Photographs by Davide Luciano
If you are not familiar with Dorie Greenspan, suffice it to say she is an award winning (James Beard, IACP) pastry chef who has worked along side of Julia Child and Pierre Herme. I’ve been a fan since Baking with Julia and I was delighted to see she devoted an entire cookbook to cookies. What’s not to like?
This is a cookbook to treasure. I’ve seen reviews call it an “instant classic” and I agree. Just in time for the holidays, do yourself a favor and buy this book. And if you don’t like baking, buy it for the stories that go along with the recipes. Then give it to someone who bakes.
From the Publisher
Every-Way Shortbread: The Lemon-Poppy Seed Version from Dorie’s Cookies
Makes 12 Cookies
There are so many reasons to love shortbread as much as I do and among them are its almost universal appeal and almost infinite variability. Oh, and the ingredients are ones you’ve almost always got on hand. The cookies are quick to put together — you can have them in the oven in about 15 minutes. And they’re easy.
The shortbread clan is a big one, and each branch of the family is different. Some shortbreads are made with eggs (like the French Vanilla Sablés, page 332); some are made without (like these and the Fennel-Orange Shortbread Wedges, page 415); some are made with rice flour (like the Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans, page 191); some are rolled and cut; and some are pressed into a pan, pricked, baked and sliced into wedges. These are of the press-and-poke variety and they’re beautiful; even more beautiful with a little icing.
I’m giving you a recipe for lemon–poppy seed shortbread, but take a look at Playing Around for a few other ideas, and forage in your pantry. Next time, you might want to use cinnamon or cardamom, sesame seeds or chopped walnuts, chocolate chips or espresso, butterscotch bits or candied orange zest.
1⁄3 cup (67 grams) sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1⁄4 teaspoon pure lemon oil or extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (151 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1⁄2 cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or freshly squeezed lemon juice
Poppy seeds or sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan, dust the interior with flour and tap out the excess. Or lightly butter a 9-inch glass pan or pie plate, line it with a parchment paper circle and dust with flour.
Toss the sugar and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl in which you can use a hand mixer. Add the lemon zest and rub the ingredients together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. If using a stand mixer, fit it with the paddle attachment. Add the butter to the bowl and beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and lemon oil or extract. Turn off the mixer, add the flour all at once and mix on low speed. When the flour is incorporated, add the poppy seeds and continue to mix on low until you’ve got a bowl of soft, moist curds and crumbs, about 2 minutes. Squeeze a few curds, and if they hold together, you’re there. (You don’t want to mix the dough until it comes together uniformly).
Turn the crumbs out into the pan and pat them down evenly. To smooth the top, ‘roll’ the crumbs using a spice bottle as a rolling pin. (You can also tamp down the crumbs with the bottom of a small measuring cup.) There’s no need to be overly forceful; the point is to knit the crumbs together and compress them. Using the tines of a dinner fork and pressing straight down so that you hear the metal tap against the pan, poke lines of holes in the dough to create a dozen wedges. Finish by pressing the bottom of the tines horizontally around the edges of the dough, as though you were crimping a piecrust, to create a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can make shortbread fingers by pricking a cross in the dough to divide it into quarters and then, working from the top down, pricking vertical lines — the edge pieces will be odd-shaped, but that’s just fine. Or you can make squares or diamonds; again you’ll have a few odd pieces.
Bake the shortbread for about 25 minutes, rotating the pan after 12 minutes, or until the top feels firm to the touch and the edges have a tinge of color; the center should remain fairly pale. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow it to rest for 3 minutes. If the holes that defined the wedges or other shape have closed, re-poke them. Carefully run a table knife between the sides of the pan and the shortbread and even more carefully turn the shortbread over onto the rack; peel away the paper, if you used it. Then invert onto a cutting board and, using a long sturdy knife or a bench scraper, cut the shortbread along the pricked lines; lift the pieces back onto the rack and allow them to cool before icing or serving.
To make the icing and finish the cookies (optional): Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon milk or lemon juice and stir to blend. If the icing is too thick to brush, spread or drizzle smoothly and easily, add more milk or juice drop by drop. You can just drizzle the icing over each wedge or, using a pastry brush or a small icing spatula, you can ice each wedge, covering it entirely or leaving the borders bare. Sprinkle a few poppy seeds or grains of sugar on each fan, if you’d like, and let the icing set.
Storage: Packed in a tightly covered container, the shortbread will keep for at least 1 week. If you didn’t ice the cookies, they can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.
