The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe From Each Year 1914-2009
By Gourmet Magazine
Hardcover, 176 pages
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
List price: $18
Gourmet published dozens of different cookie recipes in 1997 -- a dozen in this issue alone.
So why did we choose this as the best of the year? For one thing, because it is so easy: The cookie begins with a base of cracker crumbs mixed with coconut and butter. But then comes the remarkable part: In the '90s, we discovered how easy it is to make ganache. In this case, you mix just three ingredients to create a dense, silky-smooth layer of chocolate. You end up with an irresistible treat that falls somewhere between a bar cookie and a candy bar. It may be possible to find someone who doesn't like this, but we have yet to meet that person.
Makes 3 dozen squares
13 small (2-inch) wheatmeal biscuits, such as Carr's, or ten 5-by-2 1⁄2-inch graham crackers
3⁄4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut (about 5 ounces)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
2 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
1. Butter the baking pan, line it with two crisscrossed sheets of foil, and butter the foil.
2. The star-shaped stencils and confectioners’ sugar dusting are purely for decoration; the bars are still elegant when unadorned.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor, pulse biscuits or crackers until finely ground. Melt butter and in large bowl, stir together with crumbs, coconut and salt until combined. Firmly press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan and bake in middle of oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan on a rack.
Chop chocolate. In a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and cool chocolate 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, lightly beat yolks. In a saucepan, heat cream over moderate heat until it just boils and whisk 1⁄2 cup into yolks, whisking constantly. Add mixture to remaining cream and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F. Whisk custard into chocolate until just smooth and pour evenly over crust, smoothing top with a small metal offset spatula or rubber spatula. Chill confection, covered, at least 4 hours, or until firm.
With a sharp thin knife, cut confection into 36 squares. Squares keep, layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container and chilled, 1 week.
Using star shapes cut out of parchment paper as a stencil, dust squares with confectioners' sugar.
Excerpted from The Gourmet Cookie Book by Gourmet Magazine. Copyright 2010 by Gourmet Magazine. Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.