Books & Recipes

A different kind of suspense + the best butter cookies you’ll ever have

We are halfway through spooky season and are so excited to keep sharing the best thriller and suspense novels on BBTP. This one was recommended to us by my dear friend, and Queen of Suspense, Sophia.

the book: Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

Okay to be completely upfront, it took me a minute to get into Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas. And by a minute, I mean a couple of weeks. I SAY this though because once I decided to actually jump in, and stick with it to the end, I was overall very pleased with the book: hence, recommending it to you now.

This is why:

Unique plot. The book is about a mysterious university that is set in the backwoods of rural PA. The halls are vast, the furniture is old and gothic. There are dusty tapestries hanging in the parlors and great rooms… and there are massive iron gates shutting the entire world out of the house. What makes it even more intriguing is how exclusive it is… it is said in the book that many of the world’s greatest minds (think Supreme Court Justices, presidents, writers, and artists) went to Catherine House, for the experimental education and strict policies. Strange right? Well, it gets even weirder.

Slow suspense. This book is not going to hit you with action-packed moments and thrill at once. It’s a slow build… but good things take time right? Elisabeth Thomas’s writing style is cool in this sense… everything is a slow build, which keeps you wondering, what the actual f*%k is going on at this school?!?!?

Details. Idk about you, but detailed writing is something I always look for. I want to be able to TASTE what is being served for evening supper. I want to SMELL the soap that the main character uses to wash their hair. I want to HEAR the sound that the wind is making. Weird examples ^ but you get the idea. This book is loaded with interesting details, like the afternoon tea service students receive every day, and the way the house’s interior changes as the seasons pass by.

the bite: Butter Cookies

Okay surprisingly, there were quite a few food references in Catherine House, which is kind of unusual for suspense. However, the one that really caught my eye was when the main character, Ines, makes a reference to a big, chewy, butter cookie. She talks about this cookie when she is consoling her roommate, Baby, and the two of them end up sneaking into the school’s kitchen to take a few.

If you google “butter cookie,” shortbread is most likely going to be the first to appear. Now, I love shortbread… but there was something about the way Ines described these cookies, that didn’t really feel like it would be a shortbread-type situation.

SO, we did something fun. We collided two of our favorite and original BBTP recipes – Therapy Cookies and Toffee Grahams – and developed our very own butter cookie.

Let me tell you, these things are out of control. Crunchy and crisp around the edges, while soft and chewy towards the middle… a 10/10 cookie with the flavors of burnt butterscotch and salted caramel.

Ingredients

For the toffee:

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 stick of salted butter

For the cookies:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Steps

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and stick of butter to make the toffee; whisk until the butter has melted and combined with the sugar completely
  • Remove the toffee from heat and pour onto one of the baking sheets; pop into the oven for 6-8 minutes or until you see lots of bubbles starting to form; remove from the oven and set aside to cool
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour baking soda, and salt; set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Once combined, add the eggs, mixing until all ingredients come together
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides; Stop mixing just as the dough has formed
  • By now, the toffee should be completely cooled and ready to break up (it’s super thin and papery, so breaking it will be easy)
  • Take 3/4 of the toffee pieces and gently fold them into the cookie dough; Use a cookie scoop or wet spoon to scoop 1 1/2 inch balls of dough onto the second baking sheet that you prepared
  • Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges; When you remove the cookies, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 of the toffee pieces on top!