Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Road Trip Math

Five days, four swims, three beds, two ferries, one wedding. And 74 cookies. That’s what I call road trip math.

I just got back from a fresh and summery getaway to Orcas Island. Though I had little doubt, the trip confirmed for me that Gravel Cookies are the best road trip cookies. They are chocolatey, but they don’t melt. Their flavor is sophisticated to match the extravagance and novelty of escape. They are bite-sized and irresistible. So irresistible, in fact, that two of us ate 74 of them in five days.
On Thursday morning, when I was packing my Tupperware full of cookies for the road, I envisioned sharing them with new friends—maybe even bringing some home for lunches. But not one was shared, wasted or saved. We ate them all.

And we still had room for pie.  

Please consider bringing Gravel Cookies on your next road trip.  But be advised, they are hard to resist, and your cookie supply may equal zero before you know it.

A note about the name: Years ago, my mom discovered this recipe in the New York Times Magazine. The original recipe refers to them as Cacao Polenta Cookies and calls for instant polenta. Both my mom and I agree that coarse grind cornmeal is a superior substitute, but it brings with it a rather gravelly texture. They are loud to chew, and leave behind bits of “gravel” in your teeth. Instead of fighting it, I prefer to own their gravelly texture.

Gravel Cookies
Adapted from Cacao Polenta Cookies, New York Times Magazine, March 20, 2005.

1 cup unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour
½ cup coarse grind cornmeal
½ cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
Pinch of salt
½ cup cacao nibs

  • Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg yolks.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, hazelnuts and salt.
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until combined.
  • Stir in the nibs.
  • Make two long logs, one inch in diameter, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate until firm (about 4 hours).
  • Slice the dough into 1/3 inch pieces, and arrange them on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 350 degrees until slightly golden, about 22 minutes.

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