Thursday, November 09, 2006

Part II: Spotlight On- World Peace Coookies

World Peace Cookies

Feuding families beware, warring countries take note; if a cookie were to ever initiate world peace it would have to be these. The name was coined by Dorie’s neighbour who thought that a daily dose of these cookies would be enough to instigate world peace. These are high aspirations for a mere cookie but if they really had it in them, perhaps we should start sending boxes of these overseas instead of our troops?

Just imagine, in place of battalions of armoury and tanks we send over boxes of these delicious chocolate cookies. I think they would go down really well. Really, who can resist the power of the cookie? I know I can’t. Especially one that was originated by the man dubbed the “Picasso of Pastries”, the master himself, Pierre Hermé. Dorie learned how to make these cookies while working with Mr. Hermé and in the spirit of sharing in all good things here I present to you World Peace Cookies!

World Peace Cookies

The cookies are fabulously moist, sinfully moreish and terribly addictive. After making one batch you realise that you will need to employ a method of creating these on some form of production line. Be it a cookie-making robot or a posse of hard-working elves that never sleep, something certainly needs to be done; as after one taste, your appetite for these cookies will be unrelenting. Days after baking them, I am still yearning for more.

This is the kind of cookie you eat with your gut, not with your head. It’s not only the cookie’s moist chocolate flavour, or its loose melt-in-your-mouth crumb, but the cookie’s charm comes mostly from the bursts of saltiness you get in every bite. The addition of fleur de sel (or fine sea salt) is the cookie’s secret power. Chocolate and salt are probably one of the oddest and unlikely couplings in the epicurean arena, however they work quite well. It's like Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter’s oddball union, it looks weird, it sounds weird but strangely enough it works.

Their capacity for causing a sensation is undoubted, as for their peace-inducing faculties, this I am yet to vouch for; although, I don’t think it would hurt to find out. Come to think, more research is probably required and I guess I will just have to keep eating them until I come across a sound conclusion. Trust me, I am more than happy to sacrifice myself in the interests of world harmony.
World Peace Cookies
(makes about 36 cookies)
from this book featured on Spotlight On

World Peace Cookies

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
155g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp fleur de sel or ¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
140g bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous ¾ cup mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together.
Beat the butter until soft and creamy.
Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
Pour in the dry ingredients and mix 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 t 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 4cm 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 making- bake for 1 minute longer.)
Preheat oven to 160˚C.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Using a sharp knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1 cm 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 3cm between them.
Bake the cookies on 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 the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

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

Dorrie Greenspan's new book

+ Dorie’s intimate writing style- it’s far from aloof or snobbish and she appeals to the baker in everyone. She has a flair for winning even the most reluctant baker.
+ Most recipes are prefaced by an anecdote or at least Dorie’s notes on how they taste and look. It makes for an insightful and informative read.
+ The recipes are great. Not only are they delicious and actually inspire you to bake but her instructions are detailed and thorough. There won’t be any blank stares and vague expressons as her instructions are meticulous and although her recipes are quite verbose, she leaves no stone unturned.
+ She includes a section called “Indispensables” that contains a heap of base recipes- a must in any dessert cookbook, as sweets are quite open to personal adaptation.
+ Every recipe has instructions for storage and some recipes also include variations.
+ Dorie includes a comprehensive glossary in the back that explains most of the terminology, techniques and the ingredients contained in the recipes.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE (there aren't that many):
+ No metric conversions! Most countries use the metric system so I cannot understand why most cookbooks from the US do not bother including them. I know that this can get quite tedious, and writing a cookbook is hard work enough, although if the baker at home is expected to make the conversions, I think the writer should take this into account.
+ This brings me to my next point, if you do not include metric conversions in your recipes, then at least have a conversions table somewhere in the book. I hate maths as it is, and it would be nice to include a table of conversions for those who are mathematically challenged.


Thalia said...

I'm intrigued to hear that this recipe involves creaming the butter, as I've been taught, and experienced myself, that greasy cookies can result from doing so (they rise on baking, then collapse out of the oven and taset a bit greasy). Anyone got a chemistry explanation for why this doesn't happen on this recipe?

miss cupcake said...


You have made these cookies csound even more fabulous!!

On the other hand, World Peace is tricky when Americans (cookbook writers included!!)cannot think beyond their own continent and imperial measurements.

wheresmymind said...

No metric conversions??? WTF? lol

aria said...

peace would reign under the rule of those cookies in my house for sure!! mmmmmmmm:)

Tanna said...

The metric thing really passes most of us in the US. When I started cooking from one or two books using weights, I got hooked. It's so neat and I mean that very concretly - less clean up. Now if measurements are given both ways, I always go with the weights! And I sure am with you on the math thing - I'm really over challenged on that score.

L Vanel said...

The cookies look great! I want to make these NOW!

Anita said...

Isn't it a great book and recipe? I have to keep myself from wanting to make everything in there at once! Your cookies look beautiful!

peabody said...

Okay, I so have to make these now!

Robyn said...

Those cookies look fabulous!

I was interested in buying the book, but seeing as there are no metric conversions, I think I'll have to pass! I'm no good at converting recipes so it's really frustrating when there's no metric measurements.

Jasmine said...

Great reviews--in my post-testing baking, I too made the World Peace Cookies...they really are very, very, very good.

I'm 100% with you on the metric conversion thing (I have a couple of other gripes too). I think US publishers, who make their products available outside of the US, need to keep these things in mind...


jules said...

lovely looking cookies jenjen. gotta say I agree with you on the whole metric thing

lobstersquad said...

I´m thinking I could start a war over those cookies!

missy-j said...

