Sunday, January 1, 2012

From Paris Sweets: Sablés Korova

If chocolate is your drug of choice, try a Korova Cookie.
As I mixed the dough for these intensely chocolate Korova cookies, I could not help but think about other uses for the recipe. Pie dough, for one, the most obvious choice. The proportion of ingredients is essentially that for pâte sablée, the cookie-like crust used in many French pastries.

Yes, this recipe would make a fine tart crust to hold a multitude of sweet fillings. It is just as (or more) intensely chocolate as crusts made from chocolate sandwich cookies, but not quite as sweet.

As a cookie, it is awfully good. Slightly sandy as a shortbread like sablé should be — but with contrasting bits of bittersweet chocolate and the occasional hit of salt crystals from the fleur de sel. I’m not a raw cookie dough fan (cake batter is my weakness), but I really liked the pure chocolate flavor of this dough.

The recipe is adapted from one of the Parisian grand masters of pastry, Pierre Hermé, and appears in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets, a book I’ve been cooking from over the last few months.

Pierre Hermé created the cookies for Korova, a restaurant in Paris. Korova also is the name of the milk bar in A Clockwork Orange that served drug-laced milk. It’s a humorous coincidence considering that we all know chocolate is a drug and cookies, of course, the natural partner to a glass of milk.

In Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie calls these World Peace Cookies after a neighbor claimed a daily dose could resolve all conflicts. A daily dose would make me very happy indeed. Dorie says it’s the “house cookie” at her place. Yep. I can see this becoming my all purpose go-to cookie.

Dunked in milk, crumbled over ice cream, or sandwiched with peanut butter — here is a recommended chocolate-chocolate cookie for your recipe files.

Korova Cookies/Sablés Korova
adapted from Pierre Hermé via Paris Sweets

Makes about 36 cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for about 2 more minutes.

With the mixer set to low, add the flour mixture, and let it stir a few times until the flour is incorporated into the dough. Do not overwork the dough. Add the chocolate pieces and mix only to distribute throughout the dough.

Turn the dough onto a counter, gather it together and divide in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Frozen dough need not be defrosted before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake them for 1 minute longer.)

To bake, place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds may crack as you cut them. If so, squeeze the bits back onto each cookie. This dough is very forgiving. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about one inch between them.

Bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes. The cookies won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s how they should be. Transfer 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 cool for storing.

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