Food always tastes better when it’s shared. But here’s the dilemma: Would you actually want to share a super-sized butter cookie that contains the perfect balance of flavors – not too sweet and not too salty – and the perfect balance of textures – crispy on the outside and delightfully soft and chewy on the inside? Its name, Salted Butter Breakups, indicates that this big delicious cookie is meant to be broken up and shared. Bake one up to share with friends or succumb to temptation and eat the entire sweet glory all by yourself. You choose.
Salted Butter Breakups
Adapted from From Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 to 1 teaspoon sel gris or kosher salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
3 to 5 tablespoons cold water
1 egg yolk, for the glaze
1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in the workbowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Drop in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal – you’ll have big, pea-size pieces and small flakes. With the machine running, start adding the cold water gradually. Add just enough water to produce a dough that almost forms a ball. When you reach into the bowl to feel the dough, it should be very malleable.
2. Scrape the dough onto a work surface, form it into a square and pat the square down to flatten it a bit. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for about 1 hour (or as long as overnight).
3. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
4. Remove the dough from the fridge and, if it’s very hard, bash it a few times with your rolling pin to soften it. Put the dough between sheets of plastic film or wax paper and roll it – or pat it – into a rectangle that’s about 1/4-inch thick and about 5-x-11 inches; accuracy and neatness don’t count for a lot here. Transfer the dough to the lined baking sheet.
5. Beat the egg yolk with a few drops of cold water and, using a pastry brush, paint the top surface of the dough with the egg wash. Using the back of a table fork, decorate the cookie in a cross-hatch pattern.
6. Bake the cookie for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden. It will be firm to the touch, but have a little spring when pressed in the center – the perfect breakup is crisp on the outside and still tender within. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookie to cool to room temperature.
Serving: If fun is what you’re after, bring the breakup to the table whole and let everyone break off pieces big and small; if order suits you better, break the cookie in the kitchen and serve the pieces on a plate.
Storing: The baked cookie will keep in a container for about 3 days. You can make the dough up to 3 days ahead and keep it in the refrigerator, or you can wrap it airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months. Don’t brush the dough with egg wash until you’re ready to bake it.
Makes 4 servings
1. Sel gris means gray salt in French. It is a coarse-textured flavorful salt harvested in France.
2. My husband liked the salty bite this cookie had, so the next time I make this cookie, I will try adding 1 teaspoon of salt instead of the 3/4 teaspoon that I used.
3. I baked the cookie for about 30 minutes. Because I thought the edges were the tastiest part, next time I will bake it a little bit longer to get more of the crispy browned-butter flavor throughout.
4. Although the cookie can be stored in an airtight container for a few days, it loses its crispiness. It’s best when consumed within a couple of hours after baking.
5. This cookie alone makes an easy dessert, but if you accompany it with some fresh seasonal fruit, such as peaches or berries, it becomes a fabulous dessert treat.