Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sweet delights from Dorie Greenspan & Molly Wizenberg

'Tis the season for cookies, and this year I've scored a bounty of wonderful recipes that I must tell you about. Today I'll introduce two of these delights courtesy of Molly Wizenberg and Dorie Greenspan, but before I begin, I want to thank both of them again for allowing me to share them with you.

First up is a delightful frosted cookie from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life. Now, if you've never read this book, you're in for a treat. Based upon her blog Orangette, this tells of how the author went to Paris following the death of her beloved father, how she fell in love with food, and how she fell in love period. It's nothing less than a warm, funny, delicious book that should be given to friends, and be sure to keep it handy so that you can cook from it whenever you need a good serving of comfort food. 

As soon as I read her description of Jimmy's Pink Cookies, I knew that I'd have to make them. I mean, listen to this: "It's rich and sweet and excessive in every way. The cookie itself is crisp and crumbly like a proper shortbread, but the frosting is pure Americana: soft and smooth, tangy with cream cheese, and scented very, very, very lightly with cherry - just enough, as Jimmy says, 'to make it taste pink.'" 

And a note for those of you who lovelovelove cold frosted cookies... these are great right out of the fridge or freezer with a cup of hot coffee. Another note if you don't have any kirsch or cherry flavoring: I used raspberry extract instead, and it was quite good, but I think I should make another batch with kirsch just to make sure, don't you think?

(Note: I've rewritten Molly Wizenberg's recipe in my own words not because I don't respect and love what was originally written, but because I've been told by the Food Blog Alliance that that's the way it should be done. Dorie Greenspan's recipe, though, is reproduced here exactly as it appears in Around My French Table because that is the way that she prefers.)

Sweethearts aren't just for Valentine's Day
Jimmy’s Pink Cookies 
Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life
Makes 20 to 24 (3-inch) cookies, but about 40 2-inch cookies

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt [my addition]
1 1/4 teaspoon kirsch, or more to taste, or a little bit of cherry or raspberry or other "red" tasting extract
Red food coloring (2 drops will about do it)
1. Beat the butter and powdered sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until they are light and fluffy. Combine the flour and salt, and slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture while the speed is on low. Beat the dough only until the flour is incorporated, and then stir in the vanilla. Pat the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic; refrigerate it for about an hour or so until it hardens up.

2. Cover two baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. Roll out the dough on a floured board to a thickness of 3/8 inch. Cut it into whatever shapes you want; pink frosting equals pink hearts in my book (never Christmas trees or Scottie dogs), so I used a smallish heart cookie cutter. Arrange the cutout cookies 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets, and then bake the sheets for 16 to 20 minutes until the cookies are gold around the edges, but not yet brown. Slide the cookies on either the Silpat or parchment paper onto a flat surface so that they cool completely before you remove them. You can store the cookies in the freezer at this point if you pack them in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag.

3. Whenever you're ready to make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth, preferably in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in the powdered sugar until no lumps are visible, and then add the flavoring (add any extracts a few drops at a time so that they don't drown out the nice tartness of the cream cheese) and a couple drops of fool coloring; beat well until the color is uniform. Taste and add more flavoring as needed. Slather the frosting on the cool cookies. You can eat them immediately or freeze to keep longer. (I froze them in single layers and then packed them in freezer-proof containers.) 


The second cookie is from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. Gorgeous in every way, this fabulous collection of recipes is also a fun read about French food sensibilities. In fact, I fell in love with Ms. Greenspan's newest book at the store the moment that I flipped it open to a page called "Complaining, the French way." Who knew that the route to respect from a French cheese vendor required polite kvetching? But that is how she ended up with her own "cheese coach." As she notes, "in America, if you complain, you're a crank; in France you're a connoisseur"!

I'm a bit of a cookie fiend, though, so when I saw the intensely crumbly Broyé stretched across page 401, it immediately went on my To Do list. It was a cookie unlike any I've ever seen, but it made perfect sense: "Essentially a large, buttery, flaky, salty-sweet rectangular cookie with a pretty little crosshatch pattern on top, it is put in the center of the table, and guests serve themselves by reaching over and breaking off pieces of the sweet. Yes, it's messy - it's impossible for this to be a crumbless endeavor - but everyone, young and old, easygoing and stuffy, likes it."  

That convinced me. And after making it, I assure you, it's just as delicious and fun as promised. Two notes here: one, I didn't have any gray salt or kosher salt on hand, so used fleur de sel instead, and it was perfect. Second, since I wanted to foof it up for the holidays, I mixed a little red food coloring into the yolk glaze and sprinkled some pearl sugar on top. 

The communal cookie perfected
Salted butter break-ups 
Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table
Makes 4 servings

1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 to 1 teaspoon sel gris (coarse gray salt) or kosher salt
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
3 - 5 tablespoons cold water
1 egg yolk, plus a few drops of cold water

1. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Drop in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal - you'll have both big pea-sized pieces and small flakes. With the machine running, start adding the cold water gradually: add just enough water to produce a dough that almost forms a ball. When you reach into the bowl to feel the dough, it should be very malleable.

2. Scrape the dough onto a work surface, form it into a square,and pat it down to flatten it a bit. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for about 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.) 

Something for Santa
3. When you're ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

4. Remove the dough from the fridge and, if it's very hard, bash it a few times with your rolling pin to soften it. Put the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it into a rectangle that's about 1/4 inch thick and about 5 x 11 inches; accuracy and neatness don't count for a lot here. Transfer the dough to the lined baking sheet. 

5. Beat the egg yolk with a few drops of cold water and, using a pastry brush, paint the top surface of the dough with the egg glaze. Using the back of a table fork, decorate the cookie in a crosshatch pattern. 

Bake the cookie for 30 to 40 minutes, or 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. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookie to cool to room temperature. 

[Note: this cookie freezes well, which is the only thing that saved it from being devoured on the spot.] 


  1. Both cookies look terrific! I'm so glad you like my Salted Butter Break-ups and, indeed, they do look festive with that bit of food coloring and pearl sugar.

  2. Phew! I'm so relieved that you approve, as I was afraid this could easily be seen as painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

  3. Carolyn, I love that you chose Dorie's Salted Butter Break-Ups! I've been wanting to make those. (Love the name!) Thanks so much for featuring our cookies. Happy holidays to you and yours.

  4. Thank you, Molly, for your lovely book and incredible support. Those Broyes can be made in an instant, and I can see that they'll be made often around here, much like your pink cookies. Happy Year of the Rabbit!