“Josh, get the phone — it’s your father.” As she speaks, Dorie Greenspan swiftly passes off her iPhone to the long-haired hipster hovering over their shared display case at the Upper East Side salon Mizu. This week marks the fourth annual Valentine’s pop-up for Beurre & Sel, the cookie company helmed by the dessert-world darling and her son (their flagship location resides within the Essex Street Market). In food-obsessed circles, the pastry whiz receives equal praise for her playfully charming persona and her beloved treats.
For a moment, Greenspan crouches beneath the counter — an area only slightly larger than one of her petite sablés — before she appears again, armed with a canister of coffee-cardamom buttons. While radically different in taste, each variety of Beurre & Sel cookie is meticulously and uniformly constructed (thanks to an expertly wielded rolling pin and cookie cutter) and packed in tidy, translucent cases. “We’re really a family business,” she says. “Back to the cookies — will you try this.” It’s not so much a question as it is a command to start chewing.
The cookie — loaded with warming spices and faint bits of espresso — is the latest addition to Greenspan’s collection. The four-time James Beard Award-winning cookbook author currently runs two brick-and-mortar locations of Beurre & Sel, the first in the Essex Street Market and a second in Harlem’s La Marqueta. Until Friday, Greenspan will sell her treats at the swank pop-up shop, along with her son/business partner/ “Chief Executive Cookie Monster,” Josh. “Doesn’t he look so young?” she kvells, before boxing up a sleeve of mulled-wine jammers ($14 for 8). The family-business feeling, along with Greenspan’s seemingly boundless energy, is all part of Beurre & Sel’s appeal. Order one of the smoky heart cookies (cocoa shortbread bites dotted with smoked almonds) and it might come packaged with a hug.
While those slightly bitter hearts ($1 each) will be available onlyat the pop-up, the sablés, jammers, and the rest of the Beurre & Sel collection will be sold at the Essex Street Market and La Marqueta locations. The savory sesame-and-sea-salt cookies ($10 for 14), single-bite dots flecked with black sesame seeds — which Greenspan suggests would pair well with a glass of champagne — are also worth trying. Still, the coffee-cardamom buttons are the ones you’ll dream about long after you’ve finished snacking. Roughly the size of a poker chip, the rounds have the heart of a South Indian chai shop but the finesse of a Parisian patisserie. In reality, they were baked in East Harlem by a Jewish woman from New York. This united-through-baked goods vibe is a signature move for Greenspan, whose most famous treat is the intensely chocolate “world peace cookie,” inspired by French pastry chef, Pierre Hermé.
Beurre & Sel will remain at the salon until Friday, “so all of the people who didn’t get their fill on Valentine’s Day can come back,” says Greenspan. Also find Greenspan’s cookies at the Essex Street Market and La Marqueta, or place orders online.
Mizu Hair Salon 505 Park Ave New York, NY 10022 (212) 688-6498
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 14, 2013