. (View on Amazon)
Rodger’s cookies, with the flavors of cocoa and chestnut and a caramel topping with a flaky salt on top, sounded unique and super appealing. I knew that I had to try them right away, but I cheated a little.
I used pre-roasted and shelled chestnuts instead of following all of Rodger’s steps to fire roast chestnuts – it was so much easier! (View on Amazon)
Also, did you notice how the caramel in my photo almost looks like chocolate syrup? That’s because I burnt it (yeah, I mess up too). I’ll admit that I decided after my fifth cookie that I kind of liked the burnt caramel. But, I’d rather you not have to debate whether burnt caramel tastes good or not, so I’m giving you a go-to caramel recipe instead of Rodger’s – mine is much harder to screw up and tastes out of this world!
While I recommend the changes above, do not leave off the sprinkling of flaky salt on top of the cookies. The salt is an essential part of the cookie. A jar of this salt, by the way, makes a great foodie holiday gift. (View on Amazon)
Roasted Chestnut Cookie Recipe
The recipe below is Rodger Mooking’s recipe, but in my own words and with the key changes noted above.
Roasted Chestnut Cookies with Cocoa and Caramel
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 5 ounces roasted chestnuts roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup spiced rum
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- flaky salt to taste such as fleur de sel
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a medium-sized bowl.
- Mix in the chestnuts.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Mix the vanilla and egg into the butter/sugar mixture.
- Mix in the dry ingredients a little bit at a time until the ingredients come together to form a heavy dough.
- Place tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. They can be quite close together as they won't spread.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until a little crispy on top but still soft on the inside.
- Cool on a cooling rack.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat.
- Add brown sugar and stir continuously until just boiling.
- Add rum and stir well.
- Grab the edge of the saucepan’s handle and tilt the saucepan slightly over the flame of a gas burner (or use a lighter with a long handle) to ignite the rum. Be sure to lean back as the flames will shoot up from the saucepan!
- Continue to stir until the flames subside.
- Stir in heavy whipping cream until just combined.
- Remove from heat.
- Cool until thick enough to drizzle over cooled cookies.
- Sprinkle tops of cookies with salt.