I appreciate the bold graphic presence that Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks have on my cookbook shelves. It makes them easy to zero in on when I’m pulling down “Around My French Table” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) for salmon rillettes, for instance, or “Baking: From My Home to Yours” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006) for the best banana cake and legendary World Peace Cookies (more about the latter later). I was happy to have the chance to meet Greenspan recently, when her book tour took her to Melissa’s World Variety Produce in Vernon, which is owned by Joe and Sharon Hernandez of Huntington Beach.
Now Greenspan’s gone deep into single-subject with “Dorie’s Cookies” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35). There are plenty of cookie recipes in her other books, a testament to her love of the form, shared with her son Joshua, with whom she ran a New York City cookie boutique, Beurre et Sel. The business story is here, and the boutique recipes are part of more than 160 in the book. “Dorie’s Cookies” will be welcomed by hungry fans, but also makes a perfect place to start a personal journey with Dorie.
Cracking open a big book that’s all about cookies is a true pleasure, made even more so when Greenspan’s clear instructions and worldly (she lives part time in Paris), wide-ranging recipes are what’s inside. You can learn a lot from cookies—they’re a microcosm of all baking. I love that Greenspan is excited to share recent, and pretty radical, revelations about not chilling dough before rolling and not adding dry ingredients incrementally—of course, she also outlines how and why. I assumed, or hoped, that World Peace Cookies would figure in somehow, and of course they do—made the cover, even. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say these Pierre Hermé chocolate sablés with an irresistible touch of crunchy sea salt are among the most famous cookies in the world. Their entry here includes a nicely expanded and updated origin story, and good tips for those who want to roll them out for cutting rather than do the trad log-and-slice. For me, the unremarked-upon use of brown sugar is the secret flavor depth charge in these; chocolate and brown sugar are too rarely paired.
At Melissa’s, among several cookies from the book were a couple of what Greenspan has dubbed Cocktail Cookies, savory bites just made for accompanying sparkling wine or drinks. There’s even one inspired by a cocktail, the Bee’s Sneeze, with citrus and a gin and tonic’s namesake spirit as ingredients—Greenspan says that while she was working on the book she found herself cookie-fying everything. One from the non-sweet section I knew I’d have to bake immediately if not sooner was Rosemary-Parm cookies: tender, rich rounds that hit a subtle salt-sweet-umami taste trifecta. I can see them as part of any holiday entertaining. The dough comes together in literal seconds in a food processor, which also does a great job finely chopping the rosemary, nuts, and Parmesan—the recipe follows. If you bake much at all, you’ll appreciate that weight measurements are included, as well as volume.
Rosemary-Parm Cookies from Dorie Greenspan
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 cups (272 grams) flour
½ cup (60 grams) toasted pecans or almonds
½ cup (30 grams) lightly packed grated Parmesan
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sticks (8 ounces; 226 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
Working in a small bowl, rub the sugar and chopped rosemary together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic and maybe even tinged with green.
Put the flour, nuts, Parmesan, salt, and rosemary-sugar in a food processor and pulse to blend. Drop in the pieces of cold butter and pulse until the mixture turns crumbly. Add the beaten yolk a little at a time, pulsing as each bit goes in, then continue to pulse until you have a moist dough that forms clumps and curds.
Turn dough out and divide it in half. Pat each half into a disk.
Working with one disk at a time, place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll to a thickness of ¼ inch. Slide the dough, still between the paper, onto a baking sheet—you can stack the slabs—and freeze for at least 1 hour.
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Have a1 ½-inch-diameter cookie cutter at hand.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, peel away the top and bottom papers and return the dough to one piece of paper. Cut out as many cookies as you can and put them on the lined sheet, leaving about an inch between them. Gather the scraps, the combine them with the scraps you get from the second sheet of dough, re-roll, freeze, cut and bake.
Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the midway mark, or until they’re golden and set. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
Repeat with the remaining dough, always making certain that you start with a cool baking sheet.