Baking Cookies With Dorie Greenspan
Does Dorie Greenspan need an introduction? Probably not. Call her an expert, call her a guru, call her a savant — call her what you want: Dorie Greenspan knows cookies.
The four-time James Beard Award winner and author of 12 books — including best-sellers Around My French Table and Baking Chez Moi — Greenspan recently released her newest work, Dorie’s Cookies, as her first all-cookie cookbook and the masses couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve got at least three hundred cookie recipes to my name,” Dorie explains in her introduction. “Recipes I dreamed; recipes I made up in the light of day; recipes I begged for and those that came to me as gifts; recipes I discovered in places near and far-flung; and recipes that re-created memories.”
The fact that she refers to her recipes as “memories” is a charming facet of her approach to writing this book, and it demonstrates a veritable passion and joy for baking. Greenspan goes on to mention that she “often bake[s] to make memories real again.”
As far as the recipes themselves, Greenspan’s techniques are precise and her ideas inventive, but her tone and notes perpetuate a lighthearted calmness (again denoting her passion and joy). No baker, regardless of experience, should feel intimidated opening the pages of this book. Plus, the intensely fun, brightly colored photos make it damn near impossible to get stressed out anyway.
Greenspan shared a handful of her cookie recipes with The Daily Meal: Her Cast-Iron–Pan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are thick and intensely chewy with caramelized, crispy edges; her Chocolate Crème Sandwiches are cute and deeply cocoa-y; and her Vanilla-Brown Butter Madeleines, or “mads” as she calls them, served straight from the oven are, well, unparalleled.
Other recipes shared include her savory Goat Cheese and Chive Cookies (sounds wonderful with a glass of French sauvignon blanc, doesn’t it?), sparkly Melody Cookies, and floral Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans.
Greenspan was kind enough to give us a little of her time to talk more about her cookbook; continue reading to find out what she had to say:
The Daily Meal: What is your philosophy of baking (and/or eating)?
Dorie Greenspan: I don’t know that I have a philosophy; I think I might be too spur-of-the-moment for that, but I do love surprise. I love food that surprises; that has a flavor you don’t expect, or a texture or a mix of ingredients that’s out of the ordinary. I love the unexpected in a dish and I try to add a pinch of surprise to whatever I bake.
How did it inspire the recipes you chose to include in this book?
Whenever I could, I added something surprising to my cookie recipes. For example, I added an unusual ingredient like kasha to a couple of cookies for crunch; I put togarashi in an innocent-looking meringue and give it heat; or I used crushed Triscuits, for… well, for surprise, for sure, but also for a tip to nostalgia. I played with flavor combos, techniques, and constructions so that each recipe would be fun to bake and more fun to munch and serve.
What is your favorite cookie recipe in the book and why?
This question is always a stumper for me. I love the World Peace Cookie that’s on the cover. It’s not a new recipe for me, but it’s so fabulous that it never seems anything but wonderful. I love the Classic Jammers, a butter cookie with jam and streusel that I dreamed — literally — one night in Paris. I’m crazy about My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies, and the Savory Old Bay, Pretzel and Cheese Cookies. And the Ginger-Molasses Cookies. And the Breakfast Biscotti. And, and, and. I knew I wouldn’t be able to answer this question.
How do you hope readers will use this book; what do you hope they take away?
I never think about how I hope readers will use my books; I only hope that they will. There’s nothing that touches me more than seeing a book with pages that show signs of wear and love. As for what I hope readers will take away from the book: a newfound or rediscovered joy in baking and sharing cookies. For me, nothing beats pulling a batch of cookies out of the oven and knowing that I made them and that I can share them and that they will make people happy. I want everyone to know this feeling.
What are some foods you can’t live without?
I probably could live without these foods, but I wouldn’t want to: chocolate (in just about any form, but preferably in a cookie or cake), bread, butter, cheese, rice, beans, grains (oh, just call it carbs), fruit, and New Haven-style pizza. Does wine count as food?
Would you rather dine out or cook at home?
What makes you think that this is a fair question? I love eating out and I love cooking at home. If pushed, I’d say cooking at home. I love the act of cooking and I adore having people around the table. My kind of cooking is what I think of as elbows-on-the-table cooking and the best night is one where there are lots of elbows on the table that stay there for a long time. Having family and friends chez us for a home-cooked meal means it’ll be an easy-going time with lots of good conversation. You can have evenings like this at a restaurant, but it’s guaranteed that dinner at home will always be this way. Having said that, I love going out for the adventure of it — it’s always inspiring to see what chefs are doing. And sometimes it’s just nice not to have to do the dishes.
What is your favorite go-to meal or drink?
My mother once said that I was lucky to marry a man who considered salad a meal. When it’s been a crazy day and there hasn’t been time to think about a meal — or to shop for one — the answer is salad. Usually something with rice, beans, or quinoa as the base, maybe some tuna and then it’s catch-as-catch-can. Surprisingly, it’s always good, probably because we’ve always got homemade bread (my husband’s, not mine) to go with it.
Is there any advice you’d give cooks who face hardship or defeat (like a kitchen fire or being fired, for example)?
The fire stuff sounds so familiar (insert smiley and winky faces). [Editor’s note: Dorie burned her parents’ kitchen down when she was 12, and she claims she didn’t cook again until she was married. She was also fired from a bakery (joke’s on them, though)]. My advice is to just keep going. Always say “yes” to new challenges, no matter how frightened you might be. It’s good advice in the kitchen and just as good in life.