When my son, Joshua Greenspan, and I were thinking about building a cookie business, all we talked about were cookies. Flavors, of course. We’d have chocolate and vanilla and peanut butter and oatmeal—that went without saying—and sometimes we’d have all of them together. We talked a lot about add-ins. I always wanted chocolate and he always wanted raisins (yes, we’re a raisin family); we both wanted nuts (but my husband didn’t want hazelnuts).
We were both on the same side when it came to how they’d be baked—a well-baked cookie was our preference. We favored what we learned was called a “French bake.” We’d bake all the super buttery cookies, like the shortbreads and crisps, until they were deeply golden brown. My motto is color equals flavor. If you don’t get color on a butter cookie (or a crust, but that’s another topic), you don’t get the full nutty flavor of the butter and you miss out on the caramel flavor that comes with cooked sugar.
And, until almost the last minute, we talked about size: What is the perfect size for a cookie? How many bites should a cookie have? And should each bite be the same? Have the same texture? Pack the same flavors?
We solved the problem for ourselves—we made two sizes of cookies, one 2 and the other 3 inches in diameter—but never stopped discussing it. We realized that one size didn’t really fit all. A chocolate cookie with lots of mix-ins needed to be big, so that some of it could be firm, most of it could be gooey, and the mix-ins could be different textures. A crisp cookie with big flavors needed to be small, so that you wouldn’t be overwhelmed or fatigued.
The question was endlessly fascinating to us and the answer was always just beyond reach.
We are no longer in the cookie business, but I’m still obsessed with cookies and still playing around with size. While normally I’m something of a miniaturist, lately I’ve gone big. Really big. As in a cookie the size of the moon (or at least my baking sheet). A cookie that you put in the center of the table and invite everyone to reach in and break off pieces, big and small, to make crumbs, and to go back for more.
These days, my favorite big cookie teeters between crisp and chewy and leaves room for tinkering. It’s got spice, if you want that. It’s got ground coffee, but it doesn’t have to. And it’s got chopped chocolate and chopped nuts, or not. I like the cookie with a mix of white and whole-wheat flour, which adds nuttiness.
I roll the cookie out until it’s about 1/8-inch thick—eyeball it—and don’t bother about the shape. I don’t trim the edges (I like raggedy), but you could trim them or make the cookie into a square, a rectangle, or a Christmas tree. You could make cutout cookies with the dough or you could roll it out and use a pizza cutter or a rick-rack ravioli wheel to cut it into squares or diamonds, bake the dough and then break the cookies apart when they’ve cooled.
If you’d like, you can drizzle the cookie with melted chocolate, or it can be served with a caramel or chocolate sauce.
There are really no rules with this cookie. The only thing you must do is share it with family and friends. —Dorie Greenspan
Featured in: Food52's Holiday Cookie Chronicles —The Editors