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Iconic cookbook author releases 'Cookie Bible,' her love letter to all things biscuit

"The Cookie Bible" cover. (Courtesy of Harper Collins)
"The Cookie Bible" cover. (Courtesy of Harper Collins)

It’s been nearly 35 years since legendary baker Rose Levy Beranbaum released the iconic “Cake Bible,” which quickly became every baker’s guide to all things cake. Now, just in time for the holidays, comes her “Cookie Bible.” Packed with recipes, from the simple chocolate chip cookie to spectacular Daquoise meringue puff, the book is also full of techniques, diagrams, tips, variations and “extras” — recipes for the fillings, jams, and ganaches bakers can use to make sandwich and layer varieties.

Beranbaum joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to talk about the new book.

Rose Levy Beranbaum is the author of “The Cookie Bible.” (Matthew Septimus)

Recipes from ‘The Cookie Bible’

by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Lemon lumpies

Lemon lumpies. (Courtesy of Harper Collins)

My dear friend Annie Baker sells wonderful “cookie dough cookies” — crunchy on the outside and chewy and doughy on the inside — at Napa farmers’ markets and online at anniethebaker.com. When I stopped in the Bay Area while promoting my book Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, she gifted me with a bag of her famous cookies for the road. Of course, her recipe is top secret, as her vast array of cookie dough cookies are her claim to fame. Here is my version. The candied lemon peel adds a sparkly counterpoint to the sweetness of the white chocolate. You can use this recipe as a base for any number of variations.

Makes 32 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ sticks unsalted butter
  • ½ cup candied lemon peel (chopped)
  • 4 oz. high-quality white chocolate
  • 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off plus 1 tablespoon)
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons golden syrup or corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar for coating


Instructions

  1. Brown the butter: Have ready by the cooktop a 1 cup / 237 ml glass measure with a spout. In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter over very low heat, stirring often with a light-colored silicone spatula. Raise the heat to low and boil, stirring constantly, until the milk solids on the spatula become little brown specks. An instant-read thermometer should read 285° to 290°F / 140° to 143°C. Immediately pour the butter into the glass measure, scraping in the browned solids as well. You should have about 140 grams / ¾ cup / 177 ml. Allow the browned butter to cool to 80°F / 27°C.
  2. Chop the candied lemon peel into ¼ inch pieces. You should have ½ cup.
  3. Chop the white chocolate into ¼ inch pieces. You should have ⅔ cup.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the browned butter, brown sugar, golden syrup, and vanilla extract on low speed for 1 minute, or until blended. Gradually beat in the milk. The batter will look curdled. Add the flour mixture. Beat on the lowest speed just until the flour is moistened. Then beat on low speed for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the white chocolate and candied lemon peel and beat just until evenly incorporated.
  7. In a small custard cup, place the granulated sugar for coating.
  8. Divide the dough into 32 walnut-size pieces (37 grams each). If the dough is too soft to roll easily, refrigerate it briefly until it is firmer. One at a time, roll each piece of dough in the palms of your hands to form a 1½ inch ball, then roll the ball in the sugar, while it is still soft enough to coat evenly.
  9. Set the balls on a small sheet pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for a minimum of 1 hour, up to 3 months. (If planning to store these for longer than 1 hour, it is best to transfer the frozen balls to an airtight container or freezer bag.)
  10. Preheat the oven thirty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack at the middle level. Set the oven at 400°F / 200°C.
  11. Place half of the balls 1½ inches apart on a prepared cookie sheet.
  12. Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway around. Continue baking for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to brown on the top; when gently pressed with thumb and index finger on the sides, they should yield to pressure. An instant-read thermometer inserted into a cookie should read 145° to 165°F / 63° to 74°C.
  13. Set the cookie sheet on a wire rack and use a thin pancake turner to transfer the cookies to another wire rack. Cool completely.
  14. Repeat with the second batch.


Rose’s crescents

Rose’s crescent. (Courtesy of Harper Collins)

I first made this totally exquisite cookie almost sixty years ago—it was my first cookie success. The high proportion of ground almonds to flour (1 part almonds to 3 parts flour) makes this buttery cookie perfectly tender and delicate without falling apart. It remains one of my top favorites; in fact, if I had just one cookie to crave, this would be it.

Makes 30 2 ½ inch by 1 inch cookies.

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup plus ½ tablespoon blanched sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar, preferably superfine
  • 1 cup (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) minus 1 teaspoon bleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt


Cinnamon sugar topping

  • ¼ cup superfine sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


Instructions

  1. Thirty minutes to 1 hour ahead, cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces. Set on the counter to soften.
  2. Make the dough: In a food processor, process the almonds and sugar until the almonds are ground very fine. With the motor running, add the butter one piece at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, sprinkle the salt on top, and pulse in just until incorporated.
  3. Scrape the soft, sticky dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Press it into a thick disc. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until the dough is firm.
  4. Preheat the oven twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack at the middle level. Set the oven at 325°F / 160°C.
  5. In a small wide bowl whisk together the sugar and cinnamon to form the topping.
  6. Divide the dough into quarters (about 70 grams each). Rewrap three of the pieces and refrigerate them while you shape the first piece.
  7. Allow the first piece of dough to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, or until softened slightly. Then knead it between floured hands until malleable.
  8. Pinch off ½ tablespoons of dough (about 9 grams each) and roll each piece into a 1 inch ball.
  9. Spoon a little flour into a custard cup. Gently roll each ball in the flour to coat it lightly, then roll it on a lightly floured dough mat or counter into a cylinder about 2½ inches long, tapering the ends. Gently curve each cylinder into a crescent shape, and place the crescents a minimum of 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet. Cover lightly with plastic wrap.
  10. Repeat with the second piece of dough to fill the cookie sheet.
  11. Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway around. Continue baking for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch but not beginning to brown.
  12. Set the cookie sheet on a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, until just warm.
  13. Use a thin pancake turner to lift each cookie and gently dip it on both sides in the cinnamon sugar topping, then transfer to another wire rack. Cool completely.
  14. Repeat with the second batch, using the remaining pieces of dough.


Pecan freezer squares

Pecan freezer squares. (Courtesy of Harper Collins)

These squares have all the delicious merits of pecan pie and more! They are crunchy and butterscotch-gooey, but less sweet than most pecan pies because they are made with golden syrup and eaten frozen. The cookie crust does not get tough on freezing. These can be made weeks ahead and served straight out of the freezer.

Makes 25 1 ½ inch squares

Ingredients

Sweet cookie crust

  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 (to 2) large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1¼ cups (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) bleached all purpose flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado or granulated sugar


Pecan filling

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 (to 6) large egg yolks
  • 1 ⅔ cups pecan halves
  • ⅓ cup golden syrup (or corn syrup)
  • ½ cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • less than a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven thirty minutes or longer before baking, set two oven racks at the middle and lowest levels of the oven. Set the oven at 425°F / 220°C.
  2. Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and refrigerate.
  3. Into a 1 cup / 237 ml glass measure with a spout, weigh or measure the egg yolk. Whisk in the cream. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  5. In a food processor, process the sugar until fine.
  6. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse until the sugar coats the butter.
  7. Add the flour mixture and pulse until the butter pieces are no larger than small peas.
  8. Add the egg yolk mixture and pulse just until incorporated. The dough will be in crumbly pieces unless pinched.
  9. Scrape the dough into a plastic bag and press it from the outside of the bag just until it holds together. Remove the dough from the plastic bag and place it on a very large sheet of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to knead the dough a few times until it becomes one smooth piece. There should be no visible pieces of butter. (Visible pieces of butter in the dough will melt and form holes during baking. If there are any visible pieces, use the heel of your hand in a forward motion to smear them into the dough.
  10. Flatten the dough into a rough 6 inch square. Roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap into a 9 inch square. Use a bench scraper or ruler to square it off.
  11. Slip the dough onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes, or until firm but still flexible.
  12. The dough also can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 6 months.
  13. Peel off the top sheet of plastic wrap and invert the dough into the prepared pan. Leave the bottom sheet of plastic wrap in place and, with your fingers or a small pastry roller, press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan and 1 inch up the sides. You can use a small metal spatula to even off any excess on the sides and to press the dough into the corners to fill in any empty spaces. Remove the plastic wrap.
  14. Crumple a 12 inch square of parchment so that it conforms to the size of the pan. Lightly spray the bottom of it with nonstick cooking spray and set it on top of the dough. Add enough rice or beans to fill it about three-quarters full, pushing them up against the sides.
  15. Set the pan on the lower oven rack. Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 375°F / 190°C and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough is set. If not set, the dough will stick more to the parchment. Carefully ease away the parchment from the edges. Lift out the parchment with the weights and continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the crust is pale gold and set but still soft to the touch.
  16. Remove the pan to a wire rack.
  17. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F / 175°C.
  18. Thirty minutes to 1 hour ahead, cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces. Set on the counter to soften. Shortly before cooking, into a medium heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick, weigh or measure the egg yolks. Break or chop the pecans into coarse pieces.
  19. Make the filling: Have ready a strainer suspended over a medium bowl near the cooktop. To the egg yolks in the saucepan, add the butter, golden syrup, sugar, cream, and salt and stir with a silicone spatula. Cook over medium- low heat, stirring constantly, without letting the mixture boil, until it is uniform in color and just beginning to thicken slightly, about 7 to 10 minutes. (An instant-read thermometer should read 160°F / 71°C.)
  20. Immediately pour the mixture into the strainer, scraping up the thickened mixture that has settled on the bottom of the pan. Press it through the strainer and scrape any mixture clinging to the underside into the bowl. Then scrape the mixture into a 2 cup / 473 ml glass measure with a spout. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  21. Assemble the cookie: Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the baked crust.
  22. With the cup’s spout just above the pecans, slowly and evenly pour the filling over them. Once all the filling has been added, the pecans will float.
  23. Bake the squares: Set the pan on the middle oven rack and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling is lightly puffed and golden. The filling will shimmy slightly when the pan is moved. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the center should read 190° to 200°F / 88° to 93°C. Check early to prevent overbaking, which would result in a dry filling.
  24. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool completely, about 45 minutes.
  25. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the aluminum foil. Lift out the pastry by grasping the two opposite ends of the foil and set it on a counter. Run a small offset spatula underneath all four edges of the pastry. Then slip a large pancake turner under the pastry and use it to slide it off the foil onto a cutting mat or board.
  26. Use a long sharp knife to cut twenty-five 1½ inch squares.
  27. Wrap each pecan bar in plastic wrap and store them in a reclosable freezer bag in the freezer.

Brownie doughnuts

Brownie doughnuts. (Courtesy of Harper Collins)

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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