On New Year’s Eve I found myself standing in line outside the deep green door–a little chilled but hardly noticing it amidst the crowd of people and the sunny skies–perusing the menu at Tartine with one of my best friends. It was a spontaneous outing on the last day of a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Bay Area. Before my friend and I parted ways and I headed to the airport, we made one last trip into San Francisco to discover for ourselves what makes the breads and pastries at Tartine the stuff of legend.
Taking stock of the inventory is difficult when you’re moving along the line in one of the nation’s most esteemed bakeries at the pace and density of rush-hour traffic yet feel the need to order rapidly when it’s suddenly your turn. Matters get even more difficult when the man behind you breathes down your neck as he scooches in closer to visually grope the famous pastries. (I still feel a little guilty making my friend run interference–in the end it was her neck being breathed upon. Sorry, Sarah.)
In the end I opted for a frangipane tart filled with almond cream and blueberries, a croque monsieur with shitake mushrooms, and a solitary chocolate salted rye cookie. I could gush on and on about each item–and I will over at Nooks & Cranberries, when Sarah and I write our Destination Inspiration review in the coming weeks–but for now I will focus on the cookie.
Wanting to taste a range of Tartine’s products while avoiding gluttony prompted me to order just one of those chocolate salted rye cookies, but looking back on it, that was a mistake. The flavor–not too sweet, not too salty, with an earthy undertone bringing it all together–warranted sharing a bit with each of the adults in our party. That tiny cookie was divided quickly into four little morsels, which we savored while sipping our house wine–a Côtes du Rhône, which, I might add, was a delicious steal at $5.50.
On the topic of rye, it turns out that Tartine has a connection to Scandinavia, with Chad Robertson taking cues from his time getting to know Scandinavian farmers and bakers and their wheats and ryes and techniques. (You can read more about it here.)
It’s rare to find a cookie–or dessert for any matter–that my husband raves about, so when I do, I try to recreate it at home. It sometimes takes a little bit of effort, as most things worthwhile do, but I got this one almost right away. While nothing compares to the excitement of standing in line at Tartine and contemplating what to order, the cookies I’m about to share with you are a fine way to relive a little bit of that experience while back at home in Seattle. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Chocolate Salted Rye Cookies
To create cookies inspired by Tartine, I used this recipe as a guide; although the original recipe looks and tastes nothing like this one, it is equally delicious if you like the idea of baking with rye.
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon for topping
2 cups whole (dark) rye flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons demerara sugar
Cream butter and the granulated sugar together in the large bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, continuing to beat until combined. In a separate bowl, stir together the rye flour and cocoa, then gradually beat into the batter, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you go. (The dough will be thick and sticky, so this may take a few minutes.) Cover the dough and refrigerate; an hour would probably be sufficient, but if you choose to chill it overnight as I did, remove it from the refrigerator about a half an hour before you plan to start baking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking pans with parchment paper. Shape the dough into 3/4-inch to 1-inch balls then flatten each slightly with your hand and place them about 1 inch apart on the parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the demerara sugar with the remaining teaspoon of kosher salt. Sprinkle the mixture over the entire top of each cookie.
Bake for about 16 minutes. Immediately remove the cookies from the baking pans and allow to chill on a wire rack.