Monday, September 15, 2008

Salt and Pepper

About four years ago, I saw a lovely cookie recipe in the Los Angeles Times Magazine which looked elegant, yet totally unexpected. A basic sugar cookie dusted with Fleur de Sel and cracked black pepper, brilliant! I saved the article and stuffed it into some place and forgot about it soon after, (like most of the recipes I find). Fast forward to a few days ago, as I was unpacking some boxes of cook books, I happened upon my now faded torn out page of that same recipe. (love that!). As it turned out, I had the perfect occasion to try them, our Labor Day party in a day or two. So, I made a few dozen for our friends and they were an instant hit. It's the unexpected salty and sweet combination, rounded out by a little spice that got people talking.
This recipe is quite versatile and since sugar cookies are like blank canvases, I think next time I'll try lavender or sage. The options are limitless. I encourage you to experiment with this ever so simple recipe.

Fleur de Sel and Black Pepper Cookies
Adapted from Phil Barber, 2004.
Makes 3 dozen 1 1/4 inch round cookies

2 teaspoons lemon zest
*optional: 2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme, finely chopped sage, or lavender or nutmeg...
4 oz. butter (1 stick), softened
4 TBLS sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 pinches table salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon Fleur de Sel

Cream lemon zest, *optional herbs/spices, butter and sugar. Add flour and salt mix until a thick dough forms. Form dough into a ball, place in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8 thick. Cut cookies into any shape you like.
Crack fresh pepper and sprinkle Fleur de Sel on each cookie.
Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10 -15 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Cool slightly and serve.

UPDATE: I baked a batch of these over the weekend and added freshly ground nutmeg and they were amazing. I served Indian food for dinner and these cookies with a hint of nutmeg complemented the spices we had just eaten. I also made chai tea to serve with the cookies - all good! I took Yvette's advise and instead of rolling out the dough and using a cookie - cutter, I rolled dough into a round log, stuck it in the freezer for about 30 minutes and just cut from the log - it was so much easier, thanks, Yvette!
Yvette Roman Photography, 2008.


design nomad said...

These sound divine and I love sweet & salty together in a dessert. Going to try them this weekend with lavender. Thanks so much!

yvette said...

YUM! I made these the other day and they were amazing! I ended up making the dough into a "log" shape and covering it in plastic wrap to put in the fridge for cooling, then I just sliced it up instead of rolling it out and cookie cuttering worked!

The lavender is fantastic.