My introduction to this magnificent chocolate creation known as Sacher torte came not in Vienna, where it originated, but if memory serves me, in San Francisco — at Alice Medrich’s legendary Cocolat bakery.
Sitting down to a dark, dense, chocolately slice with a glass in which equally dark filtered coffee was slowly dripping into it was the epitome of elegant adulthood. I almost felt as if I had to hold my pinkies aloft to enjoy each and every bite.
One of the most famed European cakes around, it was first created in 1832 by 16-year-old Franz Sacher, then later gained an outsized following at the Hotel Sacher, established by his son Eduard.
It looks so fancy. And it tastes so fancy. But at its heart, it’s really just a double-layer chocolate cake that’s covered entirely in a dark chocolate glaze and hiding a filling of apricot preserves.
The book starts out with a series of foundational recipes that others build upon. The rest of the book is divided into chapters not by specific dessert categories, as you might imagine, but by the days of the week. Only in the world of Felder and Lesecq, the week has not seven days but eight, with the addition of “Funday” — a concept that I can completely get behind.
This sweet collection is by Sarah Kieffer, celebrated creator of the award-winning, The Vanilla Bean Blog.
Among the 100 tantalizing recipes are “Chocolate Basil Brownies,” “Raspberry Rye Cookies,” and “Olive Oil Sugar Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze.” There’s even an entire chapter on “Pan Banging Cookies,” using the technique she perfected that went viral. It involves banging the tray of cookies periodically as they bake in the oven, flattening them and creating concentric ripples that leave them crisp on the edges with soft centers.
“Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies” don’t require that kind of work. They also don’t need an electric mixer to make.
He may be small, but he’s big on heart. He sure knows his way around a kitchen, too. He’s even eaten at Alinea before I have! So jelly.
Yes, I’ve joined the cult of The Tiny Chef. If you’re not yet acquainted with this little culinary cutie who just loves to cook at his teeny stove with button-burners and quench his thirst from a sewing-thimble cup, then you are missing out. Press his tummy, and he even talks. How could I resist? I call him an early Christmas present to myself. Given this crazy year, I’m pretty sure I deserve him, too.
Chef has a sweet tooth just like me. So, of course, the first thing we had to make together were cookies.
He started leafing through a copy of the new “Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy. He took his time pouring over the more than 100 recipes for treats such as “Chocolate Mint Wafers,” “Pumpkin Snickerdoodles,” “Iranian Rice Cookies,” and “Pink Lemonade Thumbprints.”
In the end, he settled on “Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies.” I think it’s because he loves butter. I also think it’s because these cookies get especially pretty crinkly surfaces because the dough balls are first rolled in granulated sugar, then in confectioners’ sugar.