I don't make cookies. Sure, I'll eat a cookie if one is given to me (and I've never met a black and white cookie I could refuse). But I don't crave cookies.
So if I tell you I've got the world's best cookie recipe, then you know I am not kidding.
The world's best cookie recipe
This recipe is from Pot on the Fire: Further Exploits of a Renegade Cook by John Thorne, Matt Lewis Thorne). I'm a massive fan of theirs (not only are the recipes wonderful, but he writes like a dream) and I highly recommend all their books as well as their wonderful newsletter.
They say this is the world's best cookie recipe. If you try this recipe, I'd like to know what you think.
(By the way, while this is vegetarian, it is not vegan - certainly not with that dairy in there - so only make these for your vegetarian friends!)
Vegetarian recipe for the world's best cookies: Arnhem Cookies
1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4.5 ounces) whole milk (see footnote #1)
1/8 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 of a standard .6-ounce cube of fresh yeast or 1 scant teaspoon of dry yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 cubes
about 1 cup crushed rock sugar or sugar crystals (see footnote #2)
A heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a dough paddle or a food processor fitted with a plastic blade.
The cookie dough should be prepared several hours ahead of the time you plan to make the cookies.
Combine the flour, milk, lemon juice, yeast (crumbling it into the mixture, if fresh), and salt into the bowl of the mixer or processor. Turn the machine onto high. As soon as the contents of the bowl are well mixed, add the first cube of butter. Beat this into the mixture for 1 minute, then add the next cube, beating this into the mixture for 1 minute. Continue in the same way until all the butter has been amalgamated. The dough will be soft and elastic to the touch. Use a spatula or dough scraper to form it into a ball. Place it on a plate, cover it with a bowl, and set it in the refrigerator until cool, or about two hours. If you wish, you may leave it overnight.
When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 275 F and line two standard cookie sheets with parchment paper.(see footnote #3)
Sprinkle the work surface on which you plan to roll out the dough with a coating of sugar crystals. Uncover the dough and, with a sharp kitchen knife, divide it in half. Form each half into a round ball.
Coat the first ball of dough thickly with sugar crystals and transfer it to the sugared working surface. There, use a rolling pin to gently roll it out as thinly as possible, pausing frequently to sprinkle it and the counter with more sugar crystals. Also, while this is still possible, periodically turn the dough over so that more sugar crystals can be sprinkled on the bottom surface. The thinner and more evenly the dough is rolled, the better (and more authentic) the cookies; it should be almost as thin as homemade egg noodle dough.
If you wish, use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into ovals, the traditional shape. Otherwise, use a pizza cutter or sharp utility knife to cut them into rectangles, roughly 1 by 2 inches. Set the formed cookies into one of the parchment-lined cookie pans and place this into the preheated oven. The cookies should be baked until their tops are caramel-colored and their bottoms a crisp brown. Dahl's time is 30 to 45 minutes; we used insulated cookie pans, and our baking time was closer to an hour. While these bake, roll out and form the second batch of cookies in the same way.
Remove the baked cookies from the oven and-taking care with the hot pan-slide the parchment paper and cookies onto a wire cooling rack. Remove them from the paper as soon as they are cool enough to handle (see footnote #4). They keep well for at least for a week in an airtight container-but are best eaten within the first two or three days.
1 - The exact amount will depend on your flour. If your mixer struggles with the dough, dribble in more milk.
2 - Dahl writes that his own Arnhems were not quite as good as the real thing. This may be because his recipe substitutes crushed sugar cubes for the Dutch kandij suiker, amber crystals better known in this country as coffee sugar crystals. We used Billington's Amber Crystal Sugar, which is the ideal size-like fine gravel. But any amber coffee crystals will work well-larger ones should be crushed down to size with a rolling pin.
3 - Don't substitute the new Teflon baking mats for parchment paper; these don't work nearly as well.
4 - If your cookies have puffed up and have a chewy rather than crisp texture, they weren't rolled thin enough. They'll be good, but you won't think them contenders for the world's best cookies.