sometimes, things really are black and white. no grey. like, there are two kinds of people, right? savory lovers and sweet lovers. it goes without saying i could never be just the former. i could, though, be only the latter. but, of course, i’m bound to love both, the savory and the sweet treats. so, if i had to make up my mind, and choose just one affection that i had e to stick with for the rest of my life, it’d be sweets.
same thing – or even more radically so – for cookies. there are two kinds of cookie people. people who love oreos – and people who don’t. i will never understand the latter. we can’t be friends. no buts or maybes. not even if you happen to be a hansome, 195 tall bloke, with golden hair, cute puppy eyes, wearing only boxer shorts and are holding a box of my favorite ice cream with only one spoon (for me). okay, maybe just about then we could talk about being friends. but only then. because my view on the world oreos is quite radical, really.
at the moment, i’m having a horrible bouchon bakery run (you might have noticed – last post, and all?). that book is well amortized already. and it looks severly battered (handwritten notes included, duh). so i thought i’d take the food styling shizzle to the next level and even tribute these here pictures to the book; by having been inspired by the bouchon book’s cover shoot (same everything: same milk glass, striped straw, cookie leaned on it). thank you, thomas keller, for making it work and for giving me a reason to split people in two kinds and judge them, effortlessly.
ingredients for the white chocolate filling: 125 g white chocolate, coarsely chopped 15 g unsalted butter 125 g heavy cream
2 cups confectioner’s sugar*
ingredients for the chocolate shortbread: 259 g all-purpose flour
87 g unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder (or, wtf, simply cocoa) 1/2 tsp. baking soda 6 g salt 161 g sugar
for the filling: melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring constantly. meanwhile, bring the cream to just under a simmer. pour the cream over the melted chocolate and whisk to combine. pour into a container and refrigerate until completely chilled. * note on my changes: i felt that the filling was still way too runny after over 6 hours of chilling… so i decided to add a lot of confectioner’s sugar, and it worked brilliantly.
meanwhile, for the shortbread: place the flour in a medium bowl, sift in the cocoa and baking soda, and whisk to combine. place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. turn to medium-low speed and mix until smooth. add the salt and mix for another 15 to 30 seconds. add the sugar and mix for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined, then mix until the dough begins to come together. mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together into a 6-inch-square block. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until firm. (the dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
preheat the oven to 160c / 325f. line two sheet pans with parchment paper. unwrap the dough and place it between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, pound the top of the dough, working from left to right, to begin to flatten it, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat (this will help prevent the dough from cracking as it is rolled). roll out to about 3mm. if the dough has softened, slide it (in the parchment) onto the back of a sheet pan and refrigerate until firm enough to cut.
using the fluted cutter cut rounds from the dough. note: since my dough is never chilly enough – bugger – which means the scallops don’t really show anyway, i think just a simple round cutter would be just as well… arrange the rounds on the sheet pans, leaving a little space between them. bake for 15 to 17 minutes, turning the pans around halfway through baking, until the cookies are fragrant, with small cracks on the surface. set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
to assemble the cookies: add the confectioner’s sugar to the filling if desired / should it be runny (see comment above). transfer to the pastry bag. turn half of the cookies over. begin to fill in the cookies with from the outside in in a round motion, working toward the center. note: thomas keller recommends making tear drop shapes, but, hell, no? top each with a second cookie and press gently to sandwich the cookies. you will quickly learn how much filling is just right, without it running down the edges.
the cookies are best the day they are baked, but they can be stored in a covered container, at room temperature if unfilled, or refrigerated if filled, for up to 3 days. love it or leave it.