Cookies and Bars

Cookie au Chocolat Noir like Eric Kayser

What on earth was I doing eating chocolate chip cookies in Paris? I live a 10 hr flight away and my must-eat lists are long and seldom satisfied. Luckily, a friend returned from a snowy morning pastry run with one and I’ve been craving their salty-chewy-sweetness ever since.

Cookies Noir at Eric Kayser Paris

Alas there are no Eric Kayser outposts in Seattle (although he does run BREADBAR in LA), so I’m making these from memory and some notes I took at the time. They taste pretty close to the real thing as I remember it, and this recipe is all about the details. The very finely chopped nuts are critical to create the uniformly chewy bite, and make sure you add all of the salt. Chocolate chips or baking chunks are designed to hold their shape during baking, so I used couverture chocolate wafers (Guittard Brand 61% Cacao) quite intentionally so they would melt into cratered pools of chocolate throughout the cookies. I know chocolate-chip cookies are a very personal thing, so I’ll spare you the superlatives and simple say that this recipe is now my personal favorite.

Maison Eric Kayser has locations all over Paris and runs BREADBAR in LA. Fellow salty-sweet lovers, be sure to check out Kayser’s new book: Mes petits: biscuits sucrés et salés. Unfortunately available in French only, but it’s good practice for those of us who are a little rusty or you can use Google Translate to help you out!

Cookies au Chocolat Noir d’après Eric Kayser
Adapted from Mes petits biscuits: sucrés et salés by Eric Kayser (Available in French only) and David Lebovitz | Makes 12 large or 24 small cookies

4oz (115g) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (110g) dark brown sugar, packed if using cups
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup (180g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/3 cups (200g) coarsely chopped semisweet couverture chocolate wafers
1 cup (100g) finely chopped walnuts or pecans (Kayser uses pecans)

Place butter and both kinds of sugar in medium bowl. Using a mixer or by hand, cream together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir into sugar and butter mixture until just combined. Stir in nuts and chocolate until evenly distributed, do not overmix.

Cover mixture and place in fridge to chill overnight (thorough chilling prevents too much spread and allows a more deep flavor to develop).

Preheat oven to 350F. Place spoonfulls onto silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until barely browned.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Eat the same day or store in an airtight container until the next (I think they taste better the day after they’re made).

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Salt Caramel Filled Coconut Madeleines

by editor on September 3, 2010

Salt Caramel Filled Madeleines with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

A moist, golden and delicate coconut scented Madeleine with a seam of rich, buttery salt caramel lurking inside, and a deep, bittersweet chocolately drizzle to complement the sweetness. Would these have sent Proust into painfully verbose raptures, or perhaps abject disgust at messing with a perfectly good, perfectly civilized little French cakelet?

Either way, tampering with a classic sometimes pays off. After a couple of failed, yet delicious, iterations with sinking, oozing, caramel chunks, I decided to inject salt caramel directly into the madeleines. The resulting coconut caramel puffs are surprisingly light, and make a perfectly whimsical dinner party dessert or a sticky, fun treat to enjoy with a steaming mug of coffee on a crisp Fall day.

If you don’t have a lot of time, or don’t feel like tackling homemade caramel, you can use store bought caramel and chocolate sauce, and Dulce de Leche is also delicious in or drizzled on these madeleines. Other fabulous pipeable fillings or dips for this coconut version include: salt caramel cream, coconut whipped cream or coconut pastry cream. If you’re planning on creating your own filled madeleines, some flavor combinations I’ve been dying to try include black sesame and matcha cream, vanilla rosewater cream or chocolate mocha cream. Heavenly!

Salt Caramel Filled Coconut Madeleines with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
Makes 12 large madeleines.

For the madeleines
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
3oz flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3oz butter, melted
4 tbsps coconut milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2.5oz (1/4c + 2 tbsp) sweetened shredded coconut
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Special Equipment
12 large cup madeleine pan, preferably NOT non-stick. (If you only have a petite madeleine pan, you can dip the madeleines instead of filling them)
1 Small Bismark Tube (#231) from a cake decorating/pastry supply store and a piping bag

For the salt caramel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tsp fleur de sel, crushed gray salt or kosher salt (plus more to taste)

For the bittersweet chocolate sauce
4oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

To make madeleines
Preheat the oven to 375F, ensuring you have a rack in the center.

