So I made it through the first week of my exciting new job, and as a thank you to my colleagues, I thought I would whip up a batch or two of cookies. Deep breath. Baking for the first time for new friends or co-workers can be intimidating. It’s certainly not the time to try that new recipe you’ve had marked in Gourmet since last year. No, you can’t waste time fussing around with a finicky recipe or untested new cookbook. You have to make the old stand by-something tested and tested again. I turned to none other than the kitchen rock star Dorie Greenspan and her fabulous World Peace Cookies (so named by a friend of Dorie’s who thought the cookies so good that they could inspire world peace; the jury’s still out on that one).
I made these for the first time last Christmas, and, quite simply, they were a hit, a huge hit. I don’t even like chocolate (yes, that’s right), but these cookies have just the right amount of every ingredient-nothing overwhelms. Perhaps the best part of these cookies is the subtle saltiness that hits you after a few bites thanks to the fleur de sel. These cookies will certainly appeal to people who, like me, don’t enjoy especially sweet foods. The salty and sweet elements sing together in perfect harmony. And if this weren’t enough to sell you on running home and baking them, they have a melt in your mouth goodness that I struggle to find the words to describe.
In addition to their wonderful flavor, they are a snap to make (beware: they do have to chill in the refrigerator for three hours before baking). The recipe is very conventional: whip air into the butter, add the sugar to the butter and cream the two together, then add the previously sifted dry ingredients. Careful not to mix the dough too much once the flour is added, lest you risk a tough cookie (no pun intended). Roll into a log, chill, slice, and finally, bake. Two things to note: 1) once the cookies are chilled, slice them with a very sharp, thin knife. The chilled dough does have a tendency to crack. No worries, just push the cracked bits back together. The baking process will smooth out the lines perfectly 2) don’t bake the cookies longer than the twelve minutes. Dorie notes in her recipe that the cookies won’t look done. Trust her, they won’t. Fight the urge to bake them any longer. They will continue to cook a bit while they are cooling. Twelve minutes-perfection every time.
Critique, you’re wondering? Honestly, I can think of nothing to alter. The dough comes together beautifully. The flavor and crumb are lovely. The only thing these cookies need is a tall glass of milk.
I baked these cookies on a slow Sunday night, which also served an ulterior motive: freedom from Sunday night loneliness. What’s a girl to do when her spouse is in a distant town and she’s alone in a new city? I can think of no better remedy than baking cookies. S (my previously mentioned husband) is back in Nashville finishing up some things, and I’m here in Charlotte. A whole new city is out there for me to explore, but there’s something wonderfully comforting about staying in and baking something familiar. So to the kitchen I turn. Should you find yourself with nothing to do on a Sunday night (or any night for that matter), try your hand at Dorie’s World Peace Cookies. You won’t be disappointed.
World Peace Cookies
Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure 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 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.
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 intol logs that 1 ½ 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 for 1 minute longer).
Getting Ready to Bake
Center a rack in the over and preheat the over to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are ½ inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them – don’t be concerned, just squeeze the pieces back onto each cookie). Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 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.