Alton Brown’s Baked Beans… Sort of

Anyone who is familiar with Alton Brown is aware how particular he is as a chef. He crafts his recipes very carefully with detailed measurements, urgings to weigh ingredients, and scientific mumbo-jumbo to explain how the whole thing works.

He probably would not be happy with me altering his recipe, but fate be damned I am doing it anyways!

I have been making these baked beans for nearly a decade and they always turn out well. In recent years I have made a few changes which seem to result in baked beans which me and my wide variety of food tasters seem to *gasp!* prefer to Alton’s original recipe. Simmer down Alton lovers; all I did was remove one jalapeño and add in some vinegar and maple syrup. Did you know that maple syrup is a flavour enhancer, much like vanilla? A little goes a long way! I also omit the bean water in favour of more flavourful broth and remove the lid for the last bit of cooking time for a deep browning. Plan on closer to 8 hours than 6.

So comforting and filling, baked beans are a great winter dish served with some Cornbread and a salad.

Also for anyone wanting to make less than what seems like a mountain of beans at the end, I have halved this recipe with great results!

Baked Beans

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Once and Future Baked Beans

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
1 pound bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons of apple cider or other vinegar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt

—–
Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Soak beans in a plastic container overnight in just enough cold water to submerge them completely.

Place a Dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the bacon, onion, and jalapenos until enough fat has rendered from the bacon to soften the onions, about 5 minutes. If desired, remove some bacon fat with a few paper towels. Stir in the tomato paste, dark brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, and syrup. Cook for a few minutes.

Drain the beans and rinse. Add the drained beans to the Dutch oven. Add the vegetable broth to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in cayenne, black pepper and salt. Give them a stir and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in the oven for 6 to 8 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove lid for last 30-45 minutes of cooking.

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LOST RECIPE RECOVERED! Alton Brown’s Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

so good you will want to hug me

so good you will want to hug me

Clearly, I am not a recipe hoarder. I’m running a cooking blog over here for bejezzes sakes… However, I have to admit I have hoarded this recipe over the years and have NEVER before revealed it to anyone. This makes me feel old and a half, but I have been making these chocolate chip cookies exclusively for over a decade. It is the recipe my nieces and nephews learned to make cookies with, the recipe I will teach to my daughter Violet when she is old enough to lick a wooden spoon, and hopefully one day the recipe she uses in her own kitchen.

I can’t tell you where the original came from. I have written it down many times but the lone copy that remains is tattered, written in about 6 different colours of ink, and so butter stained it is virtually see through. I can tell you this though – it started off as a Alton Brown Sea Salt Chocolate chip recipe that can no longer be found anywhere online. Oh I have looked people, I have looked. Searches yield things like Alton Brown’s “The Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie” which does have sea salt but is definitely not the base recipe I am searching for as it has no large flake oats, which I recall Alton being very specific about. These cookies have oatmeal yet seem more like a regular chocolate chip cookie than an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. There is of course Alton’s “Oatiest Oatmeal Cookies Ever” but the proportions are different and chocolate is not the star as it is in the recipe below.

This recipe makes about 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on how big you like them. I usually make one tray at a time and keep the dough in the fridge over the period of a week and make new cookies every few days. My husband HIGHLY recommends what he calls hot cookie pudding” which is when you pace around the kitchen while the cookies bake and immediately when your wife pulls them out of the oven, steal two and top with half and half in a little bowl.

There have been many signs throughout the years that these are the best chocolate chip cookies out there, period. I brought them to a potluck once and many years later  someone told the story to coworkers of  “the time Amber brought those chocolate cookies with the salt” like it was an urban legend. Yesterday my friend and I took our babies on their first picnic (they are almost the same age!) and when I revealed a plate of these for dessert she looked at them and said with wonder “what are those?”. At first I was confused as I couldn’t understand why she needed an explanation of what a cookie was… then I realized she wanted to know if they were THE cookies. She asked me for the recipe a while back and I didn’t produce as my copy is so tattered (and secret- until now)- so PB- this one’s for you!

*Room temperature eggs mix in better in almost every recipe- if you forget to leave them out, place in a bowl of warm water for 1 minute.

Alton Brown’s Sea Salt Chocolate Cookies

1 cup of salted butter, softened

1 cup of brown sugar

3/4 cup of white sugar

3 teaspoons of vanilla

2 large eggs, room temperature*

1.5 cups of all purpose flour

1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

2 cups of large flake oats

1 bag of mini Hershey milk chocolate kisses (any combination of quality chocolate is fine and chocolate chunks are great for adults. Mix of dark and milk is great too)

kosher/coarse sea salt

_____

Preheat oven 350

Cream butter with paddle attachment on stand mixer (beaters on hand mixer are fine too).

Add sugars and mix well. Mix in vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time on low speed.

Mix flour, spices, salt and baking soda together and add to wet mixture slowly on medium speed.

Add oats and chocolate chips- (mix in with a spoon if you are using hand mixer).

Chill 15 minutes and drop by rounded large spoonful (the tiny spring loaded ice cream scoops from the dollar store are perfect for this) onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Sprinkle each top with a pinch of kosher salt/coarse sea salt.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Store leftover dough in fridge up to a week. Leave on counter 20 minutes before dropping onto cookie sheet.