Duck Fat CookiesEat this cookie, and then…be haunted by it, be called back to it.

David Lebovitz’s “Duck Fat Cookies,” from his My Paris Kitchen cookbook (recipe below), are bewitching. Having already impulsively bought a jar of Canadian duck fat from a gourmet shop, I was ready to accept this cookie dare.

Duck Fat Cookies
My Paris Kitchen, David Lebovitz
Makes about 30 cookies

¼ cup dried currants
1 Tbsp. brandy
6 Tbsp. chilled duck fat
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. kosher salt

In a small saucepan, heat the currants over low heat with the brandy until the liquid is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the duck fat, butter, and sugar on low speed just until combined. Mix in the vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add it to the fat mixture, stirring until the dough comes together. Then mix in the currants.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough briefly until smooth. Shape it into a rectangle, then cut the dough in half lengthwise. Roll each piece of dough into a log about 6 inches long. (If the dried fruit makes the dough crumble a bit, stick your thumbs into any fissures to seal them, pressing the dough back together, then continue to roll it into cylinders.) Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. (The dough can be made up to three days in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for up to two months.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

To bake the cookies, slice the dough into ¼-inch rounds and set them on the baking sheets, evenly spaced. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets midway through, for 12 minutes, until golden brown on top.
 Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheets until crisp. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

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Currants -- dried black seedless grapes -- don’t appear much in my kitchen, but they’re so darn cute. And here, soaked in brandy, they become quite special. My stand mixer made this cookie dough (with the paddle attachment). I then rolled two logs of dough in plastic wrap and fit them into empty cardboard paper towel rolls (which I stockpile in my kitchen…don’t you?), to chill/firm the logs in my fridge.

This dough-chilling step makes me feel like such a cookie expert, when I then slice perfect circles of dough to bake. Lebovitz’s recipe tells us to bake for 12 minutes, but I actually kept my cookies in the oven for twice as long, waiting for that “golden brown” cue. And even then, I never got “golden brown.” I did, however, get gorgeous cookies.

These taste like shortbread: buttery, sandy, salty. And the duck fat? It amplifies the richness of the butter. And like I said before, it calls you back. It wins you.

PREP TIME: chill dough for 30 minutes or more, bake for less than 30 minutes
buttery, sandy, salty = perfect cookie

And speaking of richness…next time, I want to prepare the “Spanish Chilled Almond & Garlic Soup,” from the July/August 2014 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (recipe below). The time has come for me to do it: white gazpacho. Come back to my site next week, to witness this one.

Spanish Chilled Almond & Garlic Soup
Cook’s Illustrated, July/August 2014
Serves 6 to 8

6 slices hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed
4 cups water
2 1/2 cups (8 3/4 oz.) plus 1/3 cup sliced blanched almonds
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/8 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. vegetable oil
6 oz. seedless green grapes, sliced thin (1 cup)

Combine bread and water in bowl and let soak for 5 minutes. Process 2 1/2 cups almonds in blender until finely ground, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed.

Using your hands, remove bread from water, squeeze it lightly, and transfer to blender with almonds. Measure 3 cups soaking water and set aside; transfer remaining soaking water to blender.

Add garlic, vinegar, 1 1/4 tsp. salt, and cayenne to blender and process until mixture has consistency of cake batter, 30 to 45 seconds. With blender running, add olive oil in thin, steady stream, about 30 seconds. Add reserved soaking water and process for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Strain soup through fine-mesh strainer set in bowl, pressing on solids to extract liquid. Discard solids.

Measure 1 Tbsp. of soup into second bowl and stir in almond extract. Return 1 tsp. of extract mixture to soup; discard remainder (be careful here: too much almond extract can ruin the soup). Chill for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Heat vegetable oil in 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat until oil begins to shimmer. Add remaining 1/3 cup almonds and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately transfer to bowl and stir in 1/4 tsp. salt.

Ladle soup into shallow bowls. Mound an equal amount of grapes in center of each bowl. Sprinkle cooled almonds over soup and drizzle with extra oil oil. Serve immediately.