Dorie Greenspan has no formal culinary training, yet she’s won four James Beard Awards honoring the country’s top culinary masters. Her recent book, “Dorie’s Cookies” includes obscurities like gozinaki and biarritz. With her new hashtag #cookiesandkindness she’s encouraging sharing recipes to “make the world a sweeter place.” Though she splits her time between New York, Paris, and Westbrook, where she feels a distinct calm, Greenspan still considers herself a humble baker. Coastal Connecticut magazine spoke with her as she was embarking on her new book tour.
Do you have a favorite cookie?
I love the cookie on the cover (of “Dorie’s Cookies”). This is the World Peace Cookie, which we need now more than ever. It’s a twist on a chocolate sable, which is the French word for shortbread.
You get a surprise visit from friends on the spur of the moment. You’re pressed to whip up dinner and a dessert. What advice do you have for people in that predicament? Oh, it’s always more fun to eat at home. Maybe I would just make a big pot of soup. So we’d have soup and warm bread and cheese and salad. Something cozy. And for dessert, there is like a miracle cookie—the Almond Crackle Cookie. Sugar, egg and almonds, only three ingredients. I stir it with my fingers. It takes longer to preheat the oven than it does to make the cookies.
Does Dorie Greenspan have any guilty indulgences? I don’t believe in guilty indulgences; I believe in indulgences. Guilty and eating shouldn’t be in the same sentence. Everything in moderation, as Julia Child would say, including moderation. Eat what you enjoy. Just don’t overdo it. Enjoy it. Don’t deprive yourself of something you really love. I don’t think of food as guilty.
Is there a secret to perfect meringue? The egg whites should be at room temperature. Your utensils should be completely totally grease-free. You want to use a tiny little bit of salt and something acidic—either a little lemon juice or white vinegar—in the meringue. A tiny little bit. And you want to add sugar really slowly, a tablespoon at a time. Meringue takes an electric beater. You can do it by hand but it really needs an electric beater. And patience.
Do you think cookies serve a higher purpose? Even though I’ve been baking for years, I can’t find any justification for baking other than pleasure. You can’t make a case for sweets other than the pleasure that they give to the person who bakes. And the pleasure it gives when you share what you’ve made. When you bake and when you share—and baking is pretty much always shared, cookies for sure—it’s an act of kindness. It’s an act of love, it’s an act of caring. I would never have thought to say that cookies serve a higher purpose, but I think they do. Thank you for that.