While many of us favor soft and gooey cookies, for a long hike you want something sturdier. This version of Pierre Herme's chocolate sable cookies is adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets: Great Desserts from the City's Best Pastry Shops (Clarkson Potter, 2002). They are sturdy enough to stand up to a hike (especially if well-packed), while still having a bit of crumbly delicacy. A good dose of salt deepens the chocolate flavor (and replenishes you after a sweaty climb).
Makes 3 dozen cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus additional for sprinkling (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together in a bowl. Set aside.
Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. Add the sugars, the salt and the vanilla extract, and beat for another minute or two until light and fluffy.
Deena Prichep for NPR
The refrigerated logs of dough are sliced into half-inch rounds. The cookies can be sprinkled with salt before baking.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until the dry ingredients are just barely incorporated (the dough should still be somewhat crumbly). Add the chopped chocolate and stir until combined.
Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide it in half, and shape each half into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll to smooth, and wrap tightly in plastic or parchment paper. Chill until very firm, at least an hour and up to a few days.
When the dough is chilled and you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or grease well.
Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice rounds that are 1/2-inch thick (if they crumble during cutting, just smoosh back together). Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets, leaving about 1 inch between the cookies, and sprinkle with a tiny bit of additional salt if desired. Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies will still seem soft and not set, but that's fine. Let cool on the baking sheets until they come to room temperature, then remove and enjoy (or pack for your hike).