Serious Eats: Recipes

Classic Cookbooks: Alexis's Brown-Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

[Photograph: Christine Tsai]

When I was five, my mother bought a new kind of cookbook because she was entranced by the pictures within: here were elegant parties and rustic feasts; there was the author working her massive garden, feeding "part of [her] flock of rare and unusual chickens," and tending her honeybees; and finally, sealing the deal (for our family, at least) there was a basket of gingerbread gnomes with red hats patiently awaiting a Christmas party.

The book, of course, was Martha Stewart's Entertaining, and this year it is 25 years old. It is fascinating to look back at the original book to see how much styles in food, flowers, and presentation have changed. (Also how much more honest Stewart is now about her massive staff: the early books make it seem as if she is doing all that cooking, gardening, chicken-rearing, bee-keeping, etc. single-handed.) Some arrangements still look perfectly lovely, and some treats are still worth eating: Alexis's Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies have been among my very favorite cookies since the first time I tasted them.

In my opinion, many of the recipes in Stewart's early books don't work as well as the dependable recipes emerging today from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and that only makes sense: with a huge company on the case, I'm sure they test the dickens out of those recipes now. But these cookies have always worked perfectly. They've only caused me trouble when I've taken a basket of them to a party and been slightly embarrassed by how much more attention they got than the hostess's offerings.

They do not resemble Tollhouse-style cookies in the slightest. They are much more buttery (Andrew was scandalized the first time he saw me make them) and have the most wonderful brown sugar taste and crispy-at-the-edges/chewy-in-the-middle texture. I actually prefer them without chocolate chips, which just get in the way of my butter-brown sugar enjoyment, but I think I'm pretty much alone in that.

About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.

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