#37 | Dorie's Cookies
By Dorie Greenspan
Suzy Chase: Welcome to the Cookery by the Book Podcast, with me, Suzy Chase.
Dorie Greenspan: Hi, I'm Dorie Greenspan, and my latest book is Dorie's Cookies.
Suzy Chase: You're a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and baker extraordinaire. The New York Times called you a culinary guru. You have created more than 300 cookie recipes over the course of your outstanding baking career. As you wrote in Dorie's Cookies, the cookie universe is infinite. Each recipe in this cookbook made the cut. Tell us about your rating system.
Dorie Greenspan: I adore the color purple. I'm sitting at my desk now, and I have purple pens everywhere. When I'm creating recipes, I work in a spiral-bound notebook. You can see the whole process as I'm crossing things out and changing things, but when I finally have the recipe just the way I want it, I give it three purple stars. The way other people check off their to-do lists, I give three purple stars to the recipes that will be in my book.
Suzy Chase: How many recipes did you come up with three purple stars? Did you have to edit your three purple star recipes?
Dorie Greenspan: I'm a cookbook writer, but I think I'm really an editor because as you said, yes, I had to edit them. I didn't have to edit them to ... I am not as organized as people think I am. I think it's I have short hair and I wear little glasses, and people think, "Oh, you must be so neat." No, no. I created this book in ... I was going to say in a haphazard manner, but really as a dreamer that I would think, "Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful if I could make ... What if I took my chocolate chip cookie recipe and I made it in a cast iron skillet? What if I made a chocolate chip recipe that only had one chip? What if I ..."
I kept asking myself, "What if? What if?" And I kept creating recipes. I didn't really ... I mean, I kept giving them their adorable purple stars, but I didn't keep track of whether I had a book. Had I made a book? Did I have real chapters? Would things hold together? I didn't ask that question until almost the end. I think the kitchen gods were with me, or cookie gods, or maybe the Cookie Monster, because I ended up with a cookie book.
Suzy Chase: Your son, Joshua, claims that cookies are memories, and you often bake to make memories real again. What's your first memory of baking?
Dorie Greenspan: Oh, my very first. I didn't grow up with a mom or father who cooked, and certainly, neither one of them baked. I didn't bake anything until I was about 18 years old. I haven't thought about this in so long, Suzy. The very first thing I baked was ... We could hardly call it ... It was supposed to be a pumpernickel bread. Don't ask me why I started there. What I produced was an adorable little hockey puck.
Suzy Chase: You say good baking is good technique, and there's a whole chapter on techniques. Talk a little bit about the importance of prepping.
Dorie Greenspan: Oh, prepping is everything. It's the same with cooking. It's not just baking. It's so important to read through the recipe before you start and then to do what the French call mise en place, and what we're calling prepping, because what if ... And this has happened to me even though my mother used to say, "Do as I say, not as I do," because there were times when I just thought, "Oh, I'll bake this," and then discovered in the middle of it that I didn't have buttermilk. You don't want to get caught short that way.
It's really important to measure out your ingredients. It just helps make baking even more of a pleasure. It's so nice when you have everything in front of you and you can just enjoy the way ingredients come together, the way they change, they transform the way they look, the way they smell. Just get everything laid out first.
Suzy Chase: What are the top three ingredients you always have on hand?
Dorie Greenspan: Four. As a baker, butter, flour, sugar, eggs. Those are the four basics. With that, you can make ... As you said earlier, it's infinite. Those are the real basics in baking.
Suzy Chase: Now, you also have a whole chapter about gear. I recently bought an oven thermometer and was shocked to see how off my little tiny New York City oven is.
Dorie Greenspan: Suzy, aren't you glad you got that oven thermometer and that now you know?
Suzy Chase: I have been burning things for years, and I thought it was me.
Dorie Greenspan: Nope.
Suzy Chase: But it's not.
Dorie Greenspan: Even the fanciest of ... Every oven is different. It's really important to get to know your oven, get to know where the hot spots are, get to know if it's running a little high or a little low. Get an oven thermometer. With cookie baking, there's really not all that much gear. I wouldn't want to live without my cookie scoops. I'm in love with my cookie ... I have a whole wardrobe of cookie scoops. I like that you can scoop cookies. It's fun. It's easy. It's a great job to give to kids. But it also means that all of your cookies are the same size, so they're going to bake evenly in the oven that has a thermometer.
