2006 winner: Chocolate, more chocolate, and sea salt, a winning combination.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Taste Tip: This dough must be prepared in advance. Sel de guerande is a sea salt that is harvested from the salt marshes of Brittany and is available at many specialty cooking stores.
1¼ cups flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon sel de guerande or other coarse sea salt (see Taste Tip)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅔ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces (about ¾ cup) semisweet chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sea salt and baking soda, and reserve.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until crumbly, just enough so flour is not blowing all over bowl. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate chips.
Dump mixture onto a clean work surface and knead a few times to finish mixing (the warmth of your hands will help the mixture come together). Divide dough in half and shape into logs about 18 inches in length and about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or for up to 3 days.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap dough logs and, using a sharp knife, trim off uneven ends. Cut dough into ½-inch slices (if cookies come apart after slicing, just push dough back together using your fingers) and place cookies (flat side down) 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 12 minutes; do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
2006 Winner: Mary Eckmeier of St. Paul, Minnesota, who adapted recipe from “Paris Sweets,” by Dorie Greenspan