Mindy Segal is a self-described right brain, million-ideas-per-minute kind of girl.
Her dad, a one-time jazz musician, introduced Segal and her brother to riffs, scatting and the joys of improvisation. Her brother followed their dad’s lead by playing piano. Segal followed suit with cookies.
“I am a cookie nerd,” Segal writes. “I geek out about cookies. When I was a little girl, I munched on Windmills, dipped Chips Ahoy in milk and reached for anything labeled ‘angel food’ or devil’s food.’”
Because of her high-energy personality, Segal was perpetually grounded as a kid. Stuck at home, she would find her way into the kitchen — when she was 13, her parents gave her a KitchenAid mixer for Chanukah, in which she concocted one baking experiment after another.
After working under some of Chicago’s most celebrated chefs, in 2005 Segal opened HotChocolate restaurant and dessert bar — where nine different flavors of hot chocolate are served and which has earned her a reputation as the city’s queen of pastry as well as a James Beard award. She also recently wrote Cookie Love (Ten Speed Press), a delicious go-to for perfect-every-time, beyond-your-wildest-dreams cookies — providing “secrets for turning classic recipes into more elevated, fun interpretations of everyone’s favorite sweet treat.”
Many of Segal’s creations are layered, dipped, filled or rolled, and Cookie Love provides detailed guidance every step of the way. With chapters divided into categories of cookies — from Drop Cookies to Egg White Cookies to Bars — Cookie Love also provides recipes for the Basics (Raspberry Framboise Jam, Jimmies, Butterscotch Sauce and, of course, Marshmallows), a section on My Cookie Pantry (including alternatives to chocolate chips, leaveners, sweeteners and more), and chapters on Tools of the Trade and Tricks of the Trade. Segal also provides a list of resources, all in an effort to create a detailed tutorial to help any level baker turn out her pastries.
And the cookies. She offers gorgeously craggy Brownie Krinkles, chocolate malt-swirl and meringue Best Friends Cookies, Chocolate Pretzel Shortbread with Milk Chocolate Caramel sandwich cookies, chocolate- and butterscotch-frosted banana Banilla Nillas, Blondie Butterscotch S’mores and Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies that are equally divine with or without the chocolate chips.
Segal says her baking is rooted in her Jewish upbringing — her great-grandmother was a caterer in the 1930s, offering a genetic connection. She visited Israel when she was 16, her grandparents came every Sunday for brunch and she went to her grandparents’ for weekly Shabbat dinner.
As a result, Segal has devoted an entire chapter to Rugelach and Kolachkes (a similar Polish pastry). “This is my epic chapter,” she writes. “I am enamored with rugelach and kolachkes. They reflect my soul, my family, my Eastern European Jewish heritage.” No traditional chocolate or cinnamon fills for her though: She “opened up the floodgates” (and encourages experimentation) to cocoa nibs and hot fudge, raspberries and rose sugar and pears and red wine, sprinkled with crushed toffees.
“The best rugelach and kolachkes are a little off the cuff, a little whimsical, a little creative and a little kookie,” she writes. “Like me.” *
By Lynne Konstantin, Arts & Life Editor
RECIPES Reprinted with permission from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal (Ten Speed Press); photos by Dan Goldberg.
LEMON GOAT-BUTTER TEA CAKES Most people either love goat cheese or hate it. I hate it, but I love goat butter. It has a mild, sour flavor that adds unexpected depth to baked goods — and it tastes nothing like goat cheese. The kitchen was already stocked with goat butter for our Goat Butter Brioche when I started thinking about what else we could do with this delicate ingredient. Flavored with lemon zest and orange blossom water, this lovely cookie is perfect with afternoon tea — but it is not at all a girly cookie. Its complex flavors also make it a favorite of my husband, Dan Tompkins. These cookies bake very quickly, so keep an eye on them. They are best when still soft in the center, and they dry out when baked too long.
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted goat butter, at room temperature 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp. cane sugar Zest of 1 lemon (approximately 1 Tbsp.) 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon orange blossom water (optional; try ziyad.com) 1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1½ teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes For Coating: 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 2 Tbsp. coarse cornmeal
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 5 seconds. Add the cane sugar and lemon zest and beat until the butter mixture is aerated and very white, approximately 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Crack the eggs into a small cup or bowl and add the vanilla and orange blossom water. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salts. On medium speed, add the eggs, vanilla and orange blossom water to the butter mixture, one egg at a time, mixing briefly before adding the second, until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 5 seconds for each egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.
Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand. Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Refrigerate overnight. Heat the oven to 350°F and line a couple of half sheet (13- by 18-inch) pans with parchment paper. To make the coating: Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and cornmeal in a bowl, ensuring there is plenty of room in the bowl to roll the dough in the sugar.
