Monday, 10 March 2008

World Peace Cookies

This picture would look much better on a lighter background. Next time, I think :)

I've heard and read some wonderful things about Dorie Greenspan's book, 'Baking: From My Home To Yours', so I decided to take advantage of the excellent exchange rate and purchased it through Amazon. It arrived last week and I've been having a wonderful time reading through it. I love her comments on the recipes and hints and tips - I love cookbooks where the author is talking to you in the book, rather than just reciting recipes. It's a fantastic book, and I'm only about a quarter of the way through!

I broke the book in by making the World Peace Cookies. I felt like a chocolate cookie, and what better cookie to make than one which could quite possibly bring about world peace?

This cookie is a member of the sablé family, which meant nothing to me until I realised it was essentially another word for shortbread. I love shortbread. In addition to their wonderfully deep chocolatey richness, there is supposed to be a surprising sensation of saltiness. I say supposed to be, simply because the saltiness I tasted in the dough didn't really carry over into the cooked cookie. Next time, I will use sea salt instead of my "lite" salt, because there will definately be a next time.

These cookies are also my very first slice and bake cookies. I know that this isn't really a big milestone, but I've never made any like these before and I was excited.

World Peace Cookies
from 'Baking: from my home to yours" by Dorie Greenspan

1 ¼ cups 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 (155g)
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon fleur de sel or ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (140g), chopped into chips, or a generous ¾ cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Makes about 36 cookies

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, 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 160 degrees 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 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.

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.

STORING: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

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