APRIL 26, 2018

Cookbook Review: Dories Cookies

Three-quarters of the way through the 2017 James Beard Award-winning Dorie’s Cookies (HMH 2016), there is a wonderful section titled “the beurre & sel story” that I really feel captures the essence of this cookbook and lends to its appeal and relatability throughout.

It is the story of Dorie, renowned culinary expert, and her son, Joshua, who struggled through the process of learning how to turn their home baking passion to a storefront enterprise. “Before we officially opened Beurre & Sel (French for ‘butter and salt’), Joshua and I did a series of pop-up events. To get ready for our first, I tested all of the recipes at home before I had to bake them in a commercial kitchen with equipment I’d never used before and on a scale that rattled my nonmathematical mind. Everything I baked tasted great, but none of the cookies were the same size. The look was unprofessional, and it was impractical too.”

It took some time, but as the result of endless experimentation by the mother and son duo, they finally made their breakthrough with a little help from a metal baking ring and the subtraction of leavening. Five years later, when the cookie shop partners decided it was time to ‘retire,’ the list of concerned loyal customers became very loud and Dorie grew her cookbook vision. Asked then if she would ever take on such a project again, she had to reply honestly, “No, but one day I’ll put together the recipes so that you can make our cookies at home.”

Obviously, not all home cookie bakers will come to open their own boutique cooking business, but the book reminds us over and over again that the spirit of the cookie lives in most of us at some level, and takes us back to our own times spent in the kitchen with children, family and friends, scratching out notes and advice, envisioning, just maybe, that day when we might open our own little cookie company.

We would hope that we would have in front of us such a bright, enthusiastic and precise guide as Dorie’s Cookies to guide us through the process. Beginning with the revelatory section “the perfect-cookie handbook: techniques, ingredients and gear” (always use cookie scoops to shape!), the book is filled throughout with thoughtful tips and tricks in familiar sounding sections like “brownies, bars, break-ups and biscotti,” “cookies for every day, any day” and finally “cookie go-alongs and basics.” As of 2017, Dorie’s writing can now be found in her food column for the New York Times.