Ethereal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pierre Hermé’s, that is. I know I have been missing from action for close to a year when I promised to bake more often after giving this space a total revamp. Thing is, I have been travelling quite a bit the past few months after finally getting over a furkid’s untimely and tragic departure (that rendered me quite incapable of daily functions for a couple of months). And you know how it works, the longer you are away from performing a certain task, the more the inertia builds up.

But now, there is a perfect opportunity for me to return to the kitchen for baking –  a niece was recently hospitalised for an ailment, and what better way to give her cheer than via a box of chocolate cookies? I mean, all children love chocolate cookies, right? Incidentally, the PH Pastries book that I ordered online several weeks ago finally arrived on the day I decided to bake something. What luck!

Recipe: PH’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 120g pecan/macadamia nuts
  • 225g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 240g Valrhona Guanaja chocolate
  • 150g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel de Guérande
  • 240g soft brown sugar
  • 75g egg (about 1.5 egg)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper or silpat and set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. Using a rolling pin, coarsely break the pecan or macadamia nuts into pieces. Chop the chocolate into pieces.
  5. Cut the butter into pieces and process it until creamy.
  6. Add in the fleur de sel and soft brown sugar. Cream until smooth.
  7. Incorporate the eggs and cream for about 3 minutes.
  8. Add in the sifted dry ingredients, coarsely choppted nuts and chocolate pieces. Beat for about 2 minutes.
  9. Divide dough into about 30g each. Shape the mounds of dough and arrange them on the baking sheets, leaving generous spaces between them. Bake for about 12 minutes.
  10. Remove baking sheet from oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Yield: 30 5-cm diameter cookies
[credits: Pierre Hermé PASTRIES]

This chocolate cookie recipe is rather unlike other chocolate cookie recipes I’d come across, or even baked. First of all, no cocoa powder was used at all. And then it uses soft brown sugar instead of the usual caster or granulated sugar. I’ve read several reviews on this particular recipe, and all were good. Hence, in spite of the fact that I am no fan of both chocolates and cookies, I decided to try baking some of these.

The cookies smelled great even before they were sent into the oven, I kid you not. Even the raw dough smelled different from the others I’ve baked. And while the first batch was happily baking away in the oven, my two furkids were going absolutely bersek in the living room just by inhaling the aroma.

I love Pierre Hermé first and foremost for his ethereal macarons, especially the Ispahan. But this chocolate cookie of his, is simply in a class of its own. I doubt I will bake chocolate cookies using any other recipe ever again.

I predict there may be questions on the ingredients used, so I shall address them here first. I used macadamia nuts, and followed the recipe closely because I happened to have all the ingredients at hand. You could use any other fine sea salt other than fleur de sel de Guérande, and any types of chocolates you could find at your local supermarket. The cookies will still turn out decent, but they will be different from what PH intended them to be. Just so you know.

If there are any changes I would like to make to the recipe, it’s the Guanaja used. Since Guanaja uses 70% of cocoa content, it is a little bitter to most people. I might tweak it a little and use Caraïbe (66%) instead.

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