One Smart Cookie: Dorie Greenspan

There's a serene calm in the kitchen of baking maven Dorie Greenspan.

Perhaps it's because the windows of her Westbrook home overlook a quiet pond and modest waterfall. Perhaps it's in her gentle smile and demeanor. Perhaps it's in tasting her Melody cookies, thin, crunchy wafers of cocoa, salt and sparkly sugar that makes you feel that everything's right with the world.

Talk to the Brooklyn-born Greenspan on a summer's afternoon and you'll find it will be about much more than recipes, such as those featured in her latest James Beard Award-winning book, "Dorie's Cookies." It will be about curiosity, creativity and taste. But it's just as likely to be about family, friends and, most of all, memories.

After 11 books on a wide range of cooking and baking subjects (including single-topic books on pancakes and waffles), the popular Greenspan — she has nearly a half-million Twitter followers — decided to zero in on cookies.

"I love cookies as a baker and I love them as a muncher," she says as she perfectly cuts out her rolled-out cocoa dough for a photo shoot. "I love them for their variety. Everything that we know and love about sweets can be contained in a cookie. So you can have the crunch — texture is a big thing in cookies. You can have chew. You can have something soft and cake-y. It can be savory or sweet. It can have fruit. It can be any flavor you want. It can be complex or it can be really simple."

These tapas of desserts have always been a passion of hers but it was only when given the luxury of working on them as a single topic over several years that she discovered how "that tiny lump of dough could be made into all kinds of things."