Thanks to my friend, candy-maker Peggy Cullen, I discovered this Pierre Hermé’s recipe in 2002. It has become a keystone of my Christmas cookie baking, yielding decidedly unholiday responses from recipients who wish to horde the bag for themselves. Not for kids, this is a cookie for the discerning palate. It satisfies the craving for dark chocolate, for crunch and for salt.
This is a basic cookie recipe but it requires two special ingredients, fine fleur de sel (sea salt) and the best chocolate you can find – 70% Valrohna, El Ray, Callebaut, while Ghirardelli can do in a pinch. The extra step of finely grinding the chocolate makes this slice-and-bake cookiedeeply chocolate, not very sweet, just a touch salty and surprising. The chocolate melts on the tongue. I have made this recipe as a gluten free cookie with great success.
Doubles and triples well but my KitchenAid mixer cannot handle a quadruple recipe.
One batch makes about 26 cookies. I usually double the recipe and make two batches for the holidays and again for Valentine’s day.
1 1/3 c all-purpose flour#
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
11 T (5.5 oz) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
½ c packed light brown sugar
¼ c granulated sugar
1 ¼ t fleur de sel (fine white sea salt)
½ t pure vanilla extract
5 oz dark chocolate, very finely chopped
Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking soda, whisk to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium, beat the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla, periodically scraping the bowl. DO NOT over mix, you don’t want to incorporate too much air. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. On low speed add the flour mixture and mix just until it disappears. Mix in the finely chopped chocolate, do not over mix.
Turn the dough out onto the table (you may need to lightly dust the table with flour.) Gather into a ball, slice in two and roll each half into a log – you can determine the diameter of your cookies – I like 1.5” diameter. Wrap each log snuggly in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about two hours. Can be chilled overnight or frozen (warm to a firm chill in order to cut)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees f. Line two sheets with parchment or silpat (I have also tried just spray oil and it works fine). Using a sharp knife, cut the dough log crosswise into a ¼” slice and transfer slices to the baking sheet. (Sometimes you may need to reshape your slices if they crumble a bit – this is the indication that your dough is too cold or that the chocolate is not fine enough. But simply press the dough back together.)
Bake oven, preferably one sheet at a time (unless you have convention oven) for about 12 minutes. Do check them if have cut them very thin. The cookies will puff slightly and the surface may crack. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then loosen from tray to fully cool. Store airtight or freeze.
* Use finely flaked salt, not table or coarse salt.
** Use finely chopped, best quality dark or bittersweet chocolate. I hand chop into chunks and then quickly process into fine bits. Be careful not to process to the point of melting due to friction! Finer is best, even powdery is good. Larger chunks will make the dough hard to slice.
# You can substitute a gluten free blend, adding 1t of xantham gum. The flavor is different than with wheat flour but the recipe works well and the cookies are stil delicious.