by Dorie Greenspan
adapted from Pierre Hermé Paris
from Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City’s
Best Pastry Shops
(Broadway Books, 2002)
Makes about 36
These easy-to-make, easy-to-eat, easy-to-love chocolate-chocolate chip cookies are from Pierre Hermé, the man Vogue magazine called “The Picasso of Pastry.” They are cocoa dark, not very sweet, chock-full of chocolate bits, melt-on-your-tongue buttery, just crumbly enough to be true sablés, or sand cookies, and just salty enough to catch you off guard. In fact, the combination of chocolate and salt (Pierre uses the somewhat exotic fleur de sel, sea salt from the Guérande) makes these cookies fatally appealing. I don’t trust myself not to finish the batch in a sitting, and I’ll bet you’ll find yourself in the same spot — a warning to make these when you’re certain not to be alone. Indeed, these are the easiest cookies to make for company because, despite their très French flavor, they are essentially American slice-and-bake icebox cookies. The dough is mixed in a flash, rolled into logs, and chilled, then cut into rounds and baked in minutes.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated 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 small bits
1 . Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together and keep close at hand. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. (Alternatively, you can do this and all subsequent steps by hand, working with a sturdy rubber spatula.) Add both sugars, the salt, and vanilla extract and beat for another minute or two. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated — the dough will look crumbly, and that’s just right. 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.
2. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface and squeeze it so that it sticks together in large clumps. Gather the dough into a ball, divide it in half, and working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter. (Cookie-dough logs have a way of ending up with hollow centers, so as you’re shaping each log, flatten it once or twice and roll it up from one long side to the other, just to make certain you haven’t got an air channel.) Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill them for at least 1 hour. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for I month.)
3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and keep them close at hand.
4. Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick. (Don’t be upset if the rounds break; just squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.) Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) spread space between them.
5. Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time, and bake each sheet for 12 minutes. The cookies will not 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 stand until they are only just warm or until they reach room temperature — it’s your call. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.
Note: The dough can be made ahead and chilled or frozen. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs and 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 1 month.
An American in Paris: In moments of over-the-topness, I’ve added chopped toasted pecans, plumped currants, and a pinch of cinnamon to the dough and loved it. And, I’ve been known to cheat on the chocolate bits. On the sad (but fortunately seldom) occasions when my cupboard is bare of Valrhona Guanaja (Pierre’s choice for these cookies, and one of my favorite chocolates), I’ve even used store-bought chocolate chips.
Recipe © 2002 Dorie Greenspan. All rights reserved.