Review: Serious Eats Food Lab’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

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After “32 pounds of flour, over 100 individual tests, and 1,536 cookies”, Kenji of Serious Eats’ The Food Lab finally settled upon the “best chocolate chip cookie” recipe. Of course I had try this recipe worthy of a superlative, especially after such extensive experimentation. Nothing like trial and error to yield the best results, am I right?

My verdict? Short answer: not the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. The long answer is as follows.

1. Spread too thin: when I first baked these cookies after a night of refrigeration, they ended up spreading and gave nowhere near the crackled, chunky effect of Kenji’s version. I then put it in the freezer and ended up the texture as shown in the pictures. The cookies have a bit more height, but still don’t have an attractive texture.

2. Too salty: So I used Sel de Guarande, a French sea salt – which is not Diamond Crystal kosher salt, as was recommended in the recipe. From what I could tell based on my research, the fleur de sel I had was similarly, if not more coarse than Diamond Crystal – and thus shouldn’t over-salt my cookies. I was wrong. It ended up too salty for my taste and diminished the sweetness, and I am glad I didn’t garnish the cookies with more salt – that would have been overkill. Perhaps I didn’t brown the butter enough, but I thought that there wasn’t a strong enough toffee/caramelized flavor, and the taste was simply too salt-centric for a chocolate chip cookie.

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3. Fluffy texture: A fluffy texture might be a boon or a bane depending on who you ask, but personally I prefer a denser, more chewy cookie. Because the eggs and sugar are beat on medium-high for five minutes, a lot of air is incorporated into the dough, lending lightness and airiness. I didn’t really care for that, personally. If I had let the butter solidify completely after browning it, that might have helped with giving a denser texture that I personally prefer.

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I don’t think I’ll be making this again, since clearly it doesn’t fulfill my vision of what a chocolate chip cookie should be.

Click here for the recipe I used.

 

Soft Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies (Gluten-Free)

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As my foray into gluten-free baking continues, I have been pushing the boundaries slowly. I’m not going to be making gluten-free bread or cake anytime soon – basically anything that contains flour as its main component will be tricky to perfect with gluten-free flours. I thought that an oatmeal cookie would be a decent compromise, since the oats take up considerable bulk in the cookie. I took a popular oatmeal cookie from Allrecipes and used a homemade gluten-free flour blend from the Celiac Support Organization website, specifically Carol Fenster’s General Baking Mix #1. I picked that recipe for its simplicity, and because I already had tapoica starch lying around.

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Then came the actual baking. These cookies are actually my second attempt. My first attempt came out overly spread out and lacy, and all the cookies merged into a giant lattice of baked cookie dough. It was still tasty, but it was more of a crisp and thin variety than soft and thick. Gluten-free flours without any additives generally don’t create structurally sound baked goods because the gluten protein provides a great deal of stability to a finished product. My hack was to then freeze the cookies so that they are less inclined to spread out. I then freezed the dough after shaping it into balls, and baked it at a higher temperature at a shorter duration. That worked wonderfully, and gave me cookies with a soft, almost cakey texture with a crisp caramelized rim.

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Soft Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies (Gluten-Free)
Makes 3 dozen cookies
Adapted from Allrecipes

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup gluten-free flour (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup white chocolate chips (I eyeballed it – add to your heart’s desire!)

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in egg, then stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats. Roll the dough into teaspoon sized balls, and freeze till hard.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Place cookie balls 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet until completely cool.

Gluten-Free Flour Mix
Makes 1 cup
From Carol Fenster

1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tbsps tapioca starch/flour

Blend all flours till combined. These flours are very light, so take care to avoid coating your counter in white powder. Potato starch is also different from potato flour – be cautious in your purchase.

Matcha (Green Tea) Ginger and Almond Biscotti

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One of the primary motivators for my baking is because buying dessert everyday is too expensive. Yes, I crave sweets everyday, and most often of the pastry variety. Chocolate bars and candies don’t satisfy me. I was examining my Mint budget for the month of October, and was shocked at how much of it went to buying random snacks to tide over an afternoon lull. This must stop!

