Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Semolina Butter Cookies with Sea Salt

sea salt cookies stacked x2

Here's the thing. Chocolate is overrated. It's always held up as the best out of the pair in the chocolate/vanilla dichotomy, and an entire industry of propaganda has sprung up around it. Such as the insatiable cravings all women are supposed to have. But butter as a flavor in its own right hardly ever gets mentioned. And the butter cookie seems to be barely a blip on the craveable radar. Well it isn't right. The butter cookie has long been a favorite of mine because, frankly, what could better than the pure taste of butter? I mean, really.

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All of that is to say that these cookies are unapologetically butter rich in taste and texture. And speaking of texture, they use semolina flour which, although itself coarse, makes them incredibly delicate and crumbly, threatening to disintegrate in your hand. And making good on that promise on your tongue. But the real secret here is the salt.

sea salt cookies final

Rather than finishing them with a sprinkling of, say, rock sugar, they get a gentle shower of sea salt just before baking. Anyone who has enjoyed the chocolate- or yogurt-covered-pretzel, kettle corn, or bacon in any kind of dessert knows how natural the pairing of opposites can be. And in this case, a good sea salt really gets the opportunity to show itself off. Sweet, buttery, crumbly, then a hint of salt at the finish.

sea salt cookies on baking sheet

This recipe comes from Mark Bittman who, of course, can always be trusted. And it's a perfect example of how the combination of a few simple, but well-chosen ingredients can be transcendent. I really think you're really going to like this one.

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Brown Sugar Semolina Cookies with Sea Salt
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on low until well combined. Add the egg yolk, then both of the flours, and then the salt as you continue to beat until the mixture just starts to hold together.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and roll it into a log. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until the dough is well chilled and firm enough to be cut into slices.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Have 2 cookie sheets ready, either ungreased or covered with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Using a sharp knife, the slice the dough into 1/4" slices, and put them on the cookie sheet with a couple of inches room between them. Sprinkle the cookies with a little bit of sea salt. Be relatively conservative about this, since you don't want to over-salt them. Bake right away until they're firm but not browning, or about 15-20 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the sheets for a moment before you remove them to cooling wracks.

11 comments:

Joie de vivre said...

I love your presentation of these. I bet the salt on them is soooo good!

Anonymous said...

sooooo pretty!!

Karla said...

Aren't these yummy? I want to try the ones in his book with black pepper. Sounds interesting.

Couples Kitchen said...

These look fantastic! love the presentation with the ribbon! very classy! great gift idea. yum

Laura @ McCaffrey's Baking said...

These look excellent. I'm in love with the rustic look of the ribbon!

Andrea said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone!

Karla, don't those sound awesome? If you make them, let me know how you felt about the pepper.

Couples Kitchen and Laura, we have this grocery store nearby called Gourmet Garage which sells really good cheddar bread, the package of which is tied up with those strings. So whenever my husband buys any, I immediately take the string and hide it for save keeping and then tie up the package with a rubber band.

Bucky said...

These actually look interesting. I might try them.

But "Bittman can always be trusted" ... ???

Sorry, but have to disagree there. His recipes are usually only mediocre at best and only adored by people whose expectations for food have been lowered by a lifetime of McNuggets and Big Macs.

Bittman is a food hack at best.

Dana said...

As a chocolate lover, I am torn. Yes, my first choice would be the brown stuff, but being married to a vanilla lover, I do try to appreciate other flavors. And butter - that is probably the best of the "other" flavors. Bravo - these look amazing.

Eliana said...

I'd rahter a butter cookie over something chocolate anytime :)

croquecamille said...

Count me in the butter camp. Not that I don't like chocolate, but I might like brown sugar more. :)

Chrissy said...

I want to eat the dough!