Give Peace A Chance...

Going into this weekend of baking, I had filled every slot in my line-up except for one -- the chocolate cookie. Last year, I fused the peppermint category with the chocolate one, choosing to bake chocolate peppermint cookies, but this year, I wanted to focus solely on the unadulterated flavor of chocolate for my selection. I thought seriously about going with my chocolate brownie cookies, which are a perennial favorite, but ultimately, I was swayed by my interminable desire to experiment with new recipes.

I didn't even have to hunt through my recipe archives, cookbooks, and magazines to find something I wanted to try; Dorie Greenspan's "World Peace Cookies" have been floating around the food blogosphere ever since I started getting interested in cooking and baking after college. The cookies get their name from the assertion of an early recipe tester that if everyone were fed one of these cookies daily, there would be no more war or conflict, because everyone would be too blissed out on chocolate. Every blogger from here to the other end of the world has raved about them, and I was curious. Plus, as a slice-and-bake cookie, they would save me valuable baking time in a weekend when I was already feeling strained for time.

The cookies were definitely simple enough to put together. In fact, the recipe warned against over mixing, so I just mixed them up by hand with a wooden spoon. While the results were certainly tasty -- an ethereally tender crumb, studded with bits of rich bittersweet chocolate -- I'm not sure they would solve all the world's problems. I actually think my humble brownie cookies, taken from an advertisement for Baker's Chocolate, are more intensely flavored than this wildly popular recipe from one of the world's foremost baking authorities. Sometimes it pays to stick to what you know...

World Peace Cookies
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)
To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about one inch between them.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful photograph. It's not just because it is of cookies. You have a wonderful eye.