Apricot Crunch Cookies & a Chocolate Ticket Giveaway
It was chance (and my sweet radar) that had me discover what is quickly becoming one of my top ten favorite cookie recipes. Here’s how it happened… I was at The Dolder Grand, Zürich’s classiest luxury 5-star hotel, set high above the city center. I was meeting with Pastry Chef Lars Hellenbrand, a kind, passionate and devoted chef, discussing his participation at the 3rd annual Salon du Chocolat in April. I could not be happier that he and Kathrin Holzer will be doing a demo in our Culinary Theater. It’s sure to be a highlight during one of the sweetest weekends in Switzerland (April 4-6, 2014).
As Lars gave me a tour of the kitchens, all I kept thinking was how lost I would get in this labyrinth of stations. And then it caught my eye – one lonely plate of small round balls of dough. As Lars kept walking, I hurriedly tried to keep up with him, but was totally distracted. “Hey, what was that ?” Were those cookies ?!” And so it began. In a word, yes, they were cookies they make only for the spa. And that was it.
Fast forward two months and I have since had a cookie baking date with Lars… and got the recipe for us all ! But first, more about Lars and Kathrin’s demo at the Salon du Chocolat, one that promises to be fascinating to watch and delicious to taste. Take a look for yourself, here’s the dessert that they will be making: a gorgeous presentation of chocolate mousse, passion fruit and banana sorbet with a praline tuile on top. Each component is carefully selected and given its place on the plate. Those of us at the Salon du Chocolat on Saturday, April 5th at 12pm will have forks in hand, ready to taste ! I’ll be backstage with my clipboard, walky talky… and fork too !
It wasn’t long after I left the Dolder that I was at the Coop with a list of ingredients in my pocket: dried apricots, pistachios, coconut, hazelnuts, raisins and cornflakes. After tasting Lars’ Apricot Crunch Cookies, I could not wait to make a batch of my own. They are packed with flavor, sweet and fruity, have an irresistible crunch – from the cornflakes as well as an ultra light, crisp exterior – and stay moist and chewy on the inside. While I tend to favor cookies that are slightly underbaked, the key to these cookies is just the opposite. Don’t take them out just as they start to get golden. Let them brown a bit more and they will live up to their name. And while I continue to call them “spa cookies,” don’t be misled. They may pack a vitamin-heavy punch with all of those colorful fruits, and happen to be chocolate free, but they certainly do have their fair share of butter and sugar.
Last but not least, not only do I have the recipe (below), but I also have tickets to Zürich’s Salon du Chocolat to give away ! Ten lucky winners will be able to watch Lars and Kathrin’s demo on Saturday, April 5th (or attend on Friday or Sunday, of course). Simply let us know your favorite cookie – to bake or simply to eat (just the name is fine or links are more than welcome). The winners will be selected by the same method as last year - my trusty assistant picking numbers ! And for the one reader who shares a recipe that has me wanting to run into the kitchen to bake, I’ll be sending you a special invitation to the VIP inaugural event, the private opening on Thursday evening, April 3rd. I’ll announce the winners in the comments below on Monday, March 31st.
So let’s hear those cookie recipes !
Be sure to check out the full schedule of demos and conferences at the Salon du Chocolat, and start planning your visit ! Looking forward to seeing you there ! And if you spot me (surely running around), say hello =)
Salon du Chocolat Zürich
Friday April 4 to Sunday April 6
Messe Zürich, Halle 3
Wallisellenstrasse 49, Oerlikon
Adults: CHF 18
Children (6-12 years old): CHF 9
Children under 6: free
tickets will be available at the Messe and can also be purchased in advance here
Apricot Crunch Cookies
* This is my adaptation of the “spa cookie” by Pastry Chef Lars Hellenbrand at The Dolder Grand in Zürich. I made a few changes, namely using less sugar and no alcohol. A few suggestions from the original recipe: soak the raisins in rum and add lightly roasted hazelnuts or macadamia nuts.
250 grams butter
200 grams raw cane sugar
3 large eggs (~160 grams)
125 grams shredded coconut
125 grams raisins
180 grams dried apricots (orange), diced
50 grams cranberries
50 grams pistachios, lightly roasted
150 grams cornflakes
250 grams white flour
37 grams baking powder
Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, one by one, until combined. Whisk flour and baking powder together in a small bowl and add to batter. While continuously mixing, add the remaining ingredients except the cornflakes. Combine well. Incorporate the cornflakes at the end to avoid turning them into crumbs. Let cookie dough sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (if possible).
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Scoop balls of dough and roll in open palms, flatten on baking sheet with inside of palm. Bake for about 15 minutes, allowing cookies to brown in oven. Remove and let cool before tasting.