Prepare a madeleine pan by smearing each mold generously with butter, then flouring thoroughly. This step is important to prevent sticking.

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the eggs and sugar together until pale lemon-colored and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes using a stand mixer).

Sieve the flour and baking powder together, then fold it all into the main batter in one go, using light strokes. You don’t want to overmix at this stage or you will end up with a dense, tough end product.

Gently stir in cooled melted butter until well combined. Stir in coconut milk and vanilla, then add shredded coconut and mix till well distributed.

Let the batter rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes, then carefully spoon the batter into the prepared madeleine pan, filling each cup about 2/3 full. The mixture will be fairly liquid, but do not spread the mixture out or overfill the cups, as you want them to puff up nicely in the middle!

Bake the madeleines for about 15 minutes, or until they spring back when touched.  After a couple of minutes, carefully remove each madeleine from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool. If the madeleines are sticking a little, tap the pan or gently pry the edges up with a plastic spatula.

To make the salt caramel sauce
Place water and sugar in a large heavy-duty pan, and stir to combine. Cover pan and cook over a low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown – around 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure sugar mixture browns evenly. (Pay close attention to the caramel as it begins to change color – it will turn from golden caramel to dark burnt very fast.)

At this point you are going to “stop” the caramel from darkening any further with the cream. Gradually stir in the cream and vanilla extract or vanilla seeds. The hot caramel may splatter when you first add the cream, so be careful of the hot liquid.

Simmer until the caramel dissolves and sauce is velvety and thick, about 2-3 minutes. Cool to room temperature. The caramel should be thick, yet liquid enough to pipe. Stir in a little more cream to reach this consistency if necessary.

Stir in salt gradually – begin with a little and add more until it tastes salty enough for you. Use caution as there’s no return from overly salted caramel.

For some expert advice on making perfect caramel, see this article by David Lebovitz.

To make the bittersweet chocolate sauce
Heat the cream in a medium pan until starting to bubble but not yet  boiling. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and vanilla until all the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth.

To assemble
Attach Bismark Tube to pastry bag and fill with cooled caramel (DO NOT attempt this with hot caramel unless you have asbestos hands). Push end of tube diagonally into non-scalloped side of madeleine, and carefully squeeze in the filling until the madeleine begins to visibly bulge. Stop as soon as this happens or you will have a sticky mess on your hands!  Place filled madeleines, piped side up, on a cooling rack so the caramel can set up a little.

It may take a couple of tries to get enough filling inside the cakes without them bursting. The trick is to get the tip of the tube as deep into the center of the madeleine as possible. Luckily, you get to eat any that pop open, so it’s really quite a fun exercise.

Serve the madeleines at room temperature dusted with powdered sugar, drizzled with the bittersweet chocolate sauce and serve extra on the side for dipping!

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Blackberry Fool with Coconut Lime Shortbread Cookies

August 11, 2010

It seems so formal to call brambles “blackberries”, and stranger still to buy them. In my native Britain we call these inky little fruits “brambles”. Brambling is a fun time of year around late summer and fall, involving a few days of enduring steep embankments or dense hedgerows, scratchy canes and sticky juice while eagerly […]

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Plum Ice Cream with Chewy Palm Sugar Cookies

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Dark Chocolate Dipped Toasted Pistachio Shortbread

May 26, 2010

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Browned Butter Brown Sugar Cookies with Gray Salt

December 2, 2009

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Sticky Toffee Earl Grey Madeleines with Caramel Sauce

October 29, 2009

I’m still prone to the occasional (and by occasional I mean roughly once a week) pathetic and helpless infatuation with some new pastry or confection. Until recently I’ve been crushing on the kouign-amann and the salt caramel coconut macarons at Honore Artisan Bakery in Seattle, but alas something shiny new and delicious caught my eye, and […]

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