Holiday Entertaining Guide - Page 15 - Bake batches of Christmas memories (2)

Holiday Entertaining Guide
- Page 15
Bake batches of Christmas memories (2)
filled croquantes, which were more of a treat than I had even hoped.

I began with my favorite recipe for a simple tuile (croquantes are somewhat thicker than tuiles, and therefore crunchier).The trick to rolling tuiles, and also croquantes, is knowing when to begin.

If you start to roll them as soon as they come out of the oven, they will tear. If you wait too long, they will cool down and become too stiff to wrap around a pencil or the handle of a wooden spoon, which is what I used. You will find success if you place them on the parchment paper onto a wire rack immediately after taking them from the oven, and waiting one minute before starting to roll them.

You have to act quickly, though, because they will soon start to harden.That is why I never cook more than four at a time.

Filling themwas easy. I made a ganache with crème fraîche instead of cream, and it was a simple matter to pipe it into the rolled cookies.Then I dipped each end into a bowl of chocolate sprinkles to make them more festive.

It wouldn’t be the holidays without chocolate chip cookies, and I simply had to make a batch when I found a recipe with this name: salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread, or WhyWould I Make Another Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever Again?

Astonishingly, the cookies actually lived up to their name. I think the secret is that they are made with shortbread — crisp, buttery shortbread that is somehow just sweet enough. The fact that it is loaded with chocolate certainly helps. And don’t forget the salt on top; it helps to make the flavor explode.

Will I ever make another chocolate chip cookie? Probably. But right now I see no particular reason to.

The most sophisticated cookies I made are so elegant that they were originally called “biscuits.”

Chocolate sandwich cookies (I changed the name from the British term) come to us from Claridge’s, England’s toniest hotel. Fancy hotels have fancy restaurants, and fancy restaurants make very fancy cookies.

This particular variety takes two light and moderately chewy chocolate cookies, not unlike a chewy meringue, and puts them around a rich layer of silken ganache.They are simply exquisite and, of course, in impeccable taste.

The next cookie I made was more of a crowd-pleaser, more democratic and every bit as desirable.They are called sweet slices, and they are a remarkable demonstration of what can be done with just a few simple, basic ingredients.

All you need are butter, flour, sugar, eggs and a touch of baking soda, plus sanding sugar for decoration (sanding sugar is just sugar in large, pretty crystals and can be found in the baking aisle of grocery stores).

When combined in the proper proportion (i.e., lots and lots of butter), these make surprisingly light, surprisingly crisp cookies with a subtly wholesome flavor and the perfect amount of sweetness.

Those same ingredients, minus the baking soda, are all that are used in the very different Berlin rings that I made next.These have a European sensibility to them, with a highly refined flavor born from hundreds of years of cookie evolution.

By themselves, they are a little dry. But serve themwith ice cream or tea or coffee, and watch how great they can be as an enhancer rather than a solo dessert.

For my final batch, I turned toThomas Keller, who is considered by many to be the finest chef in America. His recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies won’t make anyone think less of him.

Yes, they are only oatmeal raisin cookies. But then again, they are oatmeal raisin cookies as perfected by perhaps the finest chef in America. And they are utterly spectacular.

They are also huge. I’mnot going to lie.They are the size of a small Frisbee. You could make them smaller if you want to, but why would you want to?

Baking, like much alchemy, is a matter of precision. Keller and his staff have devised the precise formula for the most satisfying oatmeal raisin cookie, ever.The cinnamon, sugar and butter are balanced in perfect harmony with the oats, flour and eggs. Vanilla brings the flavors together, while the raisins serve as sweet, delightful jewels to treasure throughout the cookie.

Just a bite or two, and you will be looking forward to the holidays as that time of year when you make oatmeal raisin cookies.

French biscotti (croquets de carcassonne)
Yield: About 36
• 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
• 4 medium eggs, divided
• 1/2 cup superfine sugar, see note
• Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• Generous 1 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped