David Leite: Let's talk about the book Dorie's Cookies. In typical Dorie fashion, you have left nothing to chance. You take the home baker all the way from the vagaries of preheating the oven, to ingredients and equipment, and freezing the dough. You make it almost foolproof. What are the most important things the home baker needs to really pay attention to when it comes to cookies?
Dorie Greenspan: Cookies are like everything else that we bake. We want to be really careful about how we measure ingredients and how we mix them. Cookies are really special. When you're baking a cake, you beat the butter and the sugar together. You add the eggs and you beat, beat, beat, beat, beat. You want things to be really fluffy. That's exactly what you don't want with cookies. I've seen a lot of people make that mistake and overbeat their cookie dough. The cookie puffs up and looks so great in the oven, and then it collapses afterwards. Too much air. You want to beat gently and you want to try to have all your cookies be the same size. I'm a big fan of cookie scoops, love cookie scoops. You do want to make sure your oven is preheated. It was the oven repair guy who said to me, "Preheat it, and then wait 10 or 15 minutes to make sure it's really hot." You want to use a good baking sheet, a straight one. You want to line the sheet. Things bake more evenly when they're lined. Also, who wants to clean up a cookie sheet, right?
DG: It takes the fun out of baking cookies.
DL: Walking into this project, did you have a favorite cookie recipe?
DG: I knew you were going to ask a question I couldn't answer, and it's early on. I had recipes that I knew I couldn't do a cookie book without. I knew I couldn't do a cookie book without the World Peace Cookie.
DL: My favorite.
DG: Thank you. I love that cookie, and that's the cookie that's on the cover of Dorie's Cookies. I knew I needed a chocolate chip, my favorite chocolate chip. (But it turns out, I created more chocolate chip cookies and they became favorites.) I knew I needed a macaron, and Michael – my husband – wouldn’t let me do a book without rugelach. There were maybe five or six cookies that I knew had to be there.
There was one other thing I had to include. Joshua, our son, and I had a cookie boutique called Beurre & Sel. It closed, and people kept saying, "Won't you go back in business?" I always said, “No. I'm not going back in business, but I'll write the recipes so that you can bake them.” So there is a section with those recipes.
DL: Throughout all of your baking career, and especially with cookies, I am sure that you have an avalanche of stories from readers and fans that have come through cookies. Do you have any you want to share with us?
DG: I'll tell you a very sweet story. When the World Peace Cookie was first published – the cookie has a wonderful story. I got the recipe from Pierre Hermé, the Parisian pastry chef. He called it Korova Cookies. A neighbor of mine said, "We love your chocolate cookies! We bake them all the time, but we call them World Peace Cookies because wouldn't the world be a better place if we all had these cookies?" I agreed and once the name was changed, the cookie became crazy popular that it hadn’t with its original name.
I got a letter – a real, snail mail letter – from a woman in San Diego who was part of a group called Grandmothers for Peace. Ever since the Vietnam War, they had been standing on a street corner every Saturday morning giving out cookies. They would say, "I'll give you this cookie if you'll go home and do something nice or bake a cookie and give it to somebody else." She wrote and said, "We would like to make World Peace Cookies our cookie. Are you okay with that?" I don't know if they're still doing it, but Saturday after Saturday after Saturday, they stood on the corner with World Peace Cookies that they had baked. They gave out cookies and the recipe.
DL: How wonderful. That's amazing!
DG: Isn't that great?
DL: Congratulations! You added to world peace to some degree.
DG: I think this cookie has really made a difference in people's lives. I hear from people all the time, how much they love it.
DL: The last thing I want to ask you is about the popularity of cookies. Macarons, cannolis, and cupcakes have all had their days, all had their 15 minutes of fame. But cookies have been around for centuries. What is the attraction to cookies?
DG: Our son Joshua says, "Cookies are memories.” I think that we start eating cookies when we're very young, and we attach. I don't know anyone who doesn't attach a sweet memory to a cookie. I do think Joshua is right. The cookies are memories, and they're sweet memories. But cookies are also something we share. You never make one cookie. You make a batch of cookies.
DL: Very true.
DG: I think that cookies are among the most generous of sweets, and I love them. I love them for a million reasons, but I love them as a bake and share. I do want the world to bake. Get out there and bake!
[Editors note: If hearing all this cookie talk has you ready to make some cookies, you're in luck. Dorie shared the recipes for World Peace Cookies, Coconut-Lime Sablés, Meringue Snowballs, and Rosemary-Parm Cookies.]
David Leite is the publisher of the website Leite's Culinaria, which has won two James Beard awards. He is the author Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression, as well as The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe's Western Coast, which won the 2010 IACP First Book/Julia Child Award. Leite also won a 2008 James Beard award for Newspaper Feature Writing Without Recipes, a 2006 Bert Green Award for Food Journalism, and Association of Food Journalists awards in 2006 and 2007.