Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy Chocolate Cake Day and the Ultimate Ice Box Cookie

I learned, after the fact, that January 27th was Chocolate Cake Day.  Isn't it great to have a day devoted to just the chocolate cake?  What will they think of next?  Regardless, any day that honors chocolate is a great day. 

I am not a cake baker, but I can make a mean cookie and it just so happens that I made French Sables Korovas on this honorable day.  Personally I think that these are quite possibly the best chocolate cookies known to man. Let me share with you a bit about these fabulous cookies.

Pierre Hermes, who is considered one of the best pastry chefs in the world, created these cookies for Korova, a restaurant off the Champs-Elysees.  Although the restaurant no longer exists, the cookies are still a specialty at Hermes patisserie.  The fleur-de sel in these slice and bake cookies doesn't make them salty; it brings out the chocolate taste and adds a delicious and mysterious flavor.  The end results are magnifique!

Oh and for a bit of trivia, 'sable' is a classical French cookie that is said to hail from Caen, in the province of Normandy.  The French word sable means 'sand' , and the cookies are so named because of their  delicate, crumbly texture.


French Sables Korova
Yields about 2 dozen

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa ( I used Ghiradelli.)
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, brought to room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons fleur de sel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces (1 cup) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (I used Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips.)

In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the cocoa and baking soda; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, then add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, fleur de Sela, and vanilla; beat by hand until combined.  Beat in the sifted dry ingredients just until blended; the dough will be crumbly but will hold together.  Knead in the chocolate pieces until evenly distributed.

Form the dough in a log approximately 1 1/2-inches in diameter.  Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Using a sharp, thin knife, cut the log into 3/8-inch slices; arrange about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.  If the slices crumble, re-form the cookies by pressing the dough together.

Bake the cookies on the middle and lower racks of the oven until puffed and cracked on top, about 17 minutes, shifting the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.  Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before tansferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.


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