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Who's Cooking: Paul Johnson, East Hampton

Paul Johnson holds up his Dutch Cocoa Sugar

Paul Johnson holds up his Dutch Cocoa Sugar cookies, Saturday, June 13, 2015. Credit: Veronique Louis

Paul Johnson, the marketing coordinator at the Children's Museum of the East End, lives in East Hampton.

How long have you been baking?

I think I picked it up when I was in college. But when I moved back here from California (I'm originally from Kings Park) I started to bake regularly. I had lost my job in L.A. Baking was a way to make me feel better. It's hard to be in a bad mood when you're eating cookies.

What do you like about baking?

I can't cook worth a damn. Baking has always been relatively easy. You follow the recipe and it turns out well. Cooking is more like jazz, where you have to improvise. I'm more of a marching band-type guy.

Tell me about your blog,

I just started it because I'm baking all the time and I enjoy writing so I thought I'd combine the two. I bake every weekend for my co-workers on Monday. I bring in what I've made and they're my test subjects. This morning they're enjoying cherry chocolate scones.

Where do you get your ideas?

Usually on the treadmill. I have to do something to keep the weight in check and that's usually where the ideas come to me.

How would you describe your style?

I have to admit, the things I like are not gluten-free, they're not low-fat. If you eat one fattening cookie, you'll be fine. My recipes tend to be on the simpler side. Six to eight ingredients, maximum.

In summer, where do you like to shop for ingredients in the Hamptons?

Usually the IGA or Waldbaum's. I'm a pretty simple man. I don't think expensive ingredients like premium cocoa powder are necessary. If people can tell the difference between a high-end cocoa powder and regular Hershey's, then more power to them, but I can't.

Where does this recipe come from?

It was inspired by the chocolate Archway cookies from my childhood. I've been unimpressed with them over the last few years. So I developed this one.


2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, at room temperature

1. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and 2 cups of sugar.

3. Throw in the vanilla and one of the eggs and beat until they're nicely mixed. Throw in the second egg and mix until combined.

4. Add in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until it's completely incorporated (you may need to scrape the sides of the bowl).

5. Wrap the dough in plastic, or just cover the mixing bowl with a plate and refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours, until completely firm.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into balls (about 1.5 inches in diameter) and then roll them around in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, completely coating them.

7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Bring 'em to the office and bask in the love your co-workers now have for you. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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