All About Chumley, My New Favorite Thing

Before December, I honestly did not know who Chumley was.  Chumley was a necktie-wearing walrus in the 1960s cartoon show  Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales.  Justin and I never saw this show when it no doubt made a return to television in the 90s (as all cartoons from the 50s and 60s did) as we were busy reading our favorite childhood book, “Polar the Titanic Bear,” which is actually a phenomenal book that every child should read at least forty times.  It was read to me so many times that by the end, I had it memorized.

Getting back to Chumley, everything changed in December when I received the absolutely fantastic cookbook, “One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes” (Rizzoli) by Tracey Zabar, the assistant project editor of Sarabeth Levin’s excellent cookbook, if I may say so myself (that butter pecan ice cream and the corn muffins were each a little bit of heaven.  That and well, my apartment smelled so good the week I made the butter pecan ice cream; it was worth the price of the book just for that!).  And in case y’all are wondering, yes, she’s part of THAT Zabar family.

To be as blunt as humanly possible, I’m obsessed with this book.  Zabar compiled 70 cookie, or cookie-esque, recipes from some of the New York restaurant world’s biggest figures as well as some of her own creation to create 192 pages of heaven.

Todd English’s Favorite Triple Chocolate and Walnut Cookies were the first things I made from the book and they were borderline orgasmic.  Plus, I highly suggest adding the optional peanut butter chips because they give the already incredible flavor combination of milk, semisweet and white chocolate chips that perfect peanut butter taste that only crazy people don’t like.

The Monster Cookies by Gramercy Tavern’s Nancy Olson didn’t turn out to be as aesthetically pleasing as the look in the photo, but when does anything ever look like it does in the heavily stylized and Photoshopped images?  That said, they were “delicious,” according to my friend Sunny.  Plus, the 2/3 cup of M&M’s is less than two little vending machine bags of the tasty treats so you don’t have to worry about having that temptation to eat that massive bag of M&M’s from Costco that you would have otherwise bought!

For Passover this year, I made the Coconut-Nutella-Almond Macaroons by Pichet Ong of Spot Dessert Bar were mind-blowing!  Considering that I have only grown up knowing those Manischevitz macaroons that can make you nauseous if you eat the whole tin in one sitting (I’m not proud of the fact that I’ve actually consumed an entire container of those in one sitting), I had no idea how good a macaroon could taste!  It’s really baked like a cake in a half-sheet pan and is extremely dense.  The toasted almonds, nutella and Maldon sea salt give it this fantastic flavor.

Speaking of Nutella, their parent company, Ferrero, has been in a bit of trouble lately because apparently, a moron in Southern California falsely believed the advertisement that said Nutella was part of a healthy breakfast.  Worse, this certifiably retarded Orange County mother WON their case for $3 million!  I was and am still in shock and awe that this case even went to court, but even more stunned that these parents won because, if I may quote Kristen Wigg impersonating Paula Deen, this case was as stupid as fat free cream cheese, and that’s about as stupid as stupid can get!

The François Payard Flourless Chocolate Cookies recipe is exactly the same as the one in his own cookbook.  That said, I’m still convinced he’s leaving something out because they just do not taste the way they do when I buy them from his bakery, which is now located on Houston between Sullivan and Thompson; I miss when he was on Lexington between 73rd and 74th.  It was so much more convenient.

The piece de resistance of this book, thus far, is actually one of Tracey Zabar’s own concoctions, the Chumley.  It’s her take on a blondie, the albino, and more delicious, version of a brownie.

Chumley’s brilliant caramel color is thanks largely to the fact that the two sticks of butter are melted before being poured over the light brown sugar (no regular cane sugar is used).  Their mixing creates a rich brown color that is later lightened by the addition of the flour.  In other words, it’s Paula Deen’s version of porn.

Before flour

Look at that caramel color once the flour is added.  This is also the perfect time to lick the bowl, which apparently isn’t healthy for you, according to people whose mothers didn’t let them lick the bowl!

Then it’s time to “stir” (I just stick ’em in the mixer and put it on the lowest speed for 20 seconds) in the toasted pecans and Bittersweet Ghiradelli (she’s very insistent that they be Ghiradelli) chocolate chips, which gives you nirvana:

By the way, I would like to take this opportunity to state that 40% of the reason I’m writing about the Chumley is because of the amazing photos I took with the Leica when making the last one.  The other 60% is part I’m completely obsessed with Chumley and partly because I feel that I more people need to buy Tracey Zabar’s book because it’s THAT good!

Once it’s in an 8-inch square baking pan, all that separates you from Chumley are 45 minutes of baking time, a mind-numbingly slow cooling time followed by 30 minutes in the refrigerator.  Cut into pieces so that look like much more appetizing and not as crunchy versions of biscotti, the moaning can finally commence.  If you don’t cut the Chumley into pieces, you basically have a Chumley Pie, which is perfectly fine if you asked me.

 

I’ve made this one specifically for finals week because otherwise, there wouldn’t be a whole lot to entice me into continue writing the two enormous papers I have yet to start writing that are both due Monday.  But alas, procrastination will be coming to an end this evening as I plan to start the shorter of the two papers (only ten pages) this evening.

As for Tracey Zabar’s book, it’s still for sale wherever books are sold, but if you order it from Zabar’s website, you can get a signed copy!

Until next time…

-JD

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