Zac Posen’s gifts likely won’t last long this holiday season.
“I’ll usually bake cookies [for friends and family] and send them as a gift,” he explained at a Thursday evening signing of his debut cookbook, “Cooking With Zac: Recipes From Rustic to Refined.”
Fans of the designer filled New York’s Bookmarc, the cozy Bleecker Street bookstore owned by Marc Jacobs, who stopped by the event to offer Posen his support. Others who dropped in for a glass of Champagne and sampling of the 37-year-old author’s browned butter-chocolate chip cookies were jewelry designer Ann Dexter-Jones and French hairstylist Didier Malige.
“I kind of celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, so I’ll probably do a roasted duck for the family this year,” added the “Project Runway” judge. “A roast is good for entertaining because it’s done.” Posen also expects to prepare a chestnut soup and gluten-free Bûche de Noël for his loved ones, the directions for which can be found in his 100-recipe guide.
Naturally, the New York native approaches his culinary creations with the same attention to detail as he does clothing from his eponymous label. “In my version of chocolate chip cookies, I cook the butter until it browns and becomes deep mahogany with a hazelnut scent, then chill it down,” he writes. “Only then do I use the chilled brown butter to make the cookies. It’s an extra step, yes, but with so many cookies in the world, it’s the fine touches that count — like a perfect handmade buttonhole on a suit that makes yours stand out from the crowd.”
With the recipe, provided below, Posen suggests pressing some of the chips into the dough before baking to give “a polished and professional look.” The designer also suggests keeping the browned butter for “a week or two before making the cookies,” so with the holidays quickly approaching, this is a recipe best started sooner than later.
Zac Posen’s Browned Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes two dozen
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (increase to 2 teaspoons if not using the vanilla bean)
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
Flaky salt, such as fleur de sel (optional)
1) Add the butter to a medium saucepan — it’s best to use one with a light-colored interior — and melt it slowly, swirling the butter often, over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to let the butter cook, swirling occasionally to prevent the milk solids from burning, until the butter smells nutty and turns chestnut colored, five to eight minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the browned butter to a heat-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup and refrigerate until solid and chilled — it needs one to two hours to resolidify.
2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside. Add the butter to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and use a wooden spoon to cream until the mixture is creamy and airy. If using a stand mixer, beat the mixture on medium speed until it is light and airy, about 1½ minutes.
3) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and using a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. If using a vanilla bean, use the tip of a paring knife to scrape away the vanilla seeds — drop the bean into a container of sugar to make vanilla sugar — and add them to the bowl along with the vanilla, mixing to combine.
4) Add the flour mixture and mix until no dry streaks remain — if using a stand mixer, add the flour on low speed and then increase the speed to medium-low until well combined — scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Add a heaping 1 cup of the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
5) Use your hands to divide the dough into balls the size of golf balls. Place 12 balls on the prepared sheet pan and press some of the remaining chocolate chips on top — this will flatten the ball slightly. Sprinkle a little flaky salt — if using — over each cookie. (At this point, the cookies can be held in the refrigerator for up to three days; they will have an even richer flavor and chewy texture from aging in the fridge.) Bake until the cookies are golden brown around the edges, about 12 minutes. (They will still feel a bit soft in the center but will continue to cook as they cool on the sheet pan.)
Cool for five minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Obviously, they are delicious served warm.
— From “Cooking With Zac: Recipes From Rustic to Refined” by Zac Posen with Raquel Pelzel/Rodale Publishing