Inevitably over the course of every module that I teach, I share much of the same wisdom over and over. One of my most notable quotes being, “when you steal recipes don’t waste your time with the bad ones, steal from a great source.” Of course when I’m saying this I’m usually trying to express the idea that we have eaten the same foods over and over, for hundreds of years, because good food has staying power, it just gets revamped and hopefully improved over time. Like they say, “your parents hope you do better than they did,” so your recipes should be slightly better than the last version.
So of course with cookies, it would make sense to start with the best and go from there. I have my favorites, and as you might be noticing I am never shy to share an opinion. Dorie Greenspan is up there near the top. Not only did she spend time editing the books of some of my favorite pastry chefs, notably Pierre Hermé, but she has written many of her own, including her most recent, Around My French Table. When Dorie bakes cookies, it’s time to take notes as she has spent her life making every recipe better than before.
Dorie and her son and cookie-loving partner Joshua, will be selling their cookie wares at CookieBar, for 5 short days, February 7th through the 11th from 10am every morning until they run out. They are planning a larger bake than last year but I would suggest getting there early as last year I found out the hard way that those cookies go fast. Here is a preview at the menu (plus a recipe for one of Dorie’s cookies).
French butter cookies baked in our signature straight-sided rounds
SUGAR-TOPPED VANILLA SABLÉS — Crisp around the edges and just a tad tender in the center, these sparkly, sugar-sprinkled French shortbread cookies have the good taste of butter, butter and more butter, and pure, rich vanilla, too.
COCONUT-LIME SABLÉS — Lots of freshly grated lime zest rubbed into sugar, toasted coconut and a pinch of cardamom (impossible to place, but it ups the ante on all the flavors) give these cookies a taste of the tropics that makes them perfect for the dead of winter.
ESPRESSO-CHOCOLATE SABLÉS — A mix of butter, strong espresso and tiny hand-chopped bits of Valrhona Extra-Bitter Chocolate makes for a sophisticated cookie that’s as good as an afternoon pick-me-up as it is with a late-night drink.
Two remarkable cookies made with lots and lots of Valrhona Chocolate
WORLD PEACE COOKIES — Their icon cookie, taught to them by Pierre Hermé, gets its rich, deep flavor from Valrhona Cocoa and hand-chopped Valrhona Extra-Bitter Chocolate and its irresistible snackability from just enough fleur-de-sel from Guérande.
CHOCOLATE CHUNKERS — A cookie that’s almost all chunk and some chew, it’s got four kinds of Valrhona Chocolate (cocoa, pure unsweetened, Jivara Milk Chocolate and Extra-Bitter), lots of plump, tangy dried cherries and even more chopped salted cashews. Oh, and its just a little soft in the center.
Triple-treat cookies: sablés, Sarabeth jam and streusel
STRAWBERRY-RASPBERRY JAMMERS: Vanilla sablés topped with Sarabeth’s Strawberry-Raspberry Legendary Spreadable Fruits and finished with vanilla-bean streusel.
PEAR-PINEAPPLE JAMMERS: Lemon sablés topped with Sarabeth’s Lemony Pear-Pineapple Preserves and finished with vanilla-bean streusel.
Brownies and blondies baked in our signature straight-sided rounds
CHEWY, CHUNKY BLONDIES: A caramel blondie chockablock with add-ins: coconut, pecans and hand-chopped Valrhona milk chocolate. A sweet that stretches the borders of cookiedom.
And if you can’t wait make these now.
World Peace Cookies
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Your (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) by Dorie Greenspan
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons; 5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits, or chocolate mini-chips
Makes about 36 cookies
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together and keep close at hand.
Working in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and creamy. (If you’d like, you can make the dough by hand using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.) Add both sugars, the salt and the vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. The dough may look crumbly, but that’s fine. For the best texture, you want to work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.
Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide it in half, gather it together and, working with one half at a time, shape the dough into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or for up to 3 days.
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Have two lined baking sheets at hand.
Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice rounds that are 1/2 – inch thick. (The rounds often crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto the cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets leaving about 1 inch of spread space between each round and slide one of the sheets into the oven. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes – they won’t look done nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.
Storing: The dough can be made ahead and either chilled or frozen. In fact, if you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking – let it warm just enough so that you can slice the rounds; bake the cookies 1 minute longer. Packed airtight, baked cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months.