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.
- 2 1/4 Cups (306 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 Cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa
- 1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
- 2 sticks (8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
- 3/4 Cups (150 grams) sugar
- 3/4 Teaspoons 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.
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.
Playing Around: 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.
Storing: 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.