I love cookies which appear plain, but taste special . I considered making some very interesting cookies I recently read about, for my entry in the
cookie swap. These "spoon cookies" were the subject of an article by Celia Barbour in the most recent Gourmet Magazine. A tradition in Ms. Barbour's Norweigan family, they are a jam sandwich cookie, made with browned butter, and shaped with a spoon. They are a model of elegant, painstaking deceptive simplicity, and the article made me wish I was a member of the Barbour family. I did make those cookies, they are delicious, and well worth the work. But they seemed to be so much her story that it would have felt peculiar to write about them. I highly recommend reading about them, though.
Not that I invented these chocolate cookies either-they are the furthest thing from original. They are, however, my all time favorite chocolate cookies, and this a "family" recipe in the peculiar sense that I learned of it through my daughter, a/k/a redfox. She made them for Christmas presents last year, after spotting the recipe in a New York Times Entertaining Supplement. They are from Pierre Herme, via Dorie Greenspan's wonderful Paris Sweets. I have gone on about this collection before, it is really, really good, and useful.
These goodies taste quite sophisticated, but not in a way which would offend the smallest, fussiest toddler, and they are as easy to make as any old american refrigerator cookie recipe. They are a tiny bit salty, and addictive as can be. This is the only chocolate cookie my elderly mother really likes. I can claim no credit whatever- I just follow the recipe,linked here. If you have trouble with the NYTimes linkage, email me, and I will send you the instructions. They look very, very ordinary, but taste truly special.
The only thing I do a bit differently is that I shape my rolls into long, thin oblongs, rather than cylinders, because I like the plain tiny wedge shaped cookies which result. Today, I was lazy and substituted callebaut bittersweet chips for the chopped chocolate. It's fine this way, but actually, I think chopping the chocolate a bit smaller than a chip makes an even nicer cookie. I cannot stress too much the importance of good chocolate, good cocoa, and absolutely use sea salt-preferably fleur de sel, if you can. You will notice the difference if you don't, no kidding.
You can see my first try spoon cookie here as well. Even my klutzy efforts have an endearing clam-like appearance. Obviously, I need way more practice with the spoon shaping part, but I must have done the toasted butter part properly, because they taste really good. A similar recipe can be found here, but it does not have the detailed browned butter instructions found in the Gourmet article. I don't know about you, but I hadn't been all that clear about the methods and stages of butter browning, and found these instructions helpful.