Normally I don't like to make something more than once. Baking is like an adventure and I like to keep myself moving along the terrain, not dwelling too long on any one thing, and certainly not backtracking. But some things are just so good that they bear a repeat...over and over and over again. This is one of those special recipes. These cookies are my sanctuary (well, one of a few.) If the world of spun sugar, chocolate tempering, and shrinking pie crusts becomes too brutal, I know I can always count on this simple recipe to return me to perfectionist heaven.
The other day I singed a few fingertips while making caramel/sugary Satan's hell lava. Only the goal was not to make caramel, it was an unsuccessful attempt at spun sugar. I've inadvertently made spun sugar several times while trying to make caramel. So I thought I'd take the ninja approach and 'pretend' that I actually wanted caramel sauce. The sugar was onto my tactics because it did something it's never done before, it listened to my pseudo wish. Thanks, neurotic stove. I'm onto you and your torrid affair with the sugar.
Left with feeling in only 6 fingertips, the only thing I could think of to do was make these easy, happy, friendly cookies (and make someone else clean the dishes.)
When I started this blog, this was one of the first recipes I wrote about. And the first submission that made it onto Tastespotting. I have no idea why, but that photo's acceptance was almost as exciting as a college admission letter. I think I may have invited friends over for drinks that night.
What makes these cookies so special, aside from being my ticket into the world of food photography, is the spectacular combination of chocolate and salt. Because salt draws out a lot of the flavour in desserts, especially chocolate, I almost always add more than what a recipe calls for. These however, are salted perfection. They have the buttery crumb of sablés and all the richness of brownies. It's worth the messy counter top, and the refrigeration time. And since they are slice and bake, you don't have to worry if your spoonfuls are uniform (but should you choose to measure the slices out, that's is perfectly acceptable.) If you have not tried these cookies yet, please do so immediately! They may become your new favourite.
World Peace Cookies
(recipe by Dorie Greenspan)
*printer friendly Recipe*
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.
Makes about 36 cookies (I only managed 30)