salted butter & chocolate chunk shortbread

In my house, chocolate chip cookies are a love language. When my sister and I were sad, when we were happy, when we were furious, when there was no dominant emotion and no reason at all— my mom would mix up a bowl of cookie dough. She uses the recipe on the Nestle chocolate chip bag, but she never actually has to look at the recipe. My sister would get called in before my mom mixed in the chocolate chips because Sadie likes chip-less dough. My mom would put it in the fridge to let it firm up and I would sneak spoonfuls before they went in the oven. More often than not, she brings a batch when she visits us at college. There's a few straggler cookies from months ago still in my freezer. They taste like childhood and adolescence and young adulthood all at once. I think chocolate chip cookies may have this particular taste-memory power over most Americans more than any other food. 

It's been a few months since Alison Roman's Dining In came out. I discovered Alison in 2015 when I first got into cooking and she immediately became my career path DREAM GIRL. I adore her approach to food and I was so thrilled to get my hands on her book. If you are at all involved in food communities on Instagram, you've seen what I'm about to show. These are none other than Alison's Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread. 

Now, unlike Alison (but like the rest of the nation), I love a chocolate chip cookie. But these cookies are something extraordinary. These taste familiar but so unlike the chocolate chip cookie you are expecting. They are deeply textured, brown sugar-bombed delights with just enough chocolate, Demerara sugar-crisped edges, and flaky salt in each bite. 

While eating three of them in my bed last night watching Steel Magnolias, I tried to recall what about them tasted so familiar, since they certainly weren't tasting like my mom's Nestle classics. I flipped madly through the chocolate chip cookie Rolodex in my brain. I've eaten so many. 

Flipping, I stopped at "Cookies of 2006-2007." After school, student council opened up the "Snack Shack" in the gym for both athletes after sports practice and kids whose parents did not pick them up on time and were really losing it not having eaten for the three hours since lunch. I think my parents were generally prompt, but I would bolt over to the gym with my friends for one thing: Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough cooked in a toaster oven. The Snack Shack, of course, had no oven. That was perfect for us. The toaster oven barely cooked these morsels of dough, and that was how we liked it. We would eat this scorching-hot processed dough off a napkin with a fork, since it could not hold a shape and we would absolutely not wait for them to cool. Having been spoiled with homemade cookies my entire life, I was taken with the certainly-not-homemade flavor. It's a different flavor than homemade... AND IT'S DELICIOUS. Alison's cookies taste like an gorgeous, elevated, writes-recipes-for-the-New-York-Times version of those grocery store slice-n-bake log cookies that you sometimes crisp up a little too much. FYI that is an enormous compliment, if you somehow don't love grocery store slice-n-bake logs. 

I'm fully obsessed with these cookies now, just like every other person on Instagram. I had to stop myself for eating one after BREAKFAST today. Like a monster.

-Sophie