Story by Tracy Nicholson & Molly Yeh
Photography courtesy of Molly Yeh
With holiday excitement in the air and a bun in the oven (due in March), Molly Yeh debuted the big news last month, during the premiere of her second season of Food Network’s show, Girl Meets Farm. Filmed in the home she shares with her husband Nick Hagen, a fifth-generation farmer in East Grand Forks, this local food blogger has been stirring up the food scene since 2009. Since her number one fans are right here in the Midwest, we reached out to Yeh to help us kick off our holiday baking with a fresh take on an old favorite, brown sugar cookies.
Meet Molly Yeh!
Years before I became hip to Levain or Birdbath (my two favorite cookie spots in New York), or Carol’s Cookies (my favorite in Chicago), or the salty bittersweet chocolate chip cookie at the town bakery, my older sister invented a cookie that is so jarring in principle, it’ll make you either scoot fast in the opposite direction, or stick around just to see if the world explodes; chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips.
No, it’s not just a sugar cookie, homogeneous throughout and frosted with glee. It’s a chewy, gooey, crackly puck that doesn’t have a name to ride on or a trust fund under its butt. It’s not decorated or fancy. All it has to offer is that it’s a quality cookie.
These will show you that with all of the research put out into the world by Jacques Torres and J. Kenji López-Alt, one can achieve a beyond-terrific cookie, sans the hook of them containing chocolate. Because a great chocolate chip cookie isn’t great because it has chocolate, a great chocolate chip cookie is great because it has a foundation of gold; something we don’t give enough credit to. Is this getting preachy? The point is, I appreciate the spaces filled between the chocolate chips, and just like I prefer my challah without raisins, I often prefer my cookies without any chocolate to disrupt the perfect blend of butter and sugar.
“I appreciate the spaces filled between the chocolate chips, and just like I prefer my challah without raisins, I often prefer my cookies without any chocolate to disrupt the perfect blend of butter and sugar.”
Brown Sugar Cookies
[Makes about 8 large cookies]
3 – c. flour
1 – tsp. kosher salt
1 – tsp. baking powder
¼ – tsp. baking soda
1 – c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ – c. sugar
1 – c. packed dark brown sugar
2 – large eggs
1 – tbs. vanilla bean paste or extract
Flaky sea salt, for topping
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each, then add the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out hockey-puck-size mounds of dough (about two ice cream scoops of dough, balled up and flattened slightly) and place them on the baking sheet. It’s okay for them to sit snugly up against each other for this step. Sprinkle the tops with a pinch of flaky salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 72. (In a pinch, you can bake these after just 1 hour of refrigerating, but curing the dough for 24 hours will yield the best results.) Feel free to bake these in batches or freeze some to bake at a later date (frozen cookies can be baked right out of the freezer, but they’ll need more time in the oven).
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the cookies three inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until the bottoms are lightly browned, but the centers are still soft. Begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes. Cool on the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove to the rack to cool completely.
Find this recipe in Yeh’s cookbook, Molly on the Range:
Recipes and Stories from An Unlikely Life on a Farm © 2016 by Molly Yeh. Reprinted with permission from Rodale Books.Follow Molly Yeh!
- Catch episodes from her TV series, Girl Meets Farm on Food Network, Sundays at 11:00 a.m.
- Watch video exclusives with Molly Yeh and get how-to’s on cake decorating and making your favorite childhood snacks at FoodNetwork.com/GirlMeetsFarm.
- Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #GirlMeetsFarm.
- Follow Yeh on Facebook and Instagram @mynameisyeh.