Friday, January 5, 2007

in which world peace eludes me

world peace cookies

[But I die and go to cookie heaven.] When Dorie Greenspan included Pierre Hermé’s recipe for to-die-for chocolate cookies in her Paris Sweets cookbook, she called them Korova Cookies (Sablés Korova), after the restaurant off the Champs-Élysées for which Pierre Hermé created these cookies, not the milk bar in A Clockwork Orange. In her most recent book, she calls them World Peace Cookies, as her neighbor became convinced that a daily dose of these cookies was all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness.

While world peace is truly a lofty and admirable goal, it’s unfortunately not cutting it in my apartment as if you were standing in front of me holding one, I would probably try to take it from you. (Just ask my husband.) I don’t know if it because this is another frantic entry in those 28-day, must eat chocolate or else I will die, files or because they are the best chocolate cookie I have eaten in my entire life but there is nothing peaceful about my relationship to them.

My original intention was to do what I typically do when I want to make something gloriously unhealthy but limit my intake of it — bring the remainders to work, foisting the calories on those youthful things with whom I share cubicle walls. But, unable to part with them, we’ve hidden them in the freezer which I can assure you, is not working either. They’re not even particularly charming when frozen, but they do still exist, or at least several of them do. So there’s that.

trying to hide away the world peace cookies

If you haven’t yet abruptly stopped reading this tired-and-typical battle of weak will versus good intention and rushed to the kitchen to gather your butter and cocoa, perhaps this will convince you: the cookies are as sandy and light as you would expect from a sable, but dark as midnight and as zeroed-in on flavor as a pressed fudge brownie. It’s impossible to eat one warm from the oven without a milk chaser, right from the carton. Those tiny dabs of bittersweet chocolate are like that good thing that happens on a day you thought couldn’t get any better. “For me? You shouldn’t have!” But she did. And I did. And it’s getting bad, so bad that I didn’t work from home today as I had originally intended to for the sole purpose of putting some distance between me and World Peace. I’m sure you understand.

world peace cookies

* Okay, fine, I’ll say it: Some kind folks have nominated this here Smitten Kitchen for a Best Food Blog – Humor Category award over at the Well Fed network. Um, me? Funny? If the people say so. Alas, I’m trés flattered and encourage you to go over there and vote your conscience in this and all of the other categories. And then, please: Come over to my place and pry these cookies from my clutches. When I’m done with The Yelling and The Biting (and possibly, The Crying), I will thank you. I promise.

World Peace/Korova Cookies
Paris Sweets, Dorie Greenspan

Makes about 36 cookies

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 (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.

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.

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 (Deb note: not a chance); 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 coupld minutes to the baking time.

Updated 12/18/11: Upon realizing that there were a few discrepancies in the gram weights, I’ve removed them until I can retest this and replace them with more accurate numbers. Hopefully, this week. Thank you.


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