I first made these cookies seven or eight years ago, when I was just starting to learn about the merits of really, really good chocolate. And wow, do these showcase what a difference good chocolate can make. The cookies are sweet and rich, the perfect foil for an intense layer of dark chocolate.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans (see below)
Fleur de sel
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix well. Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl, then add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until well combined.
3. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles with a 2-inch round cutter and place the cookies on the baking sheet.
5. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. Bring water to a simmer in a double boiler, or set up a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan with water in the bottom. Melt the chocolate over the simmering water. When the cookies are cool, spread them gently with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Before the chocolate dries, sprinkle lightly with the pecans and a few grains of fleur de sel. Let the chocolate set. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
• Replace the pecans with chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds.
• After it sets, drizzle the bittersweet chocolate with a few lines of melted milk or white chocolate.
Toasting nuts: When a recipe calls for toasted nuts, take the time to toast them. Toasting brings out the flavor of the nut and makes it more intense, meaning your recipe will taste better. It doesn’t take long. Heat the oven to 350F and spread the nuts evenly on a baking sheet. Toast for 7 to 10 minutes, until golden brown and just toasty smelling. Be careful not to let them get too dark or burn, because then they will taste bitter. Remove them from the oven and let them cool before using in most recipes.
Recipe is excerpted from Salty Sweets, by Christie Matheson. © 2009, used by permission from The Harvard Common Press
(Photo © 2009 by Joyce Oudkerk Pool)