Yeah my pet peeve is also the lack of metric measurements in most cooking books. But thankfully I have RLB's The Cake Bible. She has a conversion chart at the back of the book so I refer to that to convert everything in other recipes. I also wish writers would also give temperatures in degree celsius too!

Yvo said...

Mm, world peace cookies! I was just reading about them somewhere the other day, but no pictures and no recipe! These look fabulous... I will have to give these a go sometime. Yum.

PS It's funny you mention the metric conversion thing- I was reading a recipe on another Australian food blogger's site the other day and was a little distraught to see all the measurements in metric (my math is terrible as well). I sat there for a few minutes before it dawned on me that the rest of the world uses metric and I can't expect everything to be catered to me... and then I set about figuring out where I could get conversions.

BTW, I found it interesting that only reading your blog helped me realize that I've never seen a non-US cookbook I guess because... yeah. :) Anyway, thanks for the recipe!

Brilynn said...

I'd seen these cookies elsewhere and had already copied the recipe. I haven't got around to making them yet, put this post has pushed me closer.

Ivonne said...

Wonderful post, jenjen! I'm absolutely drooling over these cookies. I found that I liked many of the same things you did about this cookbook.


jenjen said...

Thalia- These cookies were not greasy at all. Creaming the butter is a step involved in making most cookie batters, and I have never experienced greasy cookies from doing so. The creaming process helps in creating the cookie's texture.

Miss Cupcake- LOL it's the irony of the World Peace cookies. If only a cookie could solve everything.

Wheresmymind- It's a travesty!

Aria- Even more reason to bake them I think!

Tanna- I think when baking is concerned and where exact measurements are essential, the metric system is great. Its also easier to do the maths in your head with metrics.

And why do cookbooks state butter in tablespoons? Its really stupid I think. But thats my opinion.

L Vanel- You must, you must make them!

Anita- I have been putting little tabs all over the cookbook to mark the recipes I want to make. There's lots of them.

Peabody- If you do decide to make them I cannot wait for your mouth-watering photographs.

Robyn- I know what you mean, it can get frustrating. Especially when you are baking for relaxation, you don't want to be doing all this maths!

Jasmine- I'm glad that i'm not the only one who feels this way about the metric conversion thing, I din't know how my opinion would be recieved. I'm glad to say that I haven't gotten any hate mail from imperial enthusiasts.

Jules- Thank you. And yes, especially in Australia where we have quite a few non-US cookbooks with metric mesurements, it's annoying getting the odd US cookbook that is so much trouble to bake from.

Lobstersquad- That is what I feared the most, because people in the house were fighting over who got the last one. So perhaps they are only great for world peace until you get to the last one.

Missy-J- Oh I couldn't agree more. There is no easy way of converting temperatures. Unless you have one of those F/C charts on your oven, then you're screwed. The internet is a great resource though.

YVO- Metric conversions are so much easier! Well I think so because that's what i'm familiar with. Each to his/her own, I guess.

Brilynn- Can't wait to see them on your blog soon. If they haven't been polished of before you can take photos.

Ivonne- Thanks! I found that a lot of poeple overall really liked the book and were happy to recommend it. It is definitely a great book and other than the measurement thing I didn't have too many gripes about it.

Geraldine said...

What a great post. These cookies look amazing, I want one now to go with my cup of coffee!!!

John J. Goddard said...

I'm not usually much for sweets, but I'll have to give these cookies a shot, Jen. Your photos look great too. What do you shoot with?

Regarding metrics: I'm glad to be reading these comments. I'm developing a cookbook as you read this, and I wonder how possible it will be to convince a US publisher that metric quantities should be included. I know it makes more sense to do so from a marketing standpoint.

Cookbooks would be a good way to get the US up to date with the rest of the world on measurements too. They'd be able to see proportions next to one another, then reward themselves with something delicious for exercising their lazy American brains.

I can say that. I'm from America.


Jessica Brogan said...

hear, hear John!

thank you for the description of D.Greenspan's book. I hadn't heard of it before, but I like cookbooks with verbose explanations, as I'm a nervous baker.

Thalia said...

Ok, I just made them, followed your instructions to the letter, and they puffed up in the oven, then fell and were thin and a little greasy, just as I've had before.

When I had the problem before I found some online resource which said that creaming the butter was a problem when making cookies, as unlike when making cakes, you don't want lots of air pockets in the dough, you just want sugar and butter to be mixed together. Which I understood to mean that you should just mix, not cream as you would a cake. But it seems I'm the only one having this problem! I was so hoping for the lovely, solid looking cookies that you made.

Most of the dough is still in the freezer, so let me know if you think there's anythign I can do to rescue these.


Thalia said...

Here's the link

I guess it may be that I'm so used to making cakes that I'm too relaxed about how long to cream for? Because it seems that 100s of other bloggers made these cookies with no trouble! I did follow the instructions to cream butter and sugar for 2 mins, but probably creamed the butter too long before hand - any idea how long you did that step for?

Thank you for the coaching, I'll try again next weekend and see if I can improve.

deb said...

I am just making these tonight and the apartment smells amazing. I had to dig around to find this entry, because I'm so nervous mine look so underbaked, I wanted to make sure I did it right. Oh, the cruel wait until they are done!

kriorio said...

i'm living in england at a friend's house and as he refuses to believe in my ancient and futile attempts at american measurements, i have to convert everything to metric. I'm not convinced i made the recipe completely right, but i did find that the cookies got better and better each day afterwards, tasting far better on the third day(they lasted only this long b/c of numerous hiding spots) than on eating out of the oven!

November said...

The photos are so lovely I just had to bake a batch and they were absolutely sumptuos. I see why they are called world peace cookies, my family loved them.