Friday, July 8, 2011

Chocolate Sparklers

Within the luscious chocolate landscape of Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Desserts cookbook, you will find a glamorous parade of cakes, tarts, creams, drinks and cookies. As you roam each section full of gorgeous wall-to-wall chocolate creations, you can imagine the taste and texture of every bite because everything is so beautifully and lovingly photographed, an exquisite gift from photographer Jean-Louis Bloch-Laine.

Calling all cookie lovers! Even Hermé’s cookies have an incredible allure. Chocolate Sparklers are very buttery, very crumbly, flavored with Dutched cocoa and circled with bling. These cookies are essentially very dressed up butter cookies. They are simple but unusually delicious all the same because once you roll the cookie dough in raw sugar you get a cookie that bakes off with very crunchy caramelized edges, providing a very nice contrast and sparkle. Very easy to make and even easier to eat, this is certainly a recipe to add to your cookie repertoire when the mood for a great chocolate cookie strikes. Don't delay!

Bench notes:
- Hermé calls for Dutched cocoa, which will give you a more refined, deeply rich cocoa flavor in this application.
- Hermé uses regular granulated sugar but I really prefer raw sugar, a large granule sugar with a light brown color that adds great texture and flavor. Sugar in the Raw and C&H Washed Raw are a couple of brands you’re likely to find at your market. It's also a central ingredient in Braker's famous cookies, Pain d'Amande.
- I sort of overdid it with the raw sugar! I was giving these away to people who especially love that collar of crunchy snap.
- Do not overmix in order to ensure the cookies have their characteristic crumbly texture.
- Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container (tins are best) at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.
- Another really terrific chocolate cookie from the same book is Herme’s Viennese Chocolate Sablés.

Chocolate Sparklers

adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 30 cookies

2 3/4 C flour
1/3 C unsweetened Dutched cocoa powder
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
10 oz (2 1/2 sticks) butter @ room temperature
1/2 C + 2 T sugar
1/4 t vanilla
1 large egg yolk
raw sugar, for coating

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt together.

Beat the butter on medium speed to soften. Gradually add sugar and continue mixing, until the mixture is smooth and creamy, but not airy. Add vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to ensure thorough mixing. Turn down the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing just until ingredients are just about blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish mixing with a rubber spatula to avoid overmixing. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a log about 1 1/2” thick and 7 1/2” long. Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Whisk the egg yolk with one teaspoon of water. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper on a work surface. Spread out a good handful of raw sugar on it. Working with one cookie log at a time, unwrap and brush lightly with egg wash. Roll each log in the sugar, pressing gently.

Use a sharp thin knife to slice each log into cookies about 1/2” thick. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom at the midway mark, until the cookies are just firm to the touch. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely. Repeat with second log.


Heather Smoke said...

Mmm, those look incredibly tempting! I love the pretty ring of coarse sugar.

Audrey said...

They do look tempting! And I love the soft color of the raw sugar against the chocolate - tres chic.

vanillasugarblog said...

oh those do look good. love the outer edge color.

Sashquatch said...

I find it crazy how such a simple act of rolling the cookies in sugar can elevate them from yummy but plain cookies into something that little bit special :) These look utterly addicting and very pretty, i think it would be dangerous for me to make them but im very tempted to give it a shot! :)

Luv'n Spoonfuls said...

I've never seen cookies 'dressed' like this, but can't wait to try it out. I love the bling they have and I'm sure the texture is wonderful. Love the pictures...I just want to take a wee bite out of one!

Rob Johnson said...

Thanks for this, they look great!
Looks like a greatMouthfeel.

Eileen @ Passions to Pastry said...

I have got to make these. They're beautiful cookies, and everything I've ever made from a Pierre Hermé recipe has been over-the-top good!

Anonymous said...

These look gorgeous! I bookmarked the recipe, can't wait to try it!


Rézina said...

Hey, I'd love to try your recipe, these sparklers are looking delicious - and excellent idea with the raw sugar. But I live in Czech Republic and we don't use "cups" for mesuring that much. So if you say cup, it means how many mililiters? I found out it can be 236 ml or 250 ml but I don't know which of these is right. Can you help me please? Thank you very much!

pastry studio said...

Koza Reza, so sorry this is not in your preferred measurement scheme. This is complicated and can be tricky because you have to use a converter that will translate the specific ingredients and the difference between liquid and dry measurements. Here’s are Herme’s metrics:

2 3/4 cups plain flour = 385 grams
1/3 C cocoa powder = 35 grams
1/2 C + 2 T sugar = 125 grams
10 oz butter = 285 grams

There are also some who disagree about the weights of various ingredients but I hope this helps.

pastry studio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rézina said...

It really is helpful, thanks. I baked the sparkles today and I made a mistake when mesuring the flour, but at least, I know, why my sparklers turned out rock-hard. :-) For the next time...

Samantha said...

I've just given this recipe a go and was definitely NOT disappointed! It was just as you described - amazingly crumbly and delicate in the mouth :) Unfortunately, I didn't have Dutch cocoa powder and had to make do with regular cocoa.

Have you ever considered coating the logs in fine pistachio pieces? I thought I'd use up my pistachios and it turned out well~ just make sure not to burn the edges. Next time, I could combine it with the raw sugar... I'd love to make this again!

pastry studio said...

Hey, Samantha, so glad you enjoyed these cookies. I love your idea of using pistachios. Thanks so much for suggesting it!