Wednesday, December 26, 2012

World Peace for Christmas?

Merry happy Christmas! Hope everyone is as stuffed as I am. Seriously, I have been very very bad this holiday season. Oh well, I have all of 2013 to make up for my fatness of food binges this past month. Holidays are always a good excuse to cheat.

Let's face it, I bake all the time. But most of the time not everything gets eaten. Yes, that is an unfortunate outcome. Very seldom do I have sweet tooth craving. When I make 3 different batches of cookies in a day, the kitchen gets a little chaotic and I literally have stacks of baked goods that I end up taking to my friends at Starbucks. So, usually, when I have an urge to bake, I try to cater to what everyone else wants-- because my Starbucks friends are getting too spoiled these days.

Every week or so, my sister forwards me emails with recipes she wants me to make for her. To be honest, I get so many potential recipe emails, they loiter in my inbox until my sister asks if I looked at it/want to make it for her. Since I don't get to see her that often throughout the year, I try my best to feed her well (and by well I mean make whatever she wants). Her request for Christmas were these Word Peace Cookies.

For a chocolate cookie, these are surprisingly very low maintenance. The only thing I had to pick up from Trader Joe's was some good quality bittersweet chocolate. Somewhere in the range of 60-85% cacao is always good.

World Peace/Korova Cookies
Paris Sweets, Dorie Greenspan via Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
(I used unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
(I used regular Kosher salt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

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 mixture, 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 325°F (160°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 one 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.

Do ahead:
Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days (Deb note: not a chance); they can be frozen for up to 2 months. They can also be frozen in log form for months, and can be sliced and baked directly from the freezer, adding a couple minutes to the baking time.

Don't be intimidated by these at all. Just mix, wrap, refrigerated, cut, bake, done. They come out divine. I love how, for a chocolate cookie, they are not overly sweet. It's actually more like a chocolate shortbread. This recipe is a keeper!
(Instagram photo c/o my sister @melissafong)

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