Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sweet and Salty

If you watch the Food Network or read any food magazines, you have more than likely heard of fleur de sel, or French sea salt. The literal translation is flower of the sea.

Over the last year or so, celebrity chefs I follow have been making desserts that combine both sweet and salty, using fleur de sel. I love the combination of chocolate and salt, especially in the form or chocolate dipped pretzels, so the idea has always intrigued me.

I've seen numerous recipes for fleur de sel caramels and even bought some at a gourmet cooking store. The caramels were delicious.

I hadn't really planned on trying these recipes or even purchasing expensive fleur de sel, which is abundant on the Internet by the way, but some fell into my lap, so to speak. My sister and her family were in France this year and brought me a pretty little jar filled with the delicate, hand-harvested fleur de sel.

I thought I would make caramels, probably using the recipe I watched Ina Garten make on her Food Network show. But one day, while reading some food blogs, I stumbled across Salted Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies at Annie's Eats. The cookies looked delicious, and I had the ingredients on hand, so I made them.

The recipe is simple and straight-forward and mixes up quickly. As soon as the cookies started baking, my house smelled like a chocolate shop! I loved it.

I was unsure of adding the salt to the top of my beautiful cookies, so I only sprinkled it on a few, and I tried to be light-handed. Maybe I sprinkled too much, I don't know, but I thought they were a little too salty. But after I brushed off part of the salt, I enjoyed my cookies. But I'll be honest, I enjoyed the ones without the salt on top even more.

If you're curious about fleur de sel, like I was, give this recipe a try and see how you like it. Just go easy on the salt. But if you'd just like a good chocolate cookie recipe, try this one and omit the salt on top.

Salted Double Chocolate Cookies

Yield: About 24 cookies

  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. fleur de sel (sea salt), plus more for sprinkling*
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the 8 ounces chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl and cook for 30 seconds. Stir. If chips aren’t completely melted, cook another 15 seconds.

In another mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the melted chocolate mixture, blending until incorporated.

Add in the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Fold in the remaining chocolate chips with a spatula. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2-3 inches apart or use a dough scoop.
Bake until the cookies are just slightly soft in the center and crackly on top, about 10-12 minutes.

Sprinkle lightly with additional salt if desired and let cool on the baking sheets 10 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

*If you don’t have fleur de sel aren’t planning to use salt for the top of your cookies, it’s fine to omit the salt and baking powder from the recipe and use self-rising flour instead.

Adapted from annies-eats.com

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