I have heard so much praise heaped on Blue Bottle Coffee including on their 'Gibraltar' by Daniel Patterson in his 10 do's and don'ts of San Francisco that I was delighted when a copy of The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, Growing, Roasting and Drinking with Recipes (Ten Speed Press, October 2012) by James and Caitleen Freeman with Tara Duggan landed in my mailbox.
I hope to have a chance to discuss the exact science that makes a great coffee with James Freeman soon.
In the meantime, here's one of the 'perfect for dunking' recipes from Caitlin Freeman that appear in the book.
Makes 24 cookies
Hands-on time: 40 minutes
From start to finish: 1 hour
Substitutions: You can substitute Chartreuse, Sambuca, or any anise-flavored liqueur for the absinthe. To omit the liqueur altogether, use water for brushing; add 1 teaspoon anise seeds, crushed in a mortar, to the flour mixture; and add 1 tablespoon of whole anise seeds to the sesame seeds for rolling.
13/4 cups (8.6 oz / 245 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 cup (3.5 oz / 100 g) sugar
11/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup (80 ml / 71 g) extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggs (3.5 oz / 100 g), at room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup absinthe
1 cup (5 oz / 142 g) sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl.
Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the flour mixture, then pinch and rub the mixture between your hands until it has the texture of fluffy cornmeal; this should take about 5 minutes.
Make a well in the center of the mixture. Crack the eggs into the well. Add the 1 tablespoon of absinthe and, with a fork, immediately begin whisking the eggs vigorously to incorporate the absinthe before it curdles the eggs. Begin mixing the flour mixture into the eggs, working it in gradually until fully incorporated.
Generously flour a work surface, then turn the dough out on the floured area. Knead until the color lightens significantly, the oil is fully incorporated, and the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes, adding flour only as needed to prevent sticking. If the dough looks greasy or pockmarked, keep kneading.
Put the 1/4 cup of absinthe in a small bowl. Put the sesame seeds in a separate small, shallow bowl.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Still working on a floured surface, roll each piece into a long snakelike rope, about 18 inches (46 cm) long. Cut into 6 equal pieces, each about 3 inches (8 cm) long. Dip each piece in the absinthe, then gently roll in the sesame seeds until evenly covered.
Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them at least 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) apart.
Bake for about 12 minutes, until the sesame seeds are a very light golden brown but the cookies are still pale, rotating the pan midway through the baking time.
Let the cookies cool on the pan for 10 minutes before removing.
Serve either warm or at room temperature. Cooled completely and stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the cookies will keep for up to 2 days.
(* Recipe reprinted with permission from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes, by James Freeman, Caitlin Freeman, and Tara Duggan, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo credit: Clay McLachlan © 2012)