Thursday, March 1, 2012

World Peace, One Cookie at a Time

I can't remember where I first heard about them, but cookbook author Dorie Greenspan has a recipe for these chocolate chip-studded chocolate sable cookies, and let me tell you: they are something.  They are so named because a friend of hers once said "in our house, we call them World Peace Cookies, because we're convinced that a daily dose of the cookies is all that's needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness."  I couldn't agree more.

Nearly two years ago I wrote about my ongoing quest for a chocolate cookie to satisfy my father's insatiable sweet tooth, and while these fit the bill in a very different way than most, they definitely do satisfy.  A sable cookie, much like shortbread, is a bit drier and has a sandy texture (sable literally means sand, en francais).  While it doesn't have that ooey-gooey texture that I'm usually after in my cookies, they are still quite soft despite their dryness.  Something about that makes them seem more sophisticated than your average super chocolatey cookie.  Plus, the best part is the satisfying hit of salt, which intensifies the flavor in an oh-so-amazing-and totally-addictive way.  So whip up a batch (they're quite quick), but remember that they do need time to set up in the fridge or freezer, so they're not ideal as a last-minute cookie.  However, they are a perfect prep-ahead cookie (see note at the bottom).

"World Peace" Double Chocolate Sable Cookies (Dorie Greenspan)
Makes about 36 cookies

* 1 ¼ cups (170 g) all purpose flour  
* ⅓ cup (30 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
* ½ teaspoon baking soda
* 11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons/ 5 ½ ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature

* ⅔ cup packed (147 g) light brown sugar
* ¼ cup (50 g) white sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* ½ teaspoon fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
* 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60-70%) chopped into small ( ¼-inch) pieces, or ¾ cup mini chocolate chips

1.  Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into a bowl. 

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand mixer, beat butter at medium speed until smooth but not fluffy. Add both white and brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until it's incorporated.  Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn't come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). 

3.  Divide the dough in half. Place each half on sheet of plastic wrap. Form each portion into a log about 1 ½-inches in diameter. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours. 

4.  Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.  Some of them will probably crumble a bit at the edges--this is okay, just squish them back together.  Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

5.  Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes.  Fair warning: they will still look soft and raw, but that's okay.  It's totally counter-intuitive, but just go with it.  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.  Store, for up to a day (if they last that long), in an airtight container at room temperature.

Note: If you want to make these ahead, the dough logs can sit for 3 days in the fridge.  Or, you can freeze them for 2 months.  Let thaw just enough to slice, and add 1 minute to the baking time.  

Enjoy cookies and world peace simultaneously :)

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