It doesn’t happen all that often but when it does, it takes your breath away!
The latest cook and bakery book to arrive is Dominique Ansel’s The Secret Recipes, creator of the world famous Cronut – published in the UK in March by Murdoch Books. For those who haven’t heard of this delightful delicacy it’s a rather ingenious cross between a croissant and a doughnut and although I’ve never had the chance to eat one, they do look incredibly tempting. An ideal combination meal of breakfast and brunch, lines form every morning at Dominique’s New York bakery to buy them. Dominique includes a home version in his book in the advanced section, not the ones on offer in New York – I am yet to attempt it!
Let’s not mess about here; this is without doubt a beautiful book and one that will take pride of place on my bookshelf for years to come. The Secret Recipes is one of those books that oozes quality and I knew it was going to be a good book before I’d had the opportunity to open the cover and turn to the first page, it just feels right, it looks right! A go to book full of irresistible recipes and must bakes, the book takes into consideration three levels of home baker – beginner, intermediate and advanced so there’s something here for everyone and something for the beginner and intermediate to aspire to.
The one thing this book does – and I’ll certainly testify to this – is make you want to bake immediately. You’ll devour the recipes, make a few notes on a shopping pad and rush out to buy ingredients for your first attempt! That’s exactly what happened to me on Saturday! I am that man! Once I’d finished my gym session I headed to my local superstore and bought the ingredients required to make chocolate pecan cookies.
One of the interesting things about this book are the notes accompanying each recipe. Dominique encourages you to try new things and if something isn’t working with a recipe; don’t be afraid to try something different, the instructions guide you through each process from beginning to end in simple steps. The recipes are easy to follow and set out in such a way that as long as you read the recipe before you begin, gather everything you need then you won’t go far wrong!
This is what the chocolate pecan cookies turned out like, not too shabby!! …….
Cookies are fairly simple to bake but get it wrong and they are disastrous! Following the recipe for the chocolate pecan cookies I slightly adapted the recipe for the ingredients I had on hand. 60% or higher chocolate was substituted for 51% and chocolate drops substituted for pieces of chocolate (added towards the end of the mix). It didn’t matter and the overall flavour and result magnificent but I will be trying this again soon with a higher concentrate of cocoa. That said, I took them in to work this morning and the cookies were eaten within 10 minutes – not sure what that says about my colleagues but I haven’t killed anyone just yet!
One note about using chocolate pieces is that when you bite into the pecan cookie and hit a piece of chocolate, there’s no better sensation! Everyone who’s tried these cookies commented about the chocolate pieces so I think I’ll continue using misshapes! The book has definitely encouraged me to practice more and to try and improve, most of all it’s a good read and an enjoyable one.
CHOCOLATE PECAN COOKIES
I love making this recipe . . . because of its forgiving nature and utterly addictive results.
Skill Level Beginner
Time 15 minutes one day before; 20 minutes the day of
Yield 20 cookies (about 1¾ ounces/50 grams each)
Dark chocolate chips 2 cups 455 grams
(60% cocoa content or greater)
Unsalted butter (84% butterfat) 3 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon 45 grams
Granulated sugar 1 cup + 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons 250 grams
Cornflour (cornstarch) ¼ cup 42 grams
Baking powder ¾ teaspoon 3.75 grams
Kosher salt ½ teaspoon 1 gram
Whole eggs (large), lightly beaten 3 each 3 each (150 grams)
Pecans, coarsely chopped ¼ cup 55 grams
One Day Before – Make Dough
Melt 1½ cups (340 grams) of the chocolate chips (set aside remaining chocolate) in a double boiler: Fill a medium saucepan with about 3 inches (7.5 cm) water and bring it to a simmer. Place the chips in a medium heatproof bowl and place the bowl snugly over the water. Stir slowly with a heatproof spatula to ensure that the chocolate chips are completely melted and smooth before turning off the heat.*
Melt the butter in the microwave (about 30 seconds on high). Mix into the melted chocolate with the spatula. Keep warm over the hot water.
Combine the sugar, cornflour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs and whisk until fully blended and the mixture resembles pancake batter. Use the spatula to make sure you incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled on the bottom or sides of the bowl.
Slowly whisk in the melted chocolate–butter mixture. (If it has cooled and begun to solidify, gently reheat it before incorporating.)
Gently fold in the remaining ½ cup (115 grams) chocolate chips and the pecans with the spatula.±
Transfer the dough to a shallow baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the batter, to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight to rest.
The Day Of Bake
Place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) for conventional or 350ºF (175ºC) for convection. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Using your hands, break the dough into pieces the size of your palm (about 3½ tablespoons/50 grams). Roll the dough into balls and place them on the baking tray at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart from one another. Press gently on the top of each ball with the palm of your hand to make a thick disk. This dough doesn’t spread much, so the disks should be relatively close to the size of cookie you’d like.
Bake on the centre rack for 4 minutes. Rotate the tray 180 degrees and bake for about 4 minutes more. When the cookies are just beginning to crack on top but the dough is set on the edge and has a soft spot about the size of a 10-cent coin in the centre, remove from the oven.
Let the cookies cool on the tray for 5 to 7 minutes, to further set.
Remove the cookies from the tray and set aside. Reline the cooled tray with clean baking paper and continue with the remaining dough.
Serving Instructions All cookies are best eaten while warm. A glass of ice-cold milk helps.
Storage Instructions The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for 3 days
or frozen for up to 1 week. (Thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours before baking.) The baked cookies
can be kept in a closed airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Dominique Ansel’s: The Secret Recipes is published by Murdoch Books