Cookie sheets, I love having parchment paper or silicone baking mats available so that I can line the baking sheet. It helps the cookies bake more evenly, and clean up is ... There's no clean up, just either toss or ... I reuse my parchment paper a couple of times or just rinse the sil pad.
I like having a mixer. I've discovered that there are so many cookies that can be made in a food processor better than they can in a mixer. I have been making my tart and pie crust doughs in a food processor for years because it's very quick and it keeps the ingredients cold, which is so important with crusts. It's also important with shortbreads. You can use a mixer. You can do everything by hand, that's how bakers did it for centuries, but a food processor turns out to be a great tool in the kitchen, in the cookie kitchen.
Suzy Chase: I was thrilled to discover that you have every cookie from your former cookie shop, Beurre & Sel.
Dorie Greenspan: Suzy, as you know, our son Joshua and I a cookie boutique called Beurre & Sel. It started as a pop up, and then we had a bricks and mortar shop. When we closed it, people kept saying, "But you'll bake, you'll do it again." No.
Suzy Chase: No? Never?
Dorie Greenspan: Nope, not going back into business. But what I said was, "I promise that one day I will put all of the recipes in one place." All of the Beurre & Sel recipes are in my new book.
Suzy Chase: People are going to be so happy about that.
Dorie Greenspan: Those cookies were beloved. We had great customers. We were not meant to go into business. But the cookies, I wanted the cookies to have another life because they were so great. They're really so doable at home. This was a cookie that I actually dreamed, the Jammer. I was in Paris, and I woke up in the middle of the night with this idea for a cookie, which I then made in the morning. It's a shortbread cookie, and it has a little spoonful of jam in the center, and then it has streusel around it so that it looks like a little jam tart. It's, I think, one of the most beautiful cookies.
Suzy Chase: It is. It's gorgeous.
Dorie Greenspan: I'm so glad you agree. I love the look of that cookie. I adore the taste and the texture of the streusel against the jam and the shortbread. I also love making it, and I'm so excited that people will be doing this at home.
Suzy Chase: Speaking of Paris, I've heard you talk about Paris and how you never felt a real connection with a place until you stepped foot on Parisian soil. Describe that magical feeling and tell us about your Parisian life.
Dorie Greenspan: I went to Paris in my early 20's. I had never ... I grew up in Brooklyn. I got married right after I was born.
Suzy Chase: Didn't waste any time.
Dorie Greenspan: No, no, no. Born, married, still married, same guy. We went to Paris. I like Brooklyn. We lived in Manhattan. I loved Manhattan. But when we got to Paris, I just felt as if I had found home, with a capital H.
Suzy Chase: Did you know that immediately?
Dorie Greenspan: Yes.
Suzy Chase: It hit you?
Dorie Greenspan: Yes. There was just something about being there. I was so euphoric. I just felt the way the streets looked, the way the streets smelled, the way the people moved, I just thought, "This is where I was meant to be." I've gotten over blaming my mother for having me in Paris. We moved to Paris as part-timers 20 years ago. Now, I have the Paris life that I didn't know I was meant to be born with until I got it.
We lived in the [foreign language 00:10:28] in Paris, and I often feel like people say, "Well, you've got multiple ... You live in two places." No, I feel like I have another kitchen because every place that I am, what's really important to me is the food. It's important to me to be able to go to the market, to be able to cook what's local and what's really attached to the place, and to invite people in to share food with me.
Paris is really ... I do a lot of cooking in Paris, a lot of baking, and I love doing American food in Paris. I love to introduce my French friends to what we love in America. Do I have a second to tell you about cookies in Paris?
Suzy Chase: Yes.
Dorie Greenspan: When you say cookie to a French person, it means only one thing, chocolate chip cookies.
Suzy Chase: Really?
Dorie Greenspan: Yep. That's the name for a chocolate chip cookie in France, cookie. When I was telling my French friends that I was writing a book about cookies, they couldn't understand it at all.
Suzy Chase: They thought it was one page.
Dorie Greenspan: One page or a hundred variations-
Suzy Chase: Variations.
Dorie Greenspan: ... of chocolate chip cookies. I had such fun being able to bake many of the recipes that are in Dorie's Cookies for my French friends. Of course, there's a whole beautiful array of French cookies, but they don't think of them as cookies. In French, they're called [foreign language 00:12:11] or dry cakes. It was so much fun to do this in two different countries.
Suzy Chase: Now, where do you test your recipes?