Enter the matcha, ginger, and almond biscotti. I had crystallized ginger from an oatmeal, white chocolate and ginger cookie recipe, and I had matcha powder from a previous iteration of a green tea shortbread cookie. I also had slivered almonds from a chocolate granola recipe – triple win! Efficient, and makes good use of existing ingredients I have in my pantry.

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Biscotti is cool because it’s a double-baked cookie. First it is shaped into a flat loaf and then baked till just firm on the outside, and then sliced into the familiar biscotti shape and then baked again. I’m not sure why this is so. Is it because biscotti is meant to be a long-lasting, storage food? 

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The one thing that I’m not so crazy about this recipe is the strong eggy taste. It might not be so discernible if you weren’t looking out for it, but it was strange to me. The exclusion of any fat whatsoever necessitates the additional eggs, so I think it would be inherent to any biscotti recipe, unless you get a bastardized American version that’s softer and chewier. Nevertheless, this biscotti is great to dip into a hot cup of tea and munch on.

Matcha (Green Tea) Ginger and Almond Biscotti
From Big Biscotti Bake

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
3 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
½ cup roughly chopped almonds
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1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2. In a large flat bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and matcha powder.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract.

4. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5. Add the crystallized ginger and almonds, and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 to 20 times.

6. Separate the dough in half. Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes. Press the top of each log with granulated sugar.

7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split. Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Salted Chocolate Truffle Cookies

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These cookies are très chocolatey, and when I noticed how little flour it involved, I decided to swap it out entirely for gluten-free flour. Unfortunately I think it made my cookies too crumbly. That’s the downside to using gluten-free flour, it doesn’t seem to have the stretchy, bond-y properties that gluten protein has. Oh well.

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Unlike the recipe I adapted from, I didn’t have salted chocolate around, so I just used regular chocolate. The salt doesn’t seem to hold up too well in the recipe – I think sprinkling it before baking would result in a better contrast. I just forgot to =/ Try to use actual flaky sea salt; it’ll look much prettier on your cookies and I’ve found that it just tastes better.

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Salted Chocolate Truffle Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies
Adapted from Butter Baking

Ingredients
300g dark chocolate, chopped
30g unsalted butter
2 eggs
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup gluten-free flour (or regular all-purpose flour)
¼ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (plus extra, for sprinkling)
⅓ cup chocolate chips

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) and line trays with baking paper.
Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between each burst, until chocolate and butter are melted, smooth and combined.
Whisk in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt, stirring to combine.
Allow the dough to cool a little, then stir in the chocolate chips.
Chill the dough in the fridge until slightly hardened.
Use a cookie scoop to drop balls of dough onto the prepared trays. Sprinkle each cookie with a little sea salt (optional and to taste).
Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are slightly cracked.
Allow to cool before removing from trays. Makes about 20 cookies.

Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate and Candied Ginger Chunks

IMG_4002This may look like a nondescript oatmeal white chocolate chip cookie. But little did you know that when you bite into it, there would be unexpected warmth and spice from the candied ginger chunks that cuts the sweetness of the white chocolate a little bit. What I like best about these cookies is how it is reminiscent of the winter holidays. The flavors are definitely very seasonal, and somehow the combination of oats, ginger, white chocolate and honey just feel like a warm, comforting embrace.

Which explains why I have eaten so many. Nom nom noms.

Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate and Candied Ginger Chunks
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes about 50 cookies

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (It’s okay to use all-purpose flour although I suspect whole wheat can add a nutty, earthy, wholesome flavor)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate chips
1 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In medium bowl, combine oats, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Using electric mixer at high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg, honey, and vanilla and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add oat mixture and mix at low speed just until incorporated. Stir in white chocolate chocolate and ginger. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes or until slightly stiffer. In the interest of time optimization, I recommend doing the dishes now.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake until golden and slightly crisp on edges, about 14 to 16 minutes. Cool on sheets 3 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Updates: and a Crumbly Double Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

I have two major updates in my life that will perhaps significantly impact the output of this baking blog in the future.

