Dorie Greenspan brings new cookie book to Mystic
Although Dorie Greenspan has created more than 300 cookie recipes over the long course of her baking career, she had never written a cookbook specifically about cookies.
And so, Greenspan has just published “Dorie’s Cookies,” a hefty encyclopedia of recipes divided into brownies, bars, break-ups and biscotti; cookies for every day; cookies for weekends, holidays and other celebrations; the beurre & sel collection (French for “butter & salt”); cocktail cookies (savory); cookie go-alongs and basics.
She also includes detailed tips on cookie baking techniques, ingredients and baking gear.
From her Westbrook home, The James Beard Award-winning author, who also lives in New York City and Paris, talked with The Day about her cookie passion and new cook(ie) book.
Q. Do you really come up with new cookie recipes in your sleep?
A. I think about food all the time, so, yeah, I dream about food and my most successful dream was what I’m now calling the classic jammer — it’s a shortbread cookie, with jam in the center, and streusel around the edges. It’s almost like a jam tart. It’s not only delicious, it’s beautiful. Every time I make it, I look at it and say, ‘You are a beautiful cookie, jammer.’ I saw it as a fully formed fabulous, delicious cookie in my dream and I made it the next day.
Q. Your son Joshua observes that for you, “Cookies are memories” and you say, “I often bake to make memories real again.” Can you explain?
A. For instance, there’s a recipe in the book The Melody — a crackly, crunchy thin chocolate cookie with scalloped edges and sparkly sugar on top. I stopped making it in the early ’70s. It was a cookie my husband adored. So I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to bring back The Melody for him in this book.’ It’s become a cliché, but we know when we taste certain things, they do bring back memories. And when Josh said cookies are memories, he was talking about happy memories. Even for me, who comes from a family that didn’t bake, so many cookies bring back happy memories, particularly around the holidays.
Q. Do you really think you still haven’t hit the maximum number of conceivable cookie recipes with this book, that it’s infinite?
A. I do. One of the things I wanted to do in writing the book was to stretch the idea of what cookies are — make sweet cookies, savory cookies, and show how infinitely flexible and play-around-able cookies are. A little change in ingredients or technique, or a tweak of taste and texture, and it can become new.
An example is my Major Grey roll-ups. I remember as a kid people would serve cream cheese with chutney on a Triscuit. So I pulverized (Triscuits), added the cream cheese dough I make for rugelach, and then, instead of filling the cookies with sugar and raisins or whatever, I fill them with Major Grey’s chutney. It’s all in the way you think of something.
Q. Can you talk about your 3 Purple Star rating system for a cookie to gain access into this book?
A. I do all my work in spiral-bound notebooks and I can see where I cross something out, change an ingredient or baking time. And when it’s finally where I want it — the recipe works and I love how it tastes, I give it three purple stars. No one- or two-star cookies get into the book. I do it because I have to know the recipe is right.
Q. What are a few of your favorite cookie recipes in this book and why?
A. My World Peace cookie — it’s not the first time it’s been published, but I love the cookie. There’s also great biscotti; my newest cute little chocolate chip cookie with whole-wheat flour, nutmeg and coriander; and my ‘two-bite one chip’ cookie that has one regular-sized chocolate chip tucked inside. I love when cookies have a surprise.
Q. What are the most unexpected/unusual recipes?
A. Most people will be most surprised by the savory cookies. It gives you another opportunity to have cookies during the day, not just night, as though you were looking for an excuse to have a cookie!
Q. What are the newest, trendiest ingredients for cookies?
A. There’s a cookie with tahini and sesame crunch in it and multi-grained chocolate chip cookies with kasha — giving it a nutty buckwheat flavor and crunch. I’d never used kasha as a baking ingredient before. It was a real discovery. There are a lot of gluten-free recipes in the book, but naturally gluten-free. I always look for taste, texture and pleasure, and for people who say, ‘Cookies have so many calories,’ I say, ‘Take a smaller portion of something you really want and love.’
Q. Please fill our readers in on your new #CookiesAndKindness campaign?
A. The idea is just to make the world sweeter. I want to start a sweet revolution. I’m asking people to do what we as bakers always do; we bake and we share what we bake. For those who post to their own blog, Facebook, Instagram page, I ask them to tag me at #Dories_Cookies, so I can see what they’ve done. And every month I post a new recipe to inspire people to bake. So much is going on today that’s not so kind and we can create these lovely moments of kindness by baking and sharing what we bake.
Q. What can people expect at the Oyster Club dinner event on Nov. 6?
A. I worked with James Wayman, the chef, and we designed the menu to be things I love and very (autumn-inspired), and taking into account what we can get locally. Many of the recipes are James riffing on recipes I love to make. It’s a wonderful menu and, of course, it will have cookies.
MARY’S MAINE BARS
Makes about 20 squares
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (regular or white)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup flavorless oil, such as canola
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
Sanding or granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9- by 13-inch baking pan or coat it with baking spray. Line it with a piece of parchment paper.
Whisk both flours, baking soda, salt and spices together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the sugar, molasses, oil and egg together until smooth. Add half the dry ingredients and pulse the mixer to start blending them in, then beat on low speed only until the flour disappears into the dough. Pour in buttermilk and mix to combine. Add remainder of dry ingredients and, still working on low, beat until incorporated. You’ll have a smooth, heavy, sticky dough.
Scrape the dough into the pan, using a knife or offset spatula to get it into the corners and to even the top as best you can. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes, or until the top is dry and a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack.
After 10 minutes, run a blunt table knife around edges of pan, invert baked dough onto a rack, peel away paper, turn it over onto another rack, and let cool. When ready, cut into 20 bars.
To store: Wrap bars well, and they will be fine at room temperature for at least 4 days.
Wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.
"Dorie's Cookies" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Dorie Greenspan, photography by Davide Luciano, is $35, hardcover.
What: Author dinner with Dorie Greenspan, presented by Bank Square Books and The Oyster Club
When: Sunday, Nov. 6, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Oyster Club, 13 Water St., Mystic
Tickets: $100, which includes a copy of “Dorie’s Cookies” and a five-course meal with drink pairings. (Tax and tip are not included.) Seating is limited to 50. For tickets, call the Oyster Club at (860) 415-9266 or go to www.banksquarebooks.com.
Also: Greenspan will give a slide talk and booksigning on Thursday at 7 p.m. at R.J. Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Rd., Madison. Register for the free event at www.rjjulia.com or call the bookstore at (203) 245-3959.