Portion the dough into 12 mounds using a ¾-ounce (1½ Tbsp.) ice-cream scoop. Coat the mounds completely and generously with the confectioners’ sugar mixture (you will not use all of the sugar). The dough should resemble snowballs. Evenly space the mounds on the prepared baking sheet. Add a generous pinch or two more confectioners’ sugar to the tops. Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 3 to 4 minutes. The cookies will crinkle and set on top, but they will not brown.
Let the cookies cool on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough. These cookies have a short shelf life. Store them in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Unbaked dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Makes approximately 32 cookies.
COCOA NIB HOT FUDGE RUGELACH
What makes sense in my brain does not always make sense in real life. WhenI dreamed up pairing hot fudge with cream cheese dough, I felt as if I were on the brink of something brilliant. So I put together a sheet pan filled with hot fudge rugelach. Halfway through the baking process, I peeked in the oven. Disaster. The hot fudge was oozing all over the place. But I thought, what the heck—I went ahead and finished baking them. I put them on the speed rack and walked away. I nearly forgot all about them. When I came back, the oozy hot fudge had cooled, forming a crisp tuile surrounding the rugelach. Disaster averted: I had an incredible pan of chocolate “cracklins.” Sometimes I catch new and well-meaning employees breaking off the cracklins to make these cookies more presentable.I stop them on the spot. These cracklins are the whole point. In addition to hot fudge, the inside of the rugelach has a streusel made by grinding hazelnuts with chocolate and cocoa nibs. If you want to mix things up a bit, cashews or smoked almonds are fine alternatives to hazelnuts.
Streusel 1⁄2 cup hazelnuts, toasted 1⁄2 cup dark milk chocolate discs
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 recipe Classic Cream Cheese Dough (see below), divided in half and chilled
1 1⁄4 cups Hot Fudge (see below), at a warm room temperature
1 extra-large egg white, lightly beaten
To make the streusel: Put the nuts and chocolate discs in a bowl and freeze until thoroughly chilled, approximately 20 minutes. In a food processor, grind the nuts and chocolate. Pulse in the cocoa nibs, sugars, flour, and salts until a coarse meal forms. Put a sheet of parchment paper the same dimensions as a half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pan on the work surface and dust lightly with flour. Unwrap one dough half and place on top. Using a rolling pin and a pastry roller, roll the dough half into a rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border from the edge of the parchment paper. The dough should be just shy of 1⁄4 inch thick. If the edges become uneven, push a bench scraper against the sides to straighten them out. To keep the dough from sticking to the parchment paper, periodically dust the top lightly with flour, cover with another piece of parchment paper, and, sandwiching the dough between both sheets of parchment paper, flip the dough and paper over. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and continue to roll. Repeat with the second dough half. Stack both sheets of dough on top of each other and refrigerate until chilled, approximately 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a few half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Invert the sheets of dough onto the work surface and peel off the top sheet of parchment paper. For each sheet of dough, spread half of the hot fudge in a thin, even layer across the surface. Sprinkle approximately 1⁄2 cup of the streusel per sheet over the hot fudge. Trim the edges. Using a dough cutter or a pizza cutter, divide the sheet in half lengthwise into two long strips. Working with one strip at a time and moving crosswise, cut out triangles with flat tips, with each base approximately 1 1⁄2 inches wide and each tip approximately 1⁄4 inch wide. Shoot for 12 triangles per strip. Using an offset spatula, separate a triangle away from the rest of the dough. Starting from the base, roll the dough up like a crescent roll. Place tip-side up on the prepared sheet pan and repeat with the remaining triangles, spacing them on the pans 2 inches apart (the hot fudge needs space to spread). Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup streusel. Bake one pan at a time for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the hot fudge has oozed out and bubbled on the sides. Let cool completely on the sheet pan so the hot fudge solidifies around the rugelach. Repeat with the remaining dough. Rugelach can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Rolled, unbaked rugelach can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Hot Fudge 3 cups heavy cream
13⁄4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup or light corn syrup
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
11⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt 1⁄4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
In a 6-quart or larger heavy pot over medium-high heat, combine the cream, sugar, and syrup until dissolved, approximately 3 minutes. Add the chocolate and salt and bring to a boil. Lower to a gentle simmer so that the bubbles percolate in the center of the pot. Cook, stirring periodically to avoid scorching the bottom, until the mixture breaks and the oils separate from the solids, 40 to 45 minutes. Whisk in the butter and vanilla thoroughly (you can also use an immersion blender to do this if you want it extra smooth) and let cool. Hot fudge keeps in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Makes a generous 4 cups.
Classic Cream Cheese Dough 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 1⁄3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the cream cheese and mix on medium speed to combine, 10 to 15 seconds. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until aerated, approximately 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. On medium speed, add the vanilla, mixing briefly until incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salts. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand. Stretch two sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface. Divide the dough in half (each half will weigh around 14 1⁄2 ounces) and place a half on each piece of plastic. Pat the dough into rectangles, wrap tightly, and refrigerate until chilled throughout, at least 2 hours or up to 1 week. Makes 48 rugelach. Makes 2 (13 by 18-inch) sheets of dough.