Firstly, I discovered that I am gluten-sensitive. This is pretty devastating news for someone who loves American desserts. Ever since I moved to New York City from Singapore, I’ve found that my internal plumbing hasn’t been working so great. The gastrointestinal discomfort that plagues me has been chronic but surmountable, which is why it took me so long to do something about it. But recently, I went to get some blood work done (thanks, full-time job and health insurance!) and tested positive for anti-gliadin antibodies. This explains everything. It explains my IBS-like symptoms ever since I moved to the US, since my diet here is certainly higher in wheat products. (Pasta, bread, cakes and cookies, vs. rice, rice noodles, congee, etc.)

One of the most misunderstood things about gluten sensitivity – that even I had – was that one has to always eat lesser versions of gluten products. Gluten-free pizza. Gluten-free cakes. Gluten-free cookies. Like, eww? Every time a bakery or a restaurant championed itself as “gluten-free” my purist instincts scoffed at the idea of having a gluten-free version of the clearly superior original. But now that I am diagnosed as gluten-sensitive, my perspective is changing.

In terms of savory foods, the perceived level of sacrifice I have to face seems alright. While I enjoy pasta and bread, these are Western staples that I rarely have at home.  There are several savory naturally gluten-free options that I prefer, such as rice, rice noodles, and so on. I even compromise with my Austrian boyfriend by eating potatoes instead of bread. But what will I do now that I can’t enjoy classic American desserts? Red velvet cake, chocolate chip cookies, brownies… all these are things that are just full of gluten.

The second thing that’s misunderstood about gluten sensitivity is perhaps the severity of the symptoms. Granted, this is on a case by case basis, but given that many gluten-sensitive individuals go years undiagnosed, you can infer that the symptoms aren’t all that bad. And really they aren’t. I have never been held captive in bed, or entered a life-threatening state due to this condition. But have I been too bloated to exercise, lethargic the entire day after a breakfast of pancakes, and excluded the possibility of wearing certain outfits due to my probable three-months-pregnant waistline by day’s end? Yes.

Armed with this new-found understanding of my body, am I going to be posting more gluten-free recipes? Probably. But mostly because those recipes are MEANT to be gluten-free, such as macarons, certain brownies, puddings, some Asian desserts… I’ve grown up on Asian desserts such as red bean soupcheng tng, and dried beancurd skin soup, so I have a wider repertoire of desserts than your usual baked butter/flour/sugar/egg combo. And thank goodness I can still consume dairy products with wild abandon. Cheesecake and ice cream in my belly!

So why am I still baking gluten-ridden double chocolate chip cookies? Because I like chocolate cookies, plan and simple. But this gives me cause to exercise a little more self-restraint, to enjoy baking for its process as much as the finished product.

Also, I just moved into a new apartment and I was burning for the opportunity to use the AWESOME NEW OVEN THAT FITS A FULL SIZED (13×18) BAKING SHEET! This is the second major update. I can’t tell you how much grief it gave me to have to use a 10×15 baking sheet. My baking times were essentially doubled due to how pathetically small that “urban living” oven was. Sure, it had a sleeker stainless steel finish but who cares about a nice looking kitchen when you can’t cook properly in it. But now, I can bake twice as fast AND use my awesome non-stick silicone sheet! It saves me money I’d otherwise be spending on parchment paper and the clean up is so quick.

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I also get SUNLIGHT in the kitchen to take pretty pictures of my food. Before I’d have to actually move my food into the balcony of my bedroom in order to get some flattering natural light.

These cookies are easy to make, bite-sized and its crumbly, sandy texture is rather European. The chocolate force is strong in this one, so definitely use real chocolate instead of crappy hydrogenated oil chocolate chips. Some packaged chocolate chips have a higher melting point due to the hydrogenated oils and thus stay intact when you bake them, but don’t you want ooey gooey meltedy chocolatey goodness in your cookies?

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I tweaked the recipe a little bit, and the most significant substitution is that instead of using light brown sugar, I used half regular sugar and half dark brown sugar. I’ve realized that you can calibrate the molasses level in brown sugar by simply adjusting the proportions of your dark brown and regular sugar content. Why buy three kinds of sugar when you can buy just two?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these cookies in a way that my gluten-sensitive bowels can’t.