Dorie Greenspan: Always in America, always. If I create something in Paris, it doesn't get three purple stars until it comes back to America and it's tested in my kitchen here with American ingredients and then retested by my testers. I do everything in the states.
Suzy Chase: What exactly is a cocktail cookie?
Dorie Greenspan: A savory cookie. Cookies are so amazing. The more you think about them the more ideas you have about them. I started to make cocktail cookies for Beurre & Sel. Because I love cookies so much, I wanted to stretch what the definition of a cookie could be and the occasions for enjoying them. I came up with this collection of cookies that you could have with sparkling wine, with wine, with beer.
I did a cookie with Old Bay spice, cheese, and pretzels to go with beer, a parmesan galette that is so fabulous with Champagne. I loved the idea of having something just savory enough to be ... Definitely a cookie. You know it is a cookie, but it has a savory edge and can be had as an aperitif, during a cocktail hour, with cocktails.
In fact, one of the recipes, Bee's Knees, actually comes from a cocktail. I was out with a friend, and we were at Booker and Dax actually, and we were looking at the menu, and Bee's Knees had ingredients in it ... I looked at it and said, "That might be a cocktail, but it could be a cookie," and went home and made the Bee's Knees cocktail cookie. I had such fun with this. I had such fun with cookies.
Suzy Chase: You never need another cookie cookbook.
Dorie Greenspan: Yes.
Suzy Chase: It has every cookie you could even imagine and you haven't even thought of yet in this cookbook.
Dorie Greenspan: Thank you. I love that. I love that definition. I just kept ... Working on one subject, cookies, it's a narrow subject, but it opens you up to so many ideas because you can think of so many ways to play with what we think of as cookie. I kept some of my classic cookies. I couldn't imagine doing a cookie book without my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but then as I was making it, I thought, "What if? What if? What if?"
I made my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe with some nutmeg and some coriander in it, and also some whole wheat flour, so it's a little chewier and a little cakier. Then as I was working on that, I thought, "What if I made a mini chocolate chip cookie?" I called it Two Bites, One Chip. It's only one chocolate chip per cookie. This is so much fun to make, and it's fun to make with kids. You take the chocolate chip cookie dough, and you make a little, tiny ball of dough, and then you put one chip in the center of that ball. When it bakes, it looks like just a tiny, little, munchable, snackable cookie, and then when you bite into it, there's one chip in the center. It's so much fun.
Suzy Chase: On Monday, I made your newest chocolate chip cookie recipe. It's fabulous, but what is the difference between that and your original chocolate chip cookie recipe?
Dorie Greenspan: The new one has that spice blend in it, which, like all cookies that have spice, when you first taste it, you get the spice, but it's really only a day or two later, spice really takes time to develop, that you really taste it. It has that new spice blend. It has a slightly different proportion of white sugar to brown sugar, and it has that whole wheat flour, which really makes the cookie ... I want to say cakier, but a little chewier and not ... My classic cookie is a flatter cookie. When you have them side-by-side, you can taste the slight different and the textural difference. I was looking for a slightly different texture.
Suzy Chase: The coriander and nutmeg really give it another level of flavor. It's so interesting.
Dorie Greenspan: Thank you. I feel like it doesn't hit you over the head.
Suzy Chase: No.
Dorie Greenspan: It's not like you bite into it and say, "Oh, nutmeg and coriander." You might not even ... I think you probably wouldn't even know that those two spices were in it, but you would know that there's a spice. It just tips it a little away from the classic.
Suzy Chase: I had a lot of dough left over. How can we store cookie dough?
Dorie Greenspan: You're lucky to have dough left over. Scoop it out, form it into balls, put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a sil pad, and put it in the oven. No, don't put it in the oven. Put it in the freezer. Then when those little cookie balls are frozen solid, take them off the sheet, put them into a bag or a container, just pack them air tight, and then you can bake them straight from the freezer. You can have cookies on demand. Take them out of the freezer while your oven is preheating, that way they won't be totally frozen. You might need another minute or so in the baking time, but you go from freezer to oven. It's always great to have leftover cookie dough.
Suzy Chase: Where can we find you on the web?
Dorie Greenspan: You can find me at DorieGreenspan.com. I just redid my website, so come visit. Take a look. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook at DorieGreenspan.
Suzy Chase: You bring such passion to baking, and Dorie's Cookies inspires all of us home cooks to get into the kitchen and start baking. Thank you so much for coming on Cookery by the Book Podcast.
Dorie Greenspan: Suzy, thanks so much. It was so much fun to be with you.