Q & A with Baker and Author Dorie Greenspan

The James Beard Foundation interviews Dorie Greenspan

 

JBF Award–winning cookbook author (and former JBF editor) Dorie Greenspan has an intimate knowledge of cookies: she recently opened the New York City cookie shop, Beurre & Sel, to rave reviews. We caught up with the baking expert to get the scoop on her new store, her cardinal rule for making cookies, and more.

 

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JBF: What inspired you to open a retail shop?

 

DG: My son, Joshua, was the inspiration behind Beurre & Sel. For a few years he organized pop-up shops for us, but he dreamed of a real home for our cookies. I loved the idea for a bunch of reasons: I get to work with my son; I get to bake like mad with our terrific pastry chef, Marisa Croce; and, when I’m in the shop, I get to meet people who love cookies—and, no surprise, cookie lovers are happy people.

 

JBF: What is your most popular cookie at Beurre & Sel?

 

DG: It’s a toss-up between our World Peace cookies (Valrhona cocoa and brown sugar sablés with chunks of Valrhona extra-bitter chocolate and fleur de sel) and the jammers (French vanilla sablés with jam and vanilla bean streusel).

 

JBF: You wrote in your cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours that World Peace cookies were as important a culinary breakthrough as Toll House cookies. Can you tell us more about these cookies and the story behind them?

 

DG: They were first created by Pierre Hermé over a decade ago, although they were called Korova cookies after the restaurant he made them for, and were later renamed by my neighbor Richard Gold because his family thought the world would be a more peaceful place if everyone had them! When I worked with Pierre in the early ’90s, he taught me that salt—more than a pinch of salt—should be used in the sweet kitchen just as it’s used in the savory: to heighten flavors. The World Peace cookie was an impeccable example of this and, at the time, a very new idea.

 

JBF: What has been the biggest challenge in opening Beurre & Sel?

 

DG: Even though we’re so new, I know that there’s one challenge that will never stop: keeping the quality high, high, high. I think it’s the challenge of everyone who cares passionately about what they make.

 

JBF: Is there one cardinal rule of cookie baking that you feel everyone should master?

 

DG: If you’re baking cookies in batches, as is almost always the case, make sure that each new batch goes on a cool baking sheet. Cookies call for patience, so wait for the sheets to cool down. Ditto for the cookies themselves—most cookies need time to “set” after they come out of the oven.

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