Nibby Strawberry Chestnut Cookies
On a cold winter night, with icy slush waiting just outside the door, the greatest comfort I can imagine involves warm chestnuts, chocolate, and dried strawberries, far more flavorful than the imported ones you can buy this time of year. And last night, as we hid indoors from the “wintry mix” outside (it sounds like a delicious treat, but in fact is a sleeting, slushy, freezing, rainy mess), we were desperate for what comfort we could find.
These cookies are in the extended sandy-textured cookie family, but they’re not your traditional shortbreadish cookies at all. They are a bit sandy, but they’re also lusciously tender, and they absolutely melt in your mouth. Which is not something I usually get to say about cookies.
The chestnut flour may not be identifiable as chestnut to most people who taste these, but it adds a very distinct and silky flavor of its own. The dried strawberries are bursts of intense flavor popping up throughout.
What really happened, of course, was that I bought dried strawberries and chestnut flour and declared that I wanted to bake something with them. When I got home, I looked through my cookbooks until I found a recipe I could adapt to contain them – in this case, Alice Medrich’s nibby buckwheat cookies. A bit of nudging of ingredients later, and my nibby strawberry chestnut cookies were born.
If I make a few more batches and use up more of the chestnut flour and dried strawberries that my kitchen is currently drowning in, maybe I’ll even be able to see my countertop again!
For the food photography folks, you’ll laugh at what I did to take this photo. The background is a piece of really nice paper I picked up in Chinatown, and I didn’t want to ruin it by placing these buttery cookies directly on it. How did I solve the dilemma?
Well, I built little stacks of quarters and placed a cookie carefully on each stack. Four quarter stacks were low enough that they only impacted the shadow lengths slightly, but they were high enough to keep my nice fibrous paper clean and safe. Brilliant or ridiculous? I think both.
Also, please remember that Habeas Brûlée 2008 wall calendars are now available for purchase.
Nibby Strawberry Chestnut Cookies
(adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich)
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C chestnut flour
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2/3 C granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C cocoa nibs
2/3 C dried strawberries (cut into quarters before measuring), reconstituted in boiling water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk the flours together and set aside.
Beat the butter with the sugar and salt until creamy.
Drain the strawberries, discarding the liquid.
Mix the cocoa nibs, strawberries, and vanilla extract into the butter mixture. Add the flours and mix just until incorporated. Then knead the dough by hand just a tiny bit, a few seconds, until it is nice and smooth.
Form the dough into a 12″x2″ log, then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least two hours, or overnight.
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Prepare a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silpat. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4″ thick slices of the dough log, and set them on the baking sheet about 1 1/2″ apart.
Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until just golden around the edges, rotating the baking sheets from back to front and top to bottom halfway through the baking.
Cool the cookies on the pan on a rack for a few minutes before sliding the parchment paper directly onto the rack to let them finish cooling.