My first bite into a Korova cookie was at the quaint boutique diner Måurice Luncheonette in Portland, Oregon. Unassuming in its appearance – simply a small circular (sometimes square, as Måurice sells them in their display shelf) chocolate shortbread cookie with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt on top. I purchased one during my first visit to the restaurant, and delighted in each of the few bites that it required to devour it. Check out the staff making them below.
Simple, full of chocolate and French. I had to give them a try, and I am glad that I did.
The key with every recipe is quality ingredients, so shop for the best cocoa you can find, butter as well and yes, the flaky sea salt makes a lovely difference as your palate takes in the sweet and the savory all in one bite. The addition of the cinnamon, specifically smoked Saigon cinnamon, is what takes this cookie over the top (Måurice’s special ingredient), but if you only have regular cinnamon, I encourage you to use that to give the cookie an extra layer of subtle heat as well (smoked Saigon will be a bit stronger).
An additional key with this cookie is that it is not meant to be cooked until entirely cooked through. Nope, take it out of the oven when it still looks undone so that it is gooey and soft and just slightly crisp, but not really, only on the edges.
If you want to take this recipe up a notch, finely grind the chocolate pieces you add instead of simply adding bites or small chunks. This will enable for smooth slicing for that perfectly round cookie when the dough comes out of the refrigerator. But don’t worry if the cookies are not perfectly round (witness, mine :)). You can easily mold them together when you put them on the cookie tray. Either way, they will be scrumptious.
Where does this cookie come from you might be wondering? Look no further than France. In fact, the talented French baker and chocolatier Pierre Hermé (check out his cookbooks here and here) gave this cookie the name Korova as it was the name of the restaurant where Pierre created these cookies just off of the Champs Elysées. While the restaurant is no longer open, the cookie continues to be one of his most beloved creations, and American cookbook author living in France Dorie Greenspan is credited for bringing it into wider public knowledge in 2002 in her book Paris Sweets. (Some film buffs may recognize the name Korova from Stanley Kubrick’s classic film A Clockwork Orange (1971) which is a dystopian thriller (not exactly a film I would watch), but in the film, Korova is the name of the milk bar. I have no idea if the film and the restaurant are connected in their naming.)
The next time you are in Paris, I highly recommend you step into one of Pierre Hermé’s shops and pick up a macaron or two or three (the best I have ever had in Paris. Yes, I said it!), some chocolate and just let yourself slip away savoring every bite. In fact, during my trip in 2013, his shop on the left bank was one of the first shops I stopped into and my tastebuds thanked me profusely. Have a look at a few of the images below (they are old, and taken with a less-than-high-pexeled-phone, but the goodness of his food remains).
Now to the recipe. It is simple. You will have the dough made within 10-15 minutes. Then be willing to wait the full hour while they chill in the fridge, but then while they are baking, boil a tea kettle full of water and prepare your favorite hot drink to pair with them. I do hope you enjoy!
- 1 1/4 cup flour – Bob's Red Mill for Cookies is my preference
- 1/3 cup top quality unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp smoked Saigon cinnamon or use traditional cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 5 1/2 ounces unsalted butter room temperature
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp fleur de sel for the batter
- 1 tsp flaky sea salt – Maldon is my favorite for sprinkling on top of each cookie just before it goes in the oven.
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 5 ounces chocolate – high quality – the type is your choice chop into small bites – I used dark chocolate, but you can use bittersweet or semi-sweet
- Make the batter
- Shift the dry ingredients together and set aside: flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda.
- Using a hand-mixer or a stand-up mixer, cream the butter with the sugars on medium speed until creamy. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and the salt to this mixture as well.
- Turning the speed down to low, add gradually the dry, sifted ingredients until incorporated but not over-mixed. The dough will be a bit crumbling, not uniformily so, and that is perfect for moist texture.
- Add the chocolate pieces and mix just until evenly distributed.
Refrigerate and cool
- You will have enough dough to make two separate rolls of cookie dough. Divide the dough in half and elongate into a circular log on top of parchment paper. Roll each tightly, tie the ends with a string, and label the parchment with the name of the cookie, the temperature at which you will want to cook it and the time in the oven for baking.
- I place one roll in the refrigerator as I want to enjoy it the day I have made the batter, and place the second one in the freezer.
- Refrigerator – refrigerate for 1 hour before baking. Freezer – when you remove the dough, you do not need to defrost it. Simply cut into 1/2" slices, place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment and cook as per the instructions below, adding one minute (but no more!).
- Remove the refrigerated cookie dough. Slice into 1/2" rounds and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with flaky sea salt. Bake for 12 minutes (check at 10 minutes) as you want the cookie to look not entirely cooked as they are meant to be a bit soft and gooey. 🙂
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (I have reduced this temperature for my new convection stove – 335-340).
- Let them sit for just a minute or two and enjoy!
~View all of TSLL’s Recipes here.
Images: learn more about my Provençal copper tea kettle here.