Friends, you have to bear with me a bit longer as every post my keyboard types out seem to be of the French pastry demi-god. By this time I don’t think I even need to mention his name. Maybe I should start another blog, Veronique and Pierre or Pierre Hermé at Home (just kidding).
I’ve been living and breathing his recipes the past two weekends and I am excited to finally match the creaminess and taste of his rose-litchi ganache which he uses for his Ispahan macarons. It was not about the recipe after all, it was about technique and patience. You cannot hurry along a ganache into pipeable consistency by putting it in the refrigerator (I rarely do this but I have been guilty on occasion), there is a tendency for it to become a grainy mess or to separate. Now some ganache may be more forgiving but for one as delicate an emulsion as the rose-litchi ganache you have to wait it out and don’t be tempted to whisk it constantly to see if it had thickened enough either…just gently check with a spatula after 2 hours or so …yes it takes that long …even longer.
Another tale about technique and not recipe are these cookies I have been obsessing about ever since I’ve tasted them in Chicago. The first time I made them, they had the similar taste but bore no resemblance to the rustic elegance of the Pierre Hermé chocolate sablé. Mine looked like a log simply cut into sections. That time I was working with the PH10 version which, besides being in French, did little to explain the exacting procedure of these delicate sandy cookies.
Luckily, Dorie Greenspan has the recipe in her book Baking from My Home to Yours, and in it she explained in detail how to manipulate the dough so as not to overwork it.
World Peace Cookies
Adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours
· 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
· 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
· 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
· 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
· 2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
· 1/4 cup sugar
· 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
· 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 1/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
3. Turn off' the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients; drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek-if there are still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough-for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don't be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.
4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it 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 them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you've frozen the dough, you needn't defrost it before baking—just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)
5. GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
6. Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you're cutting them—don't be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.
7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes—they won't 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 rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.
STORING: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months.
My cookies still do not look exactly like PH’s but at least it looks craggier. I need to work the dough a bit less and resist rolling it into a smooth log. I also scored the log with a fork to give it more texture. And indeed when you cut it and it cracks – just stick it back to the dough as this adds more character to the cookies when baked.
This is definitely your ultimate chocolate cookie! The addition of fleur de sel is an ingenious touch and elevates the "chocolatiness" to new heights. However, if you crave the less crumbly kind, try this.