world peace cookies
Today is December 1st and, for me, the start of the holiday season. Every year through high school and college, I woke up on the Friday after Thanksgiving at 3 am. With the previous evening’s meal barely digested, I threw on my red and black and hightailed it to my job at Staples. There, I was routinely greeted by a line of wide-awake yet far from friendly electronics mavens and eBay aficionados, staring me down as if I had the authority to let all of them in early. There was something very satisfying about locking the door behind me and smiling at the vultures who still had an hour to stew. For some, this tradition ushers in the holiday season, but I subscribe to the Nordstrom philosophy. Can I finish the season of “thanks” before I jump into the season of “give-me?”
Now, I am no Scrooge. When December rolls around, I am ready for holiday cheer. Today, if I walk into a store to find a bell-ringing, velour-suited Santa, I’ll keep my cool. If I hear fa-la-la-la-las on the radio, I’ll turn it up, and I’ll even sing along. And at 22, I will proudly announce that I still enjoy watching “The 25 Days of Christmas” on ABC Family, especially Santa Claus is Coming to Town (it’s a classic!). Judge away. The harvest season is over. My beloved Macouns are becoming mealy. The trees are bare. I can move on.
And I can talk about these cookies.
I spend May through November avoiding baking with chocolate, because I want to be able to take advantage of the berries, then the stone fruit and finally the apples and pears of Fall before I start reintroducing everyone’s favorite flavor back into my baked goods. Now that it’s the season of cookies, I want to share with you the perfect cookie with the perfect name to celebrate chocolate. For many of you, Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace (or Korova) Cookie is nothing new. In fact, it’s so very 2007, isn’t it? It may already be on you list of go-to recipes. It may be that small, crumbly coin that comforts you after a bad day. Nevertheless, it’s the perfect treat to gift or to bring to a Christmas cookie swap.
As a sablé, the cookie has a sandy texture between the teeth, but the rich base is interrupted by shiny pools of bittersweet chocolate. The addition of fleur de sel in the batter makes the cookie and proves that salted desserts are timeless, not trendy. I can even handle a bit more than the written ½ tsp, and I festively sprinkle some of the tops. This is a place to bring out the big guns. I won’t name drop chocolate brands, but you know which are the richest, and they belong here.
I don’t use my freezer very much, but I sometimes store a log of these cookies to slice and bake when I’m feeling a little bit cynical. These cookies might not bring world peace, but they conjure up a sort of inner peace when they reach my lips. Don’t we all need some of that during the holidays?
World Peace Cookies
Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan
Makes about 36 cookies
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
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, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate 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 mixture, 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.)
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Using 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.
Serving: The cookies can be eaten when they are warm or at room temperature — I prefer them at room temperature, when the textural difference between the crumbly cookie and the chocolate bits is greatest — and are best suited to cold milk or hot coffee.
Do ahead: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months. They can also be frozen in log form for months, and can be sliced and baked directly from the freezer, adding a couple minutes to the baking time.