March 18, 2014


I wasn't planning on sharing this cookie with you. But then I tried it, as you can see above, and I couldn't not share it with you. It's that good - a cookie worthy of the comeback blog post. A cookie that made me sit down gather some photos and actually write something here. It feels good. I owe this cookie some love, so here goes. 

It's a salted butter cookie and you should know that it has taunted me for almost three years. It's the recipe that I inadvertently flip to every single time I open Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table, which is a lot considering that it's my go-to cookbook these days. I don't know why it took me so long to actually mix up the dough and stick it in the oven. It's light on ingredients, it's quick, it's pretty, and as it turns out it's delicious. Sweet and crunchy at first and then melt in your mouth tender - that's the butter - and then the hint of salt comes in and gathers all the flavors into perfect combination and you smile because your mouth and mind are h-a-p-p-y. It's all about the salt. Zach went on about how he doesn't like salt in his sweets and then he ate this cookie and now he's a convert. He might have even said that this cookie was the best damn cookie ever. Ever

Take this cookie to a party, or have a party. You can bring out the slab and people can admire it's beauty and then break a piece off. And then you can all talk about what a lovely pair sugar and salt are. 

Speaking of lovely, let me update you a bit on Alice. She is seven and a half months and 99% pure joy. In the last few weeks her two bottom teeth have popped up (that accounts for the not so joyous 1%) and she is eager to test them out on anything she can get in her mouth. She delights in pulling toys and kitchen knick-naks out of bowls and waving them back and forth through the air to feel their weight before discarding them and digging in for another treasure. Crawling records are safe where they stand because this little lady is happy to just sit. She can shimmy and push her way backwards, but so far there's nothing in the way of forward motion, and that's okay with us because we know that soon enough she'll be on the move and we won't be able to slow her down. She likes books, but only so much and she can smack them and then chew them. Many of our computer files have been renamed and new ones opened because Alice goes goo-goo-gaa-gaa for the computer keyboard. I think she'd trade in her left foot for a computer keyboard. The same can be said for parchment paper - endlessly entertaining. It's the little things, a little person playing with little trinkets that makes my heart pitter patter away. 

Salted Butter Break-Ups
Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table

a note on the salt. Dorie calls for sel gris, a moist slightly gray sea salt with crystals that can be picked up individually, which I didn't have and couldn't find. She notes that you can substitute kosher salt or another coarse salt. I went with a fleur de sel - Le Saunier de Carmargue, which comes in a little circular container with a cork top. It too is rather moist with substantial size crystals.

* Dorie makes the dough in the food processor, but if you, like me, have a baby napping and don't want to use any loud kitchen appliances, then it's just as easy to make it by hand, like a tart/pie dough.

1 3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 - 1 tsp sel gris or fleur de sel
9 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
3-5 Tbsp water

1 egg yolk, for the glaze

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter pieces, and using your fingers massage them into the dry ingredients to produce a coarse meal so that you have some flakes and no pieces larger than the size of a pea. Begin adding the water, just a tablespoon at a time, and mix with a fork. Only use as much water as you need to produce a dough that almost forms a ball (I only needed 3 tablespoons).

Scrape the dough on to a work surface, gather it into a mound and pat it down a bit to flatten it and then wrap it in plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Put the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll it out so that it is about 1/4 inch thick. A rectangle is a nice look if you can do it, but any shape that fits on your baking sheet will work. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.

Beat the egg yolk with a few drops of water. Brush the cookie with the egg glaze. Using the back of a fork decorate the cookie with a hatch pattern.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until it is golden - "It will be firm to the touch but have a little spring when pressed in the center -- the perfect break-up is crisp on the outside and still tender within." Allow the cookie to cool to room temperature.

Alice started solids about six weeks ago. I'd say that this point that she "dabbles" in eating. Somedays she's can't get the food in fast enough and other days, like today, she just waves the green beans in the air, as if feeling their weight in her hands and conducting an imaginary orchestra, before setting them down and banging her hands on the table and looking out the window.

I think I only have a few more weeks of eating cookies in her presence before she demands one herself. I should take advantage of that huh?

Considering it's been so long since I posted last I thought I'd do a little photo stream of recent photos. We spent a week in Chamonix at the beginning of the month so there are a few mountain and snow shots scattered through out. We're back in Zurich now and enjoying spring and the nearby parks.