korova cookies

September 27, 2010 § 9 Comments

I think these cookies may have been one of the early reasons I started baking. I didn’t start because I loved the process of cooking – I had barely been in our kitchen and was pretty oblivious to what goes into making food. I did, however, love eating. And these cookies were startlingly good: dark chocolate and fleur de sel, leading to a long-lasting love affair with salty-sweet desserts (see how seriously I take food?). My stepfather gave me the recipe and, it being near Christmas, a few weeks later I dug through my Christmas stocking to find a jar of fleur de sel. I was thrilled. I guess I was a weird kid.

Anyhow, I thought this was my secret ultra-amazing cookie recipe until I discovered food blogs and realized that pretty much everyone has made these cookies. But if you haven’t yet, now’s your chance! They’re a bit crumbly but somehow still so buttery that they melt in your mouth, and have a strong dark chocolate flavour with just a hint of salt. I would hate to have to choose a favourite, but these might be it, and given the quantities of cookies I have eaten that’s pretty high praise.

A little part of me wants to hate this recipe, because the dough is insufferably difficult to work with and the unbaked cookies fall apart all over the place. But the instructions are full of encouraging remarks about how one shouldn’t worry over these things, and more importantly, the cookies are so very worth it. You just stick the crumbled bits back on, and everything comes together in the end. Could this be a metaphor for life? Um, probably somehow, I am not feeling particularly poetic today but I’m just going to go with it.

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Korova Cookies – from Paris Sweets

Yield: Supposedly 36 cookies, but I somehow only ever get 24…

    1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup (30 grams) Dutch-Process cocoa (such as Van Houten or Valrhona)
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 stick equals ¼ pound of
    butter, or 113 grams)
    2/3 cup (120 grams) packed light brown sugar (dark is okay if that’s what you have)
    1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
    1/2 teaspoon Fleur de Sel salt or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    5 ounces (150 grams) good-quality bittersweet chocolate (65%-70%), chopped into small bits (I use Lindt 70% )

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together. Stir to combine and set aside.

Beat butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add brown sugar, white sugar, fleur de sel (or salt), and vanilla. Beat for another 2-3 minutes, until fluffy and light.

With a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. The dough will look crumbly, and for the best texture you should work it as little as possible. Add the chocolate pieces and mix only until incorporated.

Turn out the dough onto a smooth work surface and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, press the dough together and roll into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Lots of little bits will fall off, just press them back on and roll it all together. Try to make sure to press firmly or flatten the log in order to make sure there aren’t any air channels left. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month.)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice rounds that are 1/2-inch thick. Some of them will break, but don’t worry, they will still be delicious! Just stick the broken bits back on. Place the cookies on the prepared sheets leaving about 1 inch of space between each cookie.

Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time and bake each sheet for only 12 minutes. The cookies will not look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Let the cookies cool on the sheet until they’re only just warm, then transfer to a wire rack. The cookies will keep at room temperature, packed airtight, for up to 3 days.

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