THE BLACK SABBATH
A tablespoon of me is heavy metal. I will always have a place in my heart for the jazzy, rocky roar of early Black Sabbath, the inspiration for this cookie. Its key ingredient is bitter, intense black cocoa, the essential cocoa for any Oreo-style cookie. While I make a variation of Oreo cookies year-round, during the holidaysI switch it up and double-stuff the cookies with a peppermint frosting made with Starlite Mints, those candies that come with the check at diners. The harshnessof the black cocoa against sweet peppermint is one of the dessert world’s great combinations. To really put it over the edge, I adhere shards of white chocolate brittle to the cookies with the help of dark chocolate. This recipe makes more brittle than you need, but it keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator. (I like it on ice cream.) To cut out the cookies, you will need a rectangular cutter approximately 1 3⁄4 by 2 1⁄2 inches. To pipe the frosting, you will need Ateco tip #804. Shortbread
1 1⁄2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1⁄4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 cup black cocoa powder, sifted 1 teaspoon kosher salt1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
24 peppermint candies (such as Starlite Mints)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 4 ounces white chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
36 peppermint candies (such as Starlite Mints) 6 ounces white chocolate, melted
Step #1: Make the Shortbread: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugar and mix on low speedto incorporate. Increase the speed to medium and cream the butter mixture until it is aerated and looks like frosting, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Put the yolks in a small cup or bowl and add the vanilla. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salts. On medium speed, add the yolks, one at a time, and mix briefly until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 5 seconds for each yolk. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 1 minute. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand. Stretch two sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface. Divide the dough in half and place each half on a piece of the plastic wrap. Pat each half into a rectangle, wrap tightly, and refrigerate until chilled throughout, at least 2 hours or preferably overnight. Let the dough halves sit at room temperature until the dough has warmed up some but is still cool to the touch,15 to 20 minutes. Put a sheet of parchment paper the same dimensions as a half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pan on the work surface and dust lightly with flour. Put one dough half on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough half into a rectangle approximately 11 by 13 inches and 1⁄4 inch thick or slightly under. If the edges become uneven, push a bench scraper against the dough to straighten out the sides. To keep the dough from sticking to the parchment paper, dust the top with flour, cover with another piece of parchment paper, and, sandwiching the dough between both sheets of parchment paper, flip the dough and paper over. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and continue to roll. Ease the dough and parchment paper onto a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining dough half and stack it on top. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and refrigerate the layers until firm, at least 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a couple of half sheet pans with parchment paper.
Let the dough sit at room temperature for up to 10 minutes. Invert the dough onto a work surface and peel off the top sheet of parchment paper. Roll a dough docker over the dough or pierce it numerous times with a fork. Using a1 3⁄4 by 2 1⁄2-inch rectangular cutter, punch out the cookies. Alternatively, cut the cookies into rectangles. Reroll the dough trimmings, chill, and cut out more cookies. Put the shortbread on the prepared sheet pans, evenly spacing up to 16 cookies per pan. Bake one pan at a time for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until the cookies feel firm and hold their shape when touched, 3 to 5 minutes more. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet pans. Repeat with the remaining pan. Step #2: Frost the Cookies Blend the peppermints in a food processor until they form a fine powder. If there are still a few large chunks, sift the ground peppermints to remove the chunks (the pieces may clog up the pastry tip). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 5 to10 seconds. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium speed to combine, 10 to 15 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the frosting together. Mix in the melted white chocolate, vanilla, and salt until incorporated, approximately 1 minute. Mix in the ground peppermints until evenly incorporated. The frosting will take on a pinkish hue. Fit a pastry bag with the Ateco tip #804 and fill with the frosting. Make pairs of similar-size cookies. Turn half of the cookies over. Leaving a 1⁄8-inch border, pipe Ws onto the cookies, ensuring that the middle of the W is the same height as the ends. If continuing to Step #3, refrigerate the cookies until the brittle is ready. Step #3: Finish the Cookies To make the brittle: Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Pulse the peppermints in a food processor so you have a mix of medium and fine pieces. Pour into a bowl and fold in the white chocolate. Spread the mixture onto of the prepared pan in an even layer at least 1⁄4 inch thick. Bang the pan against a work surface to flatten. Refrigerate until firm, approximately 30 minutes. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper. Melt the finishing chocolates together and stir to combine. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate, scrape off the excess, and place on the prepared pan. Break a piece of brittle with your hands and adhere it to the chocolate. Place on the prepared pans and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm. The cookies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Makes approximately 32 sandwich cookies.