Vanilla Shortbread. Omit the lemon zest, oil or extract and poppy seeds and increase the vanilla extract to 2 teaspoons. Ice as directed, if you’d like, but use sanding sugar, not poppy seeds.
Espresso Shortbread. Omit the lemon zest, oil or extract and poppy seeds and beat 11⁄2 teaspoons ground espresso into the butter-sugar mixture. When the shortbread is cool, dust with a combination of cocoa and confectioners’ sugar.
Orange Shortbread. Omit the lemon zest and oil or extract and add the zest of 1 orange or 2 tangerines or clementines and 1⁄4 teaspoon orange oil or extract. Keep the poppy seeds, if you’d like — they’re nice with orange — or add some very finely chopped candied orange peel (page 474).
Shortbread with Nuts or Chips. Flavor the dough as you’d like and then add 1⁄2 cup toasted chopped nuts and/or 1/2 cup chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips. Or, if you use an add-in like toffee bits, chop them first — the shortbread isn’t really thick enough to handle chunks.
Melody Cookies from Dorie’s Cookies
Makes about 55 cookies
Once upon a time, the Nabisco company made a cookie called Melody. They were large and round — I’m told by a cookie-dunker that they were just the right size to fit into a glass of milk — had scalloped edges and were topped with sparkly sugar. They were thin, crunchy and more cocoa- flavored than chocolatey. They were beloved. But evidently not enough, because sometime in the 1970s, production ceased. Search — I did — and you’ll find eulogies to the Melody, but no recipe. Until now.
After I’d made many cookies using the Do-Almost-Anything Chocolate Cookie Dough, my husband said, “There’s something about these that reminds me of Melody cookies. The flavor is so similar, but the texture is off. If they had some snap, maybe,. .. “ Turns out, he was right: Crunch was the missing note!
Are they just the same as the Melodies of childhood? I don’t know. However, these deliver the childish delight of a Melody and the possibility of more grown-up pleasures. My smaller cookies are still a good size for dunking into milk, but they’re also right for dipping into a shot of espresso. And if you love cookies and ice cream (and of course you do), you might want to use these to make ice cream sandwiches. They not only make good sandwiches, they make pretty ones.
A word on the cocoa: I’ve found that cookies made with dark cocoa, such as Valrhona, come closest to tasting like the Melody of memory.
2¼ cups (306 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (see headnote)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg white
Sanding or granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes; scrape down the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and blend in the vanilla, followed by the egg white, and beat for 1 to 2 minutes. The white might curdle the dough and make it slippery — keep going; it will smooth out when the flour goes in. Turn the mixer off, add half the flour-cocoa mixture and pulse the machine to get the blending going, then mix on low only until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and repeat with the remaining flour-cocoa mixture, this time beating just until the dry ingredients disappear and the dough comes together.
Scrape the dough onto a work surface, divide it in half and shape each half into a disk. Working with one piece of dough at a time, sandwich the dough between pieces of parchment paper and roll out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Slide the dough onto a baking sheet — you can stack the slabs — and freeze for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Getting ready to bake: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. I use a 2-inch-diameter scalloped cookie cutter, but you can make the cookies smaller or larger if you’d like; the baking times will be almost the same, though the yield, of course, will change.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, peel away both pieces of paper and return the dough to one piece of paper. Cut out as many cookies as you can. Place them on the lined baking sheets, leaving a generous inch between rounds; reserve the scraps. Sprinkle the cookies with sanding or granulated sugar.
Gather together the scraps from both pieces of dough, re-roll them between paper until 1/8 inch thick and chill thoroughly.
Bake the cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom at the midway mark. The cookies are done when they feel firm to the touch around the edges and give only the least little bit when poked in the center. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the cookies rest on the sheets for about 2 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks with a wide spatula. Let cool completely.
Cut out and bake the remaining dough, always using cool sheets.
Storage: The best way to freeze Melodies is unbaked: Cut out the cookies, wrap them airtight, freeze for up to 2 months and bake them straight from the freezer, adding a minute or so to the baking time if needed. The baked cookies will be good for a week or more kept at room temperature. They can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, but the sugar topping might melt.
Peppermint Melody Cookies: Chocolate and crunch are peppermint’s pals, so you might want to add a drop (or two, at most) of pure peppermint oil or extract to the dough when you add the vanilla.
12/16 Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™
DORIE’S COOKIES by Dorie Greenspan. Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 25, 2016). ISBN: 978-0547614847. 528p.