Crumbly Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 50 small cookies
Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen and David Lebovitz

1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (25 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
5 ounces (140 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped in chip-sized chunks
½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon (125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup (50 g) (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla and/or chocolate extract**
optional: cinnamon salt or fleur de sel

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

1. In a small bowl, sift both flours, cocoa powder and baking soda together.

2. In a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in a microwave), melt half of the chocolate (2½ oz, 70g), then let cool to room temperature.

3. Beat the butter with a standing electric mixer, or by hand, just until smooth. Beat in the sugar, salt and vanilla or chocolate extract.

4. By hand, stir in the melted chocolate, then the flour-cocoa mixture. Then finally the chocolate chunks.

5. Scoop the dough into rounded teaspoons and place evenly-spaced on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon salt or fleur de sel, if desired, then bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies take on a slightly dry sheen to the top. They may feel soft, but don’t worry; they’re firm up just fine when cool.

Mini Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Sometimes I bake because I am craving something sweet, but sometimes I bake because a recipe just looks too good to pass up. While I am personally more of a chewy cookie person, something about adorably-sized cookies appealed to my current dieting state. The idea is that the smaller they are, the easier it is to portion control, right? However, they do have such a crisp and light texture that might trick you into eating more than you’d want to…

These cookies were a big hit with everyone who tried them, and all attested to their can’t-stop-at-one quality. If you like your cookies crisp and light, somewhat like Tate’s Bake Shop‘s, then you’d find these quite similar. If you like your cookies chewy, dense and as big as an infant’s head, I beseech you to give these a try as well. You might be converted.

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Mini Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 100 small cookies
From Cookie Madness

Ingredients
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour (140 grams/5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Beat the butter until creamy using an electric mixer. Beat in both sugars, and vanilla. When creamy, beat in the egg. When egg is mixed in, beat in salt and baking soda. Add flour and stir until it is almost blended in. Add the chocolate chips and stir until all flour disappears.
Line two large baking sheets with regular foil.

Using a 1/4 teaspoon measure, scoop up rounded spoons of dough, each with about 3 chocolate chips (you’ll have what appears to be a lot of chips and a tiny bit of dough). Shape into marble sized balls and arrange on baking sheets spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake one sheet at a time for 25 minutes or until cookies are evenly browned. Let cool slightly, then remove from baking sheets to finish cooling.

Notes: Since each cookie is so small, it might make more sense to stud the chocolate chips onto the finished balls so that you get an equal number of chips on each cookie. I ended up with my first tray of cookies with three chocolate chips each, then down to two chips per cookie for the second, then eventually no chips at all.

Red Velvet Snowball Cookies

IMG_3610Now that I’ve completed my last stretch of college, I’ve been unwinding by baking up quite a storm. Baking is such a relaxing activity to me. The methodical weighing, stirring, baking, and even washing up the avalanche of dishes that I aim to pack as much of as possible on the drying rack – it’s all very comforting to me. Humans find meaning in creating, and a part of me might be quite content to be home all day, baking Christmas cookies. (And folding origami while I wait for the cookies to bake. I was attempting this origami spring and despite two attempts, it was a veritable failure.

IMG_3602Luckily, these red velvet snowball cookies are the prettiest little mounds, aren’t they? I really love red velvet anything for its visually arresting color contrast. The pictures have a wintery blue cast over them, and I didn’t edit it out because I rather liked the blue’s effect against the red. The texture of these are really like regular shortbread cookies – buttery, a little sandy texture that melts in your mouth. They aren’t very sweet by themselves as well, and absolutely need the dusting of confectioner’s sugar to taste good.

IMG_3603I halved the original recipe because I didn’t want to deal with 4 dozen of the same thing, and since there weren’t any eggs, halving was easy. That’s why I think a digital weighing scale is essential for any home baker – your baking gets so much more precise, and it’s also much easier to scale down recipes for a smaller home. I weighed my mounds out to 17 g each, and ended up with 25 mounds.

It’s only a few more days before Christmas. Keep baking while you can!

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Red Velvet Snowball Cookies
Makes 2 dozen
Adapted from Baking Bites

3/4 cups butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cocoa powder
approx. 1/2 tsp red food coloring
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup almond flour/meal
extra confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth and creamy. Beat in cocoa powder and red food coloring until the mixture is bright red. Add additional coloring if needed.
Gradually incorporate the flour and ground almonds, mixing until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are very lightly browned.
Allow cookies to cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. When cooled, roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar until well-coated in white “snow.”
Store in an airtight bag.
Cool completely on a wire rack before storing.

