Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Dinner with George Washington

We were invited to the Elementary School today to view “A Revolutionary Retrospective.” This clever fourth grade play was staged as a dinner party. The guests were the most important figures of the American Revolution, including Molly Pitcher, Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Benedict Arnold. The dinner party conversation revealed their parts in the Revolution. I learned that George Washington lost more battles than he won and that King George spent the last 12 years of his life in a purple bathrobe. What a clever way to dramatize American history! But we did get hungry as the play progressed.

Luckily, there was a party afterwards, with an impressive spread. I contributed a platter of some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies.

Hazelnut Espresso Chip Cookies
Makes about 48 cookies

I drive all the way to King Kullen in Bridgehampton to buy Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips, but it’s worth the trip for the flavor and richness that they add. Melting the butter (rather than softening it) gives them the chewy texture that I like.

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups skinned and chopped hazelnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
3. Cream the cooled melted butter and sugars together together in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, if you are using them. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes (or for up to 6 hours) to let the dough firm up.
4. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie (Balls of dough may be placed next to each other on parchment-lined baking sheets, frozen, transferred to zipper-lock plastic freezer bags, and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. Frozen cookies may be placed in the oven directly from the freezer and baked as directed.)
5. Bake the cookies until golden around the edges but still soft on top, 9 to 11 mintues (a minute or two longer for frozen dough). Let the cookies stand on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove them with a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. Hazelnut Espresso Chip Cookies will keep in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.

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