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Today: Shortbread cookie meets salted chocolate chip, and world peace feels within reach.
Of all the cookies you will bake (and eat) this holiday season, this is the one people will remember.
That's because they're fine and sandy like a sablé, but with a friendly, soft chew. They're made up of well-salted, well-buttered cocoa dough, with generous pockets and wisps of chocolate feeding through.
When our friend and contributor Sarah Jampel made a batch at the office last summer, Amanda took one bite and called them "uber-genius." It was a legendary day.
And then there's the name. As the story goes, Dorie Greenspan's neighbor told her that a daily dose of these cookies was all we need to ensure lasting world peace, and so they became -- naturally, ambitiously -- World Peace Cookies. (The internet responded well to that.)
But even before that, the recipe had won instant fans, when Greenspan first published them as "Korova Cookies" in Paris Sweets in 2002. She has always credited Pierre Hermé for the original recipe, which he had created for a then-cutting edge restaurant in Paris called Korova. (Greenspan points out that the restaurant was the first on the lobster roll trend in Paris. "It was called Le Hot Dog Chic," she says.)
But, because she was the one to test and translate them for American kitchens, and popularize them with their lovable new name, we think they're both deserving of our gratitude here. Thanks guys!
So what was it about these cookies that made them so memorable? "Pierre created the Korova cookie, now World Peace, and told me that he had the American chocolate-chip cookie in mind." Greenspan told me. "I think it was the addition of brown sugar, not a very commonly used ingredient in France, that made it most like our cookie. But, of course, it was the salt, the fleur de sel, that made the cookie such a stand-out."
Even though these little cookies are the stuff of legend, with personality to spare, they're as simple as any other slice-and-bake recipe -- perfect for anytime baking, but especially during the holidays. You would be well off keeping a few logs of this dough in your freezer at all times.
There's nothing to making them that you haven't done before.
Sift cocoa, flour, and baking soda into an powdery ombré mountain.
Cream butter and sugars, along with vanilla and fleur de sel.
Combine the wet and the dry just enough to make a sticky bowl of dough.
Stir in chunks and flecks of bittersweet chocolate.
Squeeze them into a log-like shape, but don't worry about making it perfectly round -- they'll go their own way in the end anyway.
After chilling (or freezing) the logs, slice them thick. Any errant clumps can be pressed back into the cookie disks -- no harm done.
Bake. Don't overbake. That's it.
"I've seen World Peace Cookies made with peanut-butter chips, with cinnamon, with icing, and with gluten-free flours. I've seen them huge and small," Greenspan said. "I don't think you can do much to make them better and happily, there's little you can do to ruin them."
Adapted slightly from Baking: From My Home to Yours (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
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, room temperature
2/3 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur del 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
Photos by James Ransom, except photo of Dorie and Pierre by Barbara Rihl
Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]