Vanillekipferl (Vanilla Almond Crescent Cookies)

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Vanillekipferl originated from Vienna, Austria, and are popular in Central European countries. Shortbread-like in texture, they are buttery and crumbly but with an additional almond nuttiness. These are often consumed in association with Christmas, and have similar variations around the world: Mexican wedding cookies, pecan sandies, Chinese almond cookies, Greek kourabiedes, polvorones… It’s interesting that in almost all of these cases, almond crescent cookies are associated with celebratory events. I wonder what it is about almonds that make them such a popular choice for fêtes.

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These cookies were super simple to make. Mixing it up didn’t require any special techniques, and the key thing is probably refrigerating the dough. Refrigerating the dough before shaping them is essential for easy maneuverability. I personally found the shaping process very comforting. I tend towards drop cookies, so shaped cookies are quite a change of pace for me. I also used vanilla essence instead of vanilla beans because that stuff is expensive, yo. I weighed each dollop of dough in order to achieve consistency, and that might be a good idea if you want your cookies to bake evenly. I would also recommend sprinkling the sugar when the cookies are still warm: this will ensure that the sugar adheres to the cookie as it cools down.

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Vanillekipferl
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes 30 cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 cups confectioners’ sugar for rolling

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Add vanilla essence. Mix in the flour and ground almonds. Divide the dough into two pieces, wrap and refrigerate until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Break off tablespoonful sized pieces of dough and roll them into little ropes about 2 inches long. Bend the ropes into a half circle and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. Carefully roll warm cookies in the sugar.

Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Sables


Sables are French shortbread biscuits, and it’s distinguished by its sandy, gritty texture and rich mouthfeel as a result of its high butter content. What sets these Pierre Herme’s cookies apart from a traditional sable is that it’s double chocolate – cocoa powder in the batter, and good quality chocolate studded within the cookies.


I’m currently learning French right now, and naturally I’ve been gravitating to all things French, and by extension, all things European as well. After having had the original Sachertorte from the Sacher Hotel in Vienna, I realized something: Europeans, unlike Americans, like their pastries dry and crumbly! When you think of American pastries, you think of chewy chocolate chip cookies and moist red velvet cake and creamy cheesecake. European pastries tend to have more finesse, and are carefully constructed and quite delicate. Think of macarons and crepes. Such refined things!

This chocolate sable recipe actually helps to bridge the gap between refined European and homemade American desserts. The cookie itself has the gritty, sandy texture of a sable, but has melty hand-chopped chocolate chips within it. It’s also a slice-and-bake cookie, i.e. you roll up the dough into a log and slice as many cookies as you want, so you can have them fresh whenever it’s convenient.


This is a recipe where it’s crucial that you use good quality butter and chocolate, because their flavors are so pronounced. I use Trader Joe’s unsalted butter and Pound Plus Bittersweet Chocolate. Using chopped chocolate instead of chocolate chips is highly recommended. I personally never use commercial chocolate chips because they make a cookie look so… lacking in character. I love it when hand-chopped chocolate swirls and melts into a cookie. It just looks and tastes wonderful.

Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Sables
From NYTimes
Makes about 36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick and 3 tablespoons 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 best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits.

1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. Add the sugars, salt and vanilla extract and beat for another 1 or 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated (the dough may look crumbly). For the best texture, work the dough as little as possible. Toss in the chocolate; mix to incorporate.

2. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide in half and, working with one half at a time, shape the dough into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. (As you’re shaping the log, flatten it once or twice and roll it up from one long side to the other, 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 1 month.)

3. Center a rack in the oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Working with a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice rounds 1/2-inch thick. (If the cookies break, squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.) Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets, leaving an inch of space between them. Bake only 1 sheet at a time and bake each sheet for 12 minutes. (The cookies will not look done nor will they be firm, but that is the way they should be.) Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest, on the sheet, until they are only just warm. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.

Note: It is very important that you not overbake the cookies, and let them cool completely before you remove them from the baking sheet.