Lots of thank yous in this post! First, thanks to Sarina for pointing out that today is National Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day. I know, it's apropos of absolutely nothing, but it had to be said. Second, thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! Now that I've got a quarter century worth of silliness behind me, my little bro loves to call me an old fart, and I guess I am. 25, baby!
Now, onto the more relevant thanks: Thank heavens for Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan. If you're scratching your head and wondering, "who?" then you'd better catch yourself up to speed. Pierre Herme: world-famous pastry chef and dessert god. Dorie Greenspan: baker, cookbook author, and chronicler of both Pierre's unforgettable creations and her own. Exhibit A: Dorie Greenspan's fantastic book, Paris Sweets, in which she includes Pierre Herme's best-ever chocolate cookies (there called Korova Cookies). Exhibit B: Dorie's latest book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, in which the same recipe appears under a new name: "world peace cookies." The new nomenclature implies that enemies would find it tough to argue with a plate of these cookies in front of them; however, fight me for one of these cookies, and I guarantee, YOU WILL LOSE.
What's to love? Let me count the things. 1. World peace cookies are intensely chocolate-y. I mean, there's a whole lot of cocoa and chocolate in 'em. 2. They're specked not with chocolate chips, but with chopped chocolate. This makes eating them far more exciting; when your lips hit chocolate, you never know whether it'll be just a speck or a big 'ol hunk. 3. They're peppered with salt (as it were) -- enough to taste markedly, fantastically, salty. The salt bounces around on your tongue, making the chocolate notes even more pronounced. 4. With no eggs in the dough, the cookies are rather delicate, yielding to the slightest pressure and melting in your mouth. 5. What, you need another reason? Make them already!
World Peace Cookies Excerpted from Baking: From My House to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Copyright 2006 by Dorie Greenspan.
Makes about 36 cookies
When I included these in Paris Sweets, they were called Korova Cookies and they instantly won fans, among them my neighbor Richard Gold, who gave them their new name. Richard is convinced that a daily dose of Pierre's cookies is all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness."
* 1 1/4 cups 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 pure vanilla extract * 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
2. 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.
3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, 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.
4. 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:
5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
6. 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 1 inch between them.
7. 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.