21 January 2010

For a Friend in Need...

A dear friend of mine has a fantastic new job at the brand-spanking new Art Gallery of Alberta - one of the most spectacular buildings to be erected in Edmonton in years. I envy her. She gets to go to work every day in this amazing place, which is art itself, and look at art, and be around art and on her coffee break she can just go wander around and look at the Degas bronze, or the
Karsch photographs... (sigh). My office looks out over a street into another building's parking lot.

Well, the truth is that, because the new AGA has not yet had their grand-opening, she is working an incredible number of long hours, and putting every ounce of her energy into making sure everything will be perfect for the end of the month, when the city's new gem will be revealed for all to enjoy. I know that as lucky as she feels to be a part of all this, most nights, she'd much rather be home with her husband and 4 kids, watching a movie, or sleeping.
So tonight, I'm heading off for a little orientation, as I've volunteered myself to help out a bit for the Grand Opening weekend, but I know she could really use a little pick me up, and the long hours are far from over for her. So, as a treat, and because I know how much she loves them, I baked her a batch of Pierre Hermé's Sablés Korova - deliciously dark chocolate sablés with a sophisticated accent of salt. These are not just another chocolate cookie, they’re a more grown up taste. They're not difficult to make, but they do need some time in the fridge before
you slice-and-bake, so you need to plan ahead. For the chopped chocolate, I prefer to use the Lindt Fleur de Sel bars, to further highlight the chocolate-salt combination. It must work, because the only complaint I have ever received when I've made these is 'why didn’t you make more?'
Adapted from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan - a book given to me by the very friend I bake for tonight. I wonder if she planned this all along....?

Korova Sablés
Makes about 36 cookies
  • 1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (5 ounces; 150 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (120 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel or 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces (150 grams) 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 1½ 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 2 hours. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 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 ½ 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.


canirish said...

Those look amazing!

Shannon said...

The best part about these cookies was how it reduced the stress level of my coworkers (when I was in the mood to share, that is!) I'd hand them the jar and they'd read the tag, fish out a cookie, take a bite and instantly calm down.

I didn't break the glass jar. I figure I'll wash it instead and give it back to Julia to fill back up! Yes, Julia, even though I now have the recipe I'm not going to make them myself! It's just not the same!