I hope you will forgive me if I write with my mouth full. Pierre Hermé’s chocolate chip cookies, from his latest beautiful cookbook Pastries, are irresistible.
Perhaps judging one of France’s finest pâtissiers on his ability to make a classic American cookie is wrong, but in a cookbook chock full of highly involved, multi-step recipes, it seemed a safe place to start.
If you are a seasoned cook with aspirations, you will be thrilled and frustrated by the book all at the same time. The photographs are stunning. The recipes are the stuff of custard-rich dreams. Yet the book appears to have been translated with some haste, which means you must look at both the American measurements and the gram measures to make sure they are similar. When in doubt, stick with the gram measures. Conversions from Celsius to Fahrenheit were done precisely, which leads to odd temperatures for Fahrenheit-loving Americans, such as 340 degrees. I rounded up to 350 degrees, but many chefs prefer rounding down to 325 degrees F. See what works for you and your oven.
With Pastries, you must read the recipes carefully before you start, but do not shy away, or you will miss a truly great cookie.
The chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven are transformative. All brown sugar may be the real secret. The brown sugar mellows into a rich caramel flavor. The cookie was perfectly crisp on the inside and meltingly soft inside. I challenge you not to eat them all fresh out of the oven.
French women definitely do not eat like that. But they don’t know what they are missing.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pierre Hermé’s Pastries
1 ¼ cups (120 g) pecan or macadamia nuts
8 oz (240 g) Guanaja dark chocolate, 70 % cacao (Valrhona) *
1 ¼ sticks (150 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature **
1 tsp (5 g) fleur de sel de Guérande (or other fine sea salt)
1 ¼ cups (240 g) soft brown sugar
1 ½ eggs (75 g) ***
1 ¾ cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 g) baking powder
¼ tsp (1.5 g) baking soda
Using a rolling pin, coarsely break the pecan or macadamia nuts into pieces. Chop the chocolate into pieces.
Cut the butter into pieces and process it until it is creamy. Process it again with the salt and the sugar until the mixture is smooth. Incorporate the eggs and process 3 minutes. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, the coarsely chopped nuts, and the chocolate pieces. Process 2 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F (170 degrees C). [See my note above about temperature. And yes, you should have preheated the oven before you even started making the dough.]
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop, shape mounds of dough weighing around 1 oz (30 g) and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving generous space between them. Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand.
Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Store the cookies in an airtight container.
*I cheaped out and used the best chocolate chips I had on hand. The cookies were still fantastic. Valrhona would make them ethereal.
**This is the original measure. If you are not using gram measurements, you must use 1 ¼ cups (150 g) unsalted butter.
***You can estimate a half an egg, or go ahead and weigh them. I used large eggs and weighed them, and made myself a lovely mini omelet with the leftovers.