Friday, 11 January 2013

defining perfect and dorie greenspan's 'world peace cookies'

just out of the oven world peace cookies
perfect exists in plural. it can be yours, mine or ours. my husband would describe it as a gemini whose singular element is composed of many selves. it could be a perfect day, a moment, a taste or even a memory. the twenty twelve winter solstice was perfect. it was a warmer than usual day with sunshine so crisp and light so sharp the world appeared as a precise cut-out. the blue of the sky in transition from the longest night to day graduated from ink to cobalt to pale-silver blue. it was a friday and i started the day with bridget’s asana practice. breakfast was a fitzroy bun from honey and co. a clever combination of middle eastern flavours – mahleb (marzipan of cherry kernels), pistachios and sour cherries rolled into a brioche like dough that had been generously brushed with syrup. it was baklava-esque. i finished with a milky latte.

perfect is also a discovery. you did not know you were looking for something until you stumble upon it. that describes what happened when i made dorie greenspan’s world peace cookies. i have never made any of dorie greenspan’s recipes and truth be told i am not sure what drew me to them. perhaps it was the over ambitious name or the crackle surfaced picture of them on bon appétit. for our first christmas nibbles and tipples in twenty-eleven i made christmassy sort of things for dessert. there were mincemeat pies and some chocolate earl grey crumbles with candied orange peel. they remained largely untouched. this time i decided on cookies. i figured one could never go wrong with cookies especially chocolate ones. i must confess at this point that i had glanced upon and not read the recipe so it was not until i started making them that i realised they had no eggs. a cookie of chewy constitution is usually a combination of brown sugar, butter and egg. one that is all butter and sans egg is likely to lead to something crisper and more biscuit like. i later discovered that world peace cookies were originally called sablés korova. that of course makes infinite sense given their sandy shortbread like texture. they are the brainchild of the parisian pastry chef pierre herme whose macaron have a legendary status. when dorie greenspan first published this recipe in paris sweets her neighbour who was besotted with them called them ‘world peace cookies’ for he was of the view that these cookies are ‘all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness’.

sliced and ready to bake
i am not convinced by that as at thirty-two they are more likely to cause conflict with o eating one too many and i having to hold him back. these cookies are the slice-and-bake kind so you can ready them a day or two before you actually need them. roll them into cylinders using greaseproof papers, twisting the ends to make them look like over-sized toffees. baking them only takes twelve minutes. classic sablés are a kin to shortbread and may be flavoured with almonds, orange or lemon zest. world peace cookies in contrast are a couple of shades darker and deeper than cacao powder studded with chopped dark chocolate. the savoury-sweet balance is in abeyance as neither the fleur de sel nor the sweetness of chocolate and sugar win over each other completely. each bite has distinct salty, sweet and melted chocolate notes. as with all cookies these are good when they are straight out of the oven but if you can resist the temptation they are even better when slightly cool. when cool the edges become sturdier and the centre remains a little soft. they are even better than the humble tollhouse cookie because they sit somewhere between a biscuit and a cookie.

cookie dough, up close and personal
{dorie greenspan’s world peace cookies}

one hundred and seventy-five grams all-purpose flour
thirty grams unsweetened cocoa powder
half teaspoon baking soda
one hundred and fifty grams unsalted butter at room temperature
one hundred and twenty grams light brown sugar
fifty grams caster sugar
half teaspoon fleur de sel
one teaspoon vanilla extract
one hundred and fifty grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips (i used callebaut callets)

whisk flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into medium bowl.

using an electric mixer, beat the butter in large bowl until smooth and creamy. add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about two minutes. add the flour mixture and beat gently just until blended (the mixture may will be crumbly). add the chopped chocolate and mix just to distribute (if dough doesn’t come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball).

divide dough in half. place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment. form each piece into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. wrap each tightly and chill until firm, about three hours.

(note: this can be done in advance – logs can be stored in the fridge up to three days before slicing and baking).

preheat the oven to one hundred and sixty degrees. line your baking sheets with parchment paper. using a sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into half inch-thick rounds. space the cookies one inch apart on prepared sheets. bake one sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), exactly 12 minutes. transfer to rack and cool before you eat them.

1 comment:

  1. They look just about perfect. I've never had much success in getting them to *not* crumble. But I persevere! And you've reminded me that I need to try and make them again.