One of the hardest lessons I’ve ever learned is that life just isn’t as magical as you thought it might turn out to be. I don’t say that to be Cynical Jaded McSadSackerton. I say it because I grew up thinking otherwise, fueled by indie rock love songs, the movie Amelie, and books like the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.
I’m a big fan of escapism to soften the edges of what can sometimes be a truly grating and maddening world. Sometimes I close my eyes when I listen to music. Sometimes I make up stories about the people who walk by me as I sit outside and eat my lunch. Sometimes I read fiction or watch a movie or daydream. There are about a million ways to escape from the world, or at least temporarily convince yourself that it is something other than what it is; what it is, at times, being a total dick.
In this vein, I wanted to make these so-called world peace cookies. I wanted to briefly imagine a world in which cookies could result in the end of all war. A world in which people weren’t just trying to make more money or be more important or sleep with the most attractive person they can find, but wanted to help each other, make each other cookies, write handwritten notes, call just to say hi.
Wow talk about a depressing post, huh? I mean the conclusion of it is that these cookies probably make the world a scintilla (GRE word, no big deal, I’ve been studying) more bearable, and that’s really all you can ever ask from cookies. But if the mood strikes you, imagine sending these to all those power-hungry assholes who run this joint. Picture them biting into the deep, dark, chocolately, sandy, loveliness of these cookies and losing all desire to keep killing each other because of religion, land, honor, or whatever else people get their panties all in a twist about. Now open your eyes.
Psyche! We’re still fucked. But the cookies: real good, right?
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 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 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, 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 coupld minutes to the baking time.