The Early Word: Dorie Greenspan's CookieBar
The news late last month that Dorie Greenspan and her son, Josh, would be opening a pop-up cookie shop was greeted by home bakers and sugar fiends as something akin to Christ's second coming. The cookbook author (check out her Baking From My Home to Yours to see what all the -- deserved -- fuss is about) is as beloved for the friendly, reassuring tone of her recipes as the deliriously good desserts that result from them. For anyone who's made her cookies, the chance to eat them, baked and served by Greenspan herself, is a bit like having Martha Stewart volunteer to organize your closets or George Soros offer to do your taxes.
So Fork in the Road wasted no time in stopping by Greenspan's pop-up shop, which opened this morning at a Park Avenue hair salon.
Right next to the salon's front door, Greenspan and her son manned a small table set with neat rows of eight different kinds of cookies. In the interest of research, we bought one of each. Greenspan, who was as warm and effervescent as her books suggest, wrapped the cookies as Josh tallied costs and made change. Greenspan compared her CookieBar preparations to getting ready for a school bake sale -- if the bake sale happened to last for an entire week. It's a good dry run for the store mother and son are hoping to open sometime in the summer or fall; right now, they're thinking it will be located somewhere in Soho.
If what we tasted was any indication, the Greenspans shouldn't have much trouble finding an audience, in Soho or anywhere else. Of the eight cookies we sampled, all were very good, and a few were blow-your-hair-back fantastic.
In the latter category were the coconut-lime, chocolate chunker (one of Greenspan's signature creations), butter sable, and espresso shortbread. The aptly-named chocolate chunker was stuffed to capacity with salted cashews, dried cherries, and wads of dark chocolate. Almost more brownie than cookie, it was ruinous perfection. The coconut-lime, meanwhile, contained plenty of chewy coconut and bits of lime, and expertly straddled the chewy-crunchy divide. The espresso shortbread was all crunch and almost no chew, a great textural match for its sharp espresso jolt, a fist sheathed in a velvet glove of butter and sugar. On the subject of butter, the sables were neither more nor less than a simple, sweet love letter to animal fat, signed with a flourish.
We also tried the peanut butter, molasses spice, chocolate chip, and World Peace cookies. All were quite good, though the peanut butter was slightly dry for our liking, and the flavor of the World Peace -- a chocolate cookie pebbled with fleur de sel -- was slightly one-dimensional; it could have used a bit more fleurs. The chocolate chip cookie will no doubt be manna to those who like their chocolate chip cookies crispy, but we fall more into the chewy, even cakey camp, so were left slightly unsatisfied (although we did enjoy its abundant notes of brown sugar and butter).
But eating a Dorie Greenspan cookie is kind of like what they say about pizza and sex -- even when it's bad, it's still pretty good -- so at the end of the day, covered with a fine shower of crumbs, we count ourselves sated, a bit high, and eagerly awaiting the day the Greenspans' cookies find a more permanent home.