Saturday, January 16, 2010

World Peace, Across the Pond

Hi from ENGLAND! I am sitting in my room, looking out on the River Cam, eating the best bread in the world and thinking, Hmmm, it's been a really long time since I checked in on the Baking Sisters. So tragic! You see, before coming here, I was told I would have a "gyp room" which would have a "hob" and "microwave"...oh wait. Anyway, a gyp room is a kind of kitchenette, so called because it used to be cleaned by gypsies. Uh oh, I don't think I can use that term anymore. A hob is a burner or stove. But the upshot of this lesson in British slang is that I was under the impression that I would have no oven. That combined with Rebecca coming to New York meant some non-stop marathon baking by the Baking Sisters.

Now I am here and it turns out I have a full kitchen with an oven, and though the rest of my equipment is, shall we say, minimal, I'm doing my first baking on Sunday! Nothing fancy - just the pie that I
blogged about last month, since it's super simple - seeing as I have yet to get my hands on a mixing bowl or measuring spoons. It's for my friend Pam's birthday, which was last Sunday, but since it was our first day in England no one knew it was happening. She said she wanted something to remind her of America; hence, apple pie.

HOWEVER, she also loves chocolate. And that brings us (finally) to today's post. This is one of our all-time favorite recipes, and it's kind of amazing that we haven't blogged about it yet, but I feel like it's such a staple in our repertoire that we tend to overlook it. It is all the world's chocolatey goodness packed into a little cookie, and that is why I may make it for Pam. She also said that she doesn't care for salty baked goods, but I think these may just be the cookies to convert her.

According to Dorie, these are called World Peace Cookies because if everyone ate some every day, there would be world peace. There would also probably be bad coronary artery disease, but I think it's a price we're all willing to pay for world peace.

Like most log cookies, these can be kind of temperamental when it comes to cutting, but in this case it doesn't really matter, since they're easy to squish back together and unlike, say, sables, they don't really need to look perfectly round and even. And if you find you can't squish a cookie back together, well, there's always eating the dough. It's a burden, I know, but once again, one we will all bear for world peace.

World Peace Cookies
From "Baking From My Home to Yours"

  • 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, 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
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
2. 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.
3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, 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.
4. 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:
5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
6. Using 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.
7. 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.

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