I'm sitting on a plane as I type this, headed for my annual pilgrimage to the heat and sun of the desert. Raindrops are gliding down the windows and, in a proper Seattle send-off, it's cold and grey. When we land in Palm Springs it will be a balmy 85°. And when I arrive back in Seattle, we will have officially arrived at spring.
Perched on the thin edge between winter and spring, dark and light, feels like an opportune moment to celebrate the changing of the seasons.
There is a part of me that wants to close the book on our long Seattle winter and be done with it. Good riddance.
Yet as much as I look forward to longer days filled with dinners outdoors and working in the garden, I realize I am thankful for the stillness of the darker months as well. Opposites enhance; darkness gives form to the light, throwing the contours of our spring rituals into dramatic relief. The soil turned. The flowers picked. The sharing of an Easter meal.
Without the bare branches and drizzly afternoons spent in the company of good books, we would not rejoice as fully in the green tips of the first seedlings or summer days full of picnics and iced tea and languorous naps in the sun.
This week, I was in the mood to celebrate the last shadows of winter before heading into the desert sun. So I give you this small ode to darkness: Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pistachios and Black Sesame.
They are intensely chocolaty, with deep, earthy notes from the pistachios and a subtle bitterness from the black sesame seeds--a decadent celebration of the end of winter.
In these final days of cold and grey, I hope you'll bake up a batch of these dark beauties and join me in celebrating winter's last hurrah and the arrival of spring!
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pistachios and Black Sesame
10 oz (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 oz (3/4 cup) lightly packed brown sugar
5 oz (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
6 oz dark chocolate chunks or chips (I used two Theo 70% Pure Dark chocolate bars, roughly chopped)
3 1/2 oz (3/4 cup) raw pistachios, roughly chopped
Coarse sea salt for topping (optional)
Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar at medium speed just until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Do not beat until pale and fluffy as this will cause your cookies to incorporate more air and spread in the oven.
Add the egg, yolk and vanilla and beat until the egg is incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds more. Add all of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until halfway incorporated. Add the sesame seeds, chocolate and pistachios and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Take care not to overwork the dough or your cookies will be tough.
Use a 1/4-cup scoop to form balls of dough. Place the formed dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Refrigerate overnight. I know this seems fussy and unfair considering how good this cookie dough is, but resting your dough before baking it off is the single most effective way to take your cookies to next-level, eye-rolling deliciousness. Trust me; it's worth it.
You can also freeze the dough balls. Once they are frozen solid, remove them from the sheet pan and store them in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer for up to two months. I always freeze my dough and bake from frozen as it makes for prettier cookies that hold their shape better in the oven.
When you are ready to bake off the cookies, preheat the oven to 325°F. Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Place 6 dough balls on each of the prepared sheet pans, leaving at least 2 inches of space around each cookie. (You can freeze the last 4 dough balls for emergency cookie cravings or bake them as a second batch.) Sprinkle the dough balls with coarse salt, if desired. Bake for about 18 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges and still soft in the middle (add 3 to 4 minutes if baking from frozen). If you're unsure when to take them out, err on the side of under- rather than overbaking them. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for about 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. These cookies will keep for up to 4 days, stored in an airtight container.
Makes 16 large cookies
Adapted from Joy the Baker