I really liked these cookies. So delicate, light, and delicious. I wish someone would make them for me once a month so I could get a regular fix because I don't know if I'll ever get around to making them again. When I first read the recipe and saw the complicated directions for freezing multiple times, I figured that these weren't going to be cookies you could just slap together and slide into the oven. And I was right.
They were really not hard to make. They started with beurre noisette, and, as usual, I chickened out before the butter got a nice, nutty brown, but the solids were dark brown, and I was afraid of ending up with burned butter. But it still had a deep flavor. Add the butter to a mix of three sugars, and you get this rich-looking, creamy batter.
Mix everything up, shape into discs, and refrigerate for a while.
I took mine out of the refrigerator after about eight hours and let it warm up for about 15 minutes before I started rolling it out. That was when the trouble started. Instead of rolling out into a flat piece of dough, it crumbled. I scooped it up, formed it into another disc, and let it warm some more.
Last week, when Rose and Woody were here preparing for a pie-baking demonstration at Minneapolis-based Nordic Ware, I got to sit back and watch them both work. Rose said that she's always been "craftsy," by which she meant that she enjoys working with her hands. Whether she's working with pie dough or knitting, she's calm and relaxed. Woody too, although his handiwork leans more toward problem solving and gizmo creating than meditation. Neither of them treated pie crust like the enemy.
So when rolling the dough, I tried to channel both Rose and Woody. I didn't curse the dough, I tenderly patched the cracks. When the formed cookies fell apart, I just placed the malformed dough back on the pile of
Well, that didn't last long. After the first tray of cookies, I decided I just wanted to be done with the cookies and so I gave up on trying to follow Rose's zen technique, or Woody's let's-make-this-work optimism. My kitchen again became a battleground, with me on the losing side.
Still, it could have been worse. Most of the cookies stayed in one piece and ended up more or less in the scalloped shape of the cookie cutter. Most of them went from counter to cookie sheet in one piece.
And almost all of them came out of the oven in one piece too. They would have looked even nicer if I had sprinkled them with the suggested demerara sugar, which would have been sparklier and less fine.
It took a while before they made it from the cookie sheet to the cooling rack, because I was afraid to touch the fragile little bits of dough. I didn't transfer them until they were almost cool, and waited a few more hours to put them in the cookie tin. By that time, there weren't quite as many to transfer. I had already eaten more than my allotted one cookie--they are so good! And Jim had eaten a few too, although he's still trying to finish the cherry pie that Rose and Woody made.
I found that it's about as hard to change your baking persona as it is to change your entire personality. But I really did enjoy those 10 minutes of zen, when I was pretending to be RLB baking cookies in my kitchen.