Six years ago, right around this time of year, Randy and I were living in London. One day I sat in a wonderful cooking class at Leith’s – a day-long class on vegetarian food. The teacher was swift and engaging and while I didn’t learn much in particular, it was a joy to watch such a professional work. My eyes kept drifting up to the stacks upon stacks of copper pots on the shelves behind her. She mentioned that the school had bought the pots and pans back in the 1950′s and they were the ones still used in the kitchens. Dreamily I thought, “I want copper pots from Paris”. Practically I thought, “I just got brand new stainless steel All Clad pots – there is no way I could justify buying copper”. Dreamily I thought, “For my 40th birthday, I want to go to Paris and buy copper pots”. The class wrapped up, I went home and told Randy about my 40th birthday plan – six years in the future – to which he said, “Got it”.
“Got it” in Randy language means many things. Sometimes it means “please stop talking, I understand you” and other times it means “I am taking your criticism and I am moving on”. In this instance it meant “you are making a special request of me and regardless of how frivolous it may sound, I will see that I fulfill it”. If you know my husband, he is a get-shit-done kind of guy. He is a tremendous problem solver, an incredibly hard worker, and he really likes to plan. What you may not know is that he is a pretty romantic guy and he really likes to make me happy.
So, my 40th birthday is this summer (July 26th to be exact) and on Tuesday, I am flying to France. Randy has business in Cannes so I will meet up with him there, then fly to Paris for a few days, then take the Eurostar to London for one day, and then back home. It will be whirlwind. I feel very lucky. My in-laws are flying in from Atlanta to stay with my kids and I will get my husband all to myself for a whole week. A week in Europe where I have not been in six years.
Will I buy pots? I don’t know. It is highly impractical. I can’t carry them on the plane and to ship them would be ridiculously expensive. I hope to maybe find a brand that does business online and buy them that way. I have a list of shops to visit but our time is limited, especially since one of our two full days in Paris will be a Sunday. Maybe I will just buy a symbolic pot (like a ½ quart butter-melter) and spend the rest of my money on chocolate. I know that it doesn’t matter. I will lay on the beach in Cannes. I will have an early birthday dinner with Randy and my parents (who are joining us) in Paris. I will get to have lunch with Ele and Hilary in London. I get to fly on an airplane armed with stacks of books and magazines and not one single Sesame Street DVD, garbage truck, or Leap Frog game. Parents of small children, you know what I am talking about.
Whenever I feel extra spoiled, I feel like I want to give back. Here is where the chocolate cookies come in. I got the recipe for these treats from David Lebovitz’s new book Ready for Dessert. David Lebovitz, if you don’t know, is an American pastry chef and ice cream guru living in Paris. He has written a number of cookbooks (including the only ice cream book you will ever need – The Perfect Scoop) and also a memoir about living in the city of lights called The Sweet Life in Paris. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a contest, pick a winner, and send that person to Paris? Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. So, I’m going to have a contest, pick a winner, and send that person a copy of The Sweet Life in Paris and winner’s choice of one his other books. Just tell me what your favorite spot is in Paris and if you haven’t been, tell me what would be your first stop in that beautiful city.
I will pick a winner when I return from my journey. I will have a few posts go up while I am gone. Until then, à bientôt!
One Year Ago: Strawberry and Sour Cream Ice Cream (from The Perfect Scoop!)
Two Years Ago: Spicy Lime and Herbed Tofu in Lettuce Cups (pardon the photo)
Flo’s Chocolate Snaps
Adapted from Ready for Dessert
Makes about 50 cookies
I took the liberty of adding ½ a cup of mini chocolate chips to my batter which you could, of course, leave out. I cut my cookies a bit thicker than he recommends and next time I will just listen to him so they are thinner and snappier.
3 cups flour
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
½ cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
Into a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the sugar on medium speed just until smooth. Add the vanilla, then beat in the egg and egg yolk.
Gradually add the cocoa mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until completely incorporated and no streaks of butter remain. If using, mix the chocolate chips in by hand using a spatula.
On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into quarters, and shape each quarter into a log about 7 inches long and 1½ inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until they’re firm enough to slice, about 1 hour.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (DT: I skipped this step and had no trouble with the cookies sticking.)
Slice the logs into disks ½-inch thick and place the disks on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about ½-inch apart. Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking, until the cookies are puffed and slightly firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with a bit of sugar.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to handle, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack. They will continue to firm up and get “snappy” as they cool.
(The dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month. The baked cookies can be kept in an airtight container for 2 days.)