Pastry chef Dominique Ansel, inventor of the croissant-meets-doughnut confection he christened the Cronut, is coming out with a cookbook in a few months.
To whet the media’s appetite, publisher Simon & Schuster is circulating a preview piece. The sneak peek contains two recipes, and, no, neither is for his most-talked-about creation.
I am not exactly crushed, particularly since the flier features a formula for a flourless chocolate cookie with pecans. Cronut, schmonut; one glance at photographer Thomas Schauer’s hard-core food-porn images of said cookie and I knew that I’d be first in line to buy the book upon its October release.
Ansel’s comment at the top of the recipe proved to be the real clincher. It reads, “I love making this recipe ... because of its forgiving nature and utterly addictive results.”
Yeah: Chocolate. Easy. Fabulous. Three of the greatest motivators for composing a shopping list.
I don’t recall the last time that a rookie whirl through a recipe went so well, with so little effort. No electric mixer required, just a whisk.
Sure, you’ll need a double-boiler, but my rudimentary version — a saucepan and a mixing bowl — more than sufficed. As for the technique, it’s the drop cookie at its most fundamental.
And wow, what results. I was bowled over by the cookie’s intensely chocolatey essence. Its gooey texture comes as close to voluptuous as a cookie can get. Holding all of that melted chocolate together is the barest, faintest trace of a crispy exterior, and the way it collapses in your mouth is almost meringuelike.
Ansel, chef/owner of Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City and winner of the 2014 Outstanding Pastry Chef award from the James Beard Foundation, wisely suggests serving the cookies warm. “A glass of milk helps,” he writes. It certainly does.
But eating them in their fully cooled state isn’t exactly disappointing. Just don’t wait too long. It’s a fairly perishable cookie, lasting about two days when stored at room temperature. Trust me, they’ll go fast.
The dough can be refrigerated for up to three days, or frozen for up to a week. For the latter, defrost the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours before baking.
Initially, the dough resembles a thickish pancake batter, so much so that you’ll wonder, this is going to turn into cookies? Fear not. An overnight firming-up period in the refrigerator resolves the matter.
Ansel doesn’t suggest toasting the pecans, but I do. The recipe’s directions create oversized, fairly ungainly cookies. For more manageable cookies — and more of them — cut the recommended 3½ tablespoon drop down to 2 tablespoons.
Each batch requires roughly a pound of dark chocolate. I purchased two (10-ounce) bags of Ghirardelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate baking chips at my neighborhood Lunds, at $3.99 per bag, and the results were fine.
A few days later, I test-drove bittersweet Cordillera, a 65 percent, single-source chocolate sold in the bulk aisle at Seward Co-op in Minneapolis. The cost ran roughly $3 more than the Ghirardelli, but the results were totally worth the investment.
One final note: This is a gluten-free recipe, a fact that Ansel doesn’t mention anywhere in the recipe. It’s maybe the best gluten-free cookie I’ve ever baked, although, let’s face it, the competition isn’t exactly Olympian.
Just be sure that you’re using the proper baking powder. Some baking powders contain flour, so note that the package is clearly labeled “gluten-free” before using